Bigme was one of the first companies to launch tablets and eReaders with E Ink Color displays. Now Bigme is going… bigger. The company has posted a preview page for an upcoming Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for an All-in-One desktop computer with a 25.3 inch E Ink Color display.
Update (9-28-2023): The Bigme B251 Series is up for pre-order through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, and it turns out it’s available in two versions: as a standalone monitor or an All-in-One computer.
While we’ve seen a handful of companies including Dasung and Onyx BOOX use 25.3 inch E Ink Color displays for monitors, Bigme is the first company I’m aware of to build an AiO desktop featuring one.
Basically, rather than just a display that you can plug into a desktop, laptop, or other device, this is a fully functional computer with an Intel Core i5 processor and Windows 11 software. Bigme doesn’t say which Intel chip the computer has, and there aren’t many other details about specs or pricing.
But we do know that the system will support voice controls, have a front-light to make the screen easier to view in dimly lit environments, and support screen rotation. It’s also said to have an HDMI port and support for “wireless cast” functionality, suggesting that you may also be able to use the system as an external display for your phone, laptop, or other computers as well as using it as a standalone device. It may also be possible to run an HDMI cable to a second display if you want to use an LCD screen as a companion to the computer’s E Ink display.
E Ink displays are often used for eBook readers, as they provide a low-power, high-contrast screen that can be viewed using only ambient light (or a front light that shines onto the display rather than toward your eyes), reducing eye strain. And E Ink only use power when the image on screen, so a static image can be displayed indefinitely.
But the properties that make these screens good for reading eBooks can make them an iffy fit for tablets and PCs. E Ink displays have refresh rates that are much slower than LCD or OLED screens, which makes animation look less fluid. While we’ve seen E Ink tablet makes push the limits of E Ink with higher-than-usual refresh rates recently, you usually sacrifice some image quality to get refresh rates fast enough for video playback.
And while E Ink has been producing color displays for the past few years, they tend to have a limited color palette when compared with other display technologies, and colors tend to look much less vibrant on an E Ink display.
All of which is to say that, while I can see why some folks might want an E Ink monitor that can be used as an optional alternative to an LCD display for certain tasks, I’m less clear on the value of an All-in-One computer that only has an E Ink Color display (unless you connect a second screen).
Speaking of value, Bigme hasn’t said how much its upcoming computer will cost. But smart money is on “a lot.” The similarly-sized Dasung Paperlike Color E Ink monitor is going for more than $1,500 during an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, and the retail price is expected to be even higher. And the Onyx BOOX Mira Pro monitor with a 25.3 inch display is expected to sell for $1,800 if it ever actually comes to market.
And those are just displays. I’d expect the Bigme AiO to cost even more, given that it combines that it combines a similar display with additional computer components including a processor, memory, storage, networking hardware, and (hopefully) a Windows license.