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E-paper renaissance because of A4 format on a lighter, plastic substrate?

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There is a nascent e-paper potential even with Onyx E430 Android 4.3″ E Ink phone [Charbax YouTube channel, May 13, 2013] promised for July 2013 delivery from Onyx International (with a 1GHz Cortex-A8 based SoC) having all of its 15+ engineering staff working on Android based E Ink solutions (including the 6” tablet shown in the video as well, although they have no idea yet what demand they could have on the market for that):

[recorded on April 15, 2013 at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair] 6 months ago, I filmed Onyx showing the first Android E Ink e-reader prototype (http://armdevices.net/2012/10/16/e-ink-android-phone-by-onyx-international/). Now Onyx International shows their new 4.3″ E Ink Android phone with a front light. Onyx also shows their first 6″ Android based E Ink e-reader also with a front light. Onyx is thus now fully focusing on Android on E Ink, for Android E Ink phones and Android E Ink e-readers. Check back soon at http://ARMdevices.net for more news from Onyx on their latest and upcoming Android E Ink devices!

See also: BOOX on 2013 HK Electronics Fair [Onyx news report, April 15, 2013]

Imagine what kind of e-paper renaissance may come with this: E INK INTRODUCES MOBIUS, THE FIRST LARGE FORMAT FLEXIBLE DISPLAY TECHNOLOGY TO GO INTO MASS PRODUCTION [press release, May 13, 2013]

May 13, 2013 – Cambridge, MA — E Ink® Holdings, “E Ink” (8069.TW), a digital signage and display visionary, today announced the upcoming release of E Ink Mobius, a new flexible electronic paper display (EPD) technology. E Ink Mobius will be the first flexible display technology that will go into mass production for a large format digital paper product based on flexible Thin Film Transistor (TFT) technology developed by Sony.

Mobius uses a TFT technology that will enable the development of much lighter and rugged products. Mobius displays can weigh less than 50% of the weight of an equivalent glass based TFT. This is particularly important for mobile products requiring larger display areas. A 13.3″ display weighs approximately 60 grams.

The ruggedness and lightweight characteristics of Mobius are due to the TFT being constructed on a plastic substrate rather than traditional glass. The technology was developed by Sony specifically for use with EPDs in cooperation with E Ink. Sony has now transferred the technology to E Ink for mass production. E Ink will start mass production of the world’s first 13.3 flexible EPD display in 2013.

“We have been working with Sony for over 10 years, and we are extremely happy to bring this technology to mass production,” said Giovanni Mancini, director of product management for E Ink Holdings. “Development of this new digital paper product by Sony confirms our belief that the ePaper market is still strong.”

Learn more about E Ink’s Mobius display technology and Sony’s digital paper product, which is the first prototype to use Mobius, by visiting the Sony booth during the 4th Educational IT Solutions Expo (EDIX) from May 15-17, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan; or by visiting the E Ink booth at the upcoming Society for Information Display (SID)’s Display Week 2013 International Symposium and Exhibition from May 21-23 in Vancouver, Canada.

About E Ink Holdings
Founded in 1992 by Taiwan’s leading papermaking and printing group YFY (1907.TW), E Ink Holdings Inc. (8069.TW) is the pioneer of TFT and ePaper business in Taiwan. Its corporate philosophy aims to deliver revolutionary products, user experiences, and environmental benefits through advanced technology development. This vision has led to its continuous investments in the field of ePaper display as well as its 2008 acquisition of Hydis Technologies, manufacturer of the world’s best wide viewing angle LCDs and its 2009 acquisition of E Ink Corporation, the worldwide leader in ePaper. Listed in Taiwan’s GreTai Securities Market and the Luxembourg market, E Ink Holdings is now the world’s largest supplier of displays to the eReader market. For corporate information, please visit www.einkgroup.com; for EPD information, please visit www.eink.com / tw.eink.com; and for FFS information, please visit www.hydis.com.

The development of a 13.3-inch “digital paper” aims to achieve “digital paper solutions” [Sony Corporation Japan press release, May 13, 2013] as translated by Google and Bing with manual edits

Sony aims to deliver the digital paper solution for “digitization of documents and materials, including paper” which helps in field offices and universities that use large amounts of paper in order to improve productivity and learning effectiveness by the means of a newly developed 13.3-inch*1 “digital paper” terminal equivalent to A4 size .

Due to delivery, storage, writing and sharing of electronic files that take advantage of the “digital paper” terminal through the network, Sony proposes a new work and learning style.

Easy to write, easy to read digital paper terminal

The newly developed display for the digital paper terminal adopts the latest type of 13.3” and 1200 x 1600 dots resolution flexible electronic paper*2 technology using Sony’s original technique of forming a high precision thin film transistor (TFT) on a plastic substrate. It is as easy to read the fine print on it clearly as on the paper because of the sufficiently large screen while you can carry it easily as well (6.8mm*3 thickness and light body, yet large screen for a mass of 358g). Moreover you can also read in layout and size of a 13.3-inch paper document since it corresponds to A4 size. Furthermore, with adoption of electromagnetic induction method and the optical touch panel technology an accompanying pen can also be applied to the operation of the paging and menus by touching the screen, to write as smoothly as on the paper.

With the file format corresponds to PDF you can save highlights, sticky notes and handwriting with the documents.

In addition, since it is equipped with Wi-Fi function, it is planned to support applications to share files across a network. Furthermore, because it is equipped with a microSD memory card slot*4, you can cope with keeping and utilizing a large amount of documents.

Despite the large screen flexible electronic paper is available for about up to 3 weeks*5 on a single charge because of its low power consumption.

Sony aims to commercialize this new terminal in the 2013 fiscal year[ending March 2014].


*1: 13.3-inch is equivalent to the size of an A4 paper excluding the margin size.

*2: Flexible electronic paper, has adopted E Ink ®’s “E Ink Mobius” technology.

*3: When excluding the pen holder section.

*4: It is not supported to microSDXC copyright protection and function (CPRM).

*5: With Wi-Fi feature off, if you are viewing PDF files (text) for one hour a day and using handwriting features for less than 5 minutes.

Actual operational duration of the rechargeable battery depends on the state of equipment configuration and the environment of usage.

With the aim to achieve “digital paper solutions” late 2013 field trials are planned with three universities

Sony and Sony Business Solutions plan to start experimental implementation of “digital paper solutions” in the field of education by providing “digital paper” terminals to be utilized in the classrooms of Waseda University, Ritsumeikan University, and Hosei University during the fall semester of 2013. The aim is to enhance learning efficiency with the “digital paper” terminal replacing paper and teaching materials used in the university, as well as streamline the process of teaching.

The August 2012 report of the Central Education Council titled “Toward a qualitative transformation of university education in order to build a new future” shows the need for conversion to active learning with interactive discussions and debates, lectures, seminars, experiments and practice.

Sony aims to achieve early implementation of effective active learning by “digital paper solutions” through experiments utilizing the “digital paper” terminal.

Exhibited at the “4th Educational IT Solutions EXPO”

A prototype of “digital paper” terminal will be exhibited at the Sony booth during the 4th Educational IT Solutions Expo (EDIX) from May 15-17, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan.

* Please visit the event website.

Main specifications of the prototype of the “digital paper” terminal


Flexible electronic paper with 13.3-inch and 1,200 × 1,600 dots
16-level gray scale

Touch panel

Electromagnetic induction type pen input for touch screen
Cleartouch Panel (optical)

Built-in memory capacity



microSD memory card slot*4, micro USB port

Support file format (extension)

Complies with the PDF 1.7 specification (. Pdf)

Wireless LAN

IEEE 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz) compliant

Rechargeable battery

Built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery

Rechargeable battery duration

Up to 3 weeks (when the Wi-Fi feature off)*5

Dimensions (height × depth × width)

233 × 310 × 6.8mm*3 (display unit 4.8mm)

Weight (including battery)


3d party reports of Sony announcement:
Sony reveals prototype 13.3-inch e-ink slate with stylus, aims to put it in students’ bags [Engadget, May 13, 2013]
Sony’s Got A 13.3-Inch E-Reader With Pen Input, Which Is Sort Of Like A Dodo With Antlers [TechCrunch, May 13, 2013]
Sony Unveils 13.3-inch Flexible Digital Paper E-reader [Laptopmag.com, May 13, 2013]
Sony unveils 13.3-inch e-reader destined for students [Gizmag, May 13, 2013]
Sony’s 13.3-inch digital paper prototype lets you scribble on e-books [Geek.com, May 13, 2013]
Sony announces ‘digital paper’: Ultra-thin 13.3-inch flexible e-reader for universities [Digital Trends, May 13, 2013]
Sony ‘trialling e-ink slate as textbook alternative’ [digital spy, May 13, 2013]

Sony will trial the device at three Japanese universities later this year and plans to bring it to market before the current fiscal year ends in March 2014.

It is yet to be confirmed whether the slate will be commercially released in the West.

And these are only the reports in English. There is a surprisingly large number of reports in other languages as well when one does the corresponding image based Google search on the web. Quite remarkable considering a late view that e-ink is going to die. This is definitely not the view of E Ink, as you could see from their A Tale of Two eReaders [EInkSeeMore YouTube channel, Nov 12, 2012] video:

Can’t decide between an eReader and a Tablet? See the difference an E Ink enabled device can bring to your reading experience. Created by the company that makes the paper-like display in the Kindle Paperwhite, Nook GlowLight, KoboGlo and Sony Reader.

And don’t forget the company already achieved “roll to roll” production, so with new plastic substrate technology they will be able to further increase their manufacturing efficiency:

Your E Ink eReader screen is actually made in long rolls before being cut into eReader size pieces. One day, we took a roll into Boston, and laid it along the Charles River…

1 Comment

  1. […] While the jury is still out on E-paper renaissance because of A4 format on a lighter, plastic substrate? [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, May 15, 2013] E Ink Holdings’ so far ‘LCD only’ subsidiary […]

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