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New Color E-Reader Tech To Challenge E-Ink Dominance

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the daily-prophet-graphics dept.

Displays 199

Technology Review reports from the Consumer Elecronics Show in Las Vegas that potential e-reader competitors to E-Ink are everywhere. The current market leader in e-book displays is greyscale-only, and it takes a long time to change the display ("turn the page"), so video applications are not possible. E-Ink says they will have a color display shipping by late next year, but it will be dimmer than the current greyscale and its response time will still be too slow for video. The wannabe competitors — Pixel Qi, Qualcomm MEMS Technologies, Liquavista, and Kent Displays — all do color and some of them can do video (Pixel Qi, Qualcomm, Liquavista), and some of them (Pixel Qi, Kent) are shipping now.

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199 comments

Sorry, not news. (0)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719500)

Nice that there are newcomers to the party, but Amazon hedges its bets with a iPod Touch / iPhone Kindle App. So, you don't need these new things if you want e-books and video on the same device.

Re:Sorry, not news. (1, Interesting)

uradu (10768) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719644)

You should be sorry, because this IS big time news.

http://www.engadget.com/2010/01/09/qualcomm-mirasol-display-video-hands-on-in-glorious-1080p/ [engadget.com]

'Nuff said!

Re:Sorry, not news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30719686)

Let me guess, you have an ulterior motive to spreading that link.
http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1505456&cid=30719630 [slashdot.org]

Re:Sorry, not news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30719792)

Or maybe he was at CES and dug it? Jeez, it's not like he's AC, and he's been on Slashdot since the time of the pterodactyls. Calm down.

Re:Sorry, not news. (1)

uradu (10768) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719802)

Yeah, spreading information, shining a light on your dark mind. Perish the thought!

Re:Sorry, not news. (2, Informative)

macshit (157376) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720324)

The Liquavista [liquavista.com] stuff looks more interesting though -- in particular, it doesn't need separate pixels for RGB.

(The Liquavista website is not nearly as slick as the mirasol site tho; it looks like the researchers also did the web design...)

Re:Sorry, not news. (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720550)

It looks great, if they could just compensate for the yellow cast I would probably buy a netbook with one by the end of this year.

Re:Sorry, not news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30719828)

I knew there had to be a reason why Amazon passed on buying eInk several months ago, allowing it to be snapped up by the Taiwanese for a couple hundred million USD. That seemed strange at the time since eInk was/is Amazon's main supplier for its hit product. In the course of doing its own due diligence, Amazon must have determined that eInk was no longer the lead dog.

Power? (4, Interesting)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719544)

The big draw of E-Ink is that it only uses power when doing a page change. Do the color versions mentioned in TFA do that as well? If so, welcome. If not, nice try but fail.

Re:Power? (4, Interesting)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719616)

The big draw of E-Ink is that it only uses power when doing a page change.

This was my understanding as well. So maybe someone who owns a Kindle or a Nook can answer me something that has bugged me for a while: Why on earth do these things appear to have screensavers? By changing the image when the machine is idle, doesn't a screensaver actually drain the battery where normally there would be no drain at all? Does an e-ink screen really need to be "saved" (i.e. will it burn out/burn in)?

As for the competitors, they are all designed to use very little power. At least one functions in a dual mode, where it can either be an e-ink type monochrome screen or a backlit color screen.

Here's another article [economist.com] , from The Economist.

Re:Power? (4, Informative)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719688)

Why on earth do these things appear to have screensavers?

Kindle does not have an animated screensaver, it just displays some static artwork such as a photograph of a famous author. It's only one refresh when it goes to sleep and one more when you wake it up.

Re:Power? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719980)

Please tell me you can disable that feature.

Re:Power? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30720172)

Its a good thing.

It puts the device to sleep, disables the page turn buttons, and updates the server as to what page you are on.(if you use whispersync)

The static "screensaver" let's you know that it is ready to be put in it's case, that the buttons are disabled to prevent accidental page turns (like falling asleep reading a book).

It's less "screensaver" and more "turning off" but it just changes the screen to let you know. It's reallyreally not a big deal.

Re:Power? (3, Insightful)

elcheesmo (646907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719692)

Why on earth do these things appear to have screensavers?

The Kindle does display an image, usually of a famous author, when it's turned off. While displaying that image does use some power, it's a negligible amount considering how many page turns the thing gets on a single charge. And it looks pretty cool too.

Re:Power? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30719724)

Not quite. The screen draws no power at all to maintain an image.

Re:Power? (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719798)

Changing to the image and then back to the text does use some power though, which I think is what the GP meant.

Re:Power? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720474)

No it definitely doesn’t. I think he just meant that there are animated screen savers.

Read again, yes it does (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720578)

No it definitely doesn't.

Are you saying it doesn't take any power whatsoever to change the screen state?

Because the OP was saying (in a way that I grant was hard to parse) that it's only two page transitions to do the "screen saver" - once to display the author page, once to restore the text.

That most certainly DOES draw power to perform, though it is a small amount and the OP noted that he actually likes that (not having the device I'm not sure why that would be preferable to just having the text you were reading always stay up).

Re:Power? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719722)

I imagine they probably decided that the 'neat' was more important than a couple of extra page changes (I think the battery lasts for more than 1,000 page changes).

Re:Power? (1)

cruff (171569) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719754)

With the latest Kindle 2 firmware, I can get almost 2 weeks of heavy reading on a charge (with the wireless turned off for most of that time). Thus displaying the "screensavers" really doesn't impact the usability.

Re:Power? (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720072)

"Neat" has nothing to do with it. When the Kindle has been idle for a while it displays what people here are calling a screen saver. Except it's not a screen saver. It's really just a way of the Kindle letting you know that you have to unlock it (just a key press combination, not a security code) to start reading. Being in this mode stops the Kindle from doing things when the buttons are accidentally pressed, thereby saving your spot.

Re:Power? (1)

macshit (157376) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720390)

"Neat" has nothing to do with it. When the Kindle has been idle for a while it displays what people here are calling a screen saver. Except it's not a screen saver. It's really just a way of the Kindle letting you know that you have to unlock it (just a key press combination, not a security code) to start reading. Being in this mode stops the Kindle from doing things when the buttons are accidentally pressed, thereby saving your spot.

What if you're just a really slow reader, though...? It seems vaguely annoying to have to press a button occasionally just to prevent it from going into a sleep mode, especially given there's no power saving from the sleep mode at all (is there a "nop" button?).

Re:Power? (2, Interesting)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720106)

I imagine they probably decided that the 'neat' was more important than a couple of extra page changes (I think the battery lasts for more than 1,000 page changes).

Also as a quick screen lock - in case you're reading something someone else might find embarassing. One push, and poof, incriminating text is gone.

Of course, if the person you're hiding the text from pushes the power button...

But I suppose the other aspect is to pretend you "closed the book" by showing you a "cover"...

Re:Power? (1)

Brandee07 (964634) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719746)

The screensaver is a static image- it only appears when you put it to sleep, and doesn't change until you wake it up and put it to sleep again. Because eInk isn't a CRT and doesn't actually NEED a screensaver, it's more of a pretty keylock screen than a screensaver.

Re:Power? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30720100)

I have a kindle, and I think the "screen saver" is mostly a cosmetic feature. It serves as an indicator that the device is on standby, so background processes like wireless syncing are off.

Aside from that, the black and white portraits show off the depth of the 16 color gray-scale and give it an academic air. It's essentially the same as putting a nice image on the cover of a book.

Re:Power? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720122)

Why on earth do these things appear to have screensavers?

Perhaps so that people who glance at your device when it's lying on the table won't be able to know what you're reading? You may not want people to know how far along you are in your novel [valpo.edu] .

Re:Power? (1)

PlazMan (40335) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720348)

So maybe someone who owns a Kindle or a Nook can answer me something that has bugged me for a while: Why on earth do these things appear to have screensavers? By changing the image when the machine is idle, doesn't a screensaver actually drain the battery where normally there would be no drain at all? Does an e-ink screen really need to be "saved" (i.e. will it burn out/burn in)?

As far as I can tell from my Kindle, there is no need to "save the screen". It is simply providing a visual indication that it has entered a mode where button presses will be ignored - which is nice since a few inadvertent clicks can cause you to lose your place in whatever you are reading. The power consumed to throw up an image when it goes into this state is pretty negligible, and I believe it offsets that by going into a lower power mode for the wireless connection while in this state. The only way to get out of this state is to activate a slider switch, so there's little to no risk of accidentally flipping pages due to it getting jostled around in a backpack.

That said, I really with it had the ability to increase the time-out or disable the screen saver entirely since I use my Kindle for displaying approach plates while flying and it is really aggravating when I'm in the middle of an approach and it decides to show me a picture of Jane Austen instead of the route that I'm flying.

Re:Power? (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720530)

I'm not positive about why they do it, I would think that it's to prevent some sort of burn-in but I've never left it to find out. If you remove the battery while it's displaying something, it stays on the screen, and the battery does seem to drain faster than when it's just sitting on a page in reader mode. I also have mine setup to play mp3s off the SD card. You can rig it to display images and I'm pretty sure you can rework it to use custom pics for the screensaver, though it might require getting a terminal on the kindle(crazy wiring and PuTTY required). There's a lot in the kindle(at least the first gen one that I have) that they don't advertise. The wireless module has a GPS chip in it.If you bring up the experimental web browser and press 'ALT-1' it brings up your location in google maps, 'ALT-2' will bring up gas stations nearby, 'ALT-3' restaurants, etc. The music player has alt- shortcuts to play/stop and skip tracks from anywhere in the menus or in a book.

Re:Power? (5, Informative)

theblondebrunette (1315661) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719622)

If you did RTFA, on the first page you'd see:
"Switching from the backlit mode, to the reflective one drops the display's power consumption from 2.5 Watts to 0.5 Watts. This is for a refresh rate of 60 Hz--fast enough to display video. Pixel Qi claims that using software to put the display into an e-reader mode--suitable for reading text, where the screen might only update ten times a second--could drop the power consumption to as low as 100 milliwatts."

For the IMOD:
"The height of the air gap between the plates determines the color of light that is reflected from the IMOD. When a voltage is applied, the plates are drawn together by electrostatic forces and the element goes black. When the voltage is removed, the plates separate and color is reflected off the IMOD. A single pixel is made up of several IMODs; adjusting the height of each affects the overall color of the pixel. The plates stay in place, using almost no energy, until the color needs to change again. A plate only has to move a few hundred nanometers to change color and can do it in tens of microseconds--fast enough to show video."

Liquavista:
"The LCD devices are based on a technique called electrowetting, in which a voltage is used to modify the surface tension of colored oil on a solid substrate. In the absence of a voltage, the oil forms a film over the substrate and is visible to the viewer. When a voltage is applied, the pixel becomes transparent. By controlling the voltage of each pixel independently, a picture can be displayed. Unlike E Ink's technology, electrowetting pixels can be switched in a few milliseconds, making them suitable for showing video."

What the article doesn't say, which is easiest on the eyes. My bets are still on e-ink.
Recently I tried this "Libre" LCD-based e-reader, and my eyes were bleeding, it was that horrible, or maybe I'm spoiled by real e-ink, and no, it's not Kindle.

Re:Power? (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719782)

The display in the OLPC XO-1 is the predecessor of Pixel Qi's current products. I'd say that the comparison between that screen and the e-ink implementation of the kindle is as follows:

Color/video/refresh: The LCD, hands down. E-ink doesn't even rate.

Monochrome/text/reading: Both are a little "greyer" than one would like. E-ink has worse blacks; but a somewhat brighter background(under standard illuminated room conditions). LCD has nicer blacks; but a slightly darker background unless the ambient light is quite bright.

I'd say that E-ink was modestly better in medium light, by virtue of its brighter background; but worse in low light since there is no way to backlight it just a bit. In full sunlight, either was highly readable; but E-ink suffered from its usual slow refresh issues.

Re:Power? (5, Interesting)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719806)

A couple of years ago, I had the chance of going to a talk from the guys of E-ink. They showed the B&W and Color displays before the e-readers came out. I was amazed at the picture frame prototype they had, and always wonder what happened to it.

I'm curious about the reason they are holding back the release of color screens and waited for a punch from the competitors. I had it in my hands, so I know it existed way longer than the first Sony reader came to the market.

This is before they took that off of their website [archive.org]

Re:Power? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719846)

That article says that they had 12 bit color at 83 ppi. The kindle is something like 170 ppi.

So it was probably more expensive, looked bad compared to displays with better color depth, and it wasn't very crisp.

Re:Power? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720150)

A typical problem with displays is that many newly developed display types have very limited life times. Sometimes as short as days or a few changes, deteriorating fast. I can imagine that such a colour version had a short life time, maybe in the order of 100 changes. That's probably good enough for a prototype display to show off, but not for consumer applications.

As another commenter points out the pixel size may have been an issue. Again this is something that makes it sound to me like nice prototype, but that's it.

These two issues - life time and resolution - is what producers were waiting for to mature. In b/w they have matured: hence the Kindle et. al are there. Colour may be next.

Re:Power? (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720790)

E-Ink charges a fortune per display, the single most expensive part (about 100$ for a 7 inch reader) is the display, and since they have a monopoly or still have one, that is not bound to change, they probably are withholding the color one for exactly that reason.

Re:Power? (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720596)

thing is that unless the system fully powers down between page turns (and even then may bleed some purely from the imperfection in transistors), there is still a cpu in the background, idling and waiting for user input.

the biggest power draw in displays are more often backlight, then maintaining a static image, unless one is using CRT or similar where one continually repaints the pixels.

Re:Power? (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720702)

You could use an ARM processor have it draw very little power. Sure, you can't run Windows, but if you're gaming you probably don't care so much about power usage.

Do not want. (5, Insightful)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719586)

The beauty of grayscale eink is that it's very close to paper - making it easy to read for long periods of time. However, the transition time on the Kindle or other grayscale eink devices is long enough to be annoying. Making these transitions longer will decrease my satisfaction in them, making the display dimmer will make them worthless to me.

If I wanted color, I'd hit an iPod touch, tablet PC, or laptop.

Keep It Simple Stupid.

Re:Do not want. (-1, Redundant)

uradu (10768) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719630)

Then you haven't seen Qualcomm's Mirasol display tech. It is flippin' awesome:

http://www.engadget.com/2010/01/09/qualcomm-mirasol-display-video-hands-on-in-glorious-1080p/ [engadget.com]

Not only is it full color and full motion, but they even claim 6x better energy efficiency. What's not to like?!

Re:Do not want. (1)

dagamer34 (1012833) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719752)

CES = test tube experiments shown in broad daylight. They may never hit the market. Remember how 105" LCDs have been shown since 2005? When's the last time you saw one of those at your local Best Buy? Granted, practical applications of technology often do make it to market, but stuff is usually years away from being widespread. The show is more about what "could be" and attracting other companies as clients, not end-consumer oogling for "what's shipping this year".

Re:Do not want. (1)

uradu (10768) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719810)

You've been able to buy 120" displays for a couple of years now, though they will probably never be sold at your local BB for two obvious reasons: they're too damn big to fit through most people's doors, and they're too damn expensive. Pixel Qi and Mirasol are definitely imminent, no need to get all cynical about those.

Re:Do not want. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30719642)

I'd hit an iPod, for nothing more than the satisfaction of breaking it.

---
See sig for proof that P=NP

Re:Do not want. (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719780)

If I wanted color, I'd hit an iPod touch, tablet PC, or laptop.

You must be one of those "I want my phone to be just phone" people.

But there's no turning back. Color eInk screens were already demoed, they just aren't production-ready... yet. But they will be. Remember, eInk tech is still in its infancy - the first device that shipped with a screen more advanced than N-segment indicator was Sony Librie, and that was in 2004! We've already got much better contrast since then, and - while it may be hard for people who only saw the current generation of readers to comprehend - page turning speed is actually a fair bit better than it used to be, too.

Don't expect major breakthroughs, but gradual evolutions. Higher DPI, faster refresh, higher contrast, eventually - color screens, with color depth increasing steadily.

So, yes, I fully expect to read color books on an eInk (or whatever it'll be called then) reader in 3-4 years at the latest.

Re:Do not want. (0, Flamebait)

badasscat (563442) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720450)

So, yes, I fully expect to read color books on an eInk (or whatever it'll be called then) reader in 3-4 years at the latest.

Can you explain to me (and I suspect all the rest of us) what a "color book" is?

Re:Do not want. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30720560)

I would assume it is something that can be displayed in colour instead of black and white.

...did I really just have to explain that? How the hell can a person even operate a computer or read a language if they cannot comprehend something being in colour instead of black and white?

Re:Do not want. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30720794)

Can you explain to me (and I suspect all the rest of us) what a "color book" is?

When you reach kindergarten, some of the books they give you are not printed in color. Instead, the illustrations are just done in solid lines, with nothing filled in. The idea is that you can use your crayons to fill in the color areas yourself. At first this seems counter-intuitive and time-consuming, but it's actually enjoyable once you get the hang of it.

Re:Do not want. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30719970)

... However, the transition time on the Kindle or other grayscale eink devices is long enough to be annoying....

The transition time on my Sony 300 is less than a second - about the same as physically turning a page.

Re:Do not want. (1)

JohnBailey (1092697) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720340)

The transition time on my Sony 300 is less than a second - about the same as physically turning a page.

Same with my Cybook. It takes an instant to wake up fully and get everything sorted, but the actual screen redraw is fine for it's purpose. Obviously, it's never going to be fast enough for the drama queens who simply must have instant screen refresh, and none of that beastly flashing as the display zeros. Personally, I have developed the habit of pressing the next page button when I'm half ways through the last sentence, and it is not disruptive at all. Blink and you'll miss it.

Re:Do not want. (1)

srothroc (733160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720104)

Perhaps it would be useful for something that doesn't require a lot of transitions in a short time. A few of the things I can think of are picture frames, advertisements/billboards, signs/menus on walls, digital clocks... those big informative posters I used to see in elementary school that were changed out every week.

Re:Do not want. (0)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720562)

Have you never seen a magazine or colored paper in your life??

And frankly, “KISS” gets throw around here a lot. Maybe those who use it, kept themselves a bit too simple and stupid. Cause it’s fuckin” idiotic. I’ll explain why:
“KISS” has a basic failure in the logic it is founded upon. Which is, that it equals simplicity with better usability. Which is a simplification that can’t be made. They are not the the same.
The real ideal is efficiency.
“KISS” is exactly what brings you Clippy, MS Bob, Notepad, and interfaces that are so “simple” that you have to dumb yourself down to be able to use them. (Happens to me a lot with Apple UIs. No offense. I just find myself having to stop thinking so intelligently, to find the function I need. Which is a deal breaker for me. And MS interfaces too, obviously. MS is just harder because it is so badly designed. ;)
Efficiency does not equal simplicity. It means an interface that is adapted to your needs. That fits you like a glove. Which can mean a simpler interface. BUT only half the time! And that is the point. Sometimes you want a feature-rich complex interface, because the work you are doing is complex! Because you are experienced and good at it.
In one sentence: You do not want the interface limiting you.
But frankly, dumb people get support left and right, because they do not feel ashamed of yelling loudly like they are entitled to get it pre-chewed. And we get to live whatever stupid interface fits them. Which is completely useless for us.
And why the either-or anyway? I expect from a good interface designer, to create something that adapts to the user, grows and shrinks with his needs, and can fit any user. From a genius to someone who got a mental disease.
“KISS“ is just an excuse in favor of the dumb. Sorry, UI designers. Get your act together, and notch it up a dimension. Compromises are a makeshift solution. Not the real deal.

Re:Do not want. (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720664)

i suspect that we still do not have computer systems that can adapt silently and correctly in the same way as the human mind can.

what your asking for is more like a proto-ai secretary, that will continually evaluate what your doing and observing.

microsoft have been experimenting with systems like that, based around bayesian math, iirc. Software that can for instance create a calendar entry automatically based on the content of a email.

sadly, the only thing we have seen in product form so far was clippy...

Don't limit the perception of those screens! (4, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719608)

We see in the summary "e-reader", "e-book"...ignoring that those screens (well, at least Pixel Qi one, that I'm sure of) are great also as replacements for screens in netbooks (remember commercials of those depicting them on the beach, in the park or bright cafe?); generally any highly portable device.

Those are the screens which were supposed to be in place all along. Finally we can have them. Who cares about e-book readers?

Re:Don't limit the perception of those screens! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30719926)

"Who cares about e-book readers?"

People that read books. People that mostly read internet articles don't care but if you read a long novel the difference is night and day. Also I challenge you to read a novel off an iPod Touch. I love mine and my new one has enough battery life to get through three movies. Impressive but you can spend days on a novel. Recharging isn't always an option especially when you are traveling. I got an external battery which makes a huge difference. I watched three movies on a plane ride recently and managed to recharge my Touch before we landed off the back up external. It was $50 and just one more thing to carry. Battery life and ease of reading are the big reasons to get an eInk reader. Everything else you are better off with a Touch. If you are dead set against an eInk reader then you probably don't need one in the first place. Just because you don't doesn't mean others aren't interested. Sales were strong this Christmas. If they can get the prices down below $200 for a Kindle level machine then sales will likely be twice as much as they are now. Get me the larger Kindle for half the price and I'll get excited. I like the idea of the Nook but it sounds twitchy and the extra color screen will eat battery life. Also the problem over Christmas was just getting one. I think if they every manage to get a good quality one under a $100 a lot of people would be interested. Right now you can buy a lot of dead tree copies for the price of a reader. It's more about convenience than practicality at the moment.

Re:Don't limit the perception of those screens! (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720840)

If you're spending days to read a novel, you're doing it wrong. That same battery charge that can get you through 3 movies will get me through 5-plus books, play back music while I'm reading, fit in my pocket, and hold a lot more books than a Kindle or other reader without an SD card slot.

Two years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30719676)

End of next year? That's two years away!

flickering with e-ink (3, Interesting)

e**(i pi)-1 (462311) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719700)

the new technology with color, faster page build and better energy efficiency is welcome. My biggest complaint with electronic ink is the "flicking" before a page turn. I was told that it is necessary to remove any traces from the previous text. Its certainly a personal thing, but I find this annoying. Every page flip reminds on how unfinished the current e-ink technology is.

Re:flickering with e-ink (1)

vcgodinich (1172985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720342)

Every time my linux box's windows tear across, or "erase" my screen it reminds me how unfinished that technology is

Re:flickering with e-ink (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30720440)

So.... get a window manager that was made in the past 10 years?

Re:flickering with e-ink (0)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720750)

Should be easy to solve in software or firmware.
Right now they just first loop trough all the pixels and flip them to white. Then loop trough the new image and flip black pixels.
I assume that the reason is, that there is some very fast way to blank everything, which saves refresh time.

But they could also use a single loop which flips a bit, if it is different from the one in the new image.
I just guess that this would actually take longer because it would not be as fast.

So they chose the faster one, assuming that nobody would be annoyed. I liked it, so it works for me.
But if there are actually many people annoyed by it, I would build in a option to choose the second mode.

Re:flickering with e-ink (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720800)

Actually the flicking is a thing of getting used to, at first you are annoyed after a while you wont notice anymore, the bigger problem is the contrast, or lack thereof, paper quality is a lie, the contrast you get is more along the lines of 100 year old newspaper with aging ink.
Still good enough, but the media was writing garbage on global scale about the contrast, it does not even come close to a real book.

I love my kindle (5, Interesting)

LlamaZorz (1717784) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719742)

I have a Kindle2 becasue it enables me to read more than I normally would. Certain things I would only read online like periodicals and hack tutorials were not being read due to eye strain. I didnt want to print these as it would become expensive and wasteful fast. My kindle has really long battery life and I actually get less eye strain with it than with real paper books given the grey background. I love the thing, any gloss or color will just make the device cause more strain and that's now what I wanted.

Where is my Harry-Potter newspaper? (1, Interesting)

starbugs (1670420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719838)

Thin, light, cheap and permanent.
That's what I thought this E-ink would aspire to be.

Why do we but such big ugly boxes around E-ink?
We're just making super-low power tablets with slow screens.

I want a sheet of paper screen that I can crumple up and throw away when I spill coffee on in.
Sure watching videos is nice. But why is it called an E-book?
This is a step in the wrong direction.

I want to end up with something like This [youtube.com] (Caprica) or like the display sheets in the show Andromeda instead of just another tablet.

Re:Where is my Harry-Potter newspaper? (1)

starbugs (1670420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719916)

Sorry...
'build' such ugly boxes around E-ink, and spill coffee on 'it'.
Where's my iCaffeine?

Re:Where is my Harry-Potter newspaper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30720120)

I want a sheet of paper screen that I can crumple up and throw away when I spill coffee on it.

Enough with the technological trash already.

I want a sheet of paper screen that I can wipe clean if I spill coffee on it.

Where is my Emma Watson? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30720420)

Thin, light, cheap and with a perm.

I'd prefer higher contrast (5, Interesting)

JakeD409 (740143) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719880)

A color eBook reader is something that will really appeal to my girlfriend (who has many art books and comic books). I, on the other hand, use my Kindle to read novels and programming books. There might be a little colored syntax highlighting in my programming books, but that's the extent that color would affect my eBook-reading experience. I'd much prefer a higher-contrast greyscale eBook reader. Currently, the contrast on my Kindle (and, from what I understand, the Nook and the Sony readers) is about the same as that of a dirty newspaper (about 8:1 I believe). It doesn't bother me, but I'd buy one that has paperback book contrast (about 50:1) in a heartbeat.

Re:I'd prefer higher contrast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30720408)

Having been temporarily blinded by a real dead-tree book, I'd really like the grey screens. They are especially good for longer reading sessions, for example when I am doing an overview of previous works before writing my on science article.

Real book page turn times (5, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719930)

I don't understand these complaints about the response times for the screens on e-readers. They're designed to be easy to read for the purpose of replacing paper books, not replacing LCD TVs or computer monitors. A real book doesn't have instant page turn times and there's a bit of "flicker" as the page flips up and over the current page. I've used a kindle before and it takes longer to turn a real page than for the kindle to refresh so I don't see a problem here.

Seems like people are really bitching that e-readers can't be used for video. My question is why did you buy an e-READER if you wanted to watch VIDEO? You should have bought a laptop.

Re:Real book page turn times (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30719988)

You just expressed a view that is completely lost of marketing fools who see features features features as the only way to sell units. This is why every ebook reader also has an mp3 player in it.

Re:Real book page turn times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30720090)

what we really want is a PADD from star trek. full screen 1080p color video and ability to read books in one handy slate device cheap enough to throw around the house. the qualcom mirasol does look promising. couple that with samsung i8510 like hardware and we have a winner.

Re:Real book page turn times (1)

jabbathewocket (1601791) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720116)

Newsflash, not everyone has the same mix of devices (either at home or portable versions).. Thus to the person with the iphone, and a 17" macbook pro, feature phones look stupid and braindead, netbooks make no sense at all, and having any sort of desktop computer at all seems so ancient an idea.. Change the devices around a bit.. and the guy with a moto razr, and a netbook.. cant comprehend why anyone would bother with an iphone or a high end winmobile device .. much less the idea of a giant laptop at home.. when they can have a desktop pc at home.. Different strokes/different folks.. as far as the reason for the MP3 player in most of these devices is so that they can be compatible with audible.com audiobooks.. not so that you can whip out your kindle DX to listen to some tunes.

Re:Real book page turn times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30720248)

What you are saying is that some people want a TABLET PC.

The point is' and remains that in terms of the design of E BOOK READERS, shooting for video is absurd.

Owning and using several Kindles, i can tell you the selling points are weight and battery life.

trying to make the thing play video kills both, and anyone that actually uses the devices will tesss you the same.

Re:Real book page turn times (1)

badasscat (563442) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720568)

Newsflash, not everyone has the same mix of devices (either at home or portable versions).. Thus to the person with the iphone, and a 17" macbook pro, feature phones look stupid and braindead, netbooks make no sense at all, and having any sort of desktop computer at all seems so ancient an idea.. Change the devices around a bit.. and the guy with a moto razr, and a netbook.. cant comprehend why anyone would bother with an iphone or a high end winmobile device ..

This is not really the point. You're talking about people with devices that can do various things not understanding the point of other devices that do those things. We're talking about two different devices that already serve completely different purposes having features grafted on so one is more like the other. This is not the same as what you're talking about.

To run with your analogy, you would better ask that guy with the netbook and the razr how he'd feel about a new netbook that you could hold up to your ear and make calls with, or the guy with the iphone and the macbook pro how he'd feel about a new iphone with a 14" screen (and therefore the same bulk as his macbook pro). These would be pointless devices to these people too, even though they're fans of these devices in their original forms, and even though this convergence would theoretically allow them to carry one fewer device. But the execution of these features would be so lacking in comparison to the device for which these features were originally intended that nobody in their right mind would actually ditch the devices they're currently carrying in favor of the new ones.

So it is with video-playing e-readers, which sound to me kind of like toast-making washing machines or car-waxing guitars. Sure, I'll bet somebody could adapt these devices to do those things... and maybe one or two people would even find them interesting enough to buy as a result. But I'll bet most people would continue to buy toasters and washing machines separately, as they'd no doubt do the job better.

Not everything in this life needs to converge. We're not going to one day have some super-device that performs every task we need or want to do and does it all from the palm of our hand. It might be a nice dream, but it is not reality. The reality is that we actually have more devices now than ever, because that's what people really want. They may say they want convergence if you phrase it in the "if you could have more features on this product, would you want them?" kind of way, or even the "if you could carry fewer devices and perform the same tasks, would you like that?" kind of way, but this is not the real choice people are asked to make when they actually buy these devices. The real choice is usually between one device that does a bunch of things poorly, or a bunch of devices that each do one thing really well. And the vast majority of people regularly choose the latter.

Re:Real book page turn times (3, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720616)

Oh I thought that was because I usually listen to music while reading and the two were a natural fit for sitting on an airplane listening to music while reading.

Re:Real book page turn times (1, Interesting)

xtracto (837672) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720938)

Good, then lets put a camera, mobile phone, GPS, clock and pager to the e-book rader!

I think this make sense because I usually am waiting for a call while reading and listening for music when I am on a trip. Sometimes I want to know where along the trip am I, what time is it and if I need to take my pills. Oh, and of course I like taking pictures of the places I go to read.

Re:Real book page turn times (2, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720792)

This is why every ebook reader also has an mp3 player in it.

No, every eBook reader has an mp3 player in it because every manufacturer wants audio feedback that doesn't sound like an alarm clock being murdered. If you're going to [therefore] skip the bit-banging speaker interface and even FM synthesis and move along to some real audio, it barely costs more to install a codec capable of handling the audio output part; and decoding mp3 is such a trivial task compared to [say] displaying a PDF in a timely fashion that it doesn't even bear mentioning in terms of CPU time... especially since mp3 can be decoded with integer-only math. Also, if you're implementing text-to-speech, mp3 is a joke. Not putting it in would only confuse.

Re:Real book page turn times (1)

WilliamTS99 (942590) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720854)

Handicap accessibility and audiobooks are what I think of as far as mp3 capabilities in e-readers.

Re:Real book page turn times (1)

Rytr23 (704409) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720102)

+1!! God damn it annoys me when people start whining about the second "page flip". 99% of people don't read fast enough for this to be an issue anyway.

Re:Real book page turn times (2, Insightful)

warcow105 (1173105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720382)

You hit the nail right on the head. My sony reader got me reading books again, and thats what I got it for...I didnt wish it could do video, nor did a pause between pages bother me(like you said, it takes longer to turn a real page). Feature bleed is a royal pain, instead of these manufacturers making a device that does 1 thing excellent, they jam as many features in as possible so their sales flier has more bullet points that company b, but it does it all half assed.

Re:Real book page turn times (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30720452)

Reminds me of this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQHX-SjgQvQ

Re:Real book page turn times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30720634)

That's about the funniest damn thing I've seen in awhile. I guess reading /. comments DOES pay off once in awhile. :P

Re:Real book page turn times (0)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720920)

A real book doesn't have instant page turn times

A real book gets pretty damn close to instant page turn, as it gives you the freedom to flip through tens or hundred of pages at once, it doesn't limits you to linear flipping forward and backward through a book. And that style of browsing a book is incredible useful when you search for a page, where you don't have a bookmark to. The ability to quickly browse through books, with an intuitive interface on top, is one of the main reason why I prefer a real book to digital book one. Even a digital one on a LCD with a PDF reader can't really keep up with a real book, as you always get tiny delays between page flips or an incomplete redraw of the page that takes a moment to finish.

The other issue with refresh is simply the Internet. If I have a device that is used to read stuff, I want to be able to read with it the largest resource of reading material out there and for that I need fast refresh, as a lot of webpages assume that fast refresh and scrolling is available and can't properly function without it. And even with proper designed pages you want fast refresh, as clicking through links, flipping through tabs and all that stuff needs to be fast. Imagine for a moment that Firefox would take a second to respond to each of your actions. Doesn't sound all that great a user experience, does it?

We don't need e-ink (1)

Flentil (765056) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720050)

This e-ink stuff is a marketing gimmick to justify charging outrageous prices. If someone would just release a very basic LCD book reader for $19.99 it would probably sell 100,000 units faster than e-ink sellers could sell 100 units. It would probably put the e-ink people out of business, almost overnight.

Re:We don't need e-ink (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720290)

If you're up for wasting some time hacking the software that power those digital picture frames, you'll get pretty close. Maybe not $20, but I spotted a couple on Amazon in the $30-50 range. It would be a bit large and unwieldy (not to mention not even remotely portable, given that they're not battery-powered) but at a vague conceptual level, it's not that far off the mark.

Re:We don't need e-ink (2, Insightful)

vcgodinich (1172985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720308)

1) Failure to understand the benefits of the technology. CHECK

2) Offer proposal not based in reality (Technical or Fiscal) CHECK

3) Typical "Someone should do something about ..." bitching. CHECK

Three strikes and you are out.

Re:We don't need e-ink (1)

heson (915298) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720648)

Sadly, this ignorant is as ignorant as the general public. The glossy readers based on inferior technology will sell millions (but will not be used)

Maybe there's a place for both (1)

Azureflare (645778) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720092)

I think there is a market for both the PixelQi type screen, as well as traditional e-Ink. The PixelQi type screen can mimic e-Ink for reading length text, but can also revert to a normal looking screen for other stuff. It'll be great on netbooks and tablets for general purpose computing. However, there are many that just want an eReader without anything else. That's where e-Ink does really well.

I find it a little hard to believe that the screens can consume less power than e-Ink, but if they consume less power than existing LCDs I say, awesome! Because that's who the PixelQi et. al. are competing with; existing LCDs (and each other I suppose). But I don't think they really apply to the e-Ink, eReader department. People that enjoy reading will likely still buy kindles, regardless of what new LCD tech is developed.

There's something to be said for simplicity. Personally, I want an all-in-one device so I don't have so many gadgets to forget on the train. But that's just me. I was never interested in a Kindle in the first place, and don't understand the obsession with them. Maybe it's because Kindles don't smell like books. There's something enchanting about the smell of an old book while you're reading it...

Re:Maybe there's a place for both (1)

HellYeahAutomaton (815542) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720152)

Feature request: Replaceable perfume cartridge that smells of Ea d' old booke.
Add that in after unfettered SD support on the Kindle and you may have a winner.

I want a Que device form factor for $199 or basically a device like the Entourage Edge with e-Ink on *both* displays.
But with all the 6inch devices, or 9 inch devices that are crippled its a matter of just waiting out this war and see who emerges the victor.

 

Why not just a labtop? (0, Flamebait)

jobst (955157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720154)

While I get the idea of reading books on my laptop (and I have plenty of them on it) I do not get why I need another device?
Why not simply flipping the screen 90 degrees on my laptop (which I do) or doing the same on my workstation (with a swivel screen)?

Full color book reader (1)

damas (469487) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720238)

I've had a full color book reader for the last year. It's (of course), an Android phone with FBReaderJ for ePub support. In order to reduce eye strain I use it in reverse color mode (White text on black background). Beats paper books & Kindle for portability and the battery lasts for 2-3 days. A "book reader" is an extremely limited device - why should I buy one when I can read books on my phone?

Re:Full color book reader (2, Insightful)

vcgodinich (1172985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720288)

Do you have a desktop computer AND a phone? They both can get online, edit documents etc. . . why do you have both? Don't knock ebook readers till you try them. Anyone that has one will laugh at comparing them to reading a book on a phone. LAUGH.

MIssing the point. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30720344)

The problem here is that people are forgetting that the entire purpose of these gadgets is for reading books. How many books that are read by adults have significant amounts of color in them? Almost zero have pictures...let alone color pictures. Furthermore, video (while cool) has nothing whatever to do with reading books.

I got a Kindle for Xmas - the older one with the smaller display.

It uses very, VERY little power (I've read about 3000 pages on it - and it still hasn't needed to be recharged) - which is a plus because I want to spend a long time reading books and I don't want a power cord. The reason it uses so little power is that (like an actual book), it doesn't consume power when you're S-L-O-W-L-Y reading through a page because ePaper retains it's image even when the device is switched off - so the kindle pretty much turns everything off until you press a button - then it does what you asked and then turns itself off again.

The page turn time is indeed rather slow - but it's comparable to the time it takes to turn a page on a paper book - which we've already deemed "acceptable"...I only find that a problem when I'm using it for something non-bookish.

The huge range of angles through which you can view the ePaper is useful for reading in bed. The fact that it's reflective lets you read in bright sunlight. It's resolution is good enough to let me get the equivalent of an entire page of a paperback on one screenful. It's super lightweight.

All of those things are what matters for an actual book reader...not color or video.

If you want video and color and that stuff - it's not for book reading - it's for something else. Worse still, the steep increase in power consumption, drop in resolution, increase in weight and failure to be readable in bright sunlight that is required to make that happen makes them dramatically LESS good as book readers. I can read my Kindle in bed (I use a little clip-on white LED light as I do with paper books so as not to disturb my wife with bright lights) - and it's actually dramatically better than an actual paperback because the screen is always at right angles to my line of sight - which is something that's tough to achieve on both the odd and even pages of an actual book. The price of the cheaper Kindle is about the same as my annual book buying budget and because eBooks are about 50% of the price of paper books, it'll pay for itself in 2 years.

I love the Kindle as a book reader.

The only downside is the DRM crap...but I don't imagine for one moment that these new color machines will be any less encumbered than the Kindle in that regard. The Kindle can be persuaded to read free books from Project Guthenburg for $0 - so free books are still free.

I fully realise that it makes a crappy laptop/pda/netbook/cellphone/pizza-oven/etc - but that's OK because what I actually WANTED was an eBook reader. If you're offering me color and video, I'll take it - but only so long as there are zero compromises to the main function of the machine - and that's flat out not true right now.

Re:MIssing the point. (2, Informative)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#30721002)

Magazine sales are vastly higher than book sales, and I think ebook reader vendors realize this. Plus there has been sort of a race to color by everyone for publicity's sake.

The display technology used in the Kindle hasn't changed much in the last 5 years, it has only gotten cheap. (so instead of insanely expensive it is simply costly now)

ps- I'm glad you like the Kindle, I certainly enjoyed making it. And I still use one of my prototype Kindle 2 units every day.

Sunlight laptop (4, Insightful)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720582)

I don't care that much about e-readers, but hey, getting a laptop that could be viewed under full sunlight is just revolutionary for me.

A silly idea (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30720820)

I've whined before about there being no OLED-over-e-Ink displays. I did a little looking back and of course this was discussed before, there would just not be enough light; e-Ink so far has mediocre contrast and OLED is only partly transparent. But what if you could make two OLED layers back-to-back? One of them faces the page and is there to light it in dark conditions. The other is printed over the backlight layer but faces the other direction and provides video. Either way, e-Ink still needs a contrast bump to work, but I hear there's one coming "real soon now" :p

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