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Color E Ink Finally Finds Its Way To Market

by Sean P. Aune | November 9, 2010November 9, 2010 8:00 am PST

One aspect of e-readers that has been cited time and time again as being a drawback from the devices reaching their true potential has been a lack of color. While it has been clear that E Ink leads to a superior reading experience as compared to the iPads LCD screen, the lack of color has been mentioned as an issue for cook books, looking at graphs & charts and you might as well forget the concept of an art history textbook.

Hanvon color e-inkThere have been numerous experiments with color E Ink solutions, but the general consensus has been that it was simply too expensive to produce. Apparently that barrier has now been dropped at least somewhat as a company has shown off a color E-Reader at the FPD International 2010 trade show in Tokyo.

According to The New York Times, Hanvon, a Chinese manufacturer, is showing off a color E Ink device with a  9.8-inch screen, Wi-Fi and 3G support.  It is expected to sell for around $440USD when it goes on sale in China in the next few months.  This is seen as a major step forward for the technology, and one that was sorely needed.  “Color is absolutely critical for E Ink,” James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research, told the newspaper. “Without it, they’ll either be replaced by LCD displays or other competitors.”

The drawbacks are that colors are muted due to the technology, so this will not be some vibrant display like people are used to from devices such as the iPad.  It is also incapable, at least at this time, of playing videos.  It can handle simple animations, but don’t think you’ll be watching any YouTube videos with this.

E Ink has been noted time and time again for its ease on the eyes will reading, and also how you can still read it in direct sunlight, something the iPad is notorious for failing at.  The problem, as I see it for now, is that it is still just really an E-Reader, and now much more.  You can pick it for $440 in China, but if it comes out here with that price, and you have the iPad starting at $499, that’s going to be a hard sell to get around.

What say you?  Will color E Ink help expand the market?

Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...