Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Think I've Developed An Obsession

I mentioned a while ago, that I was looking to get an e-reader. I think I've decided which one I want. Funny thing about it—it's not a dedicated e-reader, and it's the fault of a Mac rumor that led me to its discovery.

Before the iPad was announced there were rumors a plenty. I happened across a diagram that detailed the rumors vs. their likelihood of turning out to be true. One of the technologies that was very unlikely to be true was the implementation of Screen Qi technology. (Pronounced Chee)

This was something that I had never heard of before—so I looked it up.

Part of what makes e-readers so great for reading, is the screen technology. Most e-readers use e-ink. What you have is these tiny little capsules with even tinier capsules inside. The tiniest capsules are half black and half white. Depending on the polarity and amount of electrical charge a number of those capsules "rise" and "fall." So for a pixel to be all black, a charge tells all the black particles to rise, for white (or blank space) all the black particles fall, for shades of gray only some black particles rise. (Here is an Illustration from Wikipedia for those that need a visual explanation.) The reason it's easy to read is that they pack about 200 of these per inch—which is comparable to print. The other reason this is so great for a reader is that it only requires power to change the image, not to maintain it.

That's e-ink, it's a great technology, but has limitations. I.e. Color is only experimental at the moment, and it changes slow.

Back to Screen Qi. The difference is that it is a modified LCD technology. In order to see a normal LCD screen, it must be back lit, and that demands a lot of power. Screen Qi is a flexible technology. When backlit, it looks almost like a normal LCD (maybe a fraction of a fraction dimmer), where it differs is a reflective layer that allows it to use the ambient lighting of the environment to light the screen. In other words the back light can be turned off and you can still see the screen. This makes it easier to view than normal LCD screens in an office environment or in direct sunlight (as you have probably noticed your cell phone screen is difficult to read in direct sunlight). This is not the only innovation of Screen Qi.

Color in LCD, CRT, Four Color Printing, Etc. is created by the eye's ability to blend colors. Each pixel is actually comprised of Three Components; and by varying the intensity of red, green, and blue in each of those components the colors of the visible spectrum can be created. In Screen Qi the red, green, and blue filters that make those components can be turned off, changing each pixel into three gray scale pixels. Screen Resolution is around 72 dots per inch—turning the color filters off would then give us around 216 dpi which is equivalent to print and looks a lot like e-ink. The difference here is that it's still LCD technology, so it still requires constant power to maintain the screen, however the amount of power required is significantly reduced. So I think the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

I immediately started searching for a device that uses this technology. The only one I can find presently is the Notion Ink Adam, a tablet "PC" slated to be released around June of this year. I think this thing will be the device for me.

Multi-touch interface (up to 6 fingers), Accelerometer, back side track pad for on screen control without your hand being in the way, NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, 3 megapixel camera, HD video output via HDMI port, three USB2 ports, 3G, Wi-fi, Bluetooth, Digital Compass, headphone jack, microphone, speakers, SD card support, 32 gig flash drive, water sensor, and all running on a customized Google Android platform in a convenient 6.3" x 9.8" x 0.5" package. (It may even end up a little slimmer.)

Cost estimates are $300–$400 and I'm saving up now. The only thing more I could ask for is Stylus input in the style of a Wacom tablet.

Just Check out the Video Here. Keep in mind that the case it's being demoed in is a mock up hand carved out of wood and not the final.

Next week there is a Mobile World Congress Convention in Barcelona, and Notion Ink is preparing to announce more details about this device. I'll probably Geek-Out even more.

1 comment:

  1. Alright you got me interested it this too. I LOVE my droid, so if this thing is gonna run on it then I'm in