Are 400 and 600 ppi E Ink Screens the Wave of the Future?


Japan Display E Ink

Yesterday Japan Display announced plans to develop higher resolution epaper displays through a recent partnership with E Ink Holdings, makers of E Ink screens.

With resolutions of 400 ppi (pixels per inch) and 600 ppi, the new backplanes that Japan Display has developed are the highest resolution epaper displays in the world, they claim.

Current E Ink ebook readers like Kindles and Kobos top out at 300 ppi.

Entry-level models like the $79 Kindle have lower resolution 167 ppi screens, and the difference is fairly considerable.

The higher resolution E Ink screens make text appear sharper and clearer, along with helping the text look a bit darker.

The one downside with higher resolution E Ink screens is they tend to use more battery power, which kind of defeats one of the main advantages of E Ink.

For example, when Amazon released the Kindle Paperwhite with a 300 ppi E Ink screen, the battery life estimates went from up to 8 weeks to up to 6 weeks, a drop of 25%. And that was only going from 212 to 300 ppi. How much worse would battery life be with a jump up to 400 or even 600 ppi?

Personally I’m skeptical about the usefulness of such high resolution screens when it comes to ebook readers. I doubt the increase in resolution would be perceptually significant enough to justify the drop in battery life and overall performance, but it would be interesting to see the screens in person to find out.

Here’s a quote from the press release that explains Japan Display’s intentions for the new higher resolution screens:

JDI’s goal in developing its latest ePaper backplane is for ePaper to empower not only high resolution and battery-powered devices such as eBooks, smartphones and tablets, but also future devices for the “Internet-of-Things” (IoT).

It sounds like ebook readers are definitely one of the main target sources for the higher resolution screens, especially with phones and tablets being such a small part of the market for E Ink screens.

Japan Display

4 Responses to “Are 400 and 600 ppi E Ink Screens the Wave of the Future?”

  1. The display technique would still maintain its benefits, even with reduced battery life, especially with IOD devices, which might find themselves out in the field. In that situation, I can imagine solar chargers , maybe charging SuperCaapciters, serving the bill.

    Like, you, I’m not certain if the higher density will produce noticeably clearer text, but the perceived higher contrast would certainly help with images and PDF files. The upside, is that 300 DPI might be considered the minimum standard for publishing on e-ink, matching the traditional print standard, at last, with recommendations inset images requirements taking that into consideration. Hopefully 32GB storage will become, as well to follow suite. 😉

  2. The changes are very slowly, years for Minimum upgrades. Size. Ppi. Internal store. Light. Waterproof. Color?. Better one feature. Downgrade others. Like a weird game. Sale for few people. Very expensive. Example all kindles get 6″. Others more big. Other waterproof. Other like onix n96 and its family. But never a n96 with all the best. Max not Touch, only pen. Sony dpt, and its new rp1 only in japanese. I love this devices but O don’t understand its marketing.

  3. In the very small percentage of the cases where pictures/diagrams are important these higher resolution screens would be of value. I guess they would be of value for comics/graphic novels/manga also. But in all of these cases, I think a tablet would be a better choice for reading that type of content. When moving from the Nook Simple Touch (167 PPI) to the Glowlight plus and Kobo Aura One (300 PPI) I do have to admit the higher resolution creates a better reading experience. That said, even the 167 PPI NST has sharper (though not darker) text than most physical books I own.

  4. 300ppi IMHO is good enough on an e-ink reader.

    In fact, 167ppi is probably good enough for most people. It is for me. I own a basic Kindle and a Sony PRS-T1 that both have the lower resolution screens and both are completely fine.

    If anything for an e-reader I’d like better PDF handling capabilities for reading PDFs on 6″ e-readers.

    I’d love a 12″+ huge e-reader for PDFs, but right now they are still too expensive. 🙁

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