Mike Cane turned up a video earlier today of gadget that I had long forgotten about. Wexler, a Russian ereader maker, is about done working the bugs out of a design based around a flexible 6″ E-ink screen.
In the past I’ve told you about how most E-ink screens are based on a glass backplane. (If you’ve ever seen an E-ink screen after someone hit it, the shatter pattern is the broken backplane.) The Flex ONE from Wexler is (hopefully) going to be the first ereader on the market with a flexible steel backplane, not glass.
The video below was shot by Chip, a Ukrainian gadget blog. I’m not sure what they’re saying, but if you listen closely you can catch the occasional tech word.
BTW, my title says IFA because that was what the video shows. IFA Berlin is actually in September, so I’m not sure where or when this clip was shot.
Update: I’ve confirmed that this video was shot 5 months back, and only posted to Youtube because Chip was transferring their archive over. The device in the video is non-working demo.
According to Wexler’s past press releases, the Flex ONE has 8GB Flash storage, a microSD card slot, and a built-in FM Radio (that’s normal for the Russian market). There’s no touchscreen, of course, and it doesn’t appear to have Wifi or a speaker. Weight is around 200 grams. Format support includes txt, PDF, Epub, FB2, CHM, HTML, and Doc. It can also play mp3s.
I still haven’t seen one myself, but a look through my archives turned up this video from November. I don’t think I posted it back then, and that was probably because the video was so glitchy (for me, at least).
This ereader was supposed to have shipped in November with a retail of 8,000 rubles (~$271USD), but it looks like the ship date slipped a little. I couldn’t find any sign of it being on the market yet.
Now, this isn’t the first flexible ereader, but it does appear to be the closest to actually launching.
Polymer Vision started working on a rollable E-ink screen several years ago, but between the bankruptcy, reorganization, and sale of the company, actually releasing a product seems to have gone by the wayside. They’ve teased us once or twice with a new screen demo, and a product render, but I haven’t heard anything since.
And of course PlasticLogic uses a screen based on a plastic backplane, but they were never able to release a flexible device. First, it was too expensive, but they also reported that users complained about the lack of stiffness.
As much as I like the idea, flexible devices seem to have died out (Wexler’s new device not withstanding). It seems that once everyone got used to carrying around an iPad sized tablet, they lost interest in anything that could fold up.
The NewsBoy concept device that I showed you last week, for example, probably wouldn’t have much of a market now.