Amazon Kindle: PVI e-Paper

Amazon’s Kindle Specifications:

  • Size: 6″
  • Pixel Format: 600×800
  • Gray: 4 levels
  • Technology: Electro-phoretic, bistable nematic
  • Price: $399

Amazon Kindle, DigiTimes: Amazon has come out with its own-branded e-book reader called Kindle. The Kindle has a 6″ electro-phoretic display (EPD) also called a bistable nematic display (binem) or electronic paper display (also EPD). The EPD is made by Taiwan’s Prime View International (PVI). PVI and Amazon has been working at developing Kindle for 3 years. Although many are not happy with the $399 price and especially the product design, Kindle is a step toward shifting the way we read books, magazines, newspapers and blogs. It won’t be easy to change the way we read, a habit that has been around for a very long time, but Amazon’s Kindle is a much more powerful attempt than that of Sony’s Reader Digital Book.

With Kindle, Amazon has freed the use of an e-book reader from the PC. Books, magazines, newspapers are purchased directly on the Kindle device and downloaded via Amazon’s Whispernet, a cellular data connection built on top of Sprint’s EVDO network. Sony’s Reader Digital Book, on the other hand, requires a connection with a PC to load books, etc. I will note that Sony’s offering is much easier on the eye than Amazon’s Kindle. But I do think Kindle is much more usable, especially the slide-select user interface that replaces a ton of buttons on the Reader Digital Book. The 6″ EPD sports a pixel format of 600 x 800, which is good enough for most reading applications. Graphics will not look as good as they do on your notebook or desktop PC, but should be decent enough as the EPD has 4 levels of gray. PVI also supplies its EPDs for Sony’s aReader. PVI has already developed an improved version with 8 levels of gray with 16 levels geared for 2008.

LG.Philips LCD 15.4″ Non-stick LCD

On November 15, 2007, LG.Philips LCD (LPL) announced a LCD panel that is resistant to virtually any kind of dirtying by incorporating a similar principle that is used on non-stick frying pans. The prototype is a 15.4″ LCD geared for notebook PC applications and is resistant to dirt, fingerprints and even permanent ink can be easily wiped off.

LPL stated that standard panels have anti-glare films that tend to hold onto oil and other substances. An additional layer on top of the anti-glare film can eliminate the problem, but requires an extra manufacturing step in addition to incurring more cost. LPL is hush-hush about more details of its non-stick 15.4″ LCD but volume production is slated for 1H’08. I am sure LPL will apply its non-stick magic on other LCD sizes very soon. Although pen marks are generally not a problem for notebook PCs, I can see that semi-ruggedized notebook PCs for outdoor use can benefit from this development. Oh, and notebook PCs for kids would definitely last longer with a non-stick LCD solution.

Source: LG.Philips LCD

[tags]15.4″, LG.Philips LCD, LPL, Non-stick LCD, Notebook PC[/tags]

Sharp to Close Subsidiary: Sharp Electronics, Taiwan

On November 16, 2007, Sharp Corporation announced that it has decided to shut down its Kaohsiung, Taiwan-based subsidiary, Sharp Electronics Co. laying off 396 local employees by March 2009 when those jobs move to China. This announcement is nothing new as Sharp closed its Taipei-based R&D center in August 2007. Laying off employees, however, is something new and the employees were shocked by the parent company’s sudden decision. Sharp Electronics Co. was founded in 1986 and modularized TFT LCDs. Because the module process is labor intensive and price pressures have been intense, to say the least, most LCD companies have already set up module shops in China.

Does moving to China solve the problem of labor intensive work? Time will tell, but I doubt it. China’s labor rates are increasing and to shift an entire operation to China is costly. The best move would have been to focus on R&D to modify the module design to depend less on cheap labor. Another reason why moving to China might not be a good move is that consumer sentiment is shifting: Made in China means cheap, but also terrible quality that may lead to a negative impact on health. Lead paint in children’s toys, exploding automotive tires, toxic materials in textile, food, etc. are just some recent reasons why.

The Taipei Times reported that the US sub-prime mortgage crisis may lead to a decline in demand for LCD panels because LCDs are viewed as luxury products. I’ve got news for you Taipei Times: LCD products are not luxury products. LCDs are included in everything from cheap mobile phones, notebook PCs, LCD monitors, LCD TVs, etc. Some of these products are being used by average consumers and are priced in a range that would not be regarded as luxury by any decent market research firm or news agency. During Black Friday, expect to see $399 32″ LCD TVs for sale, a luxury price it is not.

Back to Sharp: “Sales of LCD TVs that are 40 inches and above have declined dramatically since mid-July,” Sharp Japan president Mikio Katayama said. I would think the best selling sizes would have been 32″ and 42″ LCD TVs for Sharp.

Source: Taipei Times

[tags]China, LCD Module, LCD TV, Sharp Electronics, Sharp[/tags]

Toshiba 22.2″ LCD with 3840 x 2400 Pixels

Toshiba via Akihabara News: Toshiba’s 22″ LCD has more than 4x the number of pixels compared to a 24″ that typically has a pixel format of 1920 x 1200. Even the jumbo 30″ LCD monitors have ‘only’ 2560 x 1600, which is four times that of 1280 x 800. Given the right UI, I can imagine how useful this monitor might be to get many full-sized windows up and running. Of course there is the problem of having fonts that are too small. Given Windows’ pseudo-abilities to manage your DPI setting, getting larger fonts on Toshiba’s 22″ might end up looking like it got hit with the ugly stick. I wonder how OS X would look on this 22″. My guess is that the fonts would be still too small. Digital pictures, however, would look fantastic!

iRiver P10: 4.3″ PMP

iRiver P10

Display: 4.3″ Touch
Pixel Format: 480 x 272 (Same as Sony’s 4.3″ PSP?)

Much like other iRiver’s products, very much anticipated. The design is simple and elegant, just what I like. Let’s hope the touch UI is as good as Apple’s iPhone.

Source: Engadget (1, 2), PlayerBites,