E Ink’s new color e-paper is fast enough for video

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After unveiling a new and improved version of its e-paper color screens for use in signage and digital posters a few weeks ago, E ink is now give us a look a new version of its color e-paper designed for use in e-readers and electronic notes. Jhe is the last upgrades could make the new display technology an attractive alternative to LCDs and OLED in other devices.

back in September 2020, we went by hand with the first plug-and-play devices that used E Ink first generation color electronic paper display technology known simply as Kaleido. The PocketBook Color e-reader and Hisense A5C smartphone felt revolutionary after having only black-and-white e-paper screens to stare at for nearly two decades.

The PocketBook Color included front LED lighting, but unlike other eReaders, it couldn't be set to a warmer color for comfortable reading at night.  It's been kept cool to help the E Ink display's color reproduction stay as accurate as possible.

The PocketBook Color included front LED lighting, but unlike other eReaders, it couldn’t be set to a warmer color for comfortable reading at night. It’s been kept cool to help the E Ink display’s color reproduction stay as accurate as possible.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

But at the same time, E Ink’s e-paper color displays were far from perfect, requiring a strong light source (like the sun) for maximum color saturation, and backlighting with no heat setting to ensure the accuracy of color reproduction. The screens were still easier on the eyes for long periods of time than LCD or OLED screens, but Kaleido wasn’t quite ready to completely replace them.

Kaleido was followed by Kaleido Plus which offered some key improvements, but is now replaced by the newly announced Kaleido 3. We haven’t had a chance to try Kaleido 3 yet, but according to E Ink, “bBy optimizing the structure design of the ePaper module, E Ink Kaleido 3 has increased its color saturation by 30% compared to the previous generation.” It’s not a stark contrast on paper (pun intended) and Kaleido 3 still only supports 4,096 colors, but in person, improvements between versions are usually much more obvious.

E Ink also claims that Kaleido 3, which will be available in three sizes (7.8-inch, 10.3-inch, and 13.3-inch) for everything from e-readers to larger tablets, uses new front-lighting technology that reduces the amount of blue light bouncing off the screen for easier reading at night without resorting to warmer color temperature options for the LEDs which would detract from the accuracy of displayed colors.

Attempting to watch YouTube videos on the Boox Nova 3 Color eNote was eye strain.
GIF: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

The most interesting update with Kaleido 3 is that E Ink claims the display responsiveness has been improved, which “allows the module to play animations and videos, providing new options for playback and digital writing in educational and professional applications”. Watching video on a device using a Kaleido Plus display wasn’t impossible, but it wasn’t an entirely pleasant experience either, so we’re cautiously optimistic as to whether or not the Kaleido 3 display can be used for more than just reading or taking notes.

About Debra D. Johnson

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