Back in the halcyon days of 2009, colour e-paper was a thing of myth and idle fancy — until Bridgestone came along, that is. The tire and rubber manufacturer was one of the earlier companies to unveil a reasonable color prototype, but we haven't seen many commercial products make use of the tech thus far.
At long last, however, we managed to track one done, via the folks at Vivitek. The company is using Bridgestone's color e-paper in a new line of e-readers, heading to Asia next quarter. And while there's no word on an American release, we decided to take a look.
Anyone who's used an e-ink or e-paper device in the past knows what to expect here. Text is crisp and legible — not all that different from printed text — and entirely functional under direct light (though it might not seem that way from our pictures). Thankfully, Bridgestone's panels still retain these features when adding color to the mix, though we can't say it does the second-long refresh rate any favors.
Image results, however, weren't exceptional, especially when compared to the vibrance and color of an LCD reader. Perhaps that's an unfair comparison, but we don't quite see the point of color if it's only half-baked. Case in point, the two Bridgestone-built displays are capable of displaying 4,096 colors — reasonable for basic graphics, but will no doubt require a great deal of dithering for more complex content. In previewing another Bridgestone-powered reader at Computex last year, Gizmag echoed our sentiments, noting "the color reproduction is described as stable but not particularly high contrast."