Colour E Ink displays start new chapter in ebook readers

Colour ebooks are on the cards as two manufacturers show off coloured screens for ebook readers.

Colour ebooks are on the cards, as manufacturers start a new chapter in e-paper design. LG and market leader E Ink are both showing off coloured screens for ebook readers at a Japanese trade show this week.

E Ink Triton is a 9.7-inch screen that can display more than 4,000 colours, while LG Display has two versions in the pipeline. Both are 9.7-inch displays, one showing colour and one divided between 1,200x1,200-pixel monochrome and a 200x600-pixel colour bit.

E Ink is ideal for ebook readers because it doesn't hurt the eyes after long periods of reading, which is a problem for computer, tablet and phone screens. The screens on these devices also fall down in bright sunlight when the reflection makes them hard to see, whereas E Ink can be taken out and about when you want to catch up on some reading in the park. It also consumes far less power. The downside is the image is duller than a fancy LCD or OLED screen, and the refresh rate is much slower.

Coloured e-paper has the same advantages and disadvantages, only, y'know, in colour. Colours are less vibrant than computers, phones and tellies, but the new displays will allow you to see chromatic maps, charts and comics while out in the sunshine.

Pay attention, because here comes the science. The new coloured E Ink display consists of a standard E ink display with a colour filter over it. Brilliant. We could have thought of that. But then, if we were the guys who invented colour E Ink, we'd have invented colour E Ink.

The makers claim the electrophoretic display is up to 20 per cent faster to refresh than the monochrome version. It can display images with 4 bits of depth and offers 4,096 colors, as well as the 16 shades of grey currently offered.

The technology, like aliens from outer space, already walks among us. The first colour E Ink ebook reader was made by Hanvon -- us neither -- and goes on sale in China in 2011.

It's good news for fans of ebook readers like the Amazon Kindle 3G and Sony Reader Touch PRS-650 . If you're an ebook-lover, why not put your money where your mouth is and vote for the Kindle to be the Greatest Gadget of the 21st Century .

 

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