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Color eReaders: Should I Buy A NOOK Color Or Wait For Color E-Ink?

Updated on July 6, 2011

The NOOKcolor, iPad, and other tablets have given us a better reading experience. E-Ink has been on the market for a few years now and they have been limited to black and white displays. Many big manufacturers often hold focus groups and product testings before an eReader is launched. Ask 100 product testers what they want or how they can improve on eReaders and I would bet my rent money that all of them would ask for a color E-Ink display. With the speed technology has been improving, it's not a question of how but when. That wait is over. Color E-Ink is here and it will be mass produced in the future. The question is when? And should you wait?

If you are color blind, that answer is, “No”. Enjoy the current crop of eReaders. But if you're like me, a “real” color eReader would be a welcomed upgrade replacing that black and white E-Ink display. Before we can discuss a “real” color eReader, lets look at some fake ones.

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Hanvon Color eReaderNOOKcolor
Hanvon Color eReader
Hanvon Color eReader

Fake Color eReaders?

The NOOKcolor, iPad, Galaxy Tab, and PlayBook are some examples of “fake” color eReader. They work fine for what they are limited to. However, none of them, with the exception of the NOOKcolor, are dedicated eReaders. Essentially, they are all tablet PCs. This means they are designed to do various task like surfing the web, checking emails, and playing games. While they are well capable of running eReader apps, they are not designed to be viewed for extended periods of time. LCD backlight screens are exceptionally bright but they will strain the eyes after a few hours. Most people, like myself, start to feel eye strain after prolonged exposure to screen reading. Sometimes, I even get headaches. This has been the downside to tablets. They all use LCD backlight screens. This may be good for video, games, and other tasks but it can be painful for reading. I've tried reading ebooks on my computer and the experience has been nothing but uncomfortable after a few pages. I can't imagine reading novel on a NOOKcolor or tablet. Not to mention the glare.


E-Ink solves this problem. It offers a display that is very similar to paper. In plain layman's term, it works like an etch-a-sketch. Electricity would cause “pigments” to raise or lower like a magnet. This is done briefly and the text remains visible without extra power. Earlier eReaders suffered from what's called, “Burn in”. This means the E-Ink would remain slightly visible after the display is refreshed. The display refreshes when you “turn” a page in order to clear the burn. Like the etch-a-sketch, you may also see a faint image burn after you've "cleared it" or turned a page. Newer eReaders don't suffer from this problem.

Color E-Ink
Color E-Ink

Natural Transition Is Color

As eReaders move into the mainstream, more periodicals were implemented. Newspapers transitioned well. They were already black and white and the adoption of newspapers on eReaders was imminent. This transition seems natural. With the rise of Internet media and publication, print media is dying out. Magazines started looking for an alternative outlet but the vessels are limited. At this time, most eReaders are black and white. Tablets and devices like the NOOKcolor became a great way for magazines to sell subscriptions. However, this still made it uncomfortable for consumers to enjoy reading for extended periods. More people demanded a true color eReader and the technology is here. E Ink had developed a true color E-Ink display. They call it, “E Ink Triton Imaging Film”. It works by using a black and white pigment particles much like a standard E-Ink display. The difference? It then goes through a red, green, blue color filter before it reaches your eyes. Like regular E-Ink, it reflects natural light. The more light it reflects, the better the contrast. It becomes more readable.

E Ink Triton Technology

Uses Of Color E-Ink

The benefits of a color eReader is immense. This means magazines can become enjoyable for extended periods. Now we can get all the benefits of a black and white eReader with a color display. Color E-Ink allows for long battery life much like standard E-Ink displays. The need for lower power consumption is a benefit as well as a convenience. While tablets and other LCD backlight devices need to be recharged every 5-8 hours, E-Ink can go for weeks, possibly months without needing a plug. Advertisers can also benefit from color E-Ink. Billboards can easily adopt this technology, even modified it for their needs. Imagine the benefits this can have on classrooms? No more carrying around 40 lbs of textbooks. Student can have hundreds, even thousands of full color eTextbooks all stored on their eReaders.


You might have been convinced by now. If eReaders are hot now, imagine when these color eReaders hit the market. The company E Ink(previously known as PVI) has Chinese manufacturing company Hanvon already using its display for a true color eReader by quarter 1 of 2011. The US may not be so lucky. Amazon, the retail giant and makers of the Kindle 3, says that a color E-Ink displays are “still not ready for prime-time production.” With Barnes & Noble's recent release of the NOOKcolor, I expect them to milk it for as long as they can. The only major player left to make a move is Sony and I don't expect them to press a color eReader this year. These manufacturers have fairly new eReaders set to compete head to head with each other this holiday season. If the US is to see a color eReader, it will have to wait until next year.

LG Color eReader Prototype

Final Thoughts

Color eReaders are the next step. Magazine and textbook publishers need to prepare. It will happen. Although the question has not been answered, I'd bet a paycheck that we'll see it by the end of next year. The question now is, are you willing to wait? The dilemma of all tech gadgets and its addiction is patience. There will always be something better in the future. Do you have the patience to wait? That's a question you need to answer for yourself. Thanks for reading.

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    • TechCraft profile image

      TechCraft 6 years ago from Italy

      I see you are a Hanvon fun! Come to see my blog and tell me what you think!

    • profile image

      Mel 6 years ago

      One thing people can do to reduce strain on the eyes is lower the brightness on the screen. This can be done on the NOOKcolor (and I imagine the iPad can as well). I don't have a problem with glare with my NOOKcolor but then I don't read it outside either and I also got the screen protectors that reduce it so that's another thing that can be done if one doesn't want to wait for these new color ereaders to come here.

    • profile image

      Mike 6 years ago

      Color E-Ink will probably start slow but it's going to be massive once the mainstream market accepts it. Imagine the possibilites: comics, magazines, color newspaper supplements! Should be interesting to follow.

    • profile image

      KLeichester 6 years ago

      An interesting post. All good.

    • Leniscool profile image

      Leniscool 7 years ago

      Nice hub! Colored E ink is the future!

    • The Smiling Man profile image

      The Smiling Man 7 years ago from USA

      This is what I've been waiting for. I want to read my comics in color dammit!