Is E-ink Working on an Ultra-HD Screen?
If you’re down in the dumps today about E-ink’s slump in revenue then I might have some good news for you.
A reader has tipped me to some rather interesting details in a recent Bookeen contest. I am still not convinced that this means anything, but this mindworm has been gnawing at me for the past week and I have decided to spread the contagion.
Earlier this month, the French ereader maker Bookeen announced a contest on their blog. They invited readers to submit images to be used as screensavers on Bookeen’s ereaders. The contest itself was nothing unusual, which is why I didn’t report upon it.
In fact, I barely even noticed that it had been announced, but Bob had looked at the contest and noticed that the requirements were rather strict:
- images must be in portrait mode, .png format, 768 x 1024px or 1536 x 2048px
- the image must be black and white, with high contrast, since it will be displayed on a 256-level greyscale screen.
Here’s what has been bugging me: Why are the requirements so damned high?
The funny thing about the requirements is that you cannot buy a 256-level greyscale screen at all, much less get one at an incredibly high 1536 x 2048 resolution.
So far as I know the best screen E-ink can make is a 16-level grayscale screen. Anything more detailed than that will be lost when the image is displayed on the screen, so there is little reason to use such a high level of detail (or a such a large image size). Even Sony’s 13.3″ writing slate, which has the latest and highest resolution E-ink screen to date, only has a screen resolution of 1200×1600.
That’s why I have to wonder whether the new ereaders this fall will have a surprising new screen.
E-ink has already surprised us once this year with the 6.8″ screen on the Kobo Aura HD, and there’s no reason to think that they can’t do it again. The Aura HD has a screen resolution (1440×1080) that is actually higher than the screen on the Nook HD Android tablet. That tablet at that time had
currently has the highest resolution (1440×900) 7″ screen on the market, and E-ink surpassed it.
And E-ink surprised me in May when they revealed a new 3-color E-ink shelf label. What are the chances that E-ink is going to pull off another shocker in the next few months?
I would not rule it out. Remember, they did tell CNet last month that they had a next-gen screen in the works:
In the next few months the company will announce its next-generation e-ink platform for e-readers, the successor to Pearl. That screen, released in 2010, is the one used in most current e-ink readers, including the Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader.
The new platform will offer slightly improved contrast and better optical performance that’s "better tuned to capabilities of higher-resolution TFT displays that are making their way into e-readers," Mancini said.
If it does happen, folks, remember that you heard it here first.