ClearInk Shows Off Disappointing Color Screens at Display Week

ClearInk Prototype

ClearInk is a low-power color display technology with hopes of becoming an alternative to E Ink and LCD displays.

Unfortunately ClearInk still looks like it’s a long ways off yet, if it ever makes it to the market at all. A number of similar low-power color displays have come along in the past 10 years but none of them ever amount to anything.

At this point it looks like ClearInk is in danger of suffering the same fate.

There’s a new YouTube video showing a couple of ClearInk’s prototypes at the Display Week conference in L.A.

Their prototypes don’t exactly inspire much confidence. The 6-inch color display looks dull and faded and the video playback quality is terrible.

Toward the beginning of the video he says you’d be surprised by how much power a TV uses, but I disagree. I’m surprised by how little electricity TVs use, especially LED TVs that only cost a few bucks in electricity per month even when using them for 6 hours a day.

The main target market that they always bring up is electronic schoolbooks. But is there even a large demand for outdoor readable displays in schools? How often are classes conducted outdoors? How often do kids read textbooks outside in bright light? Tablets are so cheap these days that it’s hard to see a product like ClearInk suddenly taking over the market, especially when the color quality of their displays isn’t close to LCD.

At this point I’m very skeptical that we’ll ever see ClearInk displays in any commercial products. The company has been around since 2012 and this is as far as they’ve gotten in all that time. Last year they said they’ve have products out by now, but that didn’t happen and their prototypes still don’t look any better than what they showed last year or the year before.

ClearInk Displays Demo

12 Responses to “ClearInk Shows Off Disappointing Color Screens at Display Week”

  1. Yeah…that is pretty bad. I feel sorry for that guy…and for anyone who had to act like those are really cool.

  2. All of these companies designing this type of color displays are are setting expectations too high with video demos. Low power color displays will never match LCD in video performance. However, a low power color display could be useful in certain applications. For instance computer coders don’t need bright, vivid colors, just some color to differentiate commands from comments from variables and no motion is necessary. Even using a different color to emphasize certain text in a novel could be valuable and again vivid color and movement are not necessary. Even maps in history books could benefit. Setting reasonable expectations is the key.

    • Indeed. The presentation needs to be better. If that’s the best prototype they can come up with in 6 years that doesn’t instill much confidence in their products. They should have something that better represents their screens for their target markets. Could you imagine if they brought something like this to Shark Tank to get funding? They’d be laughed off the stage.

  3. It looks to me they are displaying the same product from last year. I’m still going to do a wait and see on this company.
    They did win “Best Technical Development Materials at IDTechEx USA 2017:
    Also if they do finally get it right I’d sure like to own one 🙂

  4. I wonder if manga is not the best content to show on the ereader with all it’s color variances. I still would choose their screen over current screens today given the same price. My understanding is they are cheaper to make. If they make a 10+inch screen cost effectively, it would be hard not to try it for programming, or word editing. Maybe I’m still stuck on optimizism.

  5. If the color 9.7″ clearink technology is not mature, I think they should produce high-resolution, bistable version (black and white, no color filters) first.
    I prefer Clearink because they claimed 30Hz flicker-free speeds, displays ready for videos and more competitive prices.
    I don’t care color.

  6. Why so much hate for these guys? I think the technology is great and I would buy an e-reader with that display now, if it existed!

  7. Your disappointment comes from the fact that you want lcd/oled display while this has different use cases. It’s like complaining that hammer is not a great screwdriver.

    I’m really excited for this technology to be released. As a programmer I spend to much time in front of regular displays and that technology would be perfect for me

  8. How many years until industry develop blue or white LEDs? Too many, of course, but they finally got it. So I think the same is happening with the e-paper technologies. Developers need to perseverate.
    We must understande that the main purpose of e-paper is to be used for reading, not for video or games or even for internet navigation. Such uses must be applied just as an accessory, when you want for instance to download e-books for reading.
    The great advantage of e-paper over lcd displays is that e-papers do not tire your eyes, because they do not emmit light, they just reflect it. For this reason they need to be used in a iluminated ambient. But, for those that like or need to read several hours by day, during the morning or afternoon, under the natural light, this technology is very useful!
    Of course, in order to be a complete solution, e-papers have to offer brilliant colors and very low flicker and latency. But this is just a matter of time. Let us await!

  9. It sounds like the author is disappointed by this technology, but I think it’s pretty impressive considering the battery output and ability to be read outdoors. Its first use cases don’t need to be full mutimedia displays to compete with retina lcd screens. It can be extremely useful for color textbooks for example. The higher refresh rates are also really encouraging. I for one am stoked.

  10. You just dont get it do you? A lot fo us arent looking for amazing graphics quality – we a re looking for a passicve screen that we can work on for hours which wont turn our eyeballs into sludge. As he says – his ambition is to be as good as pape r- thats what I want – a Harry Pottereque paper looking screen that needs a light shining on it to be seen – and will thus reduce eyestrain. As opposed to these horrible active LED things that really mess a lot of people up. Sure the image is crystal – but I dont need crystal clear imagery to operate my software at work – I need not to have my retina fried.

  11. I don’t think anything can ever replace a book – simply the ability to thumb through a few hundred pages in a few seconds to find something you know is in there *somewhere*. But reading a book/paper display is SO much nicer than reading an LCD or OLED, and always will be. Even B&W is OK. Even if this tech only did away with the ridiculous flashing of e-ink, I would buy one tomorrow. Imagine a textbook that has an animated picture on the operation of some complex gadget. Oh, to have something like that when I was at uni!

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