Life is good for E-Ink Holdings, which according to a DigiTimes report just recorded record net profits of more than $22 million in the third quarter, and things will only get better from there.
E-Ink chairman Scott Liu adjusted his company's forecast for 2011 and now predicts global eBook reader sales will top 20-25 million, up from his original prediction of 18 million units. That's a big jump from 2010, which is on pace to record 10 million eBook reader devices shipped.
Despite the success of Apple's iPad and impending avalanche of tablets, E-Ink seems to benefiting from the recent price war that erupted in the eBook market. Amazon, who's revamped Kindle sells for as little as $140, recently announced record sales for its eBook reader, and we haven't even begun the holiday shopping period yet.
By now you've heard that Apple has come out with this little device called the iPad, and one of its magical features is to serve double-duty as an eBook reader. Surely this will mark the end of the dedicated eReader market, right?
Back the boat, Gilligan, because Amazon has something to say on the matter. In a new ad promoting Amazon's refreshed Kindle, the e-tailer points out the benefits of an E-ink display over that of an LCD screen when trying to read in sunlit areas.
The ad shows an iPad user trying, in vain, to read content on his iPad while chillaxing by the pool. He then asks a Kindle user laying a few feet away how she's able to read her device sitting out in sun, to which she simply replies, "It's a Kindle. A hundred and thirty nine dollars. I actually paid more for these sunglasses."
There are a few things to take away from this ad. First, she paid too much for her sunglasses. Second, unlike the many Mac vs PC commercials we were force fed the past couple of years, Amazon makes a valid point here. And third, speaking of all those commercials, Apples comeuppance just keeps coming.
Seiko is trying to bring digital watches back in style, and to help do that, the company is equipping new models with e-ink displays.
This isn't the first time Seiko has gone this route, having used e-ink in a handful of limited edition watches for the ladies a few years back. They never really took off, which Seiko hopes is only because it was an idea slightly ahead of its time.
These second-gen e-ink watches sport an active matrix display that allows the screen to "actively" refresh itself whenever needed. The battery is only used when changing the display, so in theory, these suckers should run for long, long periods of time.
It's also equipped with a solar cell, and the movement is radio controlled so that it receives its time from an atomic clock. It all looks pretty promising (and geeky), and if the recent ebook price war is any indication, these things might actually end up being affordable too.
Following the launch of Apple's iPad, there was some question as to the future of dedicated eBook readers. After all, the iPad does a serviceable job of flipping through eBooks, and with a spate of competing tablets en route to a retail store near you by the end of 2010, where does that leave standalone readers?
In a very good position, according to Scott Liu, chairman of EPD (electrophoretic display) maker E-Ink Holding. As Liu sees it, eBook reader shipments are in position to be two to three times higher in the second half of 2010 thanks to recent price cuts by the industry's heavy hitting trio.
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Sony all recently slashed eBook reader pricing, and with some of the newer models checking in at just $140, dedicated readers are suddenly a lot more compelling. This isn't just a theory, either. As Liu points out, shipments for Amazon's 9.7-inch Kindle DX increased threefold when Amazon cut the price from $489 to $379.
According to Liu, demand for Amazon's newest Kindle models has been strong, forcing E-Ink to ramp up its production efforts to keep up with client's orders. And if the market continues this way, Liu sees reader pricing dropping to sub-$100 levels in the not-too-distant future.
The release of the updated Amazon Kindle DX wasn't met with the same level of fanfare it was used to in a post iPad world, but the new gadget showcases the next generation of e-ink displays which offer up impressive performance improvements over what you may have seen in the past. The new "Pearl" display featured on the DX is currently one of a kind in the electronic reader market, but the E Ink Corporation has already successfully ported the design over to smaller screen sizes, most of which are slated for product releases later in the year.
The difference between the previous generation displays and the pearl is described as the difference in contrast between a newspaper, and a high quality paperback book. In terms of numbers this is estimated to be a 50% improvement over the previous generation, and even offers up additional power savings. According to the company, "the crisp text and detailed graphics also continue to remain pleasant to view when E Ink products are enjoyed outside. In addition, with 16 gray level depth, E Ink Pearl offers the sharpest rendering of images and allows product developers to display images with smooth tones and rich detail."
Improved contrast and better battery performance are going to make for an impressive next generation of e-book readers, so those who are on the market would be well advised to wait a couple of months if they can help it.
The iPad may have sucked all the wind out of the Amazon Kindle's sails, but rumor has it a refresh of the lineup could be coming as early as August. Sources quoted by Bloomberg claim that the new device will be significantly thinner and lighter than the previous model and would feature a higher resolution display.
This sounds like a promising start, but those holding out for a color or touch screen version will probably be stuck buying an iPad since neither feature seems very likely this time around. It would seem that Amazon is content to concede the market for e-readers with benefits to Apple, and will continue to focus it's efforts on the hardcore book reading crowd who continue to favor dedicated devices that are lighter to hold, and easier on the eyes.
By reducing the weight and improving the legibility of the display, Amazon appears to be in a good position to continue fending off competitors such as Sony who have done a fairly competent job of catching up feature wise. It remains to be seen just how big the market for dedicated reading devices ends up being, but I would venture to guess that it's a heck of a lot smaller than the tablet crowd.
Do you have any interest in the Kindle? Or is your fickle fancy leading you more towards a tablet?
The engineers over at Fujitsu say they've made significant advancements in color electronic paper that features contrast improved by threefold and re-write speeds twice as fast as previous versions.
According to Fujitsu, the newly developed e-paper boasts the world's highest-level color image quality yet. Fujitsu accomplished the feat by redesigning the panel structure and image re-write methods, the results of which are an improved contrast ratio to 7:1, and a 0.7-second image re-write speed. Compared to previous color e-paper, this will lead to smoother image transitions with higher quality images.
"Enhanced brightness and contrast offered by Fujitsu's new color e-paper allows for more attractive, readable displays, while improvements in write speed result in smoother image transitions," Fujitsu said. "These significant performance improvements in e-paper display technology have broadened its range of potential applications as a paper-like electronic media, such as applications in portable electronic media like e-book readers, public billboards and commercial advertising."
Fujitsu plans to showcase its new color e-paper at the Fujitsu Forum 2010 event in Japan on May 13 and 14.
Reading a chapter or two before bed is a time honored tradition for most winding down at the end of the day, but if you ask a sleep expert, he'll probably tell you to put down the iPad and pick up a Kindle. According to those in the know, the iPad's bright LCD display could be reducing your body's ability to produce melatonin, an important compound that helps our bodies fall asleep.
"The take-home lesson is that insomnia and electronics gadgets emitting light should not [be] mixed before bedtime," UCLA Neurology Clinic Director Alon Avidan, also an associate professor at the university, wrote in an e-mail to the Los Angeles Times. However, "Kindle is better for your sleep." When it comes to straight up readability, a recent Wall Street Journal study concluded that it really comes down to personal preference. Neither technology technically damages the eye, or flickers the way an old fashioned TV does.
So when you're looking for your next e-book reader, the Kindle vs. iPad debate might just come down to when you like to read. If a good book is the way you like to close out your day, your in luck, there are literally hundreds of options that are getting more and more affordable everyday.
Any iPad insomniacs in the audience care to chime in on the debate? Grab a coffee and let us know what you think after the jump.
Right now the line between ebook readers and handheld tablets have been drawn, but as time goes on, we may see the line separating the two segments start to blur. Enter Liquavista, a Dutch firm who has developed a color ebook reader that supports video and may end up including Web browsing as well.
Liquavista tapped into a technology called "electrowetting," which the company claims is up to four times more energy efficient than LCD screens. Electrowetting involves small electrical charges moving colored oil within each pixel, and also has the advantage of fast image loads. According to Liquavista, the new display can change images at up to 60 times per second, whereas current ebook readers can take up to 2 seconds to load each page.
"You certainly could see this technology in your smartphone, in your mobile phone, in your Web tablet, in your PC, in your notebook" said Guy Demuynck, head of the firm. But eventually you could see it in your home as your television screen in your living room."
Even more promising for ebook readers and other portable devices, Liquavista says electrowetting works well in sunlight.
Finding new and creative ways to justify a gadget purchase is an important exercise (particularly for those of us with spouses). Most of the time the science is flawed, but we often choose to ignore that, particularly if its something we’ve been lusting after for months. If your one of the many who was holding out for just one more reason in favor of buying a Kindle, we might just have one for you.
According to a new study released by the Cleantech group, even though the Kindle’s environmental impact upfront was significant, the numbers drop dramatically over the devices lifespan. They say the Kindle can produce savings up to a 26,098 kg of CO2 if used to it’s fullest capacity, or 1,074 kg if it replaces a mere three books per month. The break-even point in terms of environmental impact is if your Kindle replaces 22.5 books.
There you have it, does your wife want you to save the world? Guess she needs to let you buy a Kindle.