E-Paper

Archive for E-Paper

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When it comes to e-reader technology, no company has played a more pivotal role than e Ink. The Taiwanese e-paper giant has been responsible for all of the screen technology found on the Kindle, Kobo and Nooks of the world. E Ink has had a robust Q3 2014, with revenue soaring to $132.95 million US.

Orders for the company’s EPD technology remained steady during the quarter. E Ink Carta, which is over a year old is primary used on the Amazon Kindle Voyage and Tolino Vision 2. Meanwhile, orders for Kobo Aura H2O remained steady and there has been increased demand for the  YotaPhone 2 and Sony’s SmartBand Talk.

E Ink also reported that its earnings after tax were up over 17% sequentially in the quarter and that total revenues for the first three quarters of 2014 amounted to $353 million US.

Categories : E-Paper
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Sharp has just made the highest pixel density screen in the world that should hit smartphones and VR enabled devices sometime in the next two years. The new 4.1 inch IGZO LCD screen with WQXGA has a mind boggling resolution of  2,560 x 1,600 pixels. That works out to 736ppi which  blows away the current reigning champion Samsung with their S5 screen that has 576ppi.

According to Sharp, the new display has the same PPI as that of a 4K display, which means you will likely see a dramatic enhancement in streaming videos and gaming. This could also pave the way for a new breed of VR headsets, which Oculus, Samsung and Sony are betting big on.

This new screen could also be tremendous at making digital magazines, newspapers really shine on the small screen. eBooks too, would also be really solid because you would not be able to even discern pixelation on any of the fonts.

Will any manufacturer dare deliver a smartphone with such a 4.1-inch 2K display? Sharp will reportedly start providing interested firms with sample panels sometime next year, and mass production could be ready to get underway by 2016.

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eReading in Public

This year it seems more new e-readers have come out than almost any other year and it can be quite daunting to choose the best one as a gift, upgrade or just buying one for the first time. Some devices have built in bookstores that allow you to buy eBooks, magazines and newspapers on demand, others make the users rely on finding their own books online and loading them in via the USB cable.

e-Readers tend to come in two sizes for the most part, six inches and 9.7 inches. Six inch e-readers tend to be the most popular, because of their pocket friendly nature and low entry price point. Larger readers tend to be most expensive because less people buy them and it costs more to manufacture small batches.

What is an e-Reader?

An e-Reader typically uses e-Ink technology, which mimics real paper. Smartphones and tablets use LCD displays which has light emitting from behind the screen into your eyes. This has been known to cause melatonin suppression, which basically  makes you stay up  late, unable to sleep properly. e-Readers this year have mostly adopted front-lit displays, which has the light emitting from underneath the bezel, splashing light evenly across the screen. This allows you to read in the dark, controlling the brightness levels, without the need of ambient lighting or a reading light.

e-Readers for the most part have a singular use, to read eBooks. 95% of all electronic readers were designed to purely enjoy a great book, without the distractions that smartphones and tablets provide via emails, notifications and overall distractions.

The Best Six Inch e-Readers

Amazon Kindle Voyage – The Voyage is Amazons new flagship e-reader and has a six inch screen with the best resolution in the business. Amazon has incorporated some new technology in this  model that no other e-reader on the market currently has. The first is manual page turn keys that are flush with the bezel, the buttons do not protrude. When you press down on the button to turn the page you are met with a barely noticeable haptic feedback vibration to let you know you turned a page. There is also an ambient light sensor that will automatically adjust the brightness of the screen based on your lighting conditions.

Amazon currently has the best in class  eBook ecosystem, they control 75% of the market in North America and the UK. They have everything from fan-fiction to being able to read books before they officially hit the bookstores and even an unlimited membership that allows you to check out as many books a month as you want. The Seattle based company is in the news a lot, for good reason, they are the best.

There are some drawbacks to the Amazon ecosystem as a whole. They have their own eBook format, which makes it impossible to buy books from other stores and load them on the device. The Voyage also  has no SD Card support, so you have to use the 3.5 GB of memory with caution, especially if you are loading big PDF files on it.

Kobo Aura H2O – Canadian based Kobo released a singular e-reader this year, that is being billed as the first device you can take with you anywhere. It is completely waterproof up to five meters, fully submerged, which makes it appealing to take with you in the bathtub to the beach or on vacation.

The Aura H2O has the same resolution as the Kindle Voyage, but has a 6.8 inch screen instead of the standard six. It has an SD Card, so you can load up even more books than the Kindle and the Kobo bookstore is populated with millions of titles.

The larger screen makes reading a bit more enjoyable because more text can be displayed, making books seem a bit shorter. Flexible font control allows you to change it on the fly and advanced options allow you to even load in your own fonts. Speaking of advanced options, Kobo is the only company to balance general level options to control simple functions but it also appeals to power users with being able to control font weight or even the bright/dark levels of the text.

Kobo is second most popular eBook store in the world and  you can buy digital content in almost every country. They use the EPUB format, so  you can easily borrow books from your local library or even from other online bookstores and load them in via Adobe Digital Editions.

Icarus Illumina HD – E653 – One of the big trends of 2014 was indie e-reader companies adopting the concept of open Android. This is the same type of user experience that smartphones and tablet owners enjoy, by being able to install their own apps. The HD model runs Android 4.2, which makes it highly capable of being able to run Kindle, Kobo, Nook or any other app such as Moon+ Reader or Aldiko.

The Illumina HD is highly versatile and is able to read most popular eBook formats, you can buy books in EPUB or PDF formats from any major store and load them onto the unit via Adobe Digital Editions. There is no bookstore built into the unit of note, but because you can basically install your store of choice, this e-reader allows for unparalleled freedom and is more solid than any of the e-readers Onyx sells.

Barnes and Noble Nook Glowlight – Barnes and Noble remains a force to be reckoned with in the e-reader industry, even though their market share has diminished due to Amazon and Kobo. The Glowlight was the only model the largest bookseller in the US released in 2014.

One of the ways B&N continues to be successful is due to the fact the e-Reader is sold in bookstores and most people in the US and UK live in close proximity to one. Users who experience issues with the hardware only have to drive down to their local store and receive intimidate support or to have it replaced.

Barnes and Noble was the first company to pioneer the very concept of glowlight technology and their online bookstore is well designed and highly curated. They put an emphasis on editorial and discovery in order to find the next good read.

The Nook line of e-readers tends to get lambasted by the media because it makes a click worthy headline that the company is doomed. This is the similar type of syndrome that Blackberry has experienced over the year, but Nook remains relevant and a good e-reader.

Best Large Screen e-Readers

There are a number of reasons why people tend to buy large screen e-readers. As we get older, the eyesight tends to degrade and book lovers tend to buy the large print editions of books in their local store. Doing this can get expensive as these variants often cost two or three times the cost of a paperback,. Another popular reason why people love large screen e-readers is due to the screen real estate. PDF Files and eBooks can fit more text on the screen, which appeals to students and industry professionals.

Icarus Excel – For the most demanding user that works with A4 sized documents, PDFs and has the need to interact with the content (notes, annotations, highlighting), the ICARUS Reader eXceL is unmatched. The 9.7” E-Ink PEARL touch screen has great contrast and swiftly responds to any command . With 1200 x 825 pixels it has much more detail than most e-readers (800 x 600).

With the stylus you can make handwritten notes, highlight text, and make annotations. And with Wi-Fi connectivity you can wirelessly browse the web and access content on the go.
The Icarus eXceLis perfect for professional environments or education, where interactivity is essential.

This e-reader also runs Android 4.0 which allows users to select the digital ecosystem of their choice, but also install other news/RSS or magazine apps.

Sony Digital Paper – Sony abandoned the consumer e-reader sector earlier this year. They developed a new product that sticky appeals towards people who need to get large PDF files. This reader is 13.3 inches in size and retails for around $999.99 in the US and has higher international availability via Shop e-Readers.

The Sony Digital Paper features a 13.3 inch e-Ink Mobius e-paper screen with a resolution of 1200 by 1600. It was designed to give you a true A4 experience, displaying PDF files as they were originally intended. The lightweight nature of Mobius gives you amazing clarity in the fonts and pictures. It also one of the most lightweight products in its class, clocking in at .08 pounds. To give you some comparison, The Kindle DX has a 9.7 inch screen and weighs 0.91 pounds and the iPad Air is 1.3 pounds.

The Digital Paper only reads PDF documents but it is possible to convert your standard eBook to PDF using online tools or eBook editing software like Calibre.

Wrap up

There was a number of notable e-readers that did not make our buying list for various reasons. Pocketbook has been making them for a number of years, but has made missteps with the internals, such as CPU and RAM which makes using it tedious. Onyx Boox also has a number of new units this year, but none of them were especially compelling.

Our recommendations reflect the best new e-readers of 2014, in terms of usability, features and ecosystem. You could get any of these for holiday gifts or give them to someone and they will not have to go through much of a learning curve.

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ClockOne has debuted a 40 inch clock made of the same e-paper that you would find on your Kindle or Nook e-Reader. The company has just launched a new Kickstarter campaign where you can pre-order one for $400, and  shipments expected to begin in May 2015.

The Clock was designed to not only be a novelty but appeal to thousands of people looking to make a statement with e-paper.  This thing is giant, it clocks in (no pun intended) 40 inches wide, 14 inches tall, and weighs 4.6 pounds. You will need a magnetic wall mount in order to effective graft it into your ideal position. There are a few options in regards to the color options, It comes preassembled with white, pink, orange, green, or blue bezels.

Prior to the Kickstarter campaign, Twelve24 showcased ClockOne prototypes at the International CES tech show, as well as the Dwell on Design and the International Contemporary Furniture Fair design shows. At CES, the company found that people loved the technology (they wanted to know how the shape was cut, and how it was powered), but were completely turned off by the price.

This clock is not aimed at the consumer market and likely will never catch on in a big way. I can see interior designers using it as a statement piece or using it in the office as a topic of conversation.

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LG is quietly refining their flexible e-paper technology and has actually seen some commercial success along the way. New innovations will pave the way for super large screen displays that will transcend into the television arena.

In 2012 LG first entered the flexible e-paper arena and developed a screen that was crafted from a flexible plastic substrate, the display measuring 0.03 inches (0.7 millimeters) thick and weighs 0.5 ounces (13 grams), making it one-third slimmer and half the weight of currently available glass EPD devices. LG also has made it fairly durable with it being able to easily withstand dropping it from up to six feet. The battery life is also fairly amazing with two or three months of usage. Russian based e-reader company Wexler was the only company to adopt the LG technology into their Flex One.

LG has just announced a massive, 18-inch OLED display that can be rolled up into a tight cylinder with a radius of just 3 centimeters (1.2 inches). In addition, LG has mentioned they developed a version that was highly transparent.

The flexible 18-inch OLED display has a fairly paltry resolution that clocks in at 1280×810. The main breakthrough seems to be the use of polyimide for the display’s backplane. Polyimides are strong, flexible plastics that are already used extensively in the electronics industry — for example in the ribbon that attaches a laptop’s display to the motherboard, which is put through huge stresses during thousands of open/close cycles. LG says it achieved “maximum curvature radius” because polyimide allowed for a much thinner and flexible backplane than “conventional plastic.”

Truly flexible e-paper technology that can be rolled up, able to be read and folded up again is the holy grail. It not only can be used in the e-reader sector, but also smartwatches and advertising. The one hindrance in mass adoption is the fact the motherboards, battery, processor, RAM and most other internal components are not designed to be flexible and this will require a monumental effort by the entire supply chain to make a future of flexible e-paper a reality.

Update LG Display, as the first in the industry, showcased a full 5.3 inch HD liquid crystal display (LCD) for smart phones with a bezel thinner than a credit card ( 0.7mm). LG Display will start mass-production next month and will supply this product preferentially to the customers in China where the demand for large-screen smart phones is high.

Neo Edge technology is to completely seal the entire surface and also the edges of an LCD module rather than attaching panel drive board and backlight using a double-sided tape. As it does not involve the usage of plastic guide panels for panel and backlight attachment, bezel width can be minimized. In addition, according to LG Display, Neo Edge technology prevents light leaks and also provides dust and waterproofing functions.

Moreover, as the exposed sides of glass are sealed off with adhesives, it solves the problem of corrosion on the rims of LCD. At the same time, with elasticity generated as adhesives harden, strength, which was pointed out as a shortcoming of thin bezels, has been improved

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One of the big benefits of e-Ink technology is that it draws no power when a simple static image is being displayed or when you are reading a page in an eBook. The only time power is being drawn is when a full page refresh occurs or if you are interacting with the screen. A new LCD initiative is underway at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. They have developed a new type of LCD screen that works in a similar fashion to e-Ink. It can hold a static image for years, with no power.

The University has developed Optical Rewritable liquid crystal technology that carries no electrodes and uses polarizer’s as a substitute. It will show images in full color, but not draw any power as the image is shown. This would be tremendously beneficial to luggage tags, grocery price-tags or even in the next generation of color e-reader.

There are many benefits to what this technology is capable of, in regards to previous screens made by Pixel QI or Plastic Logic. First of all, the lack of electrodes means the ORWLCD panel can be much thinner than a conventional LCD. It also uses much less power, requires no plastic substrate, is simpler to construct, and therefore cheaper to manufacturer for mass production.

The technology as a whole is going one step further, by incorporating 3D elements. The report states “The whole panel has been divided into three parts with different image appearance. One for the left eye, a second for the right eye, and a third for the background and front of the image. The complete 3D image with a good light printer can be updated on the ORWLCD panel in one step and thereafter could be permanently stored without consuming any power. With the feasibility of one-step 3D image writing, wide-viewing angles, high contrast and low power consumption, this technology is suitable for many applications.”

I would kill for an e-reader for full color LCD that had the battery life of e-Ink. The one problem I have with reading on an Android tablet or iPad is that I have to charge it on a daily basis. This ORWLCD does have promise, but whether it gets out of the research and development phase is another matter entirely.

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Typewriters burst onto the literary scene in the 1860s’s and quickly became indispensable tools for authors to quickly write their next book. They fell out of favor in the 1980’s as the world started to embrace digital publishing, which provided the ability to spellcheck their work and send manuscripts quickly to agents and friends. A new product called the Hemingwrite, seeks to marry the old school typewriter with a modern digital version.

The Hemingwrite is designed to aid both the new and established writer by providing a robust writing tool that completely removes all distraction from our daily connected lives. Wifi connectivity has been included to sync to the cloud but without a browser or email client there will be no playing angry birds or checking email. The Hemingwrite is designed for one thing and one thing only: putting words on a page.

This device features a full fledged mechanical keyboard, so you get that tectonic feel of interacting with a high-grade keyboard. You can see what you are writing, thanks to the six inch e-Ink display, the same e-paper found on the Amazon Kindle. This will result in over ten weeks of battery life, perfect for a small writing retreat.

One of the things I really like is the built in syncing processes with a number of online storage services, such as Google Docs, Dropbox or Evernote. This will give you a place to store your eBook and serve as a backup source for all of your revisions. If you want to just write, the developers behind this product boast that device storage will easily handle over one million pages.

The Hemingwrite is still in the prototype phase. The device has actually made it as a semi-finalist for Engadget’s Insert Coin inventor’s competition and will be debuting the device at the Engadget Expand NY conference on November 7th and 8th.

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plastc

Avid consumers find themselves with a wallet or purse full of credit and gift cards. Startup Plastc is seeking to solve this situation with the advent of the Plastc Card. It utilizes touchscreen e-ink technology and you can add all of your credit, debit, gift and loyalty cards to one single card and flip between them with a single touch.

Plastc helps you pay any way and anywhere you want. It features a magnetic stripe and barcode display, your Plastc Card will work in all the places you already frequent. The card employs NFC, Chip and PIN capabilities and you can even attach your photo ID to the card. Within the next few months it will have support for Google Wallet, Apple Pay, PayPal and other payment options.

The one cool thing about this new card is that the magnetic stripe and NFC chip are disabled until you select your card, preventing any fraudulent activity. If you end up losing the card, you can remotely wipe all data from it using the official app.

So how does this actually work? Well, you need to download the Plastic Companion app for iOS and Android. You can link any of your credit cards, debit cards or gift cards by inputting the numbers into the app. You can also add in a signature and photo ID for those big purchases. Once this is all done, you can use the card at the ATM or when you are shopping. If you have a bunch of cards tied into the Plastc Card, you can just swipe the physical card to scroll between them.

While the idea of combining of multiple credit, debit, and gift cards into one secure package may be an enticing tech novelty, the card comes at a price: $155 to preorder. It will not start shipping until summer 2015. It also operates on a rechargeable battery with a 30-day charge. In the end, I think this is one of the coolest uses of e-ink that is not found on a dedicated e-reader like a Kindle or Nook.


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The Inkcase Plus is a new secondary screen for the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung Note. It connects to the back and allows you to reap the benefits of dedicated e-readers like the Kindle. It has just passed FCC certification and will be available to purchase for $79.

The InkCase eReader features a 3.5 inch, 360 x 600 pixel grayscale ePaper display which is visible in direct sunlight without a backlight. The low-power screen also only uses electricity when you refresh the page, so it should get up to 5 days of battery life from the device’s 400mAh battery. One of the cool things is you can attach it to your phone or read independently, which actually makes it a dedicated e-reader.

So how does this contraption actually work? You have to connect it up to your phone via Bluetooth. This allows you to download specific apps and use it on the secondary display. So if you want to read eBooks, you need EpiReader. In order to attach it to your phone, you need a pouch or Fitcase Plus.

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The Sony Digital Paper is a massive 13.3 inch PDF reader that is chiefly geared towards note editing and editing. This is the first device Sony has made that leveraged its decade of experience in the e-reader sector to carve out a niche in the business world. Recently, I was tremendously dismayed to find out that this $1,100 device only has a ten page limit in note taking.

There are two ways that you will use the Sony Digital Paper on a daily basis; editing PDF files and making notes. Note taking is especially excellent because you can write, while resting your wrist on the screen and it only recognizes the stylus. When you craft a note, you can add an annotation, which either can be a written with the stylus or with the keyboard. When you are all done taking notes, using the standalone app, it is automatically saved as a PDF file, you can then export to your PC or send to Dropbox.

Sony markets the Digital Paper towards students, lawyers and entertainment professionals. The type of people that are known for taking a massive amount of notes on a daily and weekly basis. The ten page limit on an individual PDF document makes little sense, as power users will easily exceed this threshold.


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Graphene is one of the strongest materials ever made and is designed to be totally flexible. It is more conductive than copper and it only has a layer of carbon one-atom thick. Discovered just under a decade ago, researchers have fervently been developing practical applications.

Cambridge researchers have just developed a flexible e-paper display screen using Graphene. The new prototype is an active matrix electrophoretic display, similar to the screens used in today’s e-readers, except it is made of flexible plastic instead of glass. In contrast to conventional displays, the pixel electronics, or backplane, of this display includes a solution-processed graphene electrode, which replaces the sputtered metal electrode layer within Plastic Logic’s conventional devices, bringing product and process benefits.

The new 150 pixel per inch (150 ppi) backplane was made at low temperatures (less than 100°C) using Plastic Logic’s Organic Thin Film Transistor (OTFT) technology. The graphene electrode was deposited from solution and subsequently patterned with micron-scale features to complete the backplane.

“We are happy to see our collaboration with Plastic Logic resulting in the first graphene-based electrophoretic display exploiting graphene in its pixels’ electronics,” said Professor Andrea Ferrari, Director of the Cambridge Graphene Centre. “This is a significant step forward to enable fully wearable and flexible devices. This cements the Cambridge graphene-technology cluster and shows how an effective academic-industrial partnership is key to help move graphene from the lab to the factory floor.”

“The potential of graphene is well-known, but industrial process engineering is now required to transition graphene from laboratories to industry,” said Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Plastic Logic. “This demonstration puts Plastic Logic at the forefront of this development, which will soon enable a new generation of ultra-flexible and even foldable electronics”


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Michael Kozlowski and Peter Carotenuto of Good e-Reader have another roundtable discussion on the evolution of the Sony consumer e-Reader brand. They discuss important milestones, such as the advent of touch, the incorporation of a stylus and releasing the first front-lit e-reader.

The entire e-reader industry owes Sony a debt of gratitude for pioneering major technologies. The company has announced exclusively to Good e-Reader that they are abandoning the consumer space and that the PRS-T3 e-reader will be the last one they make. Instead, they are focusing on the business segment with the Sony DPT-S1 Digital Paper.

During the roundtable we discuss the ramifications of exiting the eBook and e-reader space, how Kobo is benefiting and how the customers are responding to dealing with a new ecosystem.


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Corning is the display screen company that is very well known for their Gorilla Glass. It has been synonymous with smartphones and tablets  and used for higher durability and resistance to the rigors of daily use. Corning has overestimated the market and is seeing a lack of demand for their technology.

According to the Wall Street Journal “Gorilla Glass has faced headwinds, with sales falling 17% last year as Corning worked through an inventory overhang after a bad bet on touch-screen laptops. ”

Overall, Corning reported a profit of $169 million, down from $638 million a year earlier. The worldwide tablet grew 11.0% year over year in the second quarter of 2014 with shipments reaching 49.3 million units according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation . Apple is currently one  of Corning’s largest customers and they have reported shipping 13.3 million iPads during the third fiscal quarter of 2014, compared to 14.6 million in the year-ago quarter.

When it comes down to public perception, Corning is basically known for their Gorilla Glass. What most people don’t know,  is that this represents only 11% of their entire revenue stream and the majority from LCD televisions. That business jumped 62% year over year, while revenue from other specialty materials was merely flat.

There has been lots of buzz in the industry about Apple’s move into developing  sapphire  glass in conjunction with GT Advanced Technologies last November. Speculation is running rampant that their future devices will employ this ultra lightweight and scratch resistant technology into future products. Many experts cite shortages of the new material and that current plants cannot accommodate the demand of a massive launch. Apple alone plans for 80 million iPhone 6 models this year.

Corning will be a safe bet for the tablet industry for another few years. The market is maturing and less people are buying new devices or upgrading. We have seen similar trends plague the e-reader industry in recent years.

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