Archive for E-Paper
E Ink Holdings today announced the upcoming release of E Ink Fina, a new thin and lightweight electronic paper display (EPD) technology. Fina will be the first EPD that will go into mass production for small to large format digital paper products based on a thin glass Thin Film Transistor (TFT) technology. In conjunction, today PocketBook also announced PocketBook CAD Reader – the first Fina ePaper Android device designed specifically for displaying drawings generated with Autocad from Autodesk.
Fina is a glass based TFT technology that uses a very thin glass substrate to deliver products that are much lighter and thinner than what is possible with standard LCD displays. Fina displays weigh less than 50% of the weight of an equivalent glass based TFT and are less than 50% of the thickness as well. This is particularly important for mobile products requiring larger display areas. A 13.3″ Fina display module, installed in the Pocket CAD Reader, weighs approximately 60 grams.
“Fina adds to E Ink’s portfolio of innovative display products which enable unique consumer and engineering products,” said Giovanni Mancini, director of product management for E Ink Holdings. “The extremely low power requirements, thinness, lightweight and readability under all lighting conditions truly enable design engineers to display information where they never thought possible before.”
Pocketbook is a well known brand that specializes in e-Readers and has a somewhat devout following of people who like to load in their own books. The company has always released devices that appeal to a wider consumer market since 2007 and is about to aim a new product at the business segment.
The PocketBook CAD Reader will be 13.3 inches and uses a powerful 1GHz dual-core CPU running Android 4.0.4 with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage making it very responsive with a large capacity for storing designs. With built-in Wi-Fi and 3G modules, large 8000 mAh battery.
The new CAD Reader is the first device using a new E Ink technology called Fina ePaper. It is designed specifically for displaying drawings generated with Autocad from Autodesk. It comes pre-installed with a number of free and paid CAD-applications. There is enough internal memory to hold the plans for up to 200 construction projects, which can be edited and shared through the collaboration workspace. The built-in touch screen and precise Wacom digitizer support both touch and a stylus.
“Our goal was to develop a device to be used on construction sites. We created a highly portable large format display device with a rugged and weatherproof case that could hold all the CAD drawings a team needs. This makes designs available virtually anyplace and anytime,” – said Dmitriy Shemet, head of research and development at PocketBook. “We chose the E Ink Fina 13.3 inch display because it has exactly the right properties we were looking for to develop PocketBook CAD Reader. The PocketBook CAD Reader delivers a new user experience for architects and specialists in construction trades allowing them to work on site”.
I am quite surprised that Pocketbook actually is intending on releasing a new device with such great specs. The company has been somewhat notorious over the years of consistently selling modern devices with single core 800 MHZ processors and 512 MB of RAM. This makes the bulk of their products woefully slow, this new one is aimed at a different segment and is optimal for bringing it out in the field.
e Ink has just unveiled their new corporate headquarters in the US, which puts their business and R&D divisions all under one roof. The new facility is a modern, open and collaborative space, labs, pilot facilities, test chambers and administrative offices, all under one roof. The company was previously headquartered in Cambridge.
The new E Ink Innovation Center represents a $36 million investment, is over 140,000 square feet, can hold up to 400 employees and reinforces E Ink’s position as a leading technological business innovator in Massachusetts. E Ink was just awarded the Silver Team Massachusetts Economic Impact Award by the MassEcon council for its outstanding contribution to the Massachusetts economy. The new HQ basically is double the size has the old buildings and should help the company facilitate growth into digital signage.
“The additional space will support E Ink’s growth and expansion into new markets, and will foster a more creative and collaborative environment for our employees,” said Felix Ho, CEO of E Ink Holdings. “Our new facility in Billerica was specifically designed with our technology needs in mind and offers us significantly more space. It gives our employees a dynamic and energizing working environment while allowing us to invest in the Massachusetts economy, growing our business where it all started.”
A new Color e-Reader is being developed by five media companies based in Finland. Their intention is to offer a low cost device that can be charged via solar power and used primarily for the consumption of newspapers. There is a beta test beginning in November that will see the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper being delivered by their new cloud infrastructure.
Antti Korhonen of Leia Media confirmed to Good e-Reader that they are using the e Ink Triton 2 display screen on their device. It features a 9.7 inch screen and has a resolution of 1600×1200 pixels. One of the new things this reader has going for it is the solar cell battery. It will be able to recharge in direct or ambient light and this is currently the only way you can charge the device. It is also being billed as a waifer thin device in comparison to the Ectaco Jetbook Color, with dimensions of 203 x 250 x 6 mm.
“We would like to find out whether the physical newspaper can be replaced by a reading device delivered with the subscription”, said Santtu Parkkonen, Producer, Helsingin Sanomat development.
It will be interesting to see how this pilot project fairs due to the sheer amount of companies whose hands are in the cookie jar. Leia Media, Sanoma News, Bluegiga, Anygraaf and DNA have all developed this device an contributed technology.
e-Ink has set a worlds record for the latest e-Paper sign that is installed at the UN Headquarters in New York. The eWall is an intricate combination of architectural, display and network engineering. It stands about 6 meters wide with 231 tiled 7.4″ displays arranged in a grid of 33 displays across by 7 displays high. With an overall resolution of 26,400 x 3,360 pixels, it is perfect to read at long and short distances.
The essence of the eWall is to provide delegates with scheduling, news and other information. One of the more interesting aspects is the design mode that will show giant high resolution images; or can fade seamlessly into an unobtrusive wall when turned off.
“The eWall is a perfect example of E Ink enabling designers to deliver information where they never thought possible before,” said Harit Doshi, head of signage business and director of business development for E Ink Holdings. “This project further demonstrates E Ink’s diversification into different markets – specifically the digital signage market – as a key focus market segment.”
E-ink is hoping for strong promotional value with the sign at UN Headquarters. Currently 70% of their total revenue stems from e-paper displays and signage only accounts for 5%. They are hoping to increase brand awareness in this new segment to offset the cumulative financial loses the last few quarters.
e-Readers are a technology that is relatively fringe in nature and has seen its growth stymied by the rise of tablets. E-Ink Holdings is the company primarily responsible for 90% of all e-Paper technology currently on the market. Last quarter, they lost $33 million and has been in constant decline for the past year. What can turn the e-paper industry around and have a greater market appeal? The answer is relatively easy: split screen cases for phones.
Plastic Logic and Pocketbook have been working together on a new high concept product that will see production begin in October. It basically is a phone case, but instead of it being made of leather, it has an e-Ink display panel. Built within the new Pocketbook app in development, users can switch an e-reading experience over to the e-ink display, instead of the LCD Screen. The two companies have announced that they are making a new model for the Apple iPhone.
A recent Pew Research report stated that 91% of the United States population has a cell phone and 61% have verified it to be smartphones. Major companies such as Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo, and Amazon all make solid revenue by selling eBooks to phone owners. The main problem with reading on small LCD screens is that readers end up straining their eyes and often get distracted by the multimedia. Having a split screen e-ink panel built into a highly functional case can minimize those issues.
In the next year, these types of display screens will catch on and companies like Kobo might see the benefits to offering mobile phone companies a subsidized case for new activations. eBook credit may also be offered as a further incentive to lure readers into their particular ecosystem.
Likely all the major players in the e-Reader and smartphone space are looking at this new technology as having high potential. Not a single unit has been sold yet, but something is compelling about a simple low-cost accessory that gives a full e-reading experience.
Pocketbook is best known for their line of popular e-readers in Eastern Europe. They have had terrible success with their products in North America, due to the lackluster hardware and overall design. The company is hoping to turn their fortunes around by getting into the accessory business. Pocketbook has just developed a new case for the Samsung Galaxy S4 that will allow users to read on the e-ink screen and save precious battery life on the phone itself.
The Pocketbook Cover Reader is basically a second screen that has a resolution of 800×600. You need to use the official Pocketbook app in order to read books and setup your reading preferences. Readers can turn off the Galaxy S4 screen and just read on the e-ink screen. The case is designed to flip your phone on its back and use the e-ink screen as the reading panel. This won’t kill the phone battery by using the color display. Additionally, missed calls and received SMSs are displayed on it.
The new CoverReader will use Plastic Logic’s flexible EPD product; the 4.8” display will be manufactured in the company’s Dresden facility. This new display has a range of benefits, as such screens are flexible, shatterproof, ultra-thin, ultra-lightweight, power saving, and daylight readable.
According to Enrico Müller, Sales Manager of Pocketbook Readers GmbH, CoverReader is a highly anticipated product on the market, and that is why the company plans to expand the line of smartphone CoverReaders for such brands as HTC, Sony, and Samsung.
Indro Mukerjee, CEO Plastic Logic, said: “We are excited to be working with Pocketbook on a number of projects and this smart mobile accessory application is a market segment with huge potential, for which our technology is ideally suited.”
e-Ink is transitioning from being exclusively in e-readers to phones. The Onyx Android phone has a pure e-ink screen and the Yota Phone out of Russia is certainly making noise. It will be interesting to see if the new Pocketbook case will catch on. There is no news of availability or pricing yet, but likely will go on sale by the end of the year. Samsung Galaxy S4 users can download the Pocketbook Reading App from Good e-Reader.
Yesterday e Ink announced their latest generation screen technology named Carta. E Ink Carta displays utilizes a new electronic ink formulation and technology to provide a dramatic 50% improvement in contrast ratio and over 20% improvement in reflectance over previous generations of E Ink displays for a remarkably improved viewing and reading experience. The new Carta displays utilize the most advanced bistable electronic paper technology to deliver the best contrast ratio E Ink has ever delivered to the market with the same extremely low power consumption expected from an E Ink display. We know that the new Kindle Paperwhite is using Carta, but what does Pearl, Mobious and Carta mean to the e-Reader Industry?
I may be throwing some terms that you might not be totally familiar with. Here is an overview of the e-paper used in the vast majority of commercially viable e-readers. e-Ink Pearl has been the de facto display screen that have been used over the course of the last few years. The Kobo Glo, Kindle 4, Nook and Sony all used this format for the last few generations of their readers. This technology is a bit dated now and has been supplanted by Pearl HD, which normally gives a resolution of 1024×758.
E Ink Mobius was announced a few months ago and uses a TFT technology that will enable the development of much lighter and rugged products. Mobius displays can weigh less than 50% of an equivalent glass based TFT. This is particularly important for mobile products requiring larger display areas. The new Sony 13 inch writing Slate is using this technology. You can think of it as a display that is optimized to be light and flexible. Currently Sony is the only company using it in a series of trials in Japan, but neither Sony or e Ink will comment on how the trials are going.
The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2 uses both Regal and Carta technology. This will allow for faster page turns and a full page refresh occurring every chapter, instead of the industry average of every six pages. Good e-Reader recently found out that the new Kobo Aura, which ships at the end of the month, does not use Carta, but uses E Ink Regal waveform technology. Regal waveforms dramatically reduce the need for full page refreshes after a few page turns. This enhances the reader’s experience by providing smoother page turns and more focused reading.
Good e-Reader also found out that Regal is compatible with both Pearl and Carta, but is not compatible with Mobious. This will mean that any e-Reader that uses it will be unable to take advantage of better contrast and the refresh rates. E Ink has also confirmed that Mobious technology is not finding much traction within the e-reader industry and getting more interest with signage and wearable tech. You can bet that a new breed of smart watches is going to be on their way fairly soon and longtime partner Seiko is rumored to be working on a new product line. The first smartphone to use e-Ink, the Onyx Android Phone, is going into production at the end of October and will be available late November for sale.
The one type of screen technology I have not talked about yet is Triton 2 e-Paper. The entire product line has been languishing in obscurity due to the sub-par hardware that showcases it. Pocketbook and Ectaco are the only two companies to use color e-Paper, but sub-par hardware and woeful internals hamper wide screen adoption. The question I have is, Triton 2 compatible with Regal. If it was, this would actually produce a really solid e-reader. The only dependency on the success of Triton 2 is recommend hardware from e Inks end. I know they are a business and need to produce sales, but they really need a poster child for Triton and color e-ink in general.
The e-Reader industry is in a state of flux right now with different screen technologies emerging during the last four months. Many companies are currently releasing new products based on outdated technology. One example of this is the new Sony PRS-T3, which seems dead in the water. Wexler, Icarus, Onyx, and Bookeen are all announcing new readers within the next month. We currently have no idea on exactly what they are cooking because they seldom appear in FCC certification and normally focus on Europe and Russia. The Paperwhite 2 is using the latest generation hardware and is one to watch in terms of using the most current EPD and e-Paper display screens. The Aura uses both Pearl HD and Regal, and we know from our extensive reviews that it is the best reader currently on the market. It will be very interesting to test page turn speed, reading experience and overall performance when the Paperwhite comes out at the end of the month.
The new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite was just announced yesterday, and one of the things highly touted was the new front-lit display and 25% faster page-turns. How exactly is this accomplished when the vast majority of the industry is using Pearl HD display screens? This is because Amazon was the first company to license a new breed of e-Paper called Carta.
E Ink Carta displays utilize a new electronic ink formulation and technology to provide a dramatic 50% improvement in contrast ratio and over 20% improvement in reflectance over previous generations of E Ink displays for a remarkably improved viewing and reading experience. The new Carta displays utilize the most advanced bistable electronic paper technology to deliver the best contrast ratio E Ink has ever delivered to the market with the same extremely low power consumption expected from an E Ink display.
The new display has been specifically tuned for reading applications, fully supporting E Ink Regal waveform technology. Regal waveforms dramatically reduce the need for full page refreshes after a few page turns. This enhances the reader’s experience by providing smoother page turns and more focused reading.
Regal technology is basically what the new Kobo Aura is using. This limits the full page refreshing from every six pages, which is the industry standard, to every chapter. Regal also eliminates “ghosting,” which occurs quite often in e Ink screens.
“The Carta display technology is a testament to E Ink’s continued innovation and leadership in ePaper and electronic ink displays,” said Giovanni Mancini, Director of Product Management for E Ink Holdings. “E Ink has always enjoyed a close working relation with its customers. The launch of Carta reaffirms our belief in the future of the ePaper market and we believe it will herald a new standard in ePaper displays.”
Jostling for space among the plethora of new gadgets that’s waiting to be unveiled at the upcoming IFA 2013 event will be a humble ereader device which, according to reports from its developer,addresses readers’ responsibility to Mother Nature. The ereader in question, the EnerGenie PP2 from Danish company Gembird, is very similar to any e-ink-based ebook reading device out there. However, its makers want to convince us the EnerGenie PP2 is in reality an e-paper printer.
Here is how the company behind the device is justifying it being labeled as an e-paper printer. When connected to the computer via a USB cable, the device is recognized as a printer. Pressing the print option will transfer the document to be printed onto the EnerGenie where it remains saved. The document can then be called up and displayed on the 9.7 inch e-ink display the device offers, any time it is needed. The 1600 x 1200 pixel display also helps the cause, though while this makes for a nice way to save paper, that’s only as long as the document is in black and white. Also, it’s a two-way journey with the documents, as the same can also be sent back to the PC.
Meanwhile, the EnerGenie PP2 also includes a stylus which can also make impressions on the display. What this means is that the pen can be used to modify the document or add a signature and so on. The rest of the spec story speaks of a 80 Mhz processor powering the device, together with a 256 MB RAM and 4 GB of internal memory. There is also a micro SD card slot to allow for more storage. The device runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, though it’s unlikely users will be allowed access to the operating system. There’s a 2350mAh battery that will be providing the power, which it must be said will be quite enough given the power saving credentials that e-ink based displays are known for.
However, what comes as a downside is the intended pricing, which at 399 to 499 Euros translates to about $530 to $660. That makes us wonder if there will be enough buyers to splurge on an e-paper printer, no matter how committed they may be towards the green cause.
Meanwhile, here is a video of the device in action.
e Ink Holdings has had a sizable setback with their reported $33.63 million dollar loss last quarter. The company is seeing decreased demand for their e-Reading panels, despite the fact that they are the cornerstone of Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo’s e-reading technology.
e Ink has seen a constant decline in their last two quarters, due to most of their customer base gravitating towards Android tablets. This quarter, revenue is expected to at least double over last quarter’s NT$2.93 billion, as many customers are going to release next generation e-Readers. e Ink traditionally sees an increase in business in Q3 and Q4, as manufacturing kicks into overdrive.
Although e-Paper technology accounts for 70% of the company’s value, they are trying to make a go out of their screens in other commercial spaces, such as the modest gains they are seeing in their signage for airports and transportation industries. They have also debuted new grocery store digital signage that will replace the static price tags. By the end of the year, this new revenue stream is expected to account for 5% of their total earnings.
According to The Taipei Times, “Last quarter, E Ink booked a one-time severance payment of NT$500 million for a 50 percent workforce layoff at its South Korean LCD manufacturing subsidiary Hydis Technologies Co. The number of Hydis employees has been halved to about 400 from between 800 or 900 before the personal adjustment. Meanwhile e Ink received a record high royalties fee at NT$400 million by licensing Hydis’ patents to Sharp, LG Display and other panel makers to make high-resolution LCD panels that are partly used in Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics patents.”
Pixel QI quite famously said in an interview with Good e-Reader a few years ago that the company was abandoning the e-reader and tablet sector, and instead is focusing on military, government, and civil service. Today, we have official confirmation that the current manufacturing plant that Pixel Qi was contracting to provide companies with display screens has suspended its contract and now Pixel Qi must scramble and find someone else.
Pixel QI technology was a spin off from the One Laptop Per Child initiative that was developed by Mary Lou Jepson. The key factors behind the technology was that it was able to be used in direct sunlight and had tremendous battery life. The screens found their way into smartphones, laptops, and tablets. The technology is able to generate high resolution color and does not suffer from the refresh issues that have always plagued E Ink.
Mary Lou jumped ship to Google in early 2013 to spearhead its Display Labs at Google X. Pixel QI never quite recovered from the chief of technology leaving them and has not found anyone new. It seems the company right now is in dire straights.
Floyd and Harris, an IT company in Budapest, outlined the current situation with Pixel QI. “We have been using Pixel Qi displays extensively in our UAV ground control stations and generic field service PCs with much success, so today’s news hit us hard about Pixel Qi having to move its manufacturing base from the current subcontractor. Both one of our clients and the European Pixel Qi distributor has called us with the news, so I believe it must be true. Such moves may have very serious implications for the supply chain and the general availability of the only low power sunlight visible solution available for our systems.” The company went on to say, “From what I heard so far, Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT) cannot offer their services to Pixel Qi anymore. Most of my sources tell me that the production quantities are still too low for them, but I couldn’t substantiate this from primary sources. There were already some issues trying to get at least a single piece of the new 1280×800 type screen from them, but I was able to buy one eventually from the other EU distributor, Densitron. One contact at the time said that the first marketable production run of these new panels will only start in September, but again, there was no first hand information about this.”
So what exactly is the deal with Pixel QI right now? The company decided in late 2011 that it would not have its own fab, and instead would contract it out like Apple does. Mary Lou even wrote an extensive Blog Post in early 2012, hyping the fact that going fab-less would be the best thing for the business. The tribulation the company is currently experiencing is that it doesn’t have enough orders coming in for the fab to produce units at a low enough price to make it worth it. So Pixel Qi’s current fab ditched, and now it has to scramble and find someone else.
Pixel QI claims it has sold over 2.1 million display screens since the original inception. The sales were to companies like ZTE, Hanvon, and other minor players. John Ryan and Mary Lou were the figures mainly responsible for the accelerated growth of the company and now John is basically running the company solo. Also, Pixel Qi has not been active on the Display Screen technology circuit since early 2012, and was absent at CES, Computex, and SID Display Week.
Pixel QI technology was very sound! We have had extensive hands-on experience with the company’s entire product line since early 2010. The main problem is management; losing your founder who had an electric personality creates a large void to fill. I doubt the company will survive much longer without an infusion of capital and a new fab. I don’t see either of these two things happening, and it’s likely this was the final nail in the coffin for the San Francisco/Taiwan based display company.
The Sony 13.3 inch e-Reader is going to usher in a brand new era of high quality e-Paper that allows for a true PDF experience. Sony has exclusivity over this brand new technology they created and worked on, in conjunction with e INK. On the first day of SID Display Week, we were walked through some of the core features, but was that really enough? We received hundreds of emails, comments and messages asking us to look deeper into what this has to offer, we have heard your pleas, and will show you mercy. I won’t rehash the specs of the hardware, you can read all about it HERE. There are some very exciting elements to this device, that no one but us has managed to capture.
The PDF experience is the main attraction of the 13.3 inch e-Reader and gives you a true, full page experience. Obviously you can take notes and make annotations by either writing with the stylus or the full virtual keyboard. If you make a note, you can save that page as an independent file. If you have a big PDF document and make all sorts of edits, you can save it as a “Workspace” into its own PDF document. This insures you have your virgin file, with no edits and then your changed document with all of your notes.
If you have a large document with many notes, you can actually initiate a new feature that will allow you to look up all of the notes or changes you made on the document. A search feature will bring up a list on the right hand side, listing every single change you have ever made. If you tap on any of them, the page will open.
There was some confusion over the Stylus or Digitizer that came bundled with the Sony 13.3 inch e-Reader. Some people were saying the screen would not work without it and there was an air of uncertainty. I found out that you can do everything via touch. The stylus is useful for drawing notes or making changes. You can turn the pages and interact with every single menu with your hand. There is a small button on on the stylus, that acts as an eraser. Click on a body of text or notes, and you can delete it.
There is a nice fully featured internet browser, that is accessible via a WIFI connection. Browsing the internet does not cause a massive amount of page-refresh issues, that normally plague lower-end devices. This might be perfect for people who check news websites, such as Good e-Reader!
e Ink was very clear that the firmware and overall design might change on the commercial release. I noticed it did not currently have EPUB support, which means you will not be able to load in your own books. Likely, we will see Sony’s own eBook store loaded on the device, and will allow users to purchase eBooks directly from their regions store. Currently Sony has been opening a number of new online stores in Europe, UK, Australia and many other markets. It would make sense for them to incorporate this into their technologies.
Currently, the prototype is at many different events during the next few months. Sony is listening to peoples opinions and incorporating changes into the firmware and hardware. My suggestions were to hot-key the stylus eraser button to do different things. As an example, it would be nice to turn to the next page with a click. I also suggested the ability to pinch and zoom. It seems that you cant make the fonts any larger or increase your zoom levels. This would be essential, as some people prefer bigger fonts or like to focus on specific bits of information.