Macworld is reporting that Prime View International is demonstrating color versions of its e-ink displays at the World eBook Fair in Shenzhen, China. Both 6-inch and 9.7-inch prototype color ereader screens are on display at PVI’s booth. PVI acquired E-ink last year and is currently the largest maker of electrophoretic displays used in most ereaders.
A PVI spokesperson was quoted as saying that the color screens have been shown to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but wouldn’t comment as to whether either company has plans to use the displays in future ereaders.
The refresh rate on PVI’s color ereader screens is too slow for video, at least so far. To me it seems that PVI is a bit behind the curve when compared to other color ereader display solutions such as Mirasol and Liquavista, or even Pixel Qi. All of these are capable of displaying video. Additionally, Mirasol will probably be in production sooner, and Pixel Qi (which would probably be better suited to a tablet with ereading functions a la Notion Ink’s Adam rather than to a dedicated ereader) is already in production. PVI’s color e-ink display would also apparently have a slightly negative impact on battery life, while Mirasol is said to get even better battery life than current black and white e-ink. If I were a betting person I wouldn’t at this point put my money on PVI when it comes to making the screens for the first color Kindle.
In a recent interview the new head of PVI’s E-ink division said that the company’s color ereader screens should be ready for launch by the end of 2010 or early 2011.
In addition to the color ereader prototype, PVI is also displaying several ereader touchscreens and a couple of flexible screens at their booth in Shenzhen.