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E-paper makes consumer debut

30 Mar 2004

An electronic-book reader with a paper-like display is about to go on sale in Japan.

Sony says that its Librié palm-sized e-book reader is the world’s first consumer device to have an “electronic paper” display that rivals the quality of newsprint.

Librié can store up to 500 e-books in its onboard memory and goes on sale in Japan in April for around $375. The latest Sony innovation boasts a 15-cm diagonal display with a resolution of 170 pixels per inch. The display has been jointly developed by Philips, Toppan and E-ink who have been working together on the technology for the past three years.

“Up until now consumers have been less willing to adopt e-reading applications because of the poor display quality on cumbersome devices,” said Yoshitaka Ukita, general manager of Sony’s e-Book business department. “This display solution provides a level of text clarity comparable to paper.”

Unlike LCDs, Sony says that Librié’s display can be easily read from almost any angle and only consumes power when a page is refreshed. As a result, it is able to display about 10,000 pages before its 4 AAA batteries need to be replaced.

The display is based on E-ink’s patented technology that uses an array of tiny electrically-charged white and black beads to create an image. E-ink supplies this electronic ink to Toppan who processes it into a thin laminate. Philips then integrates this laminate with backplane electronics to create a display.

The Librié measures just 13 mm thick and weighs 300 g. e-Books can be downloaded via a USB 2.0 connector or a Sony Memory stick which plugs into the device.

Author
Oliver Graydon is editor of Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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