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E Ink displays offer a paper-like viewing experience that makes them useful for eBook readers and digital signage. But in recent years they’ve started popping up in other devices like note-taking tablets and occasionally even laptops or monitors. But there are down sides to E Ink displays, like slow screen refresh rates that make them poor fits for video and games, among other things.
The Philips 24B1D5600/96 dual-screen monitor attempts to offer the best of both worlds by effectively cramming two displays onto one stand. There’s a 24 inch color LCD monitor on the left and a 13.3 inch E Ink display on the right.
The display is available in China for around $850, but it’s not widely available in North America yet. Still, it’s an unusual device that’s either a very niche product for very specific use cases… or possibly a solution in search of a problem, depending on how you look at it.
The color portion of the dual-screen monitor is a 23.8 inch, 2560 x 1440 pixel display with a 16:9 aspect ratio, 123 pixels per inch, 75 Hz refresh rate, 178 degree viewing angles, 99.8% sRGB color gamut, 4ms response time, and 250 nits brightness. It can display 16.7 million colors and supports DisplayPort 1.2 and USB-C input.
You can also use this portion as a USB hub since it also has four USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports and a Gigabit Ethernet port with support for wake on LAN functionality.
The E Ink portion features a 13.3 inch, 1200 x 1600 pixel greyscale screen with a 3:4 aspect ratio, 150 pixels per inch, and an anti-glare finish. It has a front-light that can illuminate the display when used in a room where ambient lighting isn’t enough, and the E Ink portion of the monitor has a USB-C port for input and power delivery.
Theoretically you could use the E Ink screen to read documents or other materials while reducing the eye strain that some people experience when staring at more traditional computer monitors.
But the setup also means that you’ll most likely either position the color display off-center so that you can comfortably view both screens without turning your head… or you’ll position the color display so it’s centered with your keyboard, which means that you’ll have to turn your head to look at the E Ink screen.
It’s kind of hard to imagine this being comfortable enough to use for anyone to buy unless they really anticipate using both screens regularly enough that cramming them on the same stand makes more sense than using two separate screens or two different devices (like a PC and an eReader or eNote).