At CES this week, Vivitek demonstrated both an 8.2-inch eReader and a 13-inch tablet, among the first devices ever to use QR-LPD color ePaper screens. According to Delta Electronics, the company that manufactured the devices, the eReader will become the first mass-produced product with a QR-LPD screen when it ships in China later this year.
What is QR-LPD screen technology and why should you care? At present, the eReader market is dominated by two screen technologies: the grayscale eInk displays found on the Kindle and a few others and the color LCD panels you'll see on devices like the Nook Color. Grayscale eInk displays have extremely sharp text and extremely long battery life, because they only send power to the screen when changing pages, but they are grayscale right now and their refresh rates are a bit slow.
LCD displays are the standard for phones, tablets, and color eReaders, because they provide beautiful color images and fast refresh rates, though they require a constant stream of refreshes that suck power and their text just isn't as sharp as eInk. Quick Response Liquid Powder Display (QR-LPD) is another technology that's similar to eInk because it presents a persistent image that only refreshes when modified.
Aside from offering color, which eInk will also do soon, a Vivitek spokesperson at the booth told us that QR-LPD will allow for faster refreshes than eInk and will work better in cold weather. According to a CrunchGear article from last spring, QR-LPD technology is also thinner and lighter than current eInk implementations, allowing for bendable screens and thinner devices. However, the two devices we saw at the Vivitek booth were not any thinner than a Kindle. Let's have a look at the devices.
Vivitek 8.2-inch eReader
The 8.2-inch eReader (pictured at top of this post), has 960 x 768 screen, 4GB flash memory, Wi-Fi / 3G/2G, a headphone jack, and a microSD card slot. More importantly it takes pen input. There are no plans to bring it to other countries, besides China. Check out the video below for more details and a quick tour of the device.
Vivitek 13.1-inch e-Pad Tablet
The 13.1-inch tablet, is simply labeled as an "e-Pad," and has an 800 x 600 screen, 4GB flash memory, Wi-Fi, 3G/2G connectivity, microSD card, and audio jack. There's no word on the processor. However, the Vivitek e-Pad is not currently slated for a mass market released, with Vivitek simply showing the device as something which can be customized and sold to large companies. However, there's always the possibility one of those large companies will be an OEM who rebrands and distributes the pad.
For now, all we know is that the operating system is some form of Linux and Vivitek rep said that they would customize the software build to the needs of whatever specific client buys it. Check out the video below to see a demo of the stylus drawing on the Vivitek e-Pad tablet
The following video from Bridgestone outlines some of the benefits of QR-LPD, but unfortunately there are no comparisons made to eInk or other persistent display tech.