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Old 09-09-2008, 12:09 PM   #1
khourianya
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The Appeal of Colour E-Ink Screens...

In alot of the "wishlist" threads, I see dreams of colour e-ink screens. I'm not sure why there would be any appeal to a colour screen. I think if I walked into a bookstore and picked up a pbook that was printed in blue ink, I would put it right back down again because of how hard it is to keep reading a vibrant text colour.

Of course - I don't tend to read comics or manga so I am sure that demographic would probably really like it. But for the vast majority, what real purpose would it serve?

I'm just curious about what people think.
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Old 09-09-2008, 12:12 PM   #2
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Colour would obviously be important for any subject where colour pictures were important. To name one example completely at random, how good would a guide for "bird spotters" be if all the pictures of birds were black and white?
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Old 09-09-2008, 12:15 PM   #3
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There is other reading material that works better in color because of the images like magazines and newspapers (and comics). Some keep work documents on their readers and might need things like graphs and pie charts. It's also nice to see the personal images in color.

For pure book reading, color is not a big deal.
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Old 09-09-2008, 12:21 PM   #4
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The biggest market for color EInk devices is probably magazines.

Color does seem to dominate the market once it is available, I would have said there is little need for color on a PDA but there are almost no handheld devices with greyscale LCD screens.
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Old 09-09-2008, 12:25 PM   #5
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As a student I'd love color. I agree for a normal reading book there's no purpose--but over the course of the year, I end up reading hundreds of journal articles for my classes. Sure PDFs can be a pain, but it would be incredibly nice to carry around an ebook reader instead of huge stacks of dead tree! (Or even imagine substituting an ereader for your textbooks) However, as pointed out above, it's hard to read graphs and charts (or even view pictures) with black and white!
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Old 09-09-2008, 12:38 PM   #6
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But what price would you be willing to pay for colour? I don't mean in terms of money, but in terms of degradation of the quality for black print. Any device which uses tri-pixel colour, as LCD screens do (ie has separate red, green, blue pixels) is going to have a significantly reduced linear resolution compared with a black and white device, and that means poorer text quality.
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Old 09-09-2008, 12:45 PM   #7
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The interference method might be able to work without resorting to the tri-pixel with its loss in dot pitch, but we don't know yet what dot pitch they might be able to get with that technique.

It's certainly not a priority for me, but I do have quite a few magazine subscriptions that I would not be able to get the benefit of without color. Most of them involve detailed photos of processes (e.g. MAKE, Art Jewelry, Lapidary Journal, etc.) Even Scientific American would be hard to read at times without color.
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Old 09-09-2008, 12:53 PM   #8
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I would love to have color highlighting (more than just one color ... at least five) for annotating case law.

Aside from having textbooks with color plates (for example, a hematology textbook without color is practically worthless), being able to annotate in color would be something worth the extra bucks.

In my vertebrate morphology class, we had to be able to take notes in several colors of pen, and to replicate those drawings on our exams. So, it was important there to be able to draw over certain illustrations in the text (or to make multicolored drawings in the margins).

I can think of lots of reasons for color ... and they have nothing to do with aesthetics.
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Old 09-09-2008, 04:12 PM   #9
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hmm - interesting. I never once looked at my reader as a magazine reader before. That being said - most of the magazines I read are fluff and I'd be fine in greyscale.

I like the possibility of educational uses and agree colour is important. That being said - I am also a proponent of the new netbooks as educational tools (I bought one myself, for this purpose, as I work through a Media Communications degree). Those give the colour and are useful for actually doing schoolwork and online research - both tasks that I would not leave to an ebook device. I actually digitized the reading file for my coursework so I could carry it with me at all times. But I wouldn't ever use it for a reference book - I like to flip back and forth too quickly to ever move that to a device.

Come to think of it - I would probably go for reading magazines on the netbook too - since, like I said above, most of what I read in zines is fluff and the screen wouldn't bother me for a short article.

I guess what it comes down to is how we read. I love my reader for fiction, first, and for non-fiction second. I don't think I can ever go back to pbooks for pleasure reading because I am too addicted to knowing that I always have my next book there,ready to start, as soon as I finish the one I'm on.

So, in the end - it comes down to how much of your life you want to go paper-free for. I don't care about the colour aspect enough to warrant the expense! (Funny to say that - I'm a graphic designer by trade! lol)
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Old 09-09-2008, 04:38 PM   #10
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But what price would you be willing to pay for colour? I don't mean in terms of money, but in terms of degradation of the quality for black print. Any device which uses tri-pixel colour, as LCD screens do (ie has separate red, green, blue pixels) is going to have a significantly reduced linear resolution compared with a black and white device, and that means poorer text quality.
I honestly don't think that will be much of an issue once higher resolution displays become available. The one that Epson showed off was 385ppi, which with color would still deliver something like 192ppi.
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Old 09-10-2008, 02:59 AM   #11
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For colour to be useful it would need to be big. Then it could be used for my library of technical photographic books. My concern with colour would be the quality. Even the iliad with its fancy controller giving more levels of gray cannot match a well printed book. I am referring to images here of course. How much more difficult would colour be? It would be great to have coffee table books on a reader.
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Old 09-10-2008, 09:38 AM   #12
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But what price would you be willing to pay for colour? I don't mean in terms of money, but in terms of degradation of the quality for black print. Any device which uses tri-pixel colour, as LCD screens do (ie has separate red, green, blue pixels) is going to have a significantly reduced linear resolution compared with a black and white device, and that means poorer text quality.
Good point Harry! Perhaps this is the reason color eInk devices are taking so long to get out of the prototype stage - display quality. We already know that the eInk displays particles have a black & white side, so how do they incorporate more colors to the mix without making it look like you're viewing something through frosted glass? Maybe they've already designed a different shape to the particles, perhaps an octahedron to flip around, though that would still be quite limiting in the range of colors mix. Guess I'll have to look for the Cliff Notes version of the color eInk displays when we learn more!
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Old 09-10-2008, 10:42 AM   #13
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Can you imagine the refresh time on an octahedron? Sheesh - for people who complain that the b&w refresh is too long and distracting - this might be a deal breaker.
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Old 09-10-2008, 10:53 AM   #14
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I don't think an octahedron would work, anyway. The other faces would still be too visible. But it might not be necessary. A tetrahedron might do the job if you could adjust the intensity of the color by the distance from the surface of the screen. You'd still need a tri-pixel arrangement, either way. And I have to agree that it would be even slower than the current generation of e ink, and that would be a turnoff for me, at least.

Bistable LCDs seem a more likely candidate to me.
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Old 09-11-2008, 05:54 AM   #15
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For me I wouldn't want a colour screen for fiction. But being able to download a magazine or technical manual to a larger colour eink device would be ideal.

So it looks like I'll need two reading devices in the future... Which I don't mind... More gadgets!
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