Why No Dual Screen Tablets with E Ink Screens?


Siam 7X Dual Screen Phone

Over the past few years there have been a number of dual-screen smartphones with an E Ink screen on one side of the device and an LCD screen on the other.

The most prominent model is the Yotaphone, and the 3rd generation model was recently unveiled. There’s also the new dual-screen Hisense A2 Pro that looks pretty impressive.

Unfortunately neither are expected to get released in the US anytime soon, if at all, but why is that the idea hasn’t crossed over to tablets yet?

I often have a tablet sitting on the table with an E Ink ereader sitting on top of it.

Wouldn’t it be great if the two could be combined into a single device?

Not everyone likes reading on tablets, and it’s nearly impossible to use them when reading outside in the sunlight because the screen turns into a mirror under bright light.

The back of a tablet isn’t useful for anything so why not stick an E Ink screen there? If the idea works with phones why not tablets too?

The Entourage Edge was about as close as we got to the concept. It was a foldable device with an E Ink screen on one side and an LCD screen on the other, but it was a bit too far ahead of its time.

What do you think? Would you buy a dual-screen tablet with an E Ink screen on the back?

15 Responses to “Why No Dual Screen Tablets with E Ink Screens?”

  1. I imagine the main issue is just cost. It is an interesting idea though — will be interesting to see if any combined models ever take off. Is this extra functionality worth the extra cost?

  2. I would buy one.

  3. Or maybe a tablet case that functions as a second display for an iOS/Android reading app on a tablet. Fold it open like a book with the E-ink on the left side.

    • The whole point is to have a single slim compact unit with the functionality of both devices. While an EINK monitor connected to a tablet might be useful (connecting a phone wouldn’t be out of the question) having a single unit would be easier to grip and more portable. If you’re going to do some long hours reading on an EINK screen, being able to handle the device in comfort would be a far more enjoyable experience.

  4. I don’t want anything with a screen on both sides. I want a smartphone or a real tablet with an e ink screen only. Actually, Amazon could give me that with a software upgrade.

    • Could you clarify what you mean by:

      “I want a smartphone or a real tablet with an e ink screen only. Actually, Amazon could give me that with a software upgrade.”

      Are you saying a tablet with an e-ink only display? Those already exist, for instance the ‘Nook Glowlite’©.

      I’m equally as confused by your comment about Amazon giving you a software update. You already have a tablet with an e-ink only screen? Or you are saying Amazon is releasing a hardware update soon? If so that’d be great!

      I too want an e-ink only phone for the power draw capabilities but with QLED it seems my worries might be moot.

  5. I don’t want my ereader to have a double screen- I look at it as picking up my book to read, not picking up my book to do everything else online. It’s already so easy to get distracted from reading- I don’t need any more help with that 🙂

  6. The Entourage Edge design is best. I would buy one.

  7. As a Yotaphone 3 owner, I think dual-screen phones and tables are a great idea. If a well-known company started selling these in the US and Europe, I think they would be very popular.
    I believe the reason this hasn’t happened is that Amazon holds a patent on this technology. This is why only a few obscure companies make dual-screen phones, and they are only sold in Russia and the Far East.
    The market for dual-screen tablets is even smaller, so they probably figured it’s not worth doing if it can’t be sold in the West.
    It’s a pity that patent laws allow someone to sit on a patent only to prevent competitors from implementing the invention.

    • I actually don’t think this is true, i.e. that Amazon is blocking this because of a patent. That would be a very “generic” patent. Does anyone have a reference? I’m pretty sure it is a cost versus value issue.

  8. One word: Demand

    In the phone market, what do users demand? Lots of things, actually, but weight isn’t one of them. Neither is increased cost. This would do both. And for what gain? The ONLY purpose is reading and not too read for long periods on their phone AND reading for long periods is pretty much the ONLY reason for using e-ink.

    The tablet market? Tablets are getting cheaper, not more expensive. They’re also disappearing. Why? It’s a shrinking market. E-ink has 2 advantages over backlit devices: Easy to read & battery life. Combining the two would kill ONE of those advantages. Plus add cost. In a declining market.

    Nope.

    • I disagree with the last statement. An E Ink screen on a tablet would be both easy to read and battery life would be outstanding. Tablet batteries are much larger than ereader batteries so if you’re only using the E Ink screen for reading the battery could last a long time.

      • Agree with Nathan on battery life. Battery life would not be affected.

        It’s cost. Is the extra cost of this feature worth it to the customer.

        Also it would make the device “slightly” bigger, given everything else being equal.

    • I’ve been wishing for something like a dual screen table for a while, but I’m quite aware that the likelihood is pretty low due the general decline in the tablet market, as you mention.
      I agree with Nathan that battery life could be quite impressive, but considering we’re always told that the biggest cost factor in larger e-readers is the screen, the prices would probably be too high to make this viable – think about 400-500€ for a good 10 inch tablet plus about I don’t know maybe 200-250€ for an eink screen. The market at that price point is probably not so big.

      Though maybe something smaller would be viable, I’d totally dig an 8 inch tablet with a 6-7.8 eink on the back.

      A practical issue might be protection for both screens, especially as size increases…

  9. I would love to have a single screen E-ink phone. As long as there would be a “Pg Down/Up” in the browser I would be very happy.

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