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A Closer Look at Liquavista’s Latest ElectroWetting Screen Tech (video)

Update: This post was published in January, at a time when I was the only one who believed the rumor about Amazon buying Liquavista.

liquavista 2My post yesterday on Amazon and Liquavista hasn’t generated much notice in the blogosphere yet, but it has turned up a useful little video which IEEE Spectrum magazine shot a few weeks back.

Spectrum spent some time at Liquavista late last year and they got a look at Liquavista’s latest demo units. This video is going to give you a much better idea about the color quality and possible uses of Liquavista’s screen tech.

As you can see, this screen tech is visible outside and has been developed as a 9″ display, making it a serious possibility for notebook and tablet screens. Other improvements include better than LCD battery life and the fact that this screen tech can be made in LCD factories. FYI: There is an excess of LCD production capacity right now.

But it also doesn’t have nearly as good a color quality you would expect to see on current generation LCD screens, and I find that detail a compelling argument in favor of Samsung selling Liquavista to Amazon.

One of the commenters on yesterday’s post raised the issue of why Samsung would want to sell. As he saw it, there was little obvious reason for Samsung to want to part with the company when they could just as easily make Liquavista screens and sell them to Amazon.

Speaking in terms of the mindset of Samsung and the tech blogosphere, Samsung makes products which compete with Apple. That means Samsung needs to makes screens comparable or better than the screens Apple uses, and that’s something Liquavista’s screen tech cannot do. Why not part with the company?

Liquavista might be able to get their screens into construction, military, and other rugged devices, but that is a niche market that is already being cornered by Pixel Qi. With that in mind I would argue that the biggest market for Liquavista screens would be ereaders (the commercial uses are ancillary).

If the screens are cheap enough then they will make a very attractive alternative to E-ink screens. I could easily see Amazon wanting to buy Liquavista in order to keep everyone else from using these screens. At the very least I think Amazon would be willing to throw a lot of money at Samsung just to make sure they have a color ereader no one could match.

Spectrum via

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steve January 22, 2013 um 1:31 pm

With Mirasol’s problems, Electrowetting and Pixel Qi look like the two front runners in next gen screen tech right now. (Triton E-ink maybe is another. I don’t know)

I have not heard of any electrowetting products making any inroads in the rugged market, military applications, things like that. Pixel Qi apparently has, so I’m still giving them a bit of an edge, at the moment. But I suppose it’s anyone’s game.

jbt January 25, 2013 um 1:25 pm

Triton 2 color was just introduced at CES 2013. It will be available on the Ectaco Jetbook and the Pocketbook. Liquavista is nowhere to be found at CES 2013. I thought Samsung was suppose to manufacture color eReaders this year but no news. It seems Amazon is not enamored by this Triton 2 at all and is rumored into looking at Liquavista for their next eReader. I think Amazon (or B&N or Sony) should buy Gamma Dynamics instead and use their Electrofluidics display tech. I think EFD is the only serious competitor to Liquavista.

Nate Hoffelder January 25, 2013 um 1:27 pm

The problem with EFD is that it is no where near being ready for market.

fjtorres January 25, 2013 um 3:09 pm

A further problem for all reflective displays is that people have grown accustomed to the super-saturated "pop" of LCDs. Everything else, no matter how natural, looks washed out.
Baby duck syndrome. 🙂

Nate Hoffelder January 25, 2013 um 3:14 pm

Yep. It’s all Apple’s fault.

fjtorres January 25, 2013 um 4:52 pm

I seem to remember it started with Sony.
They were the first with glossy shiny laptop screens.
(C’mon, we both know Apple is never the first to cross the rope bridge. 😉 )

Nate Hoffelder January 25, 2013 um 4:58 pm

I was thinking mobile devices and the iPad.

The tradeoff of longer battery life in exchange for lower screen quality doesn’t matter much when it comes to computers. It’s really only tablets and smaller mobile devices that need the battery life.

john January 29, 2013 um 2:09 pm

I can’t wait for liquavista to make screens for laptops, I have a Kindle 3 now and use it for reading and web browsing because of its reflective screen.

Many don’t realize but a lot of people have eye problems these days and good reflective screens like liquavista will be a blessing, until then E ink will just have to suffice…

Mike September 3, 2013 um 4:46 pm

I’d love to see a kindle fire hd with this daylight readable tech. I tried to bring my ipad mini on the deck last weekend to read the news on google, forget it. I’m not a big fan of the e-ink kindles, web browsing experience is poor, pdf is a nighmare, I realize that isn’t the intended purpose but for me it was. The Kindle Fire HD is nicer for that, but I’d like to see this tech put into one and I’d buy one pretty quick, probably would pay $100 more too.

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