Reports from today:
CrunchGear: No Improved Displays This Year, Says E Ink
Some background. First, E Ink Holdings Inc.:
Prime View International, Inc. (PVI) (now, E Ink Holdings Inc.) was the first TFT LCD company based in Taiwan. Its products include high quality small-to-medium-sized TFT LCD panels.
PVI’s parent company, the YFY group, a world leader in paper manufacturing, realized that high growth potential of digital publishing and started research efforts on alternative display solutions to link the divide between paper and electronics.
In 2005, PVI acquired the ePaper business unit from Philips and worked closely with E Ink to launch the first EPD eBooks into the market.
To increase its capacity, PVI established Transcend Optronics in YangZhou, China in 2002, for the display module manufacturing. PVI merged with the Korean TFT LCD company, Hydis Technologies in 2008. PVI then acquired E Ink Corporation in the U.S. to further integrate the ePaper supply chain in 2009.
In 2010, PVI became E Ink Holdings, Inc. The E Ink Group is now supplying ePaper modules to the global top tier eReader brand names like Amazon, Sony, Hanvon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Currently E Ink’s ePaper module has a significant global market share and all modules are manufactured by its Chinese subsidiary, Transcend Optronics.
Boldfaced emphasis added by me.
There’s a huge statement right there: a paper company understanding its days are numbered and also understanding it’s in the information display business, not simply paper.
And that also dispels the notion that the company does only eInk screens.
Over at HYDIS:
Currently, there are four competing LCD technologies in the market using liquid crystals
TN+Film, VA, IPS, and FFS. Today, LCD screens are used in all aspects of our daily life.
FFS is used for high-end solutions
Known for: high transmittance, wide viewing angle, authentic color
Also from HYDIS:
What are AFFS+ technology and Viewiz+?
In response to the needs of the times and to the continued demand for more advanced products, HYDIS has further developed its AFFS technology into AFFS+, a technology that offers lower power consumption, improved transmission of color and images, and impressive internal LCD panel reflection, thus guaranteeing perfect readability even under the brightest sunlight. Viewiz+ is the label given to products using AFFS+ technology.
Why is AFFS so special?
As the signature TFT-LCD technology of BOE, Advanced Fringe Field Switching (AFFS) increases transmittance in a LCD panels to such an extent that a full 180 degree viewing angle is made possible. This technology also offers improved visibility, more realistic image and color representation, and reduced power consumption.
What is the difference between AFFS, IPS and VA?
IPS (In-Plane switching) uses a horizontal electric field type LCD to ensure high color stability and simple process. VA has a vertically aligned electric field to facilitate high transmittance and fast response rate.
AFFS improves upon the IPS horizontally aligned field by creating an electric fringe enabling high transmittance and wide viewing angle. All three are used for the manufacturing of TFT-LCD.
But most importantly for an Amazon tablet is perhaps this feature of interest to people who are used to eInk-based Kindles they can read outside:
That, by the way, is color as good as the sunlight-readable Pixel Qi offers, which explains why that screen has gotten zero traction. For skeptics, not everyone wants to sit in direct sunlight for hours on end, so that photo illustrates extreme sunlight use.
… by 200PPI, AFFS transmittance is 40 percent better than that of TN while consuming 30 percent less power.
Boldfaced emphasis added by me.
That would be a density of 200 pixels per inch (PPI). The NookColor’s screen is 169 pixels per inch at 7″. Amazon could achieve 200 pixels per inch by going one of two ways: a very high resolution screen (greater than 1024 x 600), which is doubtful, or a smaller screen, at 6″ instead of 7″. Given people are used to the 6″ screen of the Kindle, I think a 6″ screen on an Amazon tablet is more likely than 7″.
Here’s a 6″ screen versus 7″ (displaying a PDF):
I can see the skepticism out there. But I think Sony’s own PRS-600 series has made the case that a 6″ touchscreen is a viable option. In fact, Sony has a 5″ touchscreen in its PRS-350, making it ultra-portable — allowing me to rip off this Engadget photo to show its size:
And people love that small size. It’s the first grab-and-go eBook device.
Which is also I think the prime selling point Amazon wants and also why it will go with a 6″ screen at 4:3 ratio (a ratio important to preserve traditional book page size): Smaller, more powerful than a Kindle, it can go anywhere.
Some people will object that a 6″ screen is too small for surfing the web. Newsflash: People with Kindles have already been surfing the web. What makes it a painful experience is not the screen size, it has been the weak CPU, the eInk display, and the lack of a touchscreen.
And if you’re still skeptical about the outdoor readability of an LCD, see this: A New Liquid Crystal Fringe-Field Switching Device with Superior Outdoor Readability. Barnes & Noble got what was in the screen pipeline last year. Amazon will get the newest generation of screen, leaping over that of the NookColor. And an AFFS screen also leaps over the IPS screens of the Apple iDevices.
Finally: Stop thinking of the limitations of a 6″ screen and start thinking about the changes that will be made to adapt to it.
The Internet today is not what it was prior to the introduction of the iPhone with its 3.5″ screen.
Everyone rushed to adapt to the iPhone’s screen. WordPress is no longer what it was prior to the iPhone — it now offers a mobile template for such small screens.
A similar revolution will occur for Amazon’s 6″ screen.
In fact, Amazon is probably busy overhauling every single one its websites with special templates that will recognize the signature of its tablet browser and deliver an optimum online experience that hasn’t yet been seen by anyone with current devices.