Ive been colour e-reader prototypes so long as Ive been a tech journalist. Again within the early days of The Verge, wed usually cowl show expertise like Qualcomms Mirasol or numerous E Ink prototypes and are available away considering that whereas it wasnt fairly prepared, it was only a matter of time. Thats how expertise is supposed to work, proper? We see it in unfinished type at a commerce present and it turns up in mainstream merchandise a couple of years later.
Evidently, that has not turned out to be the case. Amazon and Kobo nonetheless dont promote colour e-readers, and if something the prospect appears even additional off than it did a decade in the past, now that its doable to promote satisfactory LCD tablets for nicely underneath $100. They dont have the battery life or the outside readability of E Ink, nevertheless its clear that thats a distinct segment concern.
E Ink remains to be engaged on the thought, although, and this yr the corporate shipped its finest shot but at colour display screen tech thats applicable for e-readers: Kaleido. Ive been testing one of many first e-readers to make use of this sort of show, the brand new 199 ($234) PocketBook Colour, and whereas its not an ideal gadget, its ok to provide me hope in the way forward for colour E Ink.
PocketBook is an e-reader producer headquartered in Switzerland and largely promoting to numerous European markets. The corporate has been round since 2007 and says its the worlds third largest maker of premium E Ink-based e-readers, presumably placing it behind Amazon and Rakutens Kobo.
Display screen apart, the PocketBook Colour doesnt look a lot totally different to every other 6-inch e-reader. Its all plastic, however the design is pretty smooth with a matte silver end on the again and a soft-touch texture on the entrance. Youll discover a energy button, a Micro USB port (boo), and a microSD slot (yay) on the underside edge. Theres a bundled Micro USB-to-headphone jack adapter so youll be able to take heed to audiobooks, and the gadget additionally has Bluetooth help for wi-fi headphones.
There are house, menu, and page-turn buttons situated beneath the display screen, and so theyre all simply accessible; at 160g, the PocketBook Colour is gentle sufficient to carry together with your thumb resting on the backside. I really want this to the side-mounted page-turn buttons on earlier Kindles Ive owned, which by no means fairly felt like they have been on the proper peak not less than not for my thumbs.
The PocketBook Colour runs a customized Linux-based OS that features numerous apps. Theres an internet browser, a notes app, and even some video games like chess and sudoku. Web page-turn and menu efficiency is cheap, if not fairly as quick as my Kindle Oasis. Battery life has been superb I havent charged the PocketBook Colour in weeks.
All of that is good sufficient, however the PocketBook Colour can be a wholly unremarkable gadget if not for the display screen. So lets speak concerning the display screen.
The important thing factor of Kaleido screens is that E Ink has developed a thinner, greater high quality colour filter array than it utilized in its older Triton expertise, which required a glass-based colour filter layer on prime of the monochrome panel. E Ink says Kaleido shows can present as much as four,096 colours and 16 ranges of grayscale, which is identical because it claimed for Triton, however the total colour replica is way improved.
The catch is that the colour filter array severely reduces the display screens total decision, because it sits in entrance of the monochrome E Ink microcapsules. The PocketBook Colours 6-inch display screen has a decision of 1072 1448 when displaying black and white content material, which makes for a excessive pixel density of 300 ppi, however areas of the display screen that present colour see pixel density drop to 100. The filter can be seen when studying monochrome content material when you look intently, giving the display screen a barely grainier look than trendy standard e-readers.
Kaleido screens clearly arent going to compete with tablets in brightness, distinction, or vibrancy. However I like utilizing the PocketBook Colour in the identical conditions the place Id want to make use of a Kindle over an iPad. The display screen appears its finest open air within the solar Id evaluate the colour replica to a newspaper thats pale over a couple of days. Not precisely beautiful, then, however definitely readable and glare-free. The decision isnt a giant downside in observe, both, as a result of the textual content stays sharp and pictures look tremendous at regular viewing distances.
The display screen is much less spectacular indoors, as a result of you actually need to make use of the entrance gentle to see a lot of something. Crank it up too excessive and also you dont actually really feel such as youre an e-reader any extra, however the colours are onerous to make out at too low a brightness. I discovered setting it to round 30-percent brightness normally provided the very best stability of colour and luxury. However with glare and energy consumption much less of a priority at house, Id be extra prone to attain for a daily pill within the first place.
Total, I believe Kaleido is imperfect however not less than viable as an e-reader display screen expertise, and the PocketBook Colour is by far the very best colour e-reader Ive ever seen. However its largest downside is that I simply didnt know what to do with it.
PocketBooks retailer has an especially restricted number of English-language content material. Im not going to criticize the product too onerous for that, because it isnt even bought in Anglophone markets, however it is best to count on to should load it up with your personal DRM-free content material when you select to import. The PocketBook Colour helps a number of guide codecs together with EPUB, CBR, CBZ, MOBI, and PDF, and youll sync information to the gadget both over Dropbox or via PocketBooks personal cloud service, which is easy and quick.
However even in a world the place the PocketBook retailer was stacked with bestsellers, or the place you had authorized, DRM-free copies of all the things youd ever wish to learn, the PocketBook Colour wouldnt be the easiest way to benefit from a Kaleido display screen. Mainly, its too small. Magazines and comedian books look good, however theyre simply too onerous to learn on a 6-inch show. Manga is an effective match, however tends to be overwhelmingly in black and white. Common books with the occasional colour illustration or graphic work fairly nicely, however thats not a quite common or thrilling use case, and monochrome e-readers have higher total display screen high quality.
There are modes for zooming, scaling, and viewing particular person panels, however I didnt discover them to be very handy or efficient. Whereas the PocketBook Colours efficiency is usually tremendous, it isnt actually as much as the duty of manipulating a big PDF. I might be actually enthusiastic about a model of this gadget with an Eight- or 9-inch display screen, as a result of I believe itd be a a lot better match for the kind of content material that works finest on the Kaleido show.
The one factor that does reliably look nice on the PocketBook Colour is guide covers, and you understand what they are saying about judging books on these. If something, although, that might be the factor that drives adoption of the expertise. Its undoubtedly good to take a look at your library and the guide retailer in colour even E Ink itself sells Kaleido as enabling a extra absolutely realized book purchasing expertise. If somethings going to get Amazon on board, youd suppose it could be that.
Colour E Ink isnt fairly there but. Despite the fact that the PocketBook Colour is the very best gadget of its sort up to now, its onerous to suggest over conventional e-readers except you understand what you wish to learn on it, contemplating its nearly twice the worth of a Kindle Paperwhite. Do youve got a 6-inch e-reader already and sometimes use it for issues that you just want you might learn in colour? This is likely to be value trying out. Are you ready for an ideal comic-reading gadget? This isnt it.
I dont suppose Kaleido in its present type is the expertise thats going to take colour E Ink mainstream, nevertheless its getting there. Despite the fact that the colour replica isnt going to compete with LCD tablets, a much bigger display screen with equal (or ideally greater) sharpness can be nice for studying issues like comics and magazines open air, and the battery life benefit stays vital.
Kaleido colour E Ink is nice for a similar causes as monochrome E Ink. It nonetheless comes with a variety of trade-offs, although, and the PocketBook Colour isnt the gadget that can showcase its true potential. However control this expertise for the primary time in a protracted whereas, it really appears like colour e-readers might be viable quickly.
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