Think of e-readers and you will have visions of devices sporting monochrome displays that look like paper. This, in spite of the fact that we have had some advances in color e-paper display technology for a while now. There has been Kalaedo 3 followed by the more recent Gallery 3 displays. A couple of devices featuring color e-paper displays are available too. Notable among them include the Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color and the PocketBook InkPad Color both of which come with the Kalaedo Plus E Ink screen. Apart from these, there are the likes of the Reinkstone R1 color e-note or the TopJoy Butterfly with both featuring the DES Slurry color e-paper display.
The crop of color e-readers did manage to break the monotony brought about by the years of using monochrome displays though things still are far from being perfect. The biggest issue happens to a general lack of contrast with the resolution dropping down to just 100 PPI in color mode from the 300 PPI resolution of the monochrome display. The colors look washed out and pale which has much to do with the E Ink Kalaedo displays capable of displaying only 4,096 colors at a max resolution of 100 PPI. The layers of filters added on top of the screen is another reason the colors look pale and faded.
Black ink on white or vice versa is fine as long as you are reading e-books or even newspapers. However, the need for color is felt when reading manga, graphic novels, textbooks having lots of illustrations and images, and so on. Those are beautifully rendered in black and white in E Ink display and look nice too but pale out completely when the same is viewed on an OLED or even an LCD display. The effect is mesmerizing given the brilliant and vivid colors that the OLED displays are capable of.
Fortunately, we have something comparable in the e-paper segment in the form of Gallery 3 that promises to make things more colorful and vibrant. That is achieved with four colored pigments – cyan, magenta, yellow and white – that cater to each pixel. E Ink said its Gallery 3 display tech is capable of displaying 50,000 colors and a fuller color gamut. While that makes for a considerable improvement over Kalaedo Plus, what is even more significant is that the display resolution continues to be 300 PPI even in color mode. That translates to the display being as sharp and crisp in monochrome mode as it is going to be in color.
E Ink further stated the Gallery 3 e-paper display tech will come with its own ComfortGaze front light technology which promises to cut blue light emission by 60 percent compared to what the previous generation of front light display tech has been capable of. This assumes significant importance considering that colored e-paper displays lack the means to adjust the light temperature, something that again can make the text and images appear lackluster.
Also, another exciting piece of news here is that E Ink has also announced the commencement of the mass production of Gallery 3 e-paper displays. Good e-Reader X Bigme Galy and the Pocketbook Viva are among the first to have been officially announced to come with Gallery 3 displays and are due for launch by early 2023. A bunch of other companies such as Onyx Boox, iFlyTek, iReader, Readmoo, and AOC too has confirmed they have e-readers or e-notes devices in the making featuring the Gallery 3 displays.
Conspicuously missing from the list are the likes of Amazon and Kobo, two of the biggest players when it comes to e-readers. The Kindle or Kobo devices account for the bulk of e-reader or e-note devices sold around the world. It has been only recently that Amazon introduced its first e-note device – the Kindle Scribe, something that it was long expected to do. The same applies to the color Kindle version as well and with E Ink finally having a credible color e-paper display in the form of Gallery 3, now perhaps is the best time for Amazon to launch a color Kindle version.
That said, the company already has refreshed its entire line-up of Kindle devices. It launched the new Kindle Paperwhite earlier in the year and recently introduced the new basic Kindle. It is only the Kindle Oasis that is left to be refreshed and Amazon is speculated to launch a new Oasis variant sometime in 2023 itself. With Gallery 3 likely to be the predominant display tech expected to make it to most high-end e-reader devices, it’s only natural to expect the upcoming Oasis to also come with the Gallery 3 display.
Kobo too has a few e-readers and e-note devices lined up for launch in 2023. While both Amazon and Kobo are expected to come up with new e-readers or e-note devices and are expected to offer colored models this time, it will be interesting to see what other companies join the Gallery 3 bandwagon.
With a keen interest in tech, I make it a point to keep myself updated on the latest developments in technology and gadgets. That includes smartphones or tablet devices but stretches to even AI and self-driven automobiles, the latter being my latest fad.