Thursday, September 03, 2009

The World is Not Greyscale

Everyone appears to want colour in the ereader device but as we have previously pointed out this is not a simple switch with the E Ink as it is made up from positively charged white particles and negatively charged black ones in a clear fluid. When a charge is applied, the particles can be aligned to form letters and patterns and remain static until a further charge turns. To achieve colour a filter is placed over the top of the black and white display made up of red, green, blue and white sub-pixels. This obviously leads to a reduction in brightness and the need for a much higher resolution. SiPix has announced the delivery of some color e-ink displays to the market by the end of 2010. It is now down to PrimeView to respond, but the race is clearly on.

However the use and interest in organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology continues and could render coloured eInk obsolete before it has dried. The Japanese research center, RIKEN, claims a new method of deploying the technology using electrospray-deposited polymer films rather than the spin-coated films which are used in today's OLEDs. This change results in a smoother display where each pixel on it has a higher intensity, even at lower voltages.

OLEDs are now entering the market place as screens for mobile phones and televisions and if costs and wastage could be reduced by using mass-production and simpler techniques these could be adopted further. The breakthrough made by RIKEN could be the factor that changes the future of OLED and screen technology.

LG has announced that their first OLED TV but it will only be a 15-inch sized screen and won't hit UK stores until next year. It is set to become the largest OLED TV available after topping the 11-inches of Sony’s XEL-1, the world's first and only OLED television available on the market. It will offer a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, a super-fast response rate, low power consumption and a screen guaranteed for 30,000 hours of use. LG has also announced hopes to deliver a 30-inch version some time in 2012.

Meanwhile, back in the world of greyscale and dull. Wes Dearing ,Sony's UK Product Manager for their eReader, speaking at the launch of the Touch and the Pocket, "We have to work out if the public are happy with grey scale papers or want colour. If the consumers demand it; if they are saying 'we want colour Readers' then of course we will listen and provide that option."

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