Most consumer devices with E Ink displays are designed for reading eBooks and other documents, but a growing number blur the lines between an eReader and a tablet thanks to features like support for pen input. And now that color E Ink displays are a thing, that line is getting even blurrier.
The latest example? The Bigme inkNote Color is a 10.3 inch touchscreen tablet that comes with a pressure-sensitive pen for drawing and writing notes. It ships with Android 11, complete with Google Play Store access and has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. What sets it apart from most Android tablet is that instead of an LCD or OLED display, it has a E Ink Kaleido 2 color screen. First unveiled earlier this month, the inkNote Color is now up for pre-order through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign.
Prices start at $540 for early bird backers during crowdfunding, which represents a 23% discount off the expected $699 retail price. But you’ll have to wait until at least October for your tablet to ship.
As a color E Ink tablet, the device comes with all the pros and cons that come with E Ink’s electronic paper display technology. The screen is a high-contrast, sunlight readable display that only consumes power when the image is refreshed. That means you can display a static image or text indefinitely, even if the tablet loses power. And you should have no trouble reading outdoors or in other bright environments where you’d see glare on a typical smartphone or tablet screen.
But it also means that the screen has a much slower refresh rate. It supports thousands of colors instead of millions. And colors may not look as vibrant as they do on other displays. And that makes the inkNote Color a good choice for reading eBooks, annotating documents, taking notes, or maybe even web surfing… but a poor fit for watching videos or playing games.
Because of the way E Ink’s Kaleido color display technology puts a color filter on top of a greyscale screen, you also lose some resolution when viewing color content. The inkNote Color has a 10.3 inch, 1872 x 1404 pixel display with a density of 226 pixels per inch when you’re viewing black and white content. But switch to color and that drops to 936 x 702 pixels (117 ppi) in color mode.
Bigme does offer four different “screen speed modes,” which allow you to sacrifice a bit of clarity for a higher refresh rate for smoother scrolling or other animations. And there’s an adjustable front light that will help you see the screen in dark or dimly lit environments.
The tablet has an unspecified 2.3 GHz octa-core processor, an 8MP rear camera, and a 5MP front-facing camera. Bigme notes that this makes the inkNote Color the first E Ink tablet to feature both front and rear cameras.
I suspect using the viewfinder will be a bit of a pain on an E ink display, and video calling will probably look awful. But it certainly makes the inkNote Color look more like a tablet than just a reading/note-taking device. You can also use the cameras as a sort of document scanner thanks to support for optical character recognition which can convert text in images into, well, text.
There’s also text-to-speech support, allowing you to dictate notes in 31 different languages. And there’s handwriting recognition, allowing you to convert notes written using the included pressure-sensitive digital pen to text as well.
Thee Bigme inkNote Color has an aluminum body, a 4,000 mAh battery, dual speakers, an array of 4 microphones, a fingerprint sensor on the side of the device, and a microSD card reader with support for up to 128GB of removable storage. There’s also a SIM card slot and the product page mentions support for 4G cellular networks, but I suspect that network band support is limited in North America.
While this is the first crowdfunding campaign from Chinese device maker Bigme, the company has been producing hardware for a while. And the Kickstarter campaign comes from a partnership with Good e-Reader, a website that’s both a blog featuring not-always-accurate news about upcoming eBook readers and a shop where you can buy them.
This article was first published July 13, 2022 and most recently updated July 27, 2022.
I’m not sure why Bigme would partner with good e-reader, when good e-reader conned a bunch of people (including me), supposedly raising funds for a note taking ereader in 2018 on Indiegogo which very few people actually received.
why not mirasol? better color, faster
I was originally tempted since the 1 dollar reservation got you a great 400 dollar price tag. But I have a Kobo elipsa so I already have a big eInk device for note taking/annotations and while colour would be nice, it’s not necessary at this time.
The biggest reason why I decided colour was not a must have feature right now is because they are using a Kaleido Plus screen when we already have devices with Kaleido 2 and 2.5 and soon we´re supposed to have Kaleido 3. That makes it feel like they made this product to clear out inventory of the Plus screen they bought for other devices and added cameras to differentiate, which is a little silly since the camera experience on an eInk device must be horrible, making for limited use (the faster refreshes are blurry which means it’d be hard to know if the document or object you are taking a picture of is actually in focus, leaving video conferencing and then it’s more about the other person seeing you well than you seeing them well.)
Why there is this crowdfunding as we have the same device at the bigmestore.com ? I think that I just lost 5 dollars 🙁
Well, the other one is more expensive and this one has cameras as it’s going for a more tablety feel.
Did you actually talk to Bigme or Goodereader directly about this?
I find it a bit suspicious that this new ereader is supposed to have the same specs as an existing model, but sold much cheaper. Also that this new ereader is only on Shopify, and not on any official website from either involved company.
Good ereader has also posted about it on their own website. They are using an “old” screen, so personally I get the impression that it’s a way to clear out inventory (the specs are mostly the same except for the OS and cameras I think, so there’s “added value”). Plus only the early birds get the cheap cheap price.