A few customers/investors have asked me lately why the Kindle is so readable in sunlight, and how this affects the positioning of VEE and DPO.
So, while this is likely more of a review for most, please bear with me…
The Kindle uses a monochrome display technology called e-ink. E-ink displays are aptly-named; like normal ink on paper, e-ink displays reflect light to make the display readable. Commonly-used mobile display technologies like LCDs and OLEDs actually have to create their own light, through either a single backlight (LCD) or individual pixel brightness (OLED). E-ink also doesn’t require battery power to display content on the screen, unlike LCDs and OLEDs.
So does e-ink present a selling opportunity for VEE and DPO? In a word, no. VEE and DPO work to optimize contrast ratio and dynamic range of display content for the viewing environment to provide the best viewability and power savings. Since e-ink is a monochrome display (black on white), contrast ratio and dynamic range are optimum already. Ever wonder why, with all the cool graphics on your smartphone, your phone application is generally a white on black or black on white background? It’s because of sunlight and contrast.
Does e-ink affect our prospects for VEE and DPO? In a word, no. E-ink is found in practical use for monochrome e-readers only. Yes, there are companies promoting their color e-ink displays, but rumors I’ve read (check out http://www.crunchgear.com/2011/05/03/amazon-has-ordered-color-kindle-tablets-expected-before-holidays/) say that the Kindle color won’t use an e-ink display. The Kindle’s biggest e-reader competitor, Amazon’s Nook, has a color version today that already uses an LCD display, not color e-ink. Further, monochrome displays have never used on smartphones, and we aren’t anticipating any in the future. Finally, we have never heard of any OEM/ODM in the smartphone or tablet space express serious interest in color e-ink.
So, hopefully this clears up any lingering questions. More than happy to address any comment or questions.
8 thoughts on “Why the Kindle Can be Read in Sunlight”
So what about Toshiba resolution+ Regza display which supposably works well in sunlight?
I am assuming you are referring to the Toshiba Regza tablet they announced last month (and production-delayed today)? I saw a bit on it, including the part where the display is “adaptable to improve sunlight viewability”. I haven’t actually seen the tablet myself in person, nor have I seen any technical information on how they adapt the display to improve sunlight viewability, so I can’t comment specifically on it. I can say that ‘adaptive display’ could mean just about anything…once we can get our hands on the product, or at least more technical information on the display, we’ll be able to comment more.
Assuming Toshiba solved sunlight viewability do you think an average consumer would notice a significant difference between an 8hr battery life vs 10hr battery life?
I believe an average consumer would definitely notice a 25% improvement in battery life. I know I would. The OEMs we speak with believe that any improvement above 10% is significant.
(and a side note…i believe that might be a big assumption)
Other than pricing any other reason why an OEM would not prefer CSSP?. Integration/time/space etc.. Just wondering HTC after using a CSSP in their earlier UMPC has not used in any of their smart phones yet.
I’ll addressing your specific reasons…
Integration: CSSPs have no special integration requirements as compared to other semiconductors (we don’t require any out-of-the-ordinary timing chips, regulators, capacitors, etc…)
Time: development time on a CSSP is always dependent upon specific customer needs. We’ve turned the first ‘sketch on a napkin’ to actual silicon in customers hands in as quick as 4 weeks. The normal time for something like this is perhaps 8-10 weeks. We are never the ‘long pole’ in a customers development cycle, especially given that we first engage in a program typically at the onset rather than at the end
Space: CSSPs are designed to be competitive in the mobile market in terms of size. As phones have shrunk, board space is at a premium, and we have adapted to the ever shrinking board real estate by shrinking our devices in successive generations
Now addressing your question about why an OEM would prefer to not use a CSSP. This has been asked in various ways a few times before in previous blog comments. I’ll copy a response here I gave previously, on why an OEM who forgo the benefits of VEE/DPO (CSSPs): “I can say that there are a lot of great technologies out there, and not all those technologies are used by every single OEM…A technology like VEE may not be used because the OEM may feel like they have something already in-house that is ‘good enough’, or simply feel that the problems that VEE and DPO solve aren’t high enough on the list to be solved. We certainly disagree that sunlight viewability and battery life aren’t huge issues on handheld devices. I can absolutely prove that VEE is better than any other display enhancement technology available for the smartphone/tablet market (such as CABC), and I can prove that DPO will save 25% average battery life.”
You mentioned CABC. Any more details on what it is and who is using it currently?. Just wondering the more time it takes to bring VEE/DPO to market the more competition you are going to see…Toshiba\QCOM Mirasol\Samsung something…?
You can read about CABC and other competing technologies in a white paper located at http://shop.quicklogic.com/visual-enhancement-engine-vee-documents/ (its the first one, called ‘QuickLogic Display….versus competing technologies.pdf).
To note: VEE and DPO are both in mass production, so they have definitely been brought to market. And you are certainly correct that as time passes, one would anticipate more competition in this space. Which is why the 2.0 generation of VEE and DPO is certainly not going to be the last version…