Color E-Ink is Coming

Reflective color LCD displays, like what you see in the iPad and your standard laptop computer, offers bright and rich color displays. Even Barnes and Nobles got into the act by offering a color LCD Nook.

My thought is, if I'm buying an eReader, I want to load it up with books, take it on vacation, and read it at the beach. I don't mind having the lights on while I'm reading. The LCD displays look good with their brilliant color, but as the Kindle ads so aptly point out, get them out by the pool and you can't see them in bright light.

What's the solution? Well I want bright color, and I want to see it in bright sunlight. Color E-Ink for the beach seems to be the solution. The technology, so far, has not been forthcoming. Last week, that all changed at the CES2011, Consumer Electronic Show, in Las Vegas, a Chineese manufacturer, Hanvon, announced a color E-Ink eReader, that will not be available in the U.S.

Hanvon display

What they offered was an eReader that can view 4096 colors, not the 24-bit color that provides 16.7 million distinct colors, we get with a Truecolor LCD display, but a start. To be honest the color looks a little washed out.

Hanvon display

The Hanvon device is based on color E-Ink. E-Ink is the company that does Amazon's Kindle black and white display. In November, they announced Color ePaper. They call their technology E Ink Triton. It currently displays 16 shades of gray, and thousands of colors, the exact number not being specified by E-Ink, but the Hanvon device does 4096. This is a low power technology, unlike the LCD technology which has high power consumption.

A new technology is coming to market that looks even more promising than E-Ink color. Samsung, the number one display and high definition TV provider in the world, acquired today, a company called Liquidvista.

Liquidvista specializes in color technology that is viewable in all lighting conditions, which offers good color performance, lower manufacturing cost, and significantly lower power consumption. We're talking days between charges. They use a process called Electrowetting which offers over twice the color performance of current LCD displays. Liquidvista's target market for their technology is, of course, eReaders.

Liquidvista Display

Liquidvista did a video demonstration of both their video capability, and their color in bright sunlight, that can be watched here.  In the video they forecast commercial products by the second half of 2011.

For those of you thinking of purchasing the new Barnes and Noble color eReader, my recommendation would be to wait. Your looking at Samsung getting heavily into the eReader market with their manufacturing capability, and your looking at full color touch screens visible in all lighting conditions. I see all this coming in time for the Christmas market next year.

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