Sony PRS-T1

The Sony PRS-T1 is designed to be an eBook reader and little more, but it’s running Google Android under the hood. Late last year hackers figured out how to root the device and enable installation of third party Android apps. But for the most part those apps look awful on the PRS-T1, because the E Ink display has a slow screen refresh rate.

That means you’re not going to watch videos, play games with high frame rates, or even use apps that require a lot of scrolling, because the screen will keep flickering between black and white until you go mildly insane.

But it turns out there’s sort of a fix for that. E Ink displays actually can handle high refresh rates, but they’re usually programmed not to for a few good reasons. First, increasing the refresh rate can decrease picture and text quality in some instances. And second, part of the appeal of a good E Ink device is that it uses virtually no power when you’re not turning a page — so the more often you refresh the screen, the less battery life you’ll get.

If you’re cool with that tradeoff though, the eBook Reader has posted information on how to enable a “partial refresh” mode on a rooted PRS-T1 which will let you scroll through eBook pages with virtually no flicker, scroll through lists, zoom in a web browser, or view other visual effects on the E Ink screen that you’d normally only expect to see on an LCD display.

The trick is sort of temporary. You fire it it up by working a little magic in the web browser, and it’s disabled as soon as you return to the Sony Reader app or any other default Sony software. But if you just want to do a little scrolling or zooming without giving yourself a headache, it’s a pretty nifty option to have.

The Sony PRS-T1 sells for around $125 and up.

via The Verge

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6 replies on “Hacked Sony Reader shows just how fast E Ink displays can be”

  1. Heating up the screen a bit helps, in fact commercial monitors do this.

  2. wonder what the impact on battery life is to have a fluid e-ink refresh rate.

    I would love color e-ink devices that have good refresh rates–table, phone, laptop–really don’t need a bright LCD except on an HDTV.

    1. My guess is that it wouldn’t be too bad if you just read books since you won’t be changing pages all that often. But for other activities, it’d probably take a toll…

    2. The trick would be to have some kind of adaptive refresh. The problem is that a lot of code is from the days of CRT, where one had to refresh to maintain a stable image. With LCD or Eink, that is not needed. But the backend code and hardware is still pretty much CRT designed and so the image is refreshed even when there is no changes. When one thing about it, the amount of time a computer spends drawing the same static image is staggering.

      1. wow, did not know that. that does seem like a massive waist of energy.

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