Posts Tagged ‘e-Reader’
Ebook readers are arguably coming of age, but don’t assume e-ink – and the push to produce color e-ink panels – have won the game quite yet. SlashGear met up with Qualcomm’s mirasol team to discuss their latest display news, and while you might remember the technology from their early 1.1-inch single-color panels, they’re now showing off a 5.7-inch display capable of full color and video playback, with minimal impact on battery life. They’ve set themselves the target of having color ebook readers with mirasol panels on the market by the latter part of 2010, and are working with OEMs now to achieve that.
Mirasol borrows the same elements that allow a butterfly’s iridescent wings to shimmer, using tiny flexible membranes that react to electrical charges, overlaid onto a mirrored surface. Light reflected back out through those membranes is refracted so that interfering wavelengths create colors, and because the membranes used are bistable, once they have been set to display a certain color they require virtually no power to maintain it, only if it needs to be changed. The system also needs no color filters, no strong backlighting to be visible in direct sunlight and no polarizing lenses.
It’s important to point out that the device you see here is merely a mock-up the mirasol team have put together, and while non-functional overall the 5.7-inch display panel is from their fab plant and an actual, working unit, its bistable pixels locked into a color image. Qualcomm are working with multiple OEMs – the names of which they wouldn’t disclose – on a variety of ebook reader devices, and while they couldn’t confirm any particular form-factors, they did say there are plans for units with and without QWERTY keyboards, together with touchscreen and non-touchscreen models.
Where mirasol shows its strength is in battery performance. A standard ebook reader – such as the Kindle – could last for roughly 20-percent longer if its monochrome e-ink display was switched for a mirasol panel, assuming the same sort of use. As the mirasol team explained, however, once you start pushing traditional e-ink panel refresh rates, up to the point you can display smooth video, and introduce color, power draw can actual go beyond that of a regular LCD display. A color e-ink video-capable Kindle would last roughly a day using the same battery; meanwhile the same unit with a mirasol panel would last around a week.
I think this is a more radical jump in display technology than OLED. Essentially, you’re able to achieve bright, colorful images with NO backlight. And the colors become more intense when you take the screen outdoors – the opposite of what we experience with LCDs. While reducing power consumption.
I guess we’ll soon learn if the saw about “e-readers will become popular when they get a color screen” – means anything?
Plastic Logic appears ready to deliver on its promise to ship its anticipated Que e-reader the firm announced nearly one year ago. A shipping model of the Que, Plastic Logic says, will be shown off on January 7 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The company says the Que is the first “proReader” designed with business professionals in mind, but it’s going up to have some stiff competition against a full roster of e-readers including what may be the first Google Android-based e-reader…
After three different debuts, we know the Que will be the size of an 8.5-by-11-inch piece of paper, and has a touchscreen interface with iPhone-like swipe gestures instead of button controls. The device has Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, and is less than one-third-of-an-inch thick. The Que’s plastic makes the device supposedly shatter proof (I feel a PC World stress test coming on), and it uses plastic instead of silicon transistors, making the device super thin. We also know the Que supports PDF and Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel formats, in addition to e-book content. Finally, we know the device has 3G connectivity to be supported by AT&T, and Barnes & Noble will power the Que’s e-book store.
In short, we know almost everything. What we don’t know is how much it will cost, when it will be available and what the exact specs are for memory, storage, Wi-Fi standard (b,g or n) and so on. It’s a pretty safe bet the Que will be expensive since Plastic Logic CEO Richard Archuleta has always stressed the Que is focused on the business consumer, and that the market will set the price.
Ian Paul wanders off into contemplating alternative e-readers including one which is barely past prototyping. He thinks one named Alex is a possibility for Barnes & Noble.
I’ll check on that right around publication time for this post – because B&N has a press conference scheduled for this morning. Latest rumors still have it that B&N designed their own e-reader called Nook. [UPDATED]
James Tracy looking over conversion of library to learning center
There are rolling hills and ivy-covered brick buildings. There are small classrooms, high-tech labs, and well-manicured fields. There’s even a clock tower with a massive bell that rings for special events.
Cushing Academy has all the hallmarks of a New England prep school, with one exception.
This year, after having amassed a collection of more than 20,000 books, officials at the pristine campus about 90 minutes west of Boston have decided the 144-year-old school no longer needs a traditional library. The academy’s administrators have decided to discard all their books and have given away half of what stocked their sprawling stacks – the classics, novels, poetry, biographies, tomes on every subject from the humanities to the sciences. The future, they believe, is digital.
“When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books,’’ said James Tracy, headmaster of Cushing and chief promoter of the bookless campus. “This isn’t ‘Fahrenheit 451’. We’re not discouraging students from reading. We see this as a natural way to shape emerging trends and optimize technology.’’
Why would you want an Amazon Kindle, which is kind of bulky, not too attractive, and of limited scope when you could have a real digital document reader that is thin, easy to use, and very strong? That’s the business case from Plastic Logic, one of the first companies to be on stage at DemoFall.
The company’s plastic reader is designed to store dozens or hundreds of business documents on a very thin digital reader. It can store e-books, magazines, newspapers, PDFs and all kinds of information, the company said.
It’s made with plastic, not glass, meaning that it is designed to be strong and to be able to stand up to being hit with objects or, presumably, even dropped.
It looks pretty cool, and is said to weigh only ounces, “not pounds,” has a battery that lasts days and can be read in bright daylight.
Production starts soon and I guess they’ll come up with a name for the critter that won’t be too dumb.
It certainly has an easier form factor [for me] to deal with compared to existing devices.