With the ability to mimic the look of paper, E Ink screens are truly a unique concept when you stop to think about it, especially black and white E Ink screens. But how long can the technology remain viable before it gets replaced by something else?
Here we are in 2024 using highly-technical electronic devices called ereaders that are basically mini computers, and the yet the screen is only capable of displaying basic text and static black and white images. The fact there’s a market at all for that type of screen in this day and age is pretty astonishing.
I like the fact that E Ink screens are easily readable in bright lighting and how the battery can last a really long time, but do you think people will still be buying ereaders with black and white E Ink screens 50 years from now? How about 25 years from now? With the rapid pace of technological development that seems pretty unlikely.
E Ink (the company, not the screen) has been desperately trying to bring color E Ink to the mainstream market, and while they’ve improved the technology quite a lot over the past few years, it remains a very niche product category, and there’s still the fact that black and white E Ink screens still look superior when it comes to displaying regular text.
Another problem with color E Ink is the fact that battery life takes a hit with increased performance demands and having to crank the frontlight level higher because of the darker screen. Onyx’s latest color E Ink devices have similar battery life as regular LCD tablets now, negating one of the main benefits of E Ink.
There have been a number of new screen technologies over the years with similar claims of efficiency and sunlight-readable usability, but none have caught on like E Ink screens have, and yet E Ink screens haven’t really improved much over the past decade (the Kindle Voyage proves this, as it still has one of the best E Ink screens ever and it was released in 2014).
At some point something better than E Ink is bound to come along. Even now a lot of people prefer to read on tablets and phones with LCD and OLED screens. For now E Ink screens are great for reading, but it’ll be interesting to see what changes the future brings.