There are a handful of eBook readers with color E Ink displays using the new Kaleido display technology that supports up to 4096 colors. But most of those eReaders have the same 6 inch displays.

Last month we noted that Chinese device maker Bigme had launched the Bigme B1 Pro with a 10.3 inch color E Ink display. Now the company has also introduced a 7.8 inch model called the Bigme S3 and it went up for pre-order from Chinese online retailer JD.com recently for 3,499 CNY (about $540 US)

Update: Another 7.8 inch color eReader is also coming, and while the specs are less impressive, the PocketBook 740 Color is expected to be available worldwide and will likely have a more affordable price tag of around $300. 

Here’s a run-down of some key specs for the Bigme S3:

  • 7.8 inch, 1404 x 1872 pixel color E Ink display
  • Front-light with 36 brightness levels
  • 1.8 GHz octa-core processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB storage
  • Android 8.1 based operating system
  • 2,000 mAh battery
  • USB-C port
  • Dual microphones (for voice transcription)
  • 7.5″ x 5.3″ x 0.25″
  • 7.8 ounces

With an E Ink display, the Bigme S3 is clearly an eReader first and foremost, and it supports popular formats for eBooks and digital magazines and comics including EPUB, Mobi, and PDF. But it’s also basically an Android tablet that should be capable of running some third-party apps.

It also has some special features including support for translating speech to text for note taking, and the device works with a digital pen that allows you to write or draw on the screen.

One thing to keep in mind about any device with E Ink’s Kaleido display technology is that color content may look grainier than grayscale content. That’s because these screens have a color filter applied on top of a normal E Ink display that works in a way that allows black and white content to be displayed at 300 pixels per inch, while color content is displayed at 100 pixels per inch.

So don’t expect the kind of vivid, sharp colors you’d get from an OLED or even LCD display. You do get the benefits of E Ink including high visibility in sunlight, reduced eye strain, and low power consumption. But you also get colors that look a bit more like what you’d see in newsprint than glossy magazines.

For a hands-on review of the new Bigme S3, check out an entry in the Chinese language SMZDM community. It’s pretty easy to follow with Google or Bing translate, and there are plenty of pictures that speak a thousand words without the need for any translation anyway. Here are a few, but check out the review for many more:

via eReader X

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15 Comments

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  1. I really hope no one actually thinks they would get the same resolution on this device as they would get with an oled display. If anyone thought this please just continue to use you galaxy phone and leave the cool tech like this eink display for the rest of us

  2. To be honest, I’d actually like more screen bezel on an e-book reader. When I’m reading a book, I often find myself going through dozens of different sitting positions, and holding positions. I can’t imagine finding a comfortable way to hold something like this.

    I’ve opted not to replace my Kindle 3G for 10 years now simply because it offers a nice bezel to hold.

  3. E ink Ebook readers are an interesting idea. I looked into the Kindle reader. Most of them don’t have lighted displays. The lighted ones cost big bucks, so I went with a less expensive LED backlit Kindle Fire HD tablet instead. For me, E ink with no lighted display means no deal.

    1. Same for me, backlight is a must. I’ve owned a Kindle 3G model since 2010, and I still use it. But I wouldn’t be buying another one unless it had a backlight.

  4. these color ereader interest me in concept. it could be nice if i had just one comfortable device to read books articles and forums, comics, and watch movies/videos. but i wonder if the simpler solution wouldn’t be a 2 screen device . because i don’t mind the weird grey colors if im gonna read a newspaper or go trough a website but if want to read a comic book vivid colors are important.

  5. What is the advantage of so many of these Chinese devices shipping with incredibly outdated Android releases?
    Does it cost too much to download newer code?

    1. on the one hand even if they download the code it still has to be optimized and that takes resources. More importantly is the fact that normally chipmakers provide OS images for their chips and if it’s not a new chip the chipmakers often don’t bother making a new image unless their clients (at least big ones) request it.

      1. Give them time to improve. In a few years we will have vivid colors, faster response times, better resolutions and the feeling we are actually reading a true illustration book with so many colors on screen. I love this concept, but there is still much to do 🙂