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Plastic Logic Unveils a Flexible Color ePaper Screen (video)

May 14th, 2012 by · 20 Comments · hardware news

Hot on the heels of the Kindle Color rumor comes this surprise bit of news from Russia. Plastic Logic, the screen tech company I’d written off in 2010, has a color screen in the works. I have full details as well as a video of the new screen.

It was unveiled this weekend at a press event in Russia. Peter Fischer, Plastic Logic’s VP for Process Engineering, is shown in the photo above with the new screen. It’s described as being slightly smaller than an A4 sheet of paper, making it likely the same size as screen PlasticLogic currently has in production (8.5×11).

The color is quite cool, but the flexible detail isn’t quite so amazing as you think. Plastic Logic’s screen tech is based plastic transistors, so all of their screens are flexible – including the screen currently used in the PlasticLogic 100, the academic ereader which is currently being tested in Russian schools. In fact, I recall that PlasticLogic thought their screen was too flexible when they launched their first device at CES 2010.

There’s no word yet on when the new screen might hit the market, but I do know that it can display 4 thousand colors (4,096 to be exact) with a resolution of 75ppi. While that might seem awfully low, there’s a reason for it. PlasticLogic added color to their existing screen in much the same way that E-ink did.

The color is provided by a filter lying on top of the grayscale screen. The screen underneath the filter has a resolution of 150 ppi, and that gets cut in half because you need 3 pixels to do red, green, and blue. There’s also a 4th pixel which is left alone (it shows the white/black of the underlying screen. The RGBW are arranged in a 2 by 2 grid in the layer on top of the PlasticLogic screen.

Wanna know why I find this screen so exciting? It’s not just that it exists; but that’s a start. No, I’m excited because I have some understanding of the work involved. This is a flexible screen, and so is the filter lying on top. PlasticLogic had to design the filter so it flexes at the same rate as the screen so it wouldn’t get bent out of shape. That is an interesting trick, IMO.

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