Last week, we told you about the potential of Qualcomm's "new" Mirasol displays, and now Qualcomm and Kyobo Book Centre have joined forces to release an e-reader with the new displays, claiming "weeks" of battery life. We have "new" in quotes because Qualcomm has been talking about these displays for almost 2 years, and they were first shown at CES 2010. We were actually wondering if they would ever really hit the market.
The Kyobo e-reader is the first truly new footage we've seen of Mirasol displays in action in quite a while, and we have to say... it looks like first generation hardware. We certainly love the tech behind the screen, and the fact that you can get full color video in direct sunlight, but even the promo videos below show that there are trade-offs. One would expect that promo videos show off new devices in the best way possible, but the colors on the Kyobo screen look washed out, and the screen seems a bit laggy as well. Of course, this is the first gen of the displays, and Qualcomm is already working on the second generation, which should smooth out some of those issues.
Still, the e-reader promises "weeks" of battery life with video use, so that's a huge improvement over traditional screens. The Kyobo reader is a custom UI built on top Android 2.3, so we're keeping an eye out for when this thing gets rooted and loaded up with more games and such to really show off what the screen can do. The Kyobo is running on a 1 GHz Snapdragon S2, and has a 5.7" display at 1024x768. At a bit over $300, you're paying for the screen, and Qualcomm's new $1 billion Mirasol manufacturing plant.
We may not be too upset if this device doesn't make it west, but we're glad to see Mirasol hitting the market, and we'll be keeping an eye on future developments.
The colours look washed out probably because IMOD screens don't have traditional backlight using only reflected light instead, so when you think about RGB additive method of displaying colours without actually having backlight (that enables additive mode in the first place), but some other method, it seems possible that colours are washed out but it could also mean that colour reproduction seen on this promo video doesn't equal real-life perception.
It's probably laggy but considering that this is non-backlight display and therefore direct competition to e-Ink screens, this is the huge improvement for e-reader purposes, miles ahead of e-Ink, enabling not just better color reproduction (as new e-ink generation also can), but actually has satisfactory refresh rate for multimedia content.
E-ink is good, but so slow that you cannot enjoy any content beyond static text and black and white photograph, so this is almost a revolution in that sense.
We could assume now that in couple of years e-readers will converge with tablets, making e-rader classification obsolete, already integrated in tablet concept.