E Ink is probably best known for making the black and white displays that you find on Kindle and Kobo eReaders. But the company has been dipping its toes in the color display waters for the past few years, and now E Ink says its best color display to date has entered mass production.
Devices with E Ink Gallery 3 color displays should begin arriving in 2023. We’ve already seen one – the Bigme Gally tablet that hit Kickstarter recently has an 8 inch Gallery 3 display. But now PocketBook has announced its first eReader with a Gallery 3 display is coming, and E Ink says we can also expect models from other companies including Onyx BOOX, iFlyTek, iReader, Readmoo, and AOC.
The PocketBook Viva, for example, should be available from Amazon and Newegg in late March or early April for around $599. It has an 8 inch E Ink Gallery 3, built-in page turn buttons as well as touchscreen support, an IPX8 rating for water resistance, a built-in speaker and support for Bluetooth audio, and text-to-speech technology, among other features.
It’s the display that really helps set the Viva apart from existing E Ink Color devices though.
Like most E Ink displays, the new Gallery 3 displays offer a high-contrast, low-power viewing experience that’s easily visible in direct sunlight. What’s new with this technology is that you also get support for thousands of colors at high pixel density.
Earlier E Ink color displays applied a color filter layer in a way that meant that a screen which was capable of showing 300 pixels per inch of black and white content could only display 100 pixels per inch in color.
E Ink Gallery 3 technology uses four different color particles per pixel: cyan, magenta, yellow, and white. This has two benefits: First, you get the same 300 pixels per inch whether you’re viewing black and white or color content. Second, while earlier screens topped out at 4,096 colors, E Ink Gallery offers what E Ink calls “full color gamut.”
What counts as “full” might be up for debate. E Ink doesn’t say exactly how many colors the screens support, but PocketBook says it’s “about 15k.” That’s far short of the millions of colors you’d get from a typical LCD or AMOLED screen, but it’s still a big step up from 4,096.
E Ink says it’s also improved the screen refresh time, although speeds will vary depending on the modes you choose:
- 350 milliseconds for black and white
- 500 ms for fast color mode
- 750 – 1,000 ms for standard color mode
- 1,500 ms for best color mode
The speedier color modes will likely leave some artifacts from the previous image on the screen, so they may be appropriate for web browsing or playing some simple games, while you’ll probably want the best color mode for viewing documents, comics, or other detailed content.
Clearly these screens aren’t meant for high-motion graphics, so you might want to look elsewhere if you’re looking for a device for watching videos or playing mobile games. But devices like the Bigme Galy and PocketBook Viva could come in handy for reading textbooks, comics, picture books, websites, or other content where you may want to add color to a paper-like display.