New Color E Ink Screen Could Make Your Next Tablet More Readable

Easier on the eyes

  • E Ink is launching the Gallery 3, a next-generation color ePaper screen for the eReader and eNote markets. 
  •  The company claims that new technology allows for a full-color gamut at each pixel. 
  • The technology could make the low-power display technology suitable for a wide variety of tablets.
An eReader with the new E Ink Gallery 3 display, shown in color.

E Ink

Tablets could soon be transformed by a new kind of display that combines the easy on the eyes aspects of electronic paper with speed and color. 

E Ink is launching the Gallery 3, the next generation of color ePaper screens for the eReader and eNote markets. The company claims that new technology allows for a full-color gamut at each pixel. The advance could finally make the low-power display technology suitable for a wide variety of tablets. 

"Color eReaders allow a richer reading and viewing experience in the eBook store," Timothy O'Malley, the assistant vice president of US business operations at E Ink, told Lifewire in an email interview. "Color eNotes, on the other hand, allow consumers to interact with the screen with a stylus to draw, take notes or edit PDF files. The addition of color enhances both the content shown and the experience of marking up a document with red ink or drawing a picture in full color."

See It in Color

Like those used in Amazon’s Kindle, E Ink screens offer long battery life and reduced glare and flicker that make them a top choice for electronic reading, but they don’t provide color. Compared to bright LCD screens, no backlight is used in E Ink displays; rather, ambient light from the environment is reflected from the surface of the display back to your eyes. 

"This attribute reduces eye fatigue that consumers often experience with LCD screens. Additionally, electronic ink’s low power consumption increases energy efficiency—an area that LCD screens fall short," O’Malley said. 

There have been several generations of color E Ink screens released for other types of devices, but up until now, the color gamut has been limited. A full-color gamut is achieved in the new Gallery 3 platform through a four-particle ink system: cyan, magenta, yellow and white, which allows a full-color gamut at each pixel.

Another problem with E Ink screens is that the refresh rate is slower than other types of displays. In Gallery 3, the black and white update time has been improved to 350 milliseconds (ms), the fast color mode is 500 ms, standard color mode is 750-1000 ms, and best color is achieved at 1500 ms. This is a substantial improvement over the first generation of E Ink Gallery, which had a black and white update time of two seconds and color updates of ten seconds.

Gallery 3 will also have an improved resolution of 300 pixels per inch (ppi) versus the earlier 150ppi and an operating temperature of 0-50 degrees Celsius, on par with black and white Readers.

The new display will support pen input in black and white, with an addition of several other colors and an update time of 30 ms. E Ink Gallery 3 will be featuring E Ink’s new ComfortGaze front light, which offers a blue-light safe viewing experience.

Color E Ink Options

There are already some color E Ink tablets on the market although they use the company’s previous-generation displays. For example, the Boox Nova3 Color uses E Ink’s Kaleido Plus technology which lets the gadget display 4,096 colors on its 7.8-inch display. 

An eReader showing an E Ink Gallery 3, full color display.

E Ink

Books or comics can be viewed in full color and you can also draw on the screen with the included stylus. The Boox Nova3's touch function for the stylus is powered by Wacom, a company that makes drawing tablets.

If you intend to primarily read on your tablet, there’s also the PocketBook InkPad Color with a 7.8-inch screen that also uses E-Ink’s last generation color electronic paper technology. This eReader has a black and white mode and offers a resolution of 1872×1404 pixels at 300 PPI. However, in color mode, the InkPad offers a resolution of just 624×468 pixels at 100 PPI.

But, not everyone thinks color is a necessity for a tablet, especially if it’s primarily used for reading. Kindle user Meera Watts said she’s content with screens that lack color. 

"I prefer focusing on the words and lines rather than colors as they're nothing but a distraction to me," Watts told Lifewire in an email interview. "And 99 percent of Kindle users are just book lovers." 

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