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Friday, May 6, 2022

The latest version of the E-Ink colour screen brings us closer to the perfect tablet

A lot more colours and many times higher speeds give hope that e-readers and maybe even tablets with high-quality colour screen will be available for purchase soon

E-ink gallery 3 ekraan

E-paper screens resembling real paper have been used in various e-readers for years now and their quality has significantly improved over the years. Most of the time, these screens have had one major drawback – they are black and white. Several technology companies have also attempted to develop colour versions. The market leader E-Ink has achieved the best results in this regard, and the colour screen Kaleido manufactured by them is also used, for example, in the PocketBook InkPad Color e-reader.

E-Ink has now introduced the new generation of colour screens. While the new screen is nowhere near as good-looking as OLED or mini and micro-LED screens, the E Ink Gallery 3 definitely causes just as little eye fatigue as the black and white version. While the Gallery 3 is not as fast as the E-Ink screen found in black and white e-readers, it does have some excellent upgrades over the previous versions, which make the new version a colour screen that some major players such as Amazon would actually want to use in their devices.

Kaleido was E-Ink’s first colour screen on devices that most of us could purchase. It is based on the traditional black and white E-Ink screen with a colour filter with RGB pigments. This approach adds colour but in order to see them, the e-reader must either be in bright light or bright backlighting must be used. Even then, the white was a little grey. Resolution is also modest – the black and white E-Ink screen has sharp resolution at 300 dpi, but the resolution of Kaleido is only 100–150 dpi, depending on the version.

However, it appears that the Gallery 3 is fixing some of Kaleido’s biggest bugs. Instead of 4,096 colours, the screen can display more than 50,000 colours at 300 dpi resolution. No extra light seems to be needed for eye-catching colours – although E-Ink claims that the Gallery 3 features LED backlighting. The speed of moving between pages has also improved tremendously. In the previous version, refreshing the whole page took 10 seconds. In the Gallery 3, the time has reduced to only 1,500 milliseconds (or 1.5 seconds) if the mode that puts quality above speed is selected. But if speed is preferred over quality, the time reduces to 350 ms.

This is a big leap between generations. It is clear that E-Ink has to dramatically improve its refresh rate if it wants to compete with screens with other technologies, the refresh rate of which is 60 times per second or more. And that means that we will be seeing products with E-Ink colour screen that compete with OLED and LCD technology. Considering how much easier E-Ink is on the eyes and how much better it functions in sunlight and how long it lasts on a single charge, a tablet with E-Ink screen would theoretically be a very good solution if the page refresh technology becomes fast enough. E-Ink probably thinks the same, having published two demo videos. One shows that the screen of the Gallery 3 opens like rollable OLED screens and the other shows how the E-Ink screen bends like a foldable phone screen. E-Ink has not said which manufacturers will start using a screen based on the Gallery 3 technology, but companies like Boox and PocketBook have always shown willingness to try innovative technologies. It would not be surprising at all if we were to see a device with the E-Ink Gallery 3 screen available for purchase by the end of the year.