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Summary:

E-book readers have one thing in common — at least the ones not using LCD screens — they all display in black and white. A Dutch company is using electrowetting to produce color screens that require no backlighting and can handle video up to 60 fps.

LiquaVista

E-book readers have one thing in common — at least the ones not using LCD screens — they all display in black and white. The E-ink technology that’s widely used in e-readers doesn’t do video, either, something considered a drawback by many who watch the space. What E-ink screens do bring to the table are long battery life, and that is considered an acceptable compromise. And we may not need to give up battery life for good color displays that can handle video — that is, if LiquaVista brings its color display technology to market as it expects to do.

The LiquaVista technology uses electrowetting, a technique that uses electrical charges to move colored oil around in each pixel on the display and is capable of frame rates up to 60 per second — per the company’s claims anyway. The BBC has produced a video of the technology in action, and it does look very promising. Video playback is smooth and fast, although the BBC found it to leave artifacts on the screen. It’s a very early version of the technology, however, and since it can handle video well without backlighting, is likely very power-stingy. This is definitely a technology worth watching.

A natural property of electrowetting is that the screen image gets more vivid in bright sunlight. This eliminates the need for any backlighting, and gives the technology a distinct advantage over those of current display methods. LiquaVista is in discussions with partners, and hopes to bring the technology to market in the next year or two. I wonder if the iPad — LCD screen and all — already hampers the need for this new technology?

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  1. How would the iPad hamper the need for much longer battery life and better outdoor viewing?

  2. While battery life is definitely a plus, the biggest advantage of eInk is that it is considerably more comfortable to read on for long periods of time than LCD or other backlit technologies. From the description, it looks like this new technology probably retains that advantage as well.

    I’m not really sure how the iPad is relevant at all to this topic, other than possibly speculating about whether a later generation of it might opt to use this technology.

  3. Hahaha. If LCD screens “hampered the need for” e-readers, e-readers with e-ink would have never existed in the first place. Get your chronology right. Apple did not create the first ever LCD screen when it created the iPad.

  4. I honestly could care a less about the additional battery life (how many hours do you need, readers?? 10-14 not enough??) or the fact that you can read in direct sunlight (really… who does that?). Thre is no arguing that the addressable market for dedicated ereaders has shrunk (doubt anyone can accurately say how much) because of the iPad. This devide would have been HUGE… a year ago…

    1. You don’t read outside?

      1. Outside a lot. Usually not reading. When I am, certainly dont do it in direct sunlight.

      2. It’s sunlight, not direct sunlight. When I’m reading outside and I have my Touch Pro2 and my Kindle side by side, the difference is astonishing. You can read the Kindle, you can barely read the TP2.

  5. Doug Mohney – HD Voice News Monday, April 12, 2010

    Yet Another Cool But-Will-It-Really-Be-Really technology…

    Hate to be a skeptic, but OLED was supposed to solve the battery/outside light problems, yes? And where’s OLED? Still too expensive….

    1. FYI OLED is even worse performing than classical LCD TFT in the outside so you can forget about that technology for all-around use. Liquavista, mirasol, PixelQi… future looks bright. And as for iPad… oh c’mon get of that high fructose syrup addiction pls.!

  6. Sounds interesting, but I’ll have to wait ’til I actually see one of these screens in action, especially after the mention of artifacts my discerning eyes most likely will notice.

    If it does deliver, though…two on the Courier, please?

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