Electronic Paper

One of the most interesting finally-hitting-the-real-worldproducts shown at theConsumer Electronic Show is Sony’s electronic portable reader. Most will scoff at the idea thatthis will change user habits — we’ve had, and largely rejected,the idea of reading eBooks on little PDAs for years — howeverthere is a core difference with the new Sony device: electronicpaper.

Instead of using an emissive technology like LCD (which isemissive through the backlight, with negligible reflectiveproperties) or CRTs, electronic paper (which has been evolving invarious niche products for going on a decade) actuallychanges the reflective property of the surface, absorbing orreflecting the ambient light, just like real paper. Secondly, thisfirst generation release features a dot density greater than mostcurrent display technologies, display 170 dots per inch rather thanthe standard 72 dots per inch (fitting 800×600 in a relativelysmall display, versus the terrible 320×240 display of most PDAs). Astatic, reflective, relatively high resolution display not onlyallows for a good amount of information on the screen at once, butit’ll be dramatically easier on the eyes as well.

Supposedly electronic paper in colour form should be availablesoon, which should be very interesting.

I’m going to keep my eye on this technology, and will reallyconsider it if they can maintain or increase the dot density, butup the size to 8 1/2 x 11. It would be a killer device at thatpoint.