French e-book reader maker Bookeen, seemingly unfazed by Amazon's new Kindles, has announced the first of "a new generation of electronic books" with a new display tech. Dubbed the High Speed Ink System (HSIS), the technology will debut with the Cybook Odyssey, due out in Europe in the "coming weeks", Bookeen said. Alas, it …
E-ink displays can refresh faster
If you hold down left / right on a Sony reader, it pages through content fairly fast. I assume it does this by skipping some expensive page "reset" action. This wouldn't work too well over time because the display is not pixel addressable in the same way as an LCD so ultimately it would leave a smudge of e-ink capsules stuck in the wrong state. Hence the need to do a period reset to fix the state of the display.
Maybe Bookeen have figured a way to reset the bare minimum number of capsules and to only do it based on some quality threshold. The display would appear to be more responsive, but at the cost of some minor degradation until the refresh kicked in.
"The new Kindle, for instance, does a full-screen refresh every five page turns, not every single turn. The result is a faster page transition"
So does the Nook Touch, which has been around for a few months. The amount of ghosting visible by the fifth page turn is minimal; it's not noticeable while you read.
Pretty sure the Cybook Opus could do the same thing. I found the ghosting too much after even two page turns, but perhaps that was the older screen tech, or my dodgy eyesight.
How does video affect battery life, would each frame of video count as one of the ~5000 page turns the battery can do? (or part of one as it's not updating the entire screen)
Why do they (and others) insist on wasting part of the screen for the sake of a blank border?
Screens already have physical borders around the display so why implement another border within the useable screen space?
In my experience the border thing is an Adobe renderer thing, not a Bookeen/Sony/whoever thing. If you've got a DRM-free ePub book you can tweak the margins down considerably.
On a tangent, I really hate the Adobe renderer. It takes a strong "publisher knows best" approach to rendering with no way to over-ride. Which removes one of the key advantages of an ebook for the vision-impaired.
As an example, take a typical commercial ePub book (my usual test case is "The Wordy Shipmates") and increase the font size on a device using the Adobe renderer. The already-too-big margins get even bigger, to the point where the text is just a small strip down the middle of the screen!
I owned a bookeen cybook gen3 device - loved it's screen quality. Only problem was that it tend to crash quite often. One had to do a hard reset and then laborosly get back to the page where it crashed - not easy on these devices. I felt like artillery officer - jump to page 3000. Overshot! Adjust to 2000! Finally I adjusted my reading habits so I went back to the library screen after every couple of hundred pages to force it to store the location and make it easier to recover from crash.
This was an obvious software problem, but they were never interested in providing a firmware update to fix that nagging issue.
faster full refresh
Better refresh is a solvable software problem. Keep track of the last N screens (since last full refresh, if any). Watch for pixels which have been toggled back and forth (or whatever it is that makes them blurry). After drawing the new content, go back and reinforce the color states of pixels which have state histories most likely to be blurred.
IOW, do a full refresh but only do it to pixels likely to need it.
You do the page flip first so user experience is "instantaneous"; then go back and correct the few pixels that need correction. Or -- if the amount of pixels needing fixing tends to be small, do the pixel reinforcing inline with the regular page draw.
"Likely to need" is a heuristic which presumably can fail. So provide a user action to do a full refresh -- which they will hopefully never need to use.
Ultimately this action should be happening inside the e-ink display itself: each pixel remembering 2-3 past states and self-reinforcing when it likely needs to. Vaguely like having a data separator (ancient floppy & hard drive tech...) built into every pixel.
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