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Old 11-11-2010, 11:46 AM   #91
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The first LC displays in digital watches appeared in 1973. The first color one came out in 1983.
If we're going to compare apples to apples, we'd have to look at when the first eInk display came to the consumer market which IIRC would be the early Sony eReaders in 2004. I was counting the < 15 based on when the technology was first developed in 1997.
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Old 11-11-2010, 11:49 AM   #92
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this seem rushed.
YES...but I also feel it might be the best they can do given the way E-ink epaper panels function and create colors.

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I don't think the underlying technology will ever be ready for prime time. Unless eInk can manage better than 12 bit 4096 color displays, this simply won't be adequate for most ebooks using color content.

eInk is a niche market, and will remain so. It's just dandy for monochrome text with, perhaps, line art or grey scale illustrations, and sees productive use in a variety of dedicated reader devices where the fact that people find it easier to read and it has long battery life between recharges are the compelling features.

If you need anything like accurate color, or you need to view animations or video, eInk is not for you. Color eInk doesn't do a good enough job for most of the material you might need color to view, and the screen refresh is far too slow to handle any material that requires motion.

The big question is whether LCD screens supporting proper color will simply take over the market and leave eInk non-viable because not enough people will want the displays to make it worth the while to make them.
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Unless they do better than 12 bit (4096 colors), I don't see a lot of interest.

I have electronic volumes on photography, art, and design. 12 bit color would simply not be acceptable for the display.
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Nicely explained Dennis...I thought I would pass along the Wiki link explaining color-depth in terms of what is likely a very jargon like phrase like "bit-depth" or "xx-bit colors". I think it might help people get a nice working understanding of color on computers, nature and photos:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_depth

Basically it refers to the range of colors a given device can disply. The higher the bit-depth the more colors. Photos, can get by with 16-bit color depth but our eyes will be able to know something is not quite right but it's more of a feeling than an absolute knowledge. But when you get to 24-bit color it's what is defined as "true color" that is pretty much every color our eyes can process and color transitions, where one color transitions into the color of the pixel next to it.

One of the drawbacks of low bit-depth like 4096 or 12-bit color is you can see what is called "banding" either in the whole image or in the dark portions of an image as well as lighter areas with lots of color transitions. It can also appear for only one color present in an image.

The best way to understand it is to look at the sample images in the Wiki link I added above. Nothing makes it easier to grasp than simple pictorial examples.

A nice example of this is the image below from Dennis:

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eInk has a product brochure on their website, here:
http://www.eink.com/sell_sheets/eink_brochure.pdf

The brochure contains a photo of the screen displaying color content.


I'm afraid I'm not impressed. This would not be adequate for my purposes.
I so agree with ya, from that image the colors are very underwhelming for sure. Not enough tonal range in the greens and the weak blacks in the colors just does not give any richness leaving the colors muted. But we need to remember, for E-ink, which might be the most difficult of the e-paper technologies from which to create colors, this not much better than I had expected. I can't begin to imagine the engineering challenge of generating even 4096 colors given the limitations of how E-Ink panels work. While it might be an idea design for grey-scale monochrome panels, it just does not seem likely for E-Ink to create a high end true color panel that they will be able to stick with the current way of doing things. But, hey we never know what these companies have going on it their skunk-works lab. But I do not expect panels which staunchly stick the the e-ink concept to ever offer true color or even more then 64K colors, if they can even get there. It would seem they won't be able to create the number of shades for each color so I feel the design has a ceiling which is not too far from this panel.

If you open the image in Dennis' post you will see some pretty obvious banding on the lower portion of the screen. Now it could be due to the camera used and therefor simple artifact unrelated to the panel or it is due to the low number of colors. Looking at it in an image editor/viewer, hint - any viewer/editor will be just fine, the banding is even more apparent as you zoom in. but also there is a section in the mid-portion of the image where the banding is curved so it could well be simply due the angle of the panel relative to the sun light. I guess I am saying it could simply be a failure of the photo to give a completely accurate image. Which means we reach another of those "...need to see it in real life..." things.

I would get into the difference between DPI and PPI because I think people sort of consider them the same thing, but at some point I guy has to stop...hahahaha...needless to say, if you really want to gain a greater understanding and improve the ability to slice through the marketing BS, Google "dpi ppi" and hunt down a page which gives a nice straightforward explanation...and you will see why they are not the same thing.

hope that make a bit of sense, I am pretty foggy this AM.
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Old 11-11-2010, 12:03 PM   #93
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LG demonstrated a mixed grey/color screen with 1200x1200 on top of 200 x 600 color (Nook-like, but with one combined screen), see Color Comes to E Ink, LG Electronic-paper Displays. This sounds like a variant of E Ink Triton, but I guess LG could be doing the color overlay themselves.
Yes LG gets the film from Eink and then builds the display itself. When LG first showed the 9.7 color display at SID in May they had built the color themselves without actually telling EInk how they had done it(clearly a filter but the particulars were kept to themselves). The Eink "Ink" engineers who had created the high contrast B&W panels for SID actually created the waveform for LG just 4-5 days before SID started.

The EInk people were all very impressed with LG's color and so was everyone else that saw it firsthand. The colors were better than what was present in the Eink booth.
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Old 11-11-2010, 12:55 PM   #94
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Pointing at that it only has 4096 colors is accurate but not complete because there are 16 brightness variations in each of those colors. True it is not as bright as a backlit screen but the color range of 16 bit color and even 24 bit color not only includes different colors but also the brightness variation in individual colors. I think there is some tuning in the software still to be done to integrate the 4th pixel into the other three.

I was glad to see that the controller itself can do some dithering of subpixels to improve the resolution of the display. Only by looking at the device itself will show how successful it will be.

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Old 11-11-2010, 01:02 PM   #95
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very interesting thread with lots of different views. I wonder if the $440 price in China would be the same in US and European markets? As previous poster remarked, it's only a little below iPad entry level tablet price and not the same caliber of product. But of course it's Eink vs LCD, so apple and oranges. However, it's a new technology so will need a few generations to get it right. I don't see it as a Kindle3 Killer either. Will it challenge the Kindle DX? Maybe. Will be interesting to watch how it does.
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Old 11-11-2010, 02:00 PM   #96
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very interesting thread with lots of different views. I wonder if the $440 price in China would be the same in US and European markets? As previous poster remarked, it's only a little below iPad entry level tablet price and not the same caliber of product. But of course it's Eink vs LCD, so apple and oranges. However, it's a new technology so will need a few generations to get it right. I don't see it as a Kindle3 Killer either. Will it challenge the Kindle DX? Maybe. Will be interesting to watch how it does.
I don't see why it should affect the KindleDX at all. What the KindleDX brought to the table was a larger display and support for viewing PDF files. It was specifically intended to address the education market, where textbooks are available as PDFs if they are available electronically at all, and need a larger display to effectively view them without painful sideways scrolling.

I don't see many people who might buy a KindleDX buying one of these instead.
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Old 11-11-2010, 02:16 PM   #97
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I don't see why it should affect the KindleDX at all. What the KindleDX brought to the table was a larger display and support for viewing PDF files. It was specifically intended to address the education market, where textbooks are available as PDFs if they are available electronically at all, and need a larger display to effectively view them without painful sideways scrolling.

I don't see many people who might buy a KindleDX buying one of these instead.
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I think this might compete successfully against the Kindle DX. It is the same size display with all the advantages of the Kindle in so far as view PDF plus many text books need color for graphs, charts, and images which would be a plus. The colors in this device could be perfect for this. The big question is how is the resolution, is it adequate for text books.

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Old 11-11-2010, 02:31 PM   #98
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I think this might compete successfully against the Kindle DX. It is the same size display with all the advantages of the Kindle in so far as view PDF plus many text books need color for graphs, charts, and images which would be a plus. The colors in this device could be perfect for this. The big question is how is the resolution, is it adequate for text books.
That's a good point, though how adequate the colors will be for images will depend on the images.

One big question will be whether PDF viewer software will be bundled with a device like this. A bigger one will be price. If it's not competitive with the DX, I see problems.

And even if they buy one, I can see folks using it to be a textbook viewer being underwhelmed. Amazon had pilot projects at several universities tracking use and acceptance of the DX as a textbook viewer, and I recall early reports had students underwhelmed by the experience.

No surprise. One thing students like to do with textbooks is underline critical passages and make marginal notes. Another is sell the used textbooks to other students taking the same course when they no longer need them. I'm not sure how well, if at all, the first is supported on the DX, and second is largely not possible unless you strip DRM. (And even if you do, will someone pay you for it?)
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Old 11-11-2010, 02:31 PM   #99
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Pointing at that it only has 4096 colors is accurate but not complete because there are 16 brightness variations in each of those colors. True it is not as bright as a backlit screen but the color range of 16 bit color and even 24 bit color not only includes different colors but also the brightness variation in individual colors. I think there is some tuning in the software still to be done to integrate the 4th pixel into the other three.

I was glad to see that the controller itself can do some dithering of subpixels to improve the resolution of the display. Only by looking at the device itself will show how successful it will be.
Success will depend upon the content to be viewed. You might be able to fine tune brightness and increase the brightness of the display, but unless you can increase the total number of colors substantially, there will be whole classes of color material that will be disappointing viewed on one of these displays. (Think fine art reproductions and photography. In the former case, I think I'd almost prefer a well dithered gray-scale conversion to what this will do to a color original.)
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Old 11-12-2010, 01:05 AM   #100
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I dont see how e-ink will ever produce the vibrancy we have become accustomed to from lcd devices. E-ink being a subtractive colour system, like printing, requires the use of cyan, magenta and yellow. It is very difficult to get colours like these to be able to mix the full gamut of colours that the human eye can see. Contrast can be a problem which is why in litho printing uses a black (K) ink. Ink jet printers use extra colours such as vivid magenta(epson) or even an orange(canon). Still quite ordinary additive colour devices can vastly exceed the colour gamut of very sophisticated subtractive colour systems and I suspect always will.

Still I do see a place for colour e-ink where colour accuracy is not so important and I see no reason why in time colour e-ink would not be able to match current subtractive colour displays such as the printed page.
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Old 11-12-2010, 02:02 AM   #101
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While it is a reflective screen the color is via a pass filter, not a reflective one, therefore the colors are red/blue/green. I do agree that, for text book or newspaper use, the colors needn't be letter perfect, unless it is an art class.

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Old 11-12-2010, 05:45 AM   #102
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I dont see how e-ink will ever produce the vibrancy we have become accustomed to from lcd devices. E-ink being a subtractive colour system, like printing, requires the use of cyan, magenta and yellow. It is very difficult to get colours like these to be able to mix the full gamut of colours that the human eye can see. Contrast can be a problem which is why in litho printing uses a black (K) ink. Ink jet printers use extra colours such as vivid magenta(epson) or even an orange(canon). Still quite ordinary additive colour devices can vastly exceed the colour gamut of very sophisticated subtractive colour systems and I suspect always will.

Still I do see a place for colour e-ink where colour accuracy is not so important and I see no reason why in time colour e-ink would not be able to match current subtractive colour displays such as the printed page.
The real world is subtractive.

The problem with E-ink is that it can't offer white yet, and therefore it can't offer bright colors. But some of us prefer to set the brightness level low on our computers, so this is not going to be a problem for everybody. It will be like looking at the world through sun glasses.
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Old 11-12-2010, 07:50 PM   #103
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The real world is subtractive.

The problem with E-ink is that it can't offer white yet, and therefore it can't offer bright colors. But some of us prefer to set the brightness level low on our computers, so this is not going to be a problem for everybody. It will be like looking at the world through sun glasses.
Which would be a problem for someone whose vision demands better contrast (like me).

I haven't had a chance to play with e-ink devices in person, which I'd really consider necessary to any informed opinion (photos on a monitor involve enough different devices that I don't think they're completely accurate). Thus, I don't know what I think of e-ink in general. I do know that color is something a large percentage of the market would want, especially if textbooks are to shift to e-book format (many textbooks I've seen had color illustrations that needed to be color), among other market segments.
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Old 11-12-2010, 08:24 PM   #104
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If you open the image in Dennis' post you will see some pretty obvious banding on the lower portion of the screen. Now it could be due to the camera used and therefor simple artifact unrelated to the panel or it is due to the low number of colors. Looking at it in an image editor/viewer, hint - any viewer/editor will be just fine, the banding is even more apparent as you zoom in. but also there is a section in the mid-portion of the image where the banding is curved so it could well be simply due the angle of the panel relative to the sun light. I guess I am saying it could simply be a failure of the photo to give a completely accurate image. Which means we reach another of those "...need to see it in real life..." things.
It's not just the fact that the image is a photograph of the real thing taken in less than perfect conditions, you are also looking at re-sized, most probably 72dpi, compressed jpg image. There is no way to evaluate the true quality of the display or colours it produces from that picture.

For example I just downloaded RHEL 6 manuals in epub format and they contain colours and colour images and having them shown in colours on my reader would be perfect, even if only in 256.

Last edited by pete_1967; 11-12-2010 at 08:28 PM.
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Old 11-12-2010, 08:52 PM   #105
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It's not just the fact that the image is a photograph of the real thing taken in less than perfect conditions, you are also looking at re-sized, most probably 72dpi, compressed jpg image. There is no way to evaluate the true quality of the display or colours it produces from that picture.
Yep. It's an image embedded in and extracted from an eInk product PDF. I wasn't sure how representative it really was, but it was the best actual product shot I've been able to find.

That said, I have to believe it's in the ballpark, as I can't see eInk releasing a shot that didn't present their product in the best possible light, so to speak. (I saw the shot taken outdoors against a grassy field as an attempt to show of what it looked like read out of doors in sunlight, to prove it could be, and to show off the color values relative to "natural" colors.)

And if it's in the ballpark, my unimpressed comments stand. This might do for some material. It won't do for me, and I frankly doubt it will look so much better in person than it does in the product shot to change that opinion.

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For example I just downloaded RHEL 6 manuals in epub format and they contain colours and colour images and having them shown in colours on my reader would be perfect, even if only in 256.
The applicable question is how much content is out there for which color eInk would be adequate. The stuff I want to view includes things like art and photography, where it wouldn't be. RHEL 6 manuals might be an exception. I have stuff like that, but I convert it from HTML and view it on a device with an LCD screen and 16bit color.
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