Electronic Paper
July 28, 2005 5:01 PM   Subscribe

Electronic Paper looks pretty neat, although I'm skeptical they could produce it for less than traditional paper anytime soon. Such inventions could even be better for our environment in the long run, although it appears to boil down to personal preference when it comes to Paper vs. Plastic.
posted by Guerilla (16 comments total)
Be sure to check out e*Ink.
posted by ericb at 5:05 PM on July 28, 2005

And the Sony LIBRIe (リブリエ).
posted by smackfu at 6:17 PM on July 28, 2005

Now. Imagine you're an artist. Then imagine you have a 36x48 (inch) drawing board where the surface is this stuff. And you can run Photoshop or Painter on it, and draw on it with a tablet stylus.

When I have that, I will be a very happy guy.

Frickin' build it already!!!!
posted by zoogleplex at 6:24 PM on July 28, 2005

It doesn't have to be as cheap as paper, only within an order of magnitude of a hardcover book at first and eventually drop to an order of magnitude of a paperback. It's reusable so imagine something with either a wireless interface or some compact flash type memory. That one sheet of paper could be an uncountable number of books, and even a cheap 128M flash could hold enough to keep you busy for a long while.

The biggest difficulty electronic paper will face is the interface and display. A book is simple and intuitive to use and some of us like the tactile feel of turning a page. Books, even cheap paperbacks, have tremendous resolution compared to a display. My eyes tire a lot more quickly when reading PDFs on my 23" flat panel at work than real printed text. Some of it is the difference in illumination, but some of it is that text looks bad on screen.
posted by substrate at 6:42 PM on July 28, 2005

My prediction is that somebody will release an ebook, maybe multiple people and the geeks will buy it, then somebody else is going to release something that gets the interface right and the masses will buy it.

Sort of like mp3 players and the iPod.
posted by substrate at 6:44 PM on July 28, 2005

substrate, it's apparently possible to get this epaper up to a very high resolution - 300 or maybe even 600 pixels per inch. That would solve your problem, along with projecting the text on a surface that is lit by ambient light as opposed to being a light source.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:50 PM on July 28, 2005

Loved the paper vs. plastic link.

I was hoping for something almost like this but that I could download an entire daily newspaper onto while I take my morning shower, than take on the bus, and would be just as readable and visually-scannable as the paper version without getting all that black ink all over my hands and every other lightly colored thing I touch.
posted by marsha56 at 7:18 PM on July 28, 2005

Philips (Netherlands) has had this in R&D for at least a decade. Just sayin'
posted by Rothko at 8:15 PM on July 28, 2005

This will be the greatest thing since MacIntosh Post-It Notes!
posted by CrunchyFrog at 8:48 PM on July 28, 2005

Cheap=I'll buy it.

I spent $100 CDN on a 2nd hand PDA (colour OS4 Clie Peg) so I could read on the bus - the screen is too small, the contrast wasn't quite good enough now that it's summer.

Though - after putting kMoria on it, it's worth far more than what I spent on it, to me, so it's all good.

For something like this to work, it has to have a big viewing area, but also be able to compact into a small formfactor when not used, it has to react both to direct light and non-light, and be able to be online for at least 4 hours between charges at the heaviest usage level, and it has to be affordable to be worth the price. Perhaps if a major newspaper offered the unit for the equivalent price of a 3 or 4 year subscription and gave the 1st year subscription for free?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 10:00 PM on July 28, 2005

600 dpi ain't crap compared to letterpress.

Long after your electronic paper junk is filling up the shelves of second hand stores, my Vandercook SP-15 will be printing things of communication AND beauty.
posted by luriete at 11:18 PM on July 28, 2005

zoogleplex: they have a form of epaper already that you can write on with a "pencil" developed by Xerox. OLED is the coolest tech. Full color, flexible substrate and fast enough to play video. The price is dropping rapidly. 640x480 on your cell phone for less than 1/4 the cost of liquid crystal. I fear the future where every soft drink can plays video long after it's tossed into the gutter.
posted by angrynative at 11:33 PM on July 28, 2005

substrate: “then somebody else is going torelease something that gets the interface right and the masses will buyit.

Sort of like mp3 players and the iPod.

You mean “ somebody will get the marketing right...”
posted by signal at 5:28 AM on July 29, 2005

No, I mean somebody will get the interface right and do some good marketing. Somebody else will get their panties in a bunch and say that it's all marketing.
posted by substrate at 8:40 AM on July 29, 2005

My opinion, great for newspaper/magazine applications. Not so for book applications. I just like having the physical book around too much. It is almost the same reason I still buy CDs (well that and the whole DRM issue with online mp3s), I like having the physical object.
posted by edgeways at 10:02 AM on July 29, 2005

Still, 'twould make a helluva drawing tablet. I'm only looking at it from the artist angle, unsurprisingly because I'm an artist. :)
posted by zoogleplex at 10:33 AM on July 29, 2005

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