technology

The Pros and Cons of E Ink Technology

A chorus of praise was heard amongst the avid book reader when E Ink technology emerged onto the market. Why? Well because we wouldn’t be reading our favorite novels on ereaders like the Kindle or Sony Reader without it. And now that the market has had pleasure of reading electronically in greyscale, the demand for color is there. Simply put, we want to see ebooks in color.

If you surf the internet for information on ereader technology, then you know that manufacturers are trying to discover a way to create a color version comparable to E Ink. Some of the disadvantages of this technology are:

• The user loses out on color publications. These include the popular graphic novels, photography books and art books.

• E Ink can’t render full-color illustrations, photos, or other images that add to the reading experience.

• Textbooks are incomplete for students because hyperlinks aren’t clickable.

• It doesn’t highlight in color, so it can be harder for the user to detect the previously highlighted text.

• It doesn’t translate magazines or cookbooks well.

Although there are these cons, E Ink does have some great positives. These include:

• It can last for many days or even weeks on a single battery charge.

• In comparison to LCDs, it is easier on the eyes, and mimics the appearance of a physical book

In order to meet the demand, companies are trying to come up with color technology that is as efficient as E Ink. During the CES in Las Vegas held in January 2010, companies presented different color technology to the consumer. Color ereaders have already hit the Japanese and Taiwanese markets as well, so hopefully we will be seeing models in the US soon. These companies are:

Pixel Qi – There isn’t a prototype yet, but Pixel Qi created a LCD technology that can be compared to OLPC laptop displays. Experts say that Pixel Qi’s technology may be better for netbooks.

Qualcomm Mirasol – A beautiful discovery, Mirasol mimics the iridescent colors we see in nature like from butterfly wings, peacock feathers or pearls. Mirasol worked well at the CES on a small screen, but how it will look on a larger screen hasn’t been determined yet.

Kent Display – Already being utilized by the Fujitsu FLEPia out of Japan, the Kent Display is created out of film that uses cholestric crystals; however, the refresh rate is very slow and the display panel is uncomfortably thick.

Companies like Amazon may hesitate to change the Kindle display from E Ink technology to one of the emerging color technologies. Obviously a full color ebook reading experience would delight us all, but we will have to wait and see if one of these companies pulls a rainbow out of their hat.