Apple has shown interest in creating a new iPad with a hybrid display that could dynamically switch all or just part of the full-color screen to low-power black-and-white e-ink for text and other static content.
The new dynamic, hybrid system described by Apple could have sections of the screen operate as a traditional LCD screen for displaying video, while other parts with static content would be served up in e-ink. Rather than depending on the user to switch between e-ink and LCD, Apple’s system would handle the work and provide content in the ideal context.
In Apple’s patent application titled “Systems and Methods for Switching Between an Electronic Paper Display and a Video Display” the electronic paper portion of the display would sit on top of the video display. In other words, an E Ink-like display would sit on top of an IPS LCD. In this structure the E Ink will need to have a transparent substrate, which isn’t the case at the moment. Combining two different technologies into a single hybrid display might result in something a little too thick, too costly, or just not good for either reading or multimedia. There is also the chance that Apple’s filing is just as a precaution and not part of any plans for a real product in the future.
I personally do not enjoy reading from an LCD even if it’s a state-of-the-art IPS display. In the short time I had an e-book reader from Sony I really enjoyed the more natural reading experience of an electronic paper display. If Apple can build a hybrid display that makes use of both an E Ink-like electronic paper display as well as an IPS LCD that’s both thin and affordable that would be the holy grail of displays.