Color ereaders aren’t new, we’ve had quite a few from smaller players in the ereader market, notably Chinese company Onyx and Switzerland-based Ukrainian brand PocketBook. We’ve even tested a few here at TechRadar – such as the Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color and the PocketBook InkPad Color – but we’ve never really enjoyed the display of colors on the screen.
They look very washed out and desaturated – and this is due to the limitations in the display technology that has been used so far. Most of the current color readers use E Ink Kaleido displays, which are capable of displaying 4,096 colors at a resolution of no more than 100 ppi. And the reason the colors look washed out is because of the filters placed on the screen.
Those washed-out colors on a reader should soon be a thing of the past, however, with E Ink letting its Gallery 3 display technology (announced earlier in 2022) be mass-produced, and that promises to make color digital reading much more enjoyable experience – great news for fans of comics and graphic novels.
The E Ink Gallery 3 color display technology can display over 50,000 colors – putting Kaleido displays to shame – and at the usual 300 ppi to match the monochrome display. Importantly, colors should look nice and bright thanks to a four-particle ink system for each pixel. Cyan, magenta, yellow and white pigments should allow for a much fuller color gamut.
And that display is mass-produced for mainstream use, with PocketBook already announcing that its next ereader – the PocketBook Viva due to hit shelves in March 2023 – will feature this new display technology.
Viva la color
When the PocketBook Viva becomes available in March 2023, it will likely be the first E Ink Gallery 3-toting color ereader on the market. it is certainly the first to be announced.
The Viva is going to be an 8-inch tablet, with a design identical to the rather handsome PocketBook era. And, like the Era, it will also have a built-in speaker. That’s not what makes us excited to try the Viva. we’re really keen to see how the colors pop on screen.
Typically, most ereader manufacturers have their own proprietary frontlight technology used in their devices. The Gallery 3 display, however, comes with E Ink’s built-in ComfortGaze front light technology, which promises to reduce the effects of blue light. According to E Ink, the new screen can reduce blue light by up to 60% – that’s important, as color readers don’t have adjustable light temperatures to avoid images and text looking… well, jaundice .
Light up the future that reads colors
PocketBook isn’t the only brand to partner with E Ink to adopt the Gallery 3 display. Onyx has also done so, but we’re yet to hear of an e-ink color tablet using this new display technology from the Chinese manufacturer . Other companies have also signed up – iFlyTek, Sharp and iReader to name just a few. However, when alternatives to the PocketBook Viva will be available is anyone’s guess.
Outside of the smaller ereader makers, we’ve yet to see the big players give customers a color option – so far, there’s not a single Kindle or Kobo color. It’s somewhat understandable that neither Amazon nor Kobo wanted to adopt the E Ink Kaleido displays and their predecessors, given the trade-offs.
However, with the availability of the E Ink Gallery 3 display, hopefully that will change and the next e-ink device to join our best ereader collection will be a color Kindle or Kobo. Here is hope.