The Amazon Kindle and most other eReaders use black and white E Ink displays. A while back Amazon acquired a company called Liquavista that was working on color electronic paper display technology, but it looks like the company recently pulled the plug on Liquavista.
But that doesn’t mean device makers have given up on color eReaders altogether.
E Ink’s color display technology has been around for years, but it’s never been widely adopted. Like monochrome E Ink displays, color E Ink screens have low power consumption and are easy to read outdoors since they don’t require a backlight.
But while they can display color graphics for charts, graphs, photographs, comics, or illustrations, the colors tend to look rather muted and only support up to 4096 colors.
The screens are also much more expensive than other E Ink displays, which helps explain why we haven’t seen many devices ship with the screens in recent years.
Still, the technology could help bring some types of content to life a little better than a monochrome display. Textbooks and picture books seem like a pretty good use case, which helps explain why Onyx targets the Youngy Boox at the education market.
Company representatives say it’s currently in use in schools in China.
The Youngy Boox features a display with 150 pixels per inch, support for pen input, and a camera that you can use to snap photos… although the viewfinder is a bit tough to use because of the device’s low screen refresh rate.
Meanwhile folks outside of China hoping to get their hands on a color eReader… might be best off picking up an iPad or an Android tablet and installing an app or two for reading eBooks. Sure, you won’t get the same of sunlight viewability, distraction-free reading experience, or weeks-long battery life. But at least tablets with color screens are available… and some models are even cheaper than black and white eReaders these days.
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