We've had color electronic paper screens on e-readers and e-note devices for a few years now, but E Ink is finally addressing some of the technology's main flaws with Kaleido 3, which was unveiled earlier this month, and E Ink Gallery 3, which was announced yesterday. We're particularly interested in improvements to color and resolution.
We were both blown away by an e-reader that could display color images and dissatisfied by what we saw when we got our hands on the first few devices to employ E Ink's first generation color electronic paper display technology. Kaleido, as E Ink refers to its color e-paper for consumer devices, was limited to only 4,096 colors (the screen on your smartphone, laptop, or tablet can display millions of shades) and was dependant on a powerful source of light to avoid the colors seeming dark and jumbled. Companies like Amazon and Kobo, which have yet to embrace color E Ink screens for their popular e-readers, appear to have had a similar experience.
Over the last few years, E Ink has aggressively iterated its Kaleido technology, delivering upgraded versions that boost color saturation and performance. Kaleido 3, which was recently introduced a few weeks ago, offers enhanced responsiveness and refresh rates, allowing screens to play films and animations without unattractive ghosting, as well as a better front light for better color reproduction when reading in the dark. Kaleido 3 is a fun choice for tablets and other media consumption devices, but it's still limited in terms of resolution and color options, with only 4,096 colors.
This is where E Ink Gallery 3 has the most potential. It has poor refresh rates, similar to the first e-readers, taking up to a second and a half to redraw an entire page in full quality color mode, or just half a second in low-quality color mode. E Ink Gallery 3 can reproduce over 50,000 colors utilizing a "four particle ink system: cyan, magenta, yellow, and white," thus the trade-off might be worth it. That's still not close to the color quality of even a low-cost LCD panel, but it's a significant improvement over Kaleido. E Ink Gallery 3 additionally increases image resolution to 300 DPI for both color and black-and-white content, but Kaleido still only allows for 150 DPI for color photography. This is especially obvious in the age of Retina Display technology.