E INK has confirmed with Good e-Reader that they have developed a second generation Kaleido color e-paper display for large screen displays. The new technology has been completed and will be available for companies wishing to employ it, sometime in the next few months. Large screen 10.3 e-notes should be available for customers, in Q1/Q2 in 2021. It will be finally possible to take notes, freehand draw or edit PDF files in color.
What does this new technology bring to the table? E INK says the new tech for large screens is going to be called E Ink Kaleido 5100. It will be possible to have it on non-glass based e-notes, sunken screens make for a better drawing experience. The refresh rate on color will be as fast as B&W e-paper. There will be improved color and contrast performance and reduced graininess. E INK did tell me that ” Our formal product launch has not yet occurred, so we are not publishing full specs out at the moment. In general, we are improving contrast and color saturation, also reduced graininess. We are also updating our front light solution, making improvements to the CFA print pattern, and adjusting waveforms.”
One of the big limitations of the first generation color e-paper that was released this year was the CFA, which was always on and can never be turned off. t is impossible to create software based switches to turn color off, this means it is ever present. The color filter array always being on creates some problems with the ebook reading experience. A typical six inch color e-reader will have an E INK Carta and a E INK Color layer. An ebook will be able to display text based fonts at 300 PPI, but the background is different than a typical B&W e-reader, such as the Amazon Kindle. A Kindle will have a pure grey background, a color e-reader with a pure black font. This is because a typical E INK screen will have black and white particles that are charged, black ones will be the text and white/black will create greys. A color e-reader that employs a CFA will have background colors as a gradient, the background will never be grey. This is because the color filter array produces colors in a small hexagons, since these are larger than individual pixels, you will see discoloration of the background. If you could turn the color filter array off in ebooks, or give a user an option to disable color, this would be great, but this is currently impossible to do.
The second problem with the current generation of color e-paper, is that the color filter array makes the screen darker, than an e-reader without one. You can easily read ebooks on the Kindle, during the day, without needing to turn the front-light on. Many people are reading at home now, due to the global pandemic. Not everyone is going to be reading outside, but inside. Lighting conditions are going to be darker than normal, but in a normal room with maybe one or two window blinds/curtains open, you can get away with reading a Kindle, without turning on the front-light. You can see examples of both of these things, during our comprehensive research.
Will E INK be able to solve both of these issues with Print Color or Kaleido V2? They did say there is improved colors and contrast, which leads me to believe more colors will be able to be displayed. Reduced graininess probably will make the background screen grey, instead of muddled. It will be interesting to see more technical details, but for now, it looks like the second wave of color e-readers and e-notes will be better than the 1st gen.
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.