Some (shallow) thoughts on E-ink’s new Pearl screen tech

You might recall that one of the major events last week was the simultaneous announcement of the graphite Kindle DX and E-ink's new screen tech. This was big news. The new Pearl screen is  a notable  improvement on Eiink's existing Vizplex screen. The contrast is better, and the white is whiter. But I want to point out what the screen is not: COLOR. I missed this in the original announcement, and so did everyone else.

When I first posted this news I noted that E-ink were not resting on their laurels. This is true, but they are still a step behind everyone else. Liquavista are promising to have their color screen on an ereader by the end of the year. Qualcomm have also been quite emphatic about their Mirasol screen; they won't say who will use it but it will be out this fall. And those are just the ones that making device promises. Fujitsu had the FLEpia ereader on the market last year. Bridgestone have a color screen ereader about to hit the market (distributed by Delta Electronics). Where are E-ink in all this?

When it comes to color screens, E-ink are not a serious competitor, IMO. I looked this up, and they first demoed their color screen back in 2005. Check the press release.  (I have to admit that I was a little surprised.) I don't think we're going to see a color screen from E-ink, not ever. They had a demo 5 years ago and have never actually released a device. My guess is that there is a technological reason for the delay. I don't think E-ink can do a color screen with their epaper technology.

If they could make a color screen, don't you think they would have by now?

About Nate Hoffelder (11591 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

6 Comments on Some (shallow) thoughts on E-ink’s new Pearl screen tech

  1. If they’re going to make one its a bit late now with the ipad out now and in peoples hands as a color reader. I recall the one they had on demo was nothing but shades of pastels. I doubt they can get the contrast levels in color any better than they can in b&w.

  2. When I heard about their new screen I noted it was lacking any colour, though I don’t see this a major issue as long as they can get it out the door at a low price. If they manage this then perhaps we’ll see those sub $100 eReaders hitting the market. In that moment I think we’ll accept the grey.

  3. I’m not convinced yet that a color screen is needed or even desirable if your sole intent is to read. Yes, it might be nice for an art book or a travel guide, but which was the last Fritz Lieber novel that required it? I don’t NOT buy a pbook because it only has b&w images and I’m not looking for a multifunction device as a reading platform (already have multiples of those). A single-function ereading device may not require color for a lot of people.

    I will say this, however. If we are talking about larger screen devices, devices that are suitable for magazine and PDF reading, rather than the 6-inch devices that are commonly used for ebook reading, then color is more important, although I’m not sure how much of deal maker or breaker it would be.

  4. If you think about it…

    Why does a device designed for READING need color anyway? To show the fancy covers?

    I think as long as e-ink is designed to be used in dedicated reading devices, they don’t need color technology to enhance it. The only reason they would need color is if they are going the multi-functional device (iPad) route, and yea…they would look foolish without color then.

  5. For fiction reading its not necessary, give me some super high contrast b&w any day.

  6. Color is necessary for textbooks. That could be a very lucrative market for ebooks if it weren’t for the lack of color.

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