Sunday, January 15, 2012

North America's First Colour E Ink E-Reader

Today is the 'Expected' ship date for what is being advertised as North America's first Colour E Ink e-Reader, the ETACO jetBook Color. Guess they ship on Sundays in some parts of the world. . .

I've been waiting for colour e-ink for several years now. It's one of the main reasons why I waited so long to buy my first e-reader. Of course, six and a half months after I gave up waiting, look what they roll out.

Yet, the ETACO is not exactly what I was waiting for anyway.

You see, there are several promising technologies that have been announced over the past several years. For instance, there is the Mirasol screen, utilized by the Kyobo e-reader that was recently released in Korea (not to be confused with the Kobo e-Reader). Supposedly inspired by iridescent butterfly wings, Mirasol uses tiny electrically controlled mirrors. Besides the colour capabilities, this screen will refresh faster than current black and grey E Ink.

Even more promising is the Liquavista screen that was purchased by Samsung a year ago. This screen uses electrowetting technology. It promises far faster refresh rates, fast enough to watch video, and lower energy consumption. It is also easier and cheaper to make.

So how does North America's first colour e-Reader stack up? It uses an older technology that relies on several layers of colour filters layered over an ordinary E Ink screen. This has several disadvantages since it has many of the same deficiencies of a regular E Ink screen as well as having all those extra layers for the light to pass through, which ultimately produces a dimmer, less distinct image.

Still, the jetBook Color has been available in Europe for some time now and it was deemed popular enough to bring over here. I'd be interested in seeing one, but I'm not rushing out to pay $520 dollars for one.

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