After years of false starts, eBook readers with color E Ink displays are finally here. This year a handful of companies have introduced eReaders with E Ink’s new 4,096 color Kaleido display technology. And now you can buy one.
The Onyx Boox Poke2 Color is available for $299.
Update: Shortly after going on sale, the Poke2 Color has been listed as out of stock.
The devices features a 6 inch, 1448 x 1072 pixel E Ink display that shows 300 pixels per inch when you’re looking at black and white images, or about 100 pixels per inch when you’re viewing color.
Up until recently most devices with E Ink displays have been black and white models that are limited to showing 16 shades of grey. That’s fine for reading eBooks that are mostly text, but if you wanted to view digital magazines, comics, picture books, or textbooks with color imagery, you were probably better off using a phone, tablet, or laptop.
Actually, you still might be better off with one of those devices if you want access to 16 million bright and vivid colors. E Ink’s Kaleido display technology tops out at 4096 colors and those colors can look a little dull because of the way the display technology works.
E Ink screens are designed to be high-contrast displays that are easy to read using nothing but ambient lighting. Like many recent eReaders, the Poke2 Color has a front-light that makes it easy to see the screen in dimly lit environments (it can also brighten the screen even if you’re in a reasonably well-lit room). But you don’t need a light to see the screen if you’re outdoors or in other brightly lit settings.
The upshot is that many folks find E Ink to look more like real ink-on-paper. It’s easy to read an eBook outsides. And the screens are also energy efficient — they only consume power when the screen is refreshed, so a static image can be displayed indefinitely without draining your battery. Digital book readers with E Ink displays tend to have battery life measured in weeks rather than hours because you might only actually refresh the page once every minute or so as you’re reading an eBook.
At $299, the Onyx Boox Poke2 Color is more expensive than the latest Kindle, Nook, or Kobo eReaders. But it’s not that much more… and if the technology proves popular with readers, it’s possible we could see prices for this sort of device go down in the future due to economies of scale.
For now, the Poke2 isn’t the only eReader with a color E Ink display set to ship this year. But it is the first to be widely available. Onyx offers shipping to the US, Canada, UK, much of Europe, and a number of countries in the Asia Pacific region.
Here’s a run-down of the device’s key specs:
|Display||6 inch E Ink Kalaido color|
1448 x 1072
300 ppi (B&W)
100 ppi (color
Front light with 32-level adjustable color temperature
Finger touch input
|CPU||2 GHz octa-core|
|USB||micro USB OTG|
|Wireless||802.11n WiFi (2.4 GHz + 5 GHz)|
|Dimensions||153mm x 107mm x 6.8mm|
The eReader supports a range of eBook formats including EPUB, MOBI, and PDF, as well as HTML, DOC, and TXT files. You can also pair a set of Bluetooth headphones with the Poke2 Color to listen to WAV or MP3 audiobook or music files. There’s also a text-to-speech feature to listen to eBooks through headphones.
Since the Poke2 Color runs an Android-based operating system, you can also sideload Android apps including Amazon’s Kindle app — although Android apps may not be optimized for E Ink displays, so they may be a little tougher to navigate on a device with a limited set of colors and a fairly slow screen refresh rate compared with most phones and tablets.
The Poke2 Color is available from the Onyx Boox Shop for $299. Or if you’d prefer a version with virtually identical specs, but a black and white screen, you can pick up the non-color version of the Poke2 for $190.