One of the first things I asked Sri was if he knew anyone with Sony's screen development division. He did, and in fact Sri had met with his colleague this week. They Sony guy showed off some neat new use of E-ink screens.
You might recall that back in May Sony showed off a few flexible E-ink demos. It is something they were working on for a few years now, and it sounds like they have a product in mind. But I don't know what it is. Sri couldn't tell me, which was understandable. Sony is keeping it a secret. In fact, it's such a secret that the demos weren't supposed to be in display back in May.
At this point all I really know is that Sony is doing something interesting with E-ink. Okay, we knew that back in May, but at least now I have confirmation. I cannot wait to find out what it is.
The next best part about the visit was when I lent Sri and his colleagues my Kyobo eReader. You would assume that a manufacturer would want to look at a competitor's products, but they are still waiting to receive them. They were surprised by the narrow viewing angle; they'd all seen the pre-production demos and this unit looked incredibly different.
And then there's the demo unit that they gave me. It's a novelty device that shows off E-ink's SIRF displays. It's only a few inches long, and it's powered by a couple AA batteries. You can see it disassembled at right. I took it apart to make sure it survived the trip home.
Here's what it looks like in action:
But the best part of the visit was when Sri pulled out the PlasticLogic 100 that he had been lent. This ereader launched on the Russian market back in September, and it uses PL's own screen tech as the basis for an academic ereader. Since it was a Russian product, I never expected to see it, much less touch it, so I consider myself to be incredibly lucky.
The few minutes I spent with it were a lot if fun. The unit was in Russian, of course, so I don't know what it said. But I did note that it had a capacitive touchscreen and supported both typed notes and scribbled annotations. It wasn't terribly fast but it was the thinnest and lightest large screen device I've ever handled. As an academic ereader, it has potential.
I wish I could have brought it home and played with it some more, but no. I even offered to trade my Kyobo eReader for it, but they demurred.