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Flexible, Color OLED Screens For E-Readers

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the still-waiting-on-a-kindle-killer dept.

Handhelds 118

nadiskafadi writes "Taiwanese researchers have shown off several flexible display technologies in an endeavor to promote e-readers and e-paper. One of the newest technologies from the Industrial Technology Research Institute was a flexible 4.1-inch color OLED (organic light emitting diode) display, which it claims is for the next era of portable devices."

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The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (5, Insightful)

Oscar_Wilde (170568) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253026)

Oh for goodness sake!

The last thing you want in an e-reader is for it to be light emitting. There's a reason we're putting so much effort into developing better eInk displays.

The only people who don't seem to understand this are the ones who don't read much or haven't read much on an eInk screen. It's a huge improvement over anything that works by shining light directly into your eyes.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (2, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253058)

Yeah, I've always wondered about that. If you go back a mere 130 years, the only sources of emitted light a person would ever see (off the top of my head) were:

Sun
Fire
Stars
Lightening
Auroras
Lightening bugs, etc
Foxfire, etc
Fish (or were they too deep then?)

So everything the human eye ever saw was reflected light. Since the advent of the television, people began watching and focusing on emitted light directly, and computers, cell phones, etc have taken that even further.

So what, if anything, does that mean to human vision?

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (2, Insightful)

Ifandbut (1328775) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253076)

Well, until we can get E-ink displays to reflect color instead of just gray scale then our only option is light emissions biased displays.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30253334)

Well, until we can get E-ink displays to reflect color instead of just gray scale then our only option is light emissions biased displays.

No, there are two options: Light emitting color displays or gray-scale non-emitting displays. The latter option is preferable in e-readers for the time being.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254152)

Even better is the Pixel Qi displays [geek.com] , which have a backlight switch. When off, the display is reflective and at least as easy to read as an e-ink display. With backlight on, it displays color video with usable refresh rates. I'm super-excited about ARM-based color multi-touch net-tablets with multi-day battery life when in E-book mode. Pop it into it's charging stand, and you have a netbook with wireless keyboard. Our family may need one for each of us.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255324)

The Fujitsu Flepia [fastcompany.com] has a color e-ink display. It's both expensive and slow.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30254728)

Well, until we can get E-ink displays to reflect color instead of just gray scale then our only option is light emissions biased displays.

E-ink displays with color do exist. The solution is technically quite simple: have a CMY grid of color filters on top. The reasons we don't see this, is because it requires e-ink with even higher density than before, in order to achieve the same smooth image. I remember we had the same issue with first generation color CRT / LCD display, but here we need even finer resolution than 3x.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

jimfrost (58153) | more than 4 years ago | (#30256016)

Color e-ink devices will be out next year. I haven't seen any yet, although e-ink was demonstrating them a year and a half ago and people I know said they looked good. I'm dubious because the current screens have that grey tint, and that would make many pictures muddy, but even a little color would go a long way.

In any case many technologies will be employed in e-books over the next few years, you'll be able to pick and choose. I already use LCD and e-ink....

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (4, Insightful)

bertok (226922) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253140)

Yeah, I've always wondered about that. If you go back a mere 130 years, the only sources of emitted light a person would ever see (off the top of my head) were:

Sun
Fire
Stars
Lightening
Auroras
Lightening bugs, etc
Foxfire, etc
Fish (or were they too deep then?)

So everything the human eye ever saw was reflected light. Since the advent of the television, people began watching and focusing on emitted light directly, and computers, cell phones, etc have taken that even further.

So what, if anything, does that mean to human vision?

Absolutely nothing, light is light, irrespective of the source.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30253160)

Absolutely nothing, light is light, irrespective of the source.

But this is the first time in our history where it's been normal for us to stare into a light source and fight our instinct to look away or squint.

Not that it's been long enough to possibly make a difference.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (5, Informative)

Fallen Seraph (808728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253228)

There's something noticeably absent from that list: the Moon. The moon was mankind's primary source of light before the advent of fire, and the moon can be very bright at times. Yet the moon's light is entirely composed of reflected light. The poster above you is correct: light is light, irrespective of the source. The key aspect is how bright the light is. Staring at the sun is bad, not because it's a light source, but because it's a POWERFUL light source which is much brighter than our eyes are capable of handling directly. With many modern devices, brightness can be varied for increased eye comfort and reduced strain.

That being said, the issue is that, often, reducing brightness also reduces contrast on light emitting devices. And when the brightness is high, it can wash out the darker colors, and make details hard to see because the light overwhelms it. Thus E-Ink is useful not because it's not a light source, but because it is a low brightness (when reading under reflected light) high contrast display, which uses almost no energy when the display is static, making it perfect for long-term reading.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30253354)

There's something noticeably absent from that list: the Moon.

Grandparent intended to only list sources of emitted light. The moon is a source of reflected light.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Fallen Seraph (808728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253384)

I understand that, which is why I said the same thing in my third sentence... I was simply trying to illustrate the fact that you cannot simply discount reflected light as "not being a light source." To do so ignores the nature of light. What one has to take into account, rather than the source of original illumination, is the strength of the light that's actually hitting your retina.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255326)

I think the reason reflected light (from an external source, LCDs are actually reflected light from an internal lamp) tends to be superior is because of the lack of washout from ambient light. Since you are generally getting the light as a direct reflection from a lamp or the sun, it tends to be far brighter than what an LCD can produce. LCDs are often far dimmer than a good lamp, and the only reason we get by with them is most places we live and work are very poorly lit. They are also generally lit by reflected-flourescent light, which is much harder on the eyes (though less bright) than a nice, warm, yellow lamp.

OLEDs, however, are completely different from LCDs, and should not be confused with them in any way. I've never actually seen one in person, but from what I gather they have none of the deficiencies of LCDs. Their light isn't polarized, it isn't reflected at all and therefore has none of the washout problems LCDs have. They will almost always be brighter than an external man-made lamp, and from what I've heard even the bright sun does not wash them out. Think of how bright an LED can be, and shrink it way down to the size of a pixel, and you have OLED. They have a few of their own issues, though - they are prohibitively expensive for starters. 4.1 inches is actually relatively impressive for an OLED in any kind of consumer product. I remember a couple years ago Sony (I think) managed a prototype 15 inch OLED monitor. Trouble is, it would cost thousands of dollars even mass-produced in a time when you could get a 20 inch LCD for a couple hundred dollars. The only consumer products I know of are a few cell phones, as the screen size can be small while still being economical.

If it proves to be as easy to read as paper (from what I've heard this seems to be the case), OLED will be the way to go for a small, portable, multi-function device, while e-ink will be for the purists (reflected light or bust!) and large-format display e-readers.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253408)

I just looked at the settings on 3 LCD displays I own. They are between 45% and 55% brightness. Too much light being emitted has always seemed to bother me. I am curious what other /dotters settings are. I think I remember than when you buy the monitor, default factory settings are 100% brightness or close to that. I think it makes the display look better when you only stare at it for a few seconds (i.e. when buying it).

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253866)

My laptop is set for 100% brightness when connected to the charger, and 75% when it's on the battery. I dim it down to about 50% or so if I'm in a dark room.

-jcr

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254716)

Seconded. I use full brightness when it'll be washed out by ambient light, but much lower brightness in dark rooms.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

KalAl (1391649) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255132)

One of the reasons I'm thankful for the ambient light sensor on my MBP. If my prof happens to turn the lights down for a presentation or demonstration, the screen dims accordingly.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253416)

The key aspect is how bright the light is

Just to emphasize this, even scattered reflections from a Class IV/4 laser can blind/burn you. Light is light, and bright light is bright light whether it is emitted or reflected.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254046)

What about light bright? Its ability to make boobs.. priceless.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254146)

What about light bright? Its ability to make boobs.. priceless.

Just don't stare at them too long or you'll go blind...

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254612)

I don't think LED means Laser Emitting Diode in the context of display panels, so your point is somewhat moot. Staring into the sun can seriously mess you up too, but it's unlikely you'll find a superheated ball of gas in your Kindle either.

But just think of the advertising possibilities. Pop-up ads could be burned directly onto your retina, saving advetisers a fortune in bandwidth costs.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253686)

The moon was mankind's primary source of light before the advent of fire

You mean they were vampires and could not stand that giant big glowing ball that we call the sun? ^^

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255114)

Yeah, but the Moon was out at night when it's dark and you need the light.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255196)

So... people... um... didn't do... like, 99% of what they needed to do in the day, when it's light, back then? Funny, I thought they did, because the light of the moon is far less useful than the light of the Sun.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253890)

The moon was mankind's primary source of light before the advent of fire, and the moon can be very bright at times.

Primary source of light? What about that other one? You know, the really big, hot, yellow one?

-jcr

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30254684)

Dude, you're not supposed to cook lemons!

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254586)

light is light, irrespective of the source.

This is true but misleading: surfaces are never 100% reflective, so the light reflected is not the same as the light received.

Staring at the sun is bad, not because it's a light source, but because it's a POWERFUL light source which is much brighter than our eyes are capable of handling directly.

It's also because it contains a lot of UV. The intensity would be enough by itself, but the total energy level is dramatically higher for the inclusion of the UV. The UV is not so easily reflected...

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30254578)

Exactly, you don't see objects, chairs, tables, buildings, you see the light emitted by them.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254634)

You don't even see that, you see the light *reflected* by them.

Chairs, Tables, Buildings are not light sources (except possibly Chairs thrown by Ballmer, those can make you see stars).

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254616)

Thank you, Einstein.

Light has properties. Polarization, intensity, wavelength, etc, which are all affected by reflection. Even then, before the creation of mirrors, reflection was primarily diffuse, with the exception of the surface of very smooth and dark water. Simply put, there is an unbelievably vast difference in the property of the light emitted from an LCD panel compared to anything ever generated by nature before. Nothing was ever so pure and homogeneous in its precisely controlled variance.

My point is that the human eye is optimized for viewing light with certain properties. Other animals can see light with different properties (less intensity, different spectrum, etc) better or worse than us. When you throw in the visual processing of the human brain, and how it processes and interprets images, they all play a factor in how well we can see "light", and what the visual system as a whole is optimized for.

If a person was forced from infancy to wear goggles containing LCD / LED panels which displayed the world around them with the same FOV and perceivable resolution as the naked eye would see, would their visual system - sensors in the eye and processing in the brain - change or adapt to the pureness of that light? What would happen if, after 10 years of only seeing that light, they were shown the rawness and variability of the light of the natural world directly?

My expectation is that their vision would have become deficient in some way. There would be subtleties of the natural world that would fail to stimulate the light sensors in their eyes or that would be discarded during visual processing.

Those are the kinds of questions inferred in my original post.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (2, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254828)

Light may be light, irrespective of the source, but we process visual information not merely by number of the photons that reach our eyes, but also largely by the differential between them in adjacent points in an image... thus, a light emitting display appears washed out by a brighter light source because it cannot produce enough light of its own to produce useful contrast in the region of interest (the display). Even though such a display itself may be perfectly illuminated by sunlight physically, the information that one might have wanted to obtain from it remains illegible.

Reflective displays and surfaces do not exhibit this problem. No display that depends entirely on emitting light of its own to create a viewable image can ever hope to address this issue.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (2, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253194)

Don't forget Humphrey Davies' invention, the incandescent light bulb. It's over 200 years old, or his other invention, the carbon arc lamp, also 200 years old. Although, would the arc lamp be considered lightning?

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254006)

Although, would the arc lamp be considered lightning?

Yes. A florescent light is an arc lamp

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254050)

No it isn't. Arc lamps feature an actual electric arc, but in a fluorescent light the gas is simply stimulated to the point where it emits photons, most of which are in the UV range. Then they strike the phosphor coating, exciting it to the point where it emits its own photons, which unlike those from the gas in the tube consist mostly of visible light. While a filament lamp heats the filament itself until it glows, releasing photons which are in the visible range, the light from an arc lamp is produced when the arc itself occurs, and no phosphor layer is required.

In other words, no, an arc lamp is totally different from a fluorescent lamp in every way besides having a glass container filled with a non-air gas, including the physical mechanism by which light is produced.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254510)

Your facts cannot shake my faith that fluorescent lighting is powered by the breath of invisible pink unicorns.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254660)

Despite the myth that invisible pink unicorns last for 100,000 years, in practice you'll find they die after about 6 months, AND cost about 3 times the price of regular unicorns.

Plus you can't dispose of the dead invisible pink unicorns in landfills, as they decompose into all kinds of nasty shit.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255684)

Plus you can't dispose of the dead invisible pink unicorns in landfills, as they decompose into all kinds of nasty shit.

Can't? or Shouldn't?

I doubt there are more than 10 people per 100 miles that actually take note of the dangers of what are in those things and take care to dispose of them properly.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254702)

Your faith will be your undoing once the FSM comes back.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255030)

the light from an arc lamp is produced when the arc itself occurs, and no phosphor layer is required.

A bogus definition based on an irrelevant requirement. Without the arc of electricity in the tube there would be no light thus it is an arc light.

Anyone who has looked at a florescent tube running with a failing ballast knows there is an electric arc because it is plainly visible.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (2, Informative)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255414)

Anybody who knows how flourescent bulbs actually work will tell you that the gas inside becomes a plasma. As a plasma, the gas conducts electricity, which pretty much precludes it from being an arc of electricity (though it does start as an arc, it's complicated).

To create an arc, the electric current must make a jump from a conductive electrode across a non-conductive space to another conductive electrode. The electricity super-heats the gas as it makes the jump, causing it to glow. This process actually does produce small amounts of plasma, but an arc lamp maintains the arc, while a flourescent lamp maintains the plasma. Arc lamps, I believe, tend to be a lot more power hungry than flourescents, because once in the plasma state much less electricity is needed to maintain the flourescent lamp. The gas in an arc lamp is always non-conductive, while the gas in a flourescent lamp becomes conductive. See?

A failing ballast may well produce a relatively constant arc of electricity by creating irregular spikes in current, which don't allow the plasma to fully form, but this is not the same as what happens in a functioning flourescent lamp.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255636)

The only complication there is that all (visible) arcs are at least partially a plasma. If they were not, they would not tend to create an arch shape, since the path of least resistance would be a straight line. It is only because a plasma is formed, which obviously attempts to rise, that an arch shape is formed. Obviously the plasma is better conducting than the regular air, and result is that the arch shape has less resistance than a straight line.

I will not dispute that how plasmatic an arc is differs between arcs. I suspect the primary difference of note is between an arch lamp and a florescent light is that a florescent light uses a gas that forms a better plasma, but at the cost of being primarily UV, requiring phosphors to create visible light, while the arch lamp uses a less efficient gas, producing visible light directly, but requiring more current.

One may claim that the current through the plasma in a floresent light has reached a point where it is no longer reasonable to call it an electric arc. That may very well be the case, but it is still part of the spectrum that includes arcs.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255764)

As a plasma, the gas conducts electricity, which pretty much precludes it from being an arc of electricity

Really? Whether the medium is a plasma or some other form of gas, its still an electric arc. You can't have an electric arc in a pure vacuum - the ions gotta come from somewhere. Carbon arc lamps just vaporize the carbon to produce the plasma rather than relying on gas sealed in the bulb.

But if that's not good enough, here's some cites:

All arc lamps use current running through different kinds of gas plasma. A.E. Becquerel of France theorized about the fluorescent lamp in 1857. Low pressure arc lights use a big tube of low pressure gas plasma and include: fluorescent lights and neon signs. [about.com]

Once the air is ionized it becomes conductive and allows the built-up charges to equalize in a spectacular display of plasma that we call lightning. [electricalfun.com]

Indoors, both day and night, most of the light we work by comes from fluorescent lamps and high intensity arc lamps. In all these sources - every one of them - light is produced by plasma. [plasmacoalition.org]

I deliberately chose not to cite wikipedia, but I think it is worth pointing out that there are at least 5 difference articles that confirm in one way or another that the fluorescents are arc lamps.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30255484)

fuck all

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Globally Mobile (1635415) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253170)

Well, there is also the need for light in some places hungering for the lumen of even a few candlepower... Better overhaul then expecting them to continue adding to the emissions through other forms of more deadly illumination... .. . Some people use their screens to look @for keys n/ such. .. ...

--**/WCHTBHTU||[[\]]
/.
'The mind cannot forsee it's own advance' +GWGADGET(YES/NO[POLL][TRUE/FALSE]{AND/OR) >. HOW TO IN /. ? [xtra+][[quiz:quote by?]] 9876543210 roll 6d6 7d7 0duNF

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Fallen Seraph (808728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253236)

Had you actually read the article you might've noticed that the eReader display tech was NOT the OLED tech. The article talks about two different technologies for different devices. The eReader display tech in the article is Ch-LCD, not OLED. The OLED tech they describe is intended for future cell phones and the like.

Have fun then... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253282)

...Reading and watching video in the dark.

If you want, for a small fee, I will come to your house and rip out the cables out of all of your earphones, speakers, phones and other devices that blare the sound into your ears.
I'll break your TVs and monitors for free, but ripping out LEDs and light-bulbs will cost you extra.
You know... for that complete passive experience you are obviously aiming for.

Can't do much about the smells, touch and taste without removing your tongue, nose and skin though.
But for a price, I know a guy who does that too.

Re:Have fun then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30254938)

Whoa. Everybody misses the point every now and then, but rarely that spectacularily.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253320)

I dunno, iPhone's seem to be pretty popular.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254674)

Yes, but the people who buy iPhones like shiny ... they probably can't see the display from the glare emitted from the neon pink case.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

jimfrost (58153) | more than 4 years ago | (#30256088)

And to think I bought mine after determining that it was a bloody good handheld internet access device.

The shiny is just gravy; the important thing is that it works really well.

As an internet device anyway. Kinda so-so as a phone, although still worlds better than Windows Mobile. (I haven't figured out what Windows Mobile is actually good at, but perhaps the reason that it has such lousy market penetration is that no one else can, either.)

Considering the iphone as an e-book, it works reasonably well in a pinch. It's nowhere near as pleasant as a Kindle for long text, and I can't for the life of me figure out why everyone thinks swiping is a good way to turn pages when you're doing it every few seconds, and long reading stints drain the battery, but at least it fits in my pocket.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30256180)

the important thing is that it works really well.

I suppose it probably does, I just get irritated by the fanbois who seem to think it's the *only* mobile device that does.

Personally, I've stayed with Nokia through N95, E90 and just as soon as the N900 is available here, I'll treat myself to one of those. I prefer black to neon pink anyway, it gives a slightly better impression when you're in a business meeting ;-)

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30253456)

The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E.

So you'd prefer an OLD-radr?

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

srothroc (733160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253458)

I like light emitting displays. I do most of my recreational reading in the dark on a small laptop. It's nice to not have to depend on external light sources.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254260)

I read in the dark and still prefer the e-reader with a standard, LED book-light.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

jimfrost (58153) | more than 4 years ago | (#30256130)

I concur, but I sure would appreciate having one that was designed to be attached to the reader. You need to hook it to the case on a Kindle, and I have to put it at odd angles to avoid screen glare. Still, way less eyestrain than peering at the iphone.

I notice that the Nook does have a clip-on light, one of several places I think they are superior to the Kindle, but I haven't had the opportunity to see how well the unit works in practice and I'm not convinced that the LCD panel isn't a temporary hack until e-ink technology supports color. It certainly is an expensive feature in terms of battery life.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

eugene259 (871089) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253578)

Being reflective or emitting has nothing to do with use of e-ink in e-readers. Main advantage of e-ink displays is that they only draw power when the display is updated, they don't consume any power to maintain the image unlike LCD or OLED displays which makes them a lot more power-efficient. However with every e-ink display having a mechanical component (little ink particles are moved around by electric fields) their refresh rate is relatively slow in comparison to an LCD or OLED which makes them unsuitable as a general purpose computer display. Since e-reader display mostly static content (text, no animation) an e-ink display is perfect for that purpose, offering much lower power consumption.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255498)

Actually the main advantage of e-ink in e-readers is they look like ink on paper - hence the name e-ink. Reading on even an old reader with one of the earlier e-ink displays is nearly as good as reading on paper.

That it sips power is a BONUS of the technology, not the main purpose. Most people get eye strain from looking that the harsh, polarized reflected flourescent light of an LCD display. Plus, they are lit by reflected light off the pixels themselves instead of light passed through a pixel filter, which makes them easier to read in almost every case. The only time LCDs win the readability contest is in complete darkness, and then only if you don't have a little book light for your e-ink reader. But if you have a place to plug in a laptop or desktop for a long session of reading you almost certainly have access to a lamp to read by, so it's not much of an advantage for back-lit LCDs.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253692)

I'd like both, so that I can read in bright sunlight AND in bed with the room light off.

Additional, I take it OLED can do video and full color, e-ink can't.

If on top of that the reader is foldable (but still sturdy), count me in.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255562)

As usual, the summary writer didn't actually read the article. The OLED screen was not for the e-book reader, it was for other devices.

The e-book screen was something called Ch-LCD, which apparently is sorta similar to e-ink I guess, but with color. Also note that it is far slower than even e-ink, taking 40 seconds to produce an image on the screen. I imagine text will be better, but still, e-ink can do grey-scale images in a few seconds at the most, so while the color is nice it is definitely not practical if it takes that long to load up an image.

Why hasn't anybody tried using the yellow-green-magenta-black of printers for a color e-ink display? It should work exactly the same as producing color on an ink-jet printer.

I imagine they are working on three little balls of pigment per pixel instead of two to make color - then you could arrange them in tri-color pixels like LCDs. The color would be far lower resolution than the black/white, but I don't see that as a bad thing. That I could see as taking a long time to work out.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

jimfrost (58153) | more than 4 years ago | (#30256190)

Why hasn't anybody tried using the yellow-green-magenta-black of printers for a color e-ink display? It should work exactly the same as producing color on an ink-jet printer.

They have -- in fact, E-Ink has been demonstrating the technology for four years:

http://eink.com/press/releases/pr86.html [eink.com]

and that's not the only similar tech. Wired had a summary of several back in June:

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/06/blackandwhite_ebooks/ [wired.com]

Commercial availability of E-Ink's color displays is expected in late 2010. I would bet pretty strongly that the Kindle 3 uses 'em.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253856)

It's a huge improvement over anything that works by shining light directly into your eyes.

Anything you can see shines light directly into your eyes.

-jcr

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (2, Funny)

Miseph (979059) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253884)

Not if I can see it in a mirror.

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OLED != e-reader (1)

thijsh (910751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254252)

No exactly, this is not suitable for comfortable e-readers... but the article confuses two technology's: Ch-LCD and OLED. They also mention smartphone use for the OLED.

This low power, flexible, soft (but hopefully fairly tough) will be very much beneficial for other portable next generation solutions.
I would love a wrist-wearable phone that folds open straight to hold and talk and you roll around your wrist to take along...

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

The Salamander (56587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255060)

Actually, one reason I haven't bought a kindle is because it does not contain a built-in light. (The other reasons would be cost and DRM)

I like to read in bed before I go to sleep, and having to use a desk lamp or a book light is rather annoying. I currently read some ebooks on my iPhone which works pretty well on its lowest brightness setting.

I would prefer a bigger / better resolution display, though, which is why I have atleast considered some ebook readers. But having to turn a light on just to read? Not really an option for me.

Now, during the day an eInk display would be wonderful! But it needs to work in the dark as well, atleast for me.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255758)

I believe one of the Sony models has a built-in LED reading light - actually I'm sure one does. They also make a lot of covers with reading lights built in. Or, you could always get a book lamp, they work even better on e-book readers than on books (no floppiness or having to move it around at all to get the whole page), and the eye-strain is far, far less than a back-lit LCD (it's about the same as paper, oddly enough).

I wouldn't buy a Kindle either, just because of lock-in. While convenient, those books are not portable to any other device. Sony does ePub now, which is a ubiquitous format - most e-book readers (except kindle of course) support it.

Seriously, if lack of light is the only reason you're not getting an e-book reader then you can't be much of a reader anyway. Buy a table lamp, or a clip-on book lamp. Either option is far cheaper than a laptop. Only a netbook could compete with the e-book reader + lamp combo in price, and that would be a bitch to read on. Though, it is certainly more usefull for doing other things.

I have a crappy old Sony PRS-500 and I love it, I think I'm going to trade up soon. And I'm definitely getting the Plastic Logic reader when it comes out, so I can comfortably read my tech books and other PDFs that end up being a pain on smaller screens.

Check out the Sony store (so far I'm sold on Sony, sorry it sounds like an advertisement) or any other reader that supports more portable formats. The newest Sony reader even does wireless 3g book-buying like the Kindle, plus it has a huge display and touchscreen. There are others out there, but Sony seems to me to have the best price-value. My reader was even a refurb and it has been rock solid for a couple years now. Plus you get direct access to Google's millions of public-domain books.

Sorry for rambling, but I can't say enough about the e-readers.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255340)

I've read a lot on a non-eInk eBook (the REB-1100, successor to the Rocket Book). It's fine, whether used with the backlight or in reflective mode.

The problem with current e-ink is the horrible flashing when you change pages. Show the text overlain, then black, then white, then just the new text? Ugh.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255466)

I love my REB-1100, too bad the battery is starting to go.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255832)

Show the text overlain, then black, then white, then just the new text?

Is that really the reason you don't have one? Or do you secretly want one and are just making excuses? Because that little flash is about as annoying as... turning a page.

God it's horrible, the text goes sideways, then disappears and you can see a page ahead for a fraction of a second, then it's sideways again and you can finally read it. Plus there's that annoying "Shhhh..." sound it makes. UGH! Turning pages is so disgusting!

Seriously man, I'll take my much, much clearer screen and much, much better battery life over instant page turns any day. Unless you're reading a thousand plus words per minute, the quarter second it takes to refresh the page is not annoying at all. Grey-scale LCDs are very low contrast, unlike e-Ink which is virtually the same as paper and ink. That makes them much easier to read on. And if you're reading over a thousand words per minute you probably aren't reading for pleasure anyway, so why are you bothering with the small display of ANY e-reader?

If you DO read that fast, well then, yeah, the page refresh would get pretty damn annoying, but like I said, why would you bother with an e-reader at that point anyway?

There is a reason LCD ebook readers never really took off, even though they are much less expensive than e-Ink readers. If you haven't figured it out, maybe you should try actually reading on one for once. My local Best-Buy has them on display, I'm sure an electronics store near you does as well. Note that I do NOT recommend actually buying a reader from Best-Buy, just to look in person before getting one elsewhere.

Re:The problem with an OLED e-reader is the E. (1)

jimfrost (58153) | more than 4 years ago | (#30256210)

The problem with current e-ink is the horrible flashing when you change pages. Show the text overlain, then black, then white, then just the new text? Ugh.

I was seriously concerned about this when I bought my first Kindle. You know what? Within 10 minutes you just don't see it anymore, pretty much the same way you blank out the page flip on a paper book. Perhaps this is because it really isn't a "flash".

It'd be ok with me if it went away, but it's not a problem or even a distraction.

Does anyone know... (2, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253036)

Did they ever solve the problem that older, flexible, OLED displays had that caused visual distortion as the OLED display was bent or is this still an issue?

Re:Does anyone know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30253254)

Just based on some rough sketches on the back of a piece of computer paper, I think it would be entirely possible to develop a series of algorithms paired up with sensors which measure the bend of the OLED display to distort the image in response to flexing.

The tinier the pixels, the easier this would be.

Call me when they make OLED toilet paper (3, Funny)

BigDXLT (1218924) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253064)

Then, I could give every single frame of each Uwe Boll movie the respect it deserves.

Re:Call me when they make OLED toilet paper (1)

zblack_eagle (971870) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253198)

I thought that could be done by printing on regular toilet paper.

Or are you suggesting that you'd wipe your ass on the same OLED ply hundreds of thousands of times? That's... really unhygienic and gross, man.

Re:Call me when they make OLED toilet paper (0, Offtopic)

BigDXLT (1218924) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253290)

Whoosh?

The whole movie would be able to play on one piece. /explanation

Sadly, my attempt at humor is a failure. It was just that TP was my first thought after reading about rolls of Ch-LCD. I know, it wasn't in the summary, had to read the scary article, people on slashdot don't do that blah blah blah. Surely I wasn't the only one though?
And I brought up Uwe Boll because I saw his latest atrocity, Far Cry, sitting on the shelf at the local rental shop. It made me sad.

Back to my cave I go.

Re:Call me when they make OLED toilet paper (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255864)

No, it's cool, see, the OLED toilet paper never makes it down the toilet - the incomming water just washes it off and it's good to go for the next person!

Sterilization? Who needs that?!

When I was a kid, looking at the crappy. . . (1, Interesting)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253130)

When I was a kid in drafting class at my old highschool I thought to myself. . , "One day in the F*U*T*U*R*E this big drafting board will be digital! Won't that be cool? Where you can have a digital air brush and a digital pencil, etc. That'll be cool! I REALLY want to see that. Everything feels a little wrong with that not being in existence."

Well, we're getting closer to that reality. Some of the Wacom technology these days is getting pretty impressive, if still clunky.

Anyway, I half-really believe that the world is one big dream sequence. --And I don't know about the rest of everybody out there, but whenever I dream, dream content usually takes the form of a problem. As a for instance, only a few hours ago I was dreaming a D&D game involving this totally hot friend of mine. She's about as far from 'geek' and D&D as one can get, so it was a pretty ridiculous dream. Anyway, there we were, me, one other geek friend whose face I can't remember for the life of me, and this super-hot yoga-teacher friend of mine. And she's like, "I want to try D&D. Can you set up a game?" And I'm all, "Well, I haven't played in a few years, but I could probably arrange something." And because it's a dream, there we were, walking around in actual Middle Earth, dressed up in our D&D personaes (I'm wearing this idiotic bear skin and carrying a club in one hand and a player's manual in the other. She's done up in a wizard's outfit and having a frustrating time working out how the spells work. WOTC apparently can't even get it right in a dream. Ha ha!)

Anyway, the game is advancing, but there's this problem in the back of my mind. "She's not supposed to be here. This is just not who she is." And it's bothering me; I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. That's the problem, and because it's a dream, I actually care. So anyway, we wander into a town on our third evening of gaming. The NPC's living there tell us of a dragon in the mountains yonder which needs slaying, and my hot yoga friend finally sighs heavily and says, "You know, I just want to hang out here and bake pies and sell them at the local market. You two go on ahead and fight the monsters. I don't think I'm really into D&D, but thanks for letting me try."

And just as I was saying, "Yeah, well it was good to try this out, but no prob-" and I woke up.

That's a pretty basic example, and that's how it always goes. Right when things resolve, whether trying to pass an exam in dream school, or climb a dream mountain, or working out how to dream fly or whatever, right when everything that should be balances with what actually is, that's when I wake up.

And here's how all this equates to thin-screens. . .

When digital table-tops finally become a common reality, when you can pick up a virtual pen and draw picture and use your fingers to pull around virtual documents. . , when the digital drafting board is a common reality, that's when my own personal dream of life will have resolved. That's the lynch pin. And we're getting pretty close.

I wonder what happens when I wake up. I hope the rest of you don't pop out of existence.

(Take that Gordon Moore.)

-FL

Re:When I was a kid, looking at the crappy. . . (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253178)

I wonder what happens when I wake up. I hope the rest of you don't pop out of existence.

Yeah, like that would hap— [larsi.org]

Re:When I was a kid, looking at the crappy. . . (1)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254610)

Oooh. Nice. It would have been neat if they had continued to develop this particular idea, but it appears that the company abandoned the product back in the 90's. Even their website is gone. But I'm sure now that display technology has caught up to the vision that we'll be seeing more products like this, perhaps even for the conventional consumer market.

-FL

Re:When I was a kid, looking at the crappy. . . (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253898)

I was a draftsman too, for several summers when I was in high school. Back a few years ago when we were hearing all the hype about Go PenPoint and other "pen-based computing", I concluded that I couldn't get excited about pen based computing on a display that was smaller than a "D" sheet (17"x22").

Besides the displays though, we really need some improvements in UI for CAD systems. Autocad is wretched. Google SketchUp is moving in the right direction, but it's still got quite a ways to go before I'd prefer it over a drafting table.

-jcr

Re:When I was a kid, looking at the crappy. . . (1)

ahoehn (301327) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255046)

What, specifically, are you smoking? And where can I get some?

3.5 by 4.5 inches -- 40 second image reload (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30253162)

So it will take at least as long to flip a page as it will to read it.

This is setting aside the issue of display resolution, which is not specified in TFA.

Re:3.5 by 4.5 inches -- 40 second image reload (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30253196)

Whoops, sorry... that comment was based on a second display technology mentioned later in the article. Feel free to mod my original comment down.

No! Larger please. (1, Insightful)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253244)

Why is it they have to step forwards to color already? What I want is much larger greyscale displays with better contrast for cheaper. Seriously, give me a U.S. Letter size display with better contrast for under $100 and I will jump on the e-reader bandwagon.

Re:No! Larger please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30253268)

Actually A4 would be better.

Ah yes... (3, Insightful)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253324)

The "I am the center of the Universe and all should conform to my unimaginative desires" approach.
Damn! I wish I came up with that philosophy first.

Gee.. Who would ever want a thin flexible display that could be bent or rolled up? Madness! Madness I say!
Naah... let's just make displays that are big enough and cheap enough for YOUR needs.

Re:No! Larger please. (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253486)

isn't e-ink for e-readers and OLED for replacing LCD displays?

Re:No! Larger please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30253772)

To cater to the "gadget" mentality. Sheeple want colorz to watch their Survivor and America's Got Talent on. Nevermind practical workaday displays for e.g. process control, reading, display, info-data, etc. only morons buy electronics you know, so lets makem pretty colors!

Re:No! Larger please. (3, Insightful)

The Evil Couch (621105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253804)

Why is it they have to step forwards to color already? What I want is much larger greyscale displays with better contrast for cheaper. Seriously, give me a U.S. Letter size display with better contrast for under $100 and I will jump on the e-reader bandwagon.

Because that's a false dichotomy? They're going to need to go color eventually and there's no reason that research into both cheaper, bigger monochrome displays and color displays can't be done simultaneously.

Re:No! Larger please. (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254714)

Gratuitous Wiki Copypasta.

Since the 1960s the International System of Units ("Système International d'Unités" in French, hence "SI") has been the internationally recognised standard metric system.

Yet you still want an e-book that is 11 inches x 8 1/2 inches ?

Only three nations have not officially adopted the International System of Units as their primary or sole system of measurement: Burma, Liberia, and the United States.

Ah, that explains it.

How does it feel to be one of the 3 nations of the world who just *have* to be fucking awkward ?

Re:No! Larger please. (1)

jimfrost (58153) | more than 4 years ago | (#30256254)

How does it feel to be one of the 3 nations of the world who just *have* to be fucking awkward ?

Kind of awkward, sometimes. But we take a drumming for it on occasion, like when we confuse the two systems and our spacecraft don't work.

Re:No! Larger please. (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255300)

Silly question: Why letter size? Are current books not big enough for you?

Re:No! Larger please. (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30255360)

I can sympathize with the gp poster... I want a letter-sized ereader too. Most books I own *ARE* letter sized... or very close to it.

Not everybody reads fiction... some people read solely for the purpose of learning something new.

Practically every scientific paper or article I've ever read on a computer has been formatted for either A4 or letter sized paper.

The advantage of a large format electronic reader is that it becomes feasible to carry the equivalent of several dozen binders worth of such material in a backpack or briefcase, and always have it on hand. Laptop displays are inadequate due to poor contrast in sunlight.

Re:No! Larger please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30255398)

My Mental Floss issues are rather larger than my trade paperbacks, for one.

finally (1)

thydzik (795683) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253406)

no more cracked lcds.

Re:finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30253428)

no more cracked lsd.

Good, we need to push current prices down (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30253988)

I am hoping that current prices should come down a bit; they're currently priced as if they had some sort of "Enterprise Class Premium Edition" of an OS or something, but I feel like you're buying what essentially is the LCD part of a netbook, and an e-reader part of a distro.

The current ones *do have nice displays and elegant cases, but I feel I should be getting a Newton or something, at that price, or at least a beefed-up mp3 player built in.

Maybe I'm just missing something (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254058)

Why does no one seem to want to combine these two technologies? It seems like the ultimate display would consist of a layer of e-Paper, followed by an OLED layer, and finally the touch layer. We keep seeing these video demos of transparent, flexible OLED screens which would be ideal for this purpose, but few actual products of ANY sort, let alone something transformative like this would be. Just set the page all black via e-Ink, then you can play the video over the top with OLED. All the benefits, the only drawbacks in price and complexity and I'm quite certain I'm not the only one who would pay the price.

Re:Maybe I'm just missing something (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30254190)

Reads to me like you have a product idea right there...

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