E Inks Color Displays: Daydreams of Electronic Paper Magazines

Nothing compares to flipping through a print magazine, but E Ink’s latest color tech is nearing the mark – at least from my perspective.

Staring at screens for too long has taken a toll on my eyes, so I’ve looked into lifehacky solutions to alleviate the fatigue. Taking breaks and going outside have been helpful, but I still find myself spending more time than desired staring at glowing screens.

For videos, gaming and other activities I crave the latest tech; but when it comes to reading, I’m content with a 2016 Kindle Oasis or good old-fashioned books. Although my hands can tell the difference between paper and e-paper, my eyes don’t care: both provide me with a sense of ease as I lose myself in a story. Is it how light reflects off each page? Or is it that ads and notifications won’t constantly distract me? It doesn’t really matter why – all that matters is which one works best for me. Last week’s visit to E Ink’s conference room in Las Vegas reminded me of this fact!

At CES 2023, E Ink had a showroom at the Venetian, showcasing their latest tech including BMW wraps and Gallery 3 color displays. The PocketBook Viva is one of the first devices to feature these vivid displays – 50k colors at 300 DPI compared to Kaleido’s 4K. These new CMYK screens are much more vibrant than anything seen before!

A prototype with E Ink's Gallery 3 display tech.

E Ink’s Gallery 3 display tech is showcased in a prototype: Image Credits: Harri Weber for TechGround.

“Though U.S. business lead Timothy O’Malley admits they won’t be the best movie-showing screen, E Ink is still aiming high with its goals reaching iPad level,” he told TechGround in an interview. Going further, their goal is to create a magazine reading experience that satisfies even the most discerning publishers.

“Fashion magazines have demanding color standards – a goal we can reach with the right tech,” said the 22-year veteran. “I’m confident we’ll get there.”

O’Malley stated they would increase saturation to an appropriate level, which could attract comics enthusiasts and picturebook aficionados alike.

E Ink’s Gallery color tech is ideal for signage where clarity takes priority over speed. Handheld readers, however, need faster refresh speeds – the colors appear muted compared to a retina screen. Swiping a Gallery 3 prototype showed that large images lagged and flashed; but small illustrations with black-on-white text were smooth enough for widespread use.

A prototype with E Ink's Gallery 3 display tech.

The prototype with E Ink’s Gallery 3 display: Image Credits Harri Weber for TechGround.

E Ink’s Gallery 3 stats show the current trade-off between speed and clarity: black-and-white updates are at 350 milliseconds, while for color it ranges from 500 ms (fast mode) to 1500 ms (best quality). However, manufacturers decide how they’ll prioritize these metrics, so results may vary.

Brands like PocketBook, Bigme and BOOX have jumped onboard with Gallery 3, but so far Amazon has yet to commit to supporting color e-readers. If they did, it would give the technology a huge boost; however, Amazon recently pulled out of magazine and newspaper subscriptions for its black-and-white Kindles due to budget cuts.

When I asked O’Malley why a full-color Kindle hadn’t been released yet, he quickly responded: “It’s a two step dance – we have our part and each customer has their own part.”

A Kindle rep would not comment when I asked my question over email, but I can still dream.

Read more about CES 2023 on TechCrunch
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Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams is a multimedia storyteller with a background in video production and graphic design. He has a knack for finding and sharing unique and visually striking stories from around the world.

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