E Ink has new color e-paper technology that is coming to a bunch of new e-readers and smartphones later this year. The Hisense A5C is the only color e-paper smartphone that is available to purchase and ditto with the iReader C6, although it is only available in China. The purpose of this review is to give you a sense on how a color smartphone compares to a color e-reader. This comparison is less about the devices in the video, but more about the screen technologies.
Here is how the modern color e-paper works. If you are reading an ebook, you will get the maximum resolution that a device can handle, normally 300 PPI on an e-reader and 276 PPI on the Hisense smartphone. When you are looking at anything color, such as ebook cover art, PDF images or apps, you will display colors in 100 PPI, which is obviously lower. This is because only 4,000 different color combinations are possible due to the RGB layer.
Why should you buy an E Ink device over a LCD/OLED/LED tablet or smartphone? E INK only consumes battery life if the state changes on the device, this is normally why you can go about a month on a single charge. There is no backlight shining in your eyes, instead it absorbs light. This is why you can use e-paper in direct sunlight and there is no glare.
There are lots of color e-readers that are going to be released this year. The Pocketbook Color is available at the end of June for $200 and Onyx Boox is also putting the finishing touches on their device. These are the only confirmed devices, but I have heard that Boyue is working on a prototype and ditto with Kobo.
Should you buy a Hisense A5C or Hisense A5 Pro CC? Or should you wait for a color e-reader that will have more retail visibility?
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.