Earlier in the year, E INK announced brand new color e-paper called Kaleido 3. This new technology offers richer colors, increasing its color saturation by 30% compared to E Ink Kaleido Plus. It can display 4,096 colors with 150 PPI and was designed for large screen devices in mind, such as 7.8, 10.3 and 13.3. Kaleido 3 also uses E Ink ComfortGaze, a new front light technology that reduces the amount of blue light, with a reduced Blue Light Ratio (BLR) and Blue Light Toxicity Factor (BLTF) by up to 60% and 24% respectively. BLR is the ratio of toxic blue to total blue light output, and BLTF is the ratio of brightness to hazardous blue. Additionally, the responsiveness of the ink means that Kaleido 3 can play animations and videos. Why hasn’t anyone used this new screen tech yet in any products?
Many e-reader companies that have used Kaleido 1 and Kaleido Plus color e-paper technology in commercial products all want to use K3 in future devices. Three different companies have told me that that EINK has sent a few development kits to them for evaluation, but the screens have not hit mass production and the Comfortgaze lighting system is still not ready for prime time. Until E INK mass produces the different sized screens, it is impossible for anyone to use them in products.
When it comes to manufacturing e-readers there are a few necessary steps that need be taken, before a product can even be designed. E INK needs to send evaluation screens to various companies that have used it in the past, they also need to showcase new Comfortgaze system, so it can be tested internally. Next, companies need to attach a logic board and determine what kind of processor, RAM, storage, battery and whether they need to include a WACOM screen. Once the hardware is assembled in a haphazard fashion, the software needs to be augmented to take advantage of all of the new hardware. This takes longer if the company is also using E INK Carta 1200, E INK Carta 1250 or On-Cell. Once the hardware and software has been tested, some molds need to be taken and sent to the manufacturer to create a small batch of finished products. If everything performs as expected, the manufacturer would place an order to E INK for a certain number of Kaleido 3 screens and the new lighting system. All of the components would be ordered from different companies and it would take a couple of months from when the order was placed, until the final product is ready.
It normally takes 2-4 months for an order to be placed to when the finished product is ready and thousands of units are ready to be shipped out to the vendor. Since there is no date in which K3 will be available, it is unlikely that anything will be released by the end of the year. Given E INKS production woes from the pandemic, where their main factory was basically closed for a year and a half, while smaller fabs picked up the slack, I surmise that Kaleido 3 will not be ready until the middle of next year, and we should see the first products come out in late 2023.
This is why everyone is still using E INK Kaleido Plus color e-paper in 2022, because the 3rd generation is simply not ready yet. So if you have been on the fence about buying something new or waiting, you might have to wait longer.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.