e-Reader device with both e-paper and LCD color displays shown off at CES 2010; photo by Jaymi Heimbuch
E Ink has been among the leaders in color electronic ink displays, and the new head of the company, Prime View International (the company that recently took over E Ink) executive VP T.H. Peng, states that larger color displays will be out on the market by the end of 2010. This is the next generation of e-readers, one that will help push low power, full color displays into the lime light as magazines make their move from paper to digital. After all, it wouldn't be much fun to read your latest fashion mag on a monochrome Kindle. Interestingly enough, the company states that the extraordinary popularity of the iPad is actually helping clear the way for new color e-ink readers. We're moving toward a more digitized society, and Apple's iPad has given a huge push to the market for digital books and magazines. The mass popularity of the device as well as the work Apple is doing to pave the way for digital content is helping to create a much bigger and more willing market for other e-readers with color displays. That means companies like Prime View International have a reason to invest plenty of resources into R&D; for new color e-ink readers. In fact, they are set to present new technology in products around the end of 2010 or early 2011.
That's a boon for green since the e-ink displays use far less power than the iPad, which consumes just a little less than a netbook - much more than the standared e-reader.
Peng told Xconomy. "We believe the iPad is very well positioned to be a good product, but we think it's better for movies and video, not necessarily for digital reading. Having said that, we believe the existence of the iPad product is good for us. Just think about it--in the next month before the launch of the iPad, how many articles are there going to be talking about digital publishing and e-books? That is all really good for us, because it's helping to create a very strong consumer awareness of digital reading, and it's also good for creating awareness among publishers....
"Yes, we do see some potential competition, but we believe the positives resulting from the iPad are a lot more beneficial. So we actually welcome the iPad -- we think it's going to be a joint force with us in creating a stronger digital publishing industry."
Electronic ink displays are also easier on the eyes than LCD displays, which is what the iPad has. While the iPad can be used for things like watching videos and gaming, the e-ink technology is still useful for magazines, and as the technology develops, will also become fast enough for watching videos.
Currently, the color isn't as vivid as an LCD display, but it's getting there, and the fact that it can eliminate a backlight and constant power supply means more energy efficient, healthy displays as an alternative to other e-readers on the market.
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