“Kindle” becomes colorful, foldable, and rollable, will you love it again?

Maybe 8 out of 10 Kindle owners want a color e-ink screen.

Yes, it has been nearly 15 years since the birth of Kindle, but Kindle has always "knowing white and keeping black", and has never known "green fat, red and thin".

Color e-ink screens are not a fantasy technology. E Ink, which produces ink screens for Kindle, has launched printed color e-paper in 2019, allowing users to break out of the black and white shackles of ink screens and browse color content.

Now, color e-readers are everywhere in the market, but compared with traditional black and white ink screens, color ink screens seem to be less popular than expected.

In addition to the high price of color e-readers, it is also related to hardware defects such as insufficient color and low resolution. After many years, the color ink screen still seems to have failed to wait for its first year of explosion.

But don't be in a hurry, E Ink has recently brought a wave of updates to color ink screen technology, and the "color Kindle" you've been thinking about may really come true this time.

More "colorful" than "colorful"

Friends who are not familiar with ink screens may be curious, why are LCD, OLED and other color displays so mature, but color e-ink screens are still so difficult to do?

To answer this question, we have to start with the imaging principle of the e-ink screen.

Unlike the LCD screen, which consists of RGB pixels, the Kindle's e-ink screen is actually composed of tiny ink microcapsules.

There are pigment particles of different colors inside each microcapsule. By applying different voltages up and down, the arrangement of the particles changes to display specific content.

Among them, the most common black and white ink screen is composed of particles with black and white pigments. Each time the ink screen is refreshed, the microcapsules of black and white pigments are actually rearranged to form a new pattern. Therefore, the ink screen also has the characteristics of no light and no power consumption.

To make the ink screen display color, there are currently two mainstream methods: one is to add a color filter layer to the display screen. When the external light enters the ink screen and is reflected back, it can display a specific color.

The second is simply and directly adding more colored pigment particles into the microcapsules, which can directly display multiple colors.

The two methods have their own advantages and disadvantages in terms of color richness, refresh speed and resolution. The color richness of the former (4096 colors) is far less than the latter (over 40000 colors), but the refresh speed is much faster. The vast majority of color e-readers use the color filter layer scheme, which is the E ink Kaleido series technology.

▲ Picture from: Inputmag

However, while the color filter brings color to the black-and-white ink screen, it's not perfect either. Comparing the color e-reader with the iPad, you will clearly feel that the "color" of the color ink screen is not only more plain, but also inferior in clarity.

This has to do with the physical structure of the color filter.

Due to the limited filter effect, the number of colors that the Kalerdo screen can display is much less than that of the self-illuminating liquid crystal; the existence of the filter layer also makes the resolution of the screen a certain discount, the PPI of ordinary black and white ink screen can reach 300, Kaleido The maximum PPI is only 150.

In the technical update of the past two years, E ink has made the color of the Kaleido screen more accurate and saturated by adjusting the distance between the filter layer and the ink layer, but to completely reverse the color disadvantage of the color ink screen, It has to rely on another technology – E ink Gallery.

E ink Gallery has added 4 kinds of electronic ink pigment particles of cyan, magenta, yellow and white to the ink sac. Through the combination of pigments, the color display effect of the full color gamut can be realized. From the actual look and feel, it is closer to the color display that we are familiar with. Screen.

But since E ink Gallery's pigments are much more complex than traditional black and white, the screen refreshes much slower.

The first generation of E ink Gallery only needs 2 seconds to refresh the black and white page, and it takes 10 seconds to refresh the color page, which makes the E ink Gallery basically not used for e-readers, but only for large outdoor advertisements. Card.

At this time, you may be thinking, if E ink Gallery can increase the refresh speed, can it be "lore"?

This time, E ink really did it. E ink recently officially released the third-generation E ink Gallery technology, and E ink Gallery 3 has made remarkable progress in refresh speed.

E ink said that the black and white refresh speed of E ink Gallery 3 has been shortened to 350 milliseconds (1 second = 1000 milliseconds), and the color refresh speed can be shortened to 500 milliseconds at the fastest depending on the color mode, which is very close to the speed of ordinary black and white ink screens. level.

At the same time, in the standard color mode, the color refresh speed of E ink Gallery 3 can be controlled within 750-1000 milliseconds, and in the best color display with the highest quality, the refresh speed is 1500 milliseconds, compared to the 10-second color display of the first generation. The refresh time is still significantly improved.

Although the refresh rate of E ink Gallery 3 is not comparable to that of 60Hz or even 120Hz tablets, it is already a milestone leap, enough for it to pass the usable threshold and be used in e-readers.

In addition to the significant reduction in refresh speed, the resolution of E ink Gallery 3 has also been increased from 150 PPI in the first generation to 300 PPI, which makes up for the lack of fineness of color ink screens in the past. The increase in resolution also means that color ink screens finally have the opportunity to be applied to devices with larger screens, which has been a big pity in the past.

From the perspective of parameters alone, E ink Gallery 3 should be the "dream screen" in the hearts of e-paper book lovers. The only thing that can prevent it from competing with liquid crystal technologies such as OLED is the cost of components.

At the same time as E ink Gallery 3, there are two cutting-edge electronic paper book technologies that E ink is currently researching, namely color folding ink screen and color scroll ink screen.

Using flexible folding technology, e-readers can be made more portable. When the iconic action of “flipping the book” is also reproduced by e-paper books, e-paper books will be a step closer to the revolutionary pace of replacing physical books.

But the question is, even if the e-paper book can use color ink and a folding screen, are you still willing to hold it?

Do you want a color ink screen or an "eye protection" iPad?

It is an indisputable fact that ink screen e-readers are not as hot as they were 10 years ago.

This is not to say that the e-reader market is facing a shrinking crisis. On the contrary, compared with the past, the e-reader market is much busier.

Although Kindle is still the dominant one, the addition of Aragonite, Palm Reading, Huawei, Xiaomi and other manufacturers has made the types of e-reader devices unprecedentedly rich, from 6 inches to 13.3 inches, which is close to the size of a notebook screen, you can find them. The ink screen that is more suitable for you.

It's just that the Kindle's story of "putting a bookstore in your pocket" isn't as engaging as it used to be. Xianyu released a list of the top ten "useless" commodities at the end of 2021. E-readers like to mention the "Tanhua" position and become a frequent visitor to second-hand trading platforms.

The reason why e-readers are annealing is because everyone no longer likes reading books?

Maybe not. According to the "2021 China Digital Reading Report" released by the China Audiovisual and Digital Publishing Association, the per capita e-reading volume in my country is 11.58, which is a lot more than the 9.1 per capita in 2020.

Another set of data may be more indicative of why e-readers are reducing fever.

The results of the 19th National National Reading Survey released by the China Academy of Press and Publication show that in 2021, 45.6% of the nationals tend to read in "a paper book", an increase of 2.2% year-on-year; "reading on mobile phones" accounted for Compared with 30.5%; "reading on e-readers" accounted for 8.4%, a year-on-year decrease of 0.2%.

In contrast, people's enthusiasm for listening to books is even higher. 7.4% of the national population prefers "listening to books", an increase of 0.7% year-on-year, and the proportion is catching up with e-readers. People may simply no longer like to use e-reading. device.

The weakness of e-readers like the Kindle has less to do with hardware and more to do with the reading environment.

The books represented by "Kindles" are no longer the only entrance for us to consume content and acquire knowledge, nor are they the symbol of "holding up a book anytime, anywhere". The convenience of our access to content has reached an unprecedented peak At this time, if "Kindles" cannot bring innovation in service, it will be difficult to attract people to pick it up again.

Just as smartphones needed the next "iPhone," e-readers desperately needed the next "Kindle"—not Amazon's new reader, but something that could revolutionize services once again.

The success of the Kindle is not in the innovative launch of the ink screen product. Sony has launched an e-reader called Librie long before Amazon launched the original Kindle.

From a hardware perspective, the original Kindle wasn't as refined as the Sony Librie, but as Jeff Bezos said when he introduced the Kindle, "it's not a device, it's a service."

Kindle defeats Librie, relying on a complete software and hardware experience, through seamless integration with online bookstores, Kindle not only allows users to read books anytime, anywhere, but also buy books at any time, getting an almost unlimited handheld library .

Citigroup Internet analyst Mark Mahaney once said that the real change that Kindle brings to users is that people can finally buy books anytime, anywhere, which is also the secret to making Kindle conquer the world like iPod, Walkman and even iPhone.

The service is more important than the device itself, and this is the most valuable success experience left by the Kindle.

▲ Do manufacturers really not consider cooperating with "Five-Year College Entrance Examination Three-Year Simulation" to produce an electronic test book?

Therefore, if "Kindles" want to use color ink screens to regain people's love for electronic paper books, then product managers have a question to think about – what kind of "color services" do people need?

Perhaps when the right answer to this question is found, the next Kindle that can change reading again won't be far away.

Stop talking nonsense.

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