We have a lot to be thankful for in terms on e-ink technology. After all it is what makes e-readers bearable to read from for long periods of time. Some studies suggest that they may even be too easy to read but that’s up for debate. I still comfortably read from my now somewhat dated (really it’s barely a year old) Vizplex screen but e-readers now come in full colour while employing the same base technology that made them successful to begin with – e-ink.
E-ink works through the movement of positive and negatively microcapsules suspended in a clear solution. This is what allows text and images to become visible on your e-reader’s screen. E-ink technology first gained recognition in 2006 when the first commercially available e-reader in the United States using e-ink gained an award. The leading developer for this technology is E Ink Holdings.
Since that time E Ink Holdings has partnered with several manufacturers to produce displays for uses ranging from industrial to consumer electronics. This list includes the likes of Sony, Motorola and Amazon. In that time they have also taken the technology to new heights, namely with the release of two of the latest and greatest technological achievements in the past few years – E ink Pearl and E Ink Triton.
E Ink Pearl
E ink Pearl displays first made their debut on July 31st 2010 marking the second generation of e-ink displays with Vizplex being the first. E Ink Pearl employs imaging film. The instant payoff for the end consumer is the level of contrast that these screens are able to display. The text and images literally jump off of the page which makes for a more enjoyable experience. With previous e-ink devices the contrast ratio was on par with a newspaper. With the addition of 16 grey level depths that quality has now been increased to something on the level of a typical paperback book. This new Pearl technology also allows for reading in under sunlight which has been a big problem for some people with previous e-readers. You can expect resolutions ranging from 800×600 up to 1200×825. DPI resolution ranges from 200 to 150.
Lower Power Consumption
E Ink technology already boasts the lowest power consumption of any e-reader power display. E Ink Pearl takes that a step further with its performance.
In the Market
With easier to read screens and an ever growing market E Ink Holdings used Pearl to broaden its horizon by seeking opportunities for eNewspapers, eMagazines and eTextbooks. These markets are gaining more and more popularity as people seek a more eco-friendly approach to ordinary paper.
E Ink Pearl is now featured in a number of e-readers that are currently available. The first e-reader to feature the technology was Amazon’s updated Kindle DX. The Sony Reader Touch also uses Pearl technology.
E Ink Triton
Like every good developer E Ink sought new heights and broke new ground with the development the E Ink Triton. This third generation e-ink display was first announced on November 9, 2010. Like the Pearl, Triton features 16 shades of grey but what separates the two is that Triton also has full colour! New e-readers featuring 4096 colours began to ship soon after and many people received a shiny new e-reader for the holidays, most notably the Nook Color. The Hanvon colour e-reader however was the first e-reader to feature the Triton technology.
A Splash of Colour
The introduction of colour ePaper paves the way for many products to receive a full electronic overhaul. While grayscale e-ink devices are wonderful in their own right they still only allow for so many applications by various industries. With colour e-ink companies can produce rich content for eMagazines, eNewspapers, comic books, photographs and learning material. Charts and graphs for presentations and medical displays much easier to grasp when colour coding is available to the creator of the material. Besides, who among us is not easily amused by pretty colours?
The Triton has the same 20 percent performance gain over first generation e-ink products as the Pearl. This level of speed combined with the new colour scheme make the E Ink Triton ideal for the advertising market for signage. In consumer products like e-readers page turning, menu selection and animations respond much faster.
Low power consumption is another desirable feature of the Triton. The display is able to offer information on its screen even when powered off.
The E Ink Pearl and E Ink Triton expanded the potential for e-ink products. Lower power consumption and increased speed performance will make e-readers more accessible to new customers. These features along with the power of a colour display from the Triton will gain the interest of more industries.