Several companies recently announced plans to release eReaders with color E Ink displays this year, and at least one smartphone with a color E Ink screen is set to go on sale in China next week. But so far we haven’t seen many details about the technology used in those color displays.
First up, it looks like the new display technology is called Kaleido, and it will combine an E Ink Carta HD screen with a color filter layer that allows the displays to show up to 4096 different colors.
But you’ll have to sacrifice some sharpness to get that level of color.
An E Ink Carta HD screen can display 16 shades of gray at 300 pixels per inch. But each color pixel will actually be made up of multiple grayscale pixels — which means that when you’re viewing color graphics you’ll probably be limited to 100 or maybe 212 pixels per inch.
There seem to be conflicting reports about the actual pixel density for color displays, so we may have to wait for an official statement from E Ink to know for sure — but for what its worth, Nate reports that the Pocketbook Color is expected to have a 100 ppi color display (or 300 ppi for black and white imagery).
Anyway, if you’re wondering what this looks like in action, the Onyx Boox Poke2 Color video shows an electronic paper screen capable of showing photographs, drawings, and eBooks, and video games in color. While the color depth is obviously a lot lower than what you’d get from an LCD or AMOLED display, and the colors look a little dull, it definitely adds some flare to the E Ink display and makes images and graphics stand out a little better.
The screen refresh rate seems to be a bit higher than usual for an eReader, but scrolling is still a little janky and I’m not sure I’d want to watch a video or play any high-action games on this screen. Card games and crossword puzzles should work well though.
While all of the color eReaders announced in the last month have 6 inch displays, the upcoming Hisense A5C and A5 Pro smartphones have 5.84 inch color E Ink displays. So while I suspect these will also be Kaleido screens, I don’t know that for certain yet.