Kyobo Book Centre and Qualcomm have revealed the world’s first ereader to use a mirasol color e-paper display, the Android-based Kyobo eReader. Mirasol’s Mems technology has had us all drooling for a three weeks of battery life with daily use since their screen has no backlight and mimics light reflection in a butterfly’s wings to get its colors.
The Kyobo e-Reader has a 5.7-inch, 1024 x 768 resolution with a Mirasol display with a respectable 223ppi multi-touch display. Under the hood we’ve got a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S2 (single-core) processor running Android 2.3.
Kyobo – Korea’s leading bookstore – will offer 90,000 ebooks, 2,video ebooks, and over 800 video lecture series. There is also integration with social networking services and English text-to-speech support. There will also be a searchable dictionary, along with magazines and other content for “downtime” between classes. Video education content is being provided through content partner EBS and since they are customizing the content for the eReader it will be entirely possible for them to optimize their video for delivery on the device.
We’ve been tracking Mirasol for several years now, Qualcomm’s color display technology that promises color, video-capable e-paper with battery life akin to monochrome E Ink screens. That this display offers video has caused many people to place it direct competition with tablets, however, it was clear after my hands on today that the goal of Mirasol is up the ante on the eReader space not enter into competition with tablets. This is a perfect example of a converged device the thin edge of the wedge for true interactive learning. A device that eliminates eye strain like a tradition eReader but since the internet has made learning interactive the Kyobo reader is proving to be a device for smart school of the future.
The big question of the day for the Kyobo eReader is how did it perform video playback? Details were vague on the file type and bit rates and HD content wasn’t on the table for playback. But its safe to say that standard definition local content played smoothly without any stutter or lag. Frame rates we said to be capped at just under 30fps which is fine by me since 24-30fps is what you need for decent video playback. The device itself is capable of 40fps so if you’re thinking of using this as a gaming device you’d be sorely disappointed, though probably the point since it’s supposed to be used for studying.
The colours on the display were decent though could have been more vibrant and they viewing angle left a lot to be desired as I’m sure you’ll notice in the video below. The reds especially seemed to in need of a little bit of a boost and if you think back to the canned demo’s we saw at the beginning of this year you’ll quickly realize that the colour saturation is much lower.
The fact that the device has a glossy display certainly didn’t help when checking colour brilliance in direct sunlight. It is worth noting that the display doesn’t need to be glossy and we hope that future iterations take note that mobile devices, especially ones that require sunlight to light up the screen shouldn’t have issues with glare.
For now we’re only going to find the Mirasol Display in smaller markets like Korea since Qualcomm’s 4.5 Generation Fab is still under construction. They broke ground last December and are already moving in machinery which has them on pace to open their doors in the second half of 2012. We won’t be seeing and large shipping volumes of Mirasol display’s until after their Fab is open, but we do expect to various partner announcements at CES in just a few weeks.
If you’re curious to see the video playback for yourself, it’s towards the end of the below video. If you would like to pick one up, you’ll have to get on a plane to Korea and visit one of Kyobo’s bookstores. If you sign up for their loyalty rewards card you’ll be able to grab it at a bit of a discount for KRW299,000 ($265) or KRW349,000 ($310) if you don’t want to get the free membership.