In early 2012, LG debuted a new kind of flexible e-Paper technology that was set to usher in a new generation of e-readers. This never happened, although LG started to mass produce the screens for companies that never bought them. The only commercially viable product was the Wexler Flex One, but it is only available in Russia and Shop e-Readers. The flexible screens had a ton of potential, why didn’t the product take off?
The screens LG has produced had a very respectable resolution of 1,024×768 pixels. The screen was six inches and bended in 40 degree angles. The e-Paper was a bit different from traditional e-Ink, but provided the same overall experience. It was very easy on the eyes and did not reflect direct sunlight.
The screen is 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.
Why didn’t this screen technology ever catch on in the e-reader world? Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Bookeen, and Bebook all use e-Paper made by e-Ink Holdings. This company has had a stranglehold on the entire e-reader segment. With the industry gravitating towards illuminated screens and e-Ink Triton 2, there aren’t any takers for LG.
One of the biggest reasons why major companies haven’t adapted the flexible e-Paper is because of the synergy between e-Ink and Freescale. The two companies work together with their larger vendors to make sure everyone gets the best performance out of their e-reader. This is why budget e-readers that use Texas Instruments, Marvell, or other companies fail to win over customers.
LG and the entire tech industry ranted and raved on how flexible screens would change the world. We at Good e-Reader tend to be more reserved on new technologies that are announced, because of the established relationships all the major companies have with a few specific ones.
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.