Such is the case of the teXet TB-436. This ereader was just unveiled today, and it is due to hit the Russian gadget market in the not too distant future with a retail of 2199 rubles (~$71 USD). It’s a simple ereader without a touchscreen or Wifi (it is not mentioned), but it does have 4GB of Flash storage as well as a card slot for further expansion.
This otherwise unremarkable ereader is based on a 4.3″ E-ink screen which almost certainly wasn’t made by E-ink.
The most interesting part about this 4.3″ screen was that it looks to be the same screen as on the Trekstor Pyrus Mini. I reported on that ereader a couple months back and again a couple weeks ago when E-ink announced a lawsuit against Trekstor alleging patent infringement.
The 4.3″ screen on the Pyrus Mini was designed and made by a Chinese manufacturer, Guangzhou OED Technologies. This firm reverse-engineered E-ink’s patents and developed a similar manufacturing process which involved first making the screen material (here’s how E-ink does it) and then mounting it on a backplane which Guangzhou also developed and manufactured.
Cheap Chinese knockoffs are nothing new, and major device makers like Apple, Sony, and Nintendo each have their imitators. You can even find a vast number of makers of knockoff handbags and other apparel.
But Guangzhou is the first company which I know of that has tried to make a knockoff E-ink screen, and I find that rather fascinating. I cannot wait to get my hands on one (the Pyrus Mini is not on the market yet) and see if it is as well made as the original.