TCL made a paper-like color display that's supposedly higher contrast than E-Ink

nanoguy

Posts: 567   +8
Staff member
Something to look forward to: It's been almost a decade since a technology like the electrowetting display showed any promise of offering the same power-saving capabilities of E-Ink displays without any of the drawbacks. Chinese manufacturer TCL has made a new variant of LCD technology that could turn that dream into a reality, without completely re-inventing the wheel.

TCL is mostly known for its relatively affordable TVs, soundbars, and smartphones, but for the past few years it's been busy cooking its own innovations. Last year, the Chinese company showed off its work on phones with foldable screens, including a dual-hinged phone that closely resembles a device from the fictional world of Westworld.

At IFA Berlin this week, TCL revealed it would expand its offerings with 4G tablets for education, true wireless earbuds that look a lot like those from OnePlus, and a smartwatch designed for older family members. However, the more interesting reveal was a new display technology that's supposed to have similar qualities to the E-Ink panels commonly found on e-Readers.

Despite being called "Next Paper," it's not an electrophoretic (or e-paper) display. Instead, it's a different spin on the traditional LCD technology that eliminates the need for a backlight in order to produce an image. It achieves this through a highly-reflective layer that allows it to use the natural light, and TCL says it owns 11 patents on the design -- despite this being a similar idea to the display technology used by the now defunct Pebble in its smartwatches.

The company says the first commercial Next Paper display is Full HD and offers 25 percent more contrast when compared to an E-Ink display. And while it isn't as thin as an E-Ink panel, it is 36 percent thinner than a typical LCD display. Power consumption is 65 percent lower and there's support for millions of colors (as opposed to a maximum of 4,096 on E-Ink), but you'll need ambient light to see anything on the screen.

Where it has potential to shine next to E-Ink displays is refresh rate. The latter technology isn't particularly good at displaying video content, which is why you'll only find it on e-Readers, price tags, and digital signage (likely manufactured by TCL). The Chinese company promises that Next Paper will be capable of smooth video playback for streaming or gaming.

This won't be coming to TVs or smartphones anytime soon, but TCL says it's working on a tablet with Next Paper which is planned for release early next year.

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VitalyT

Posts: 5,050   +3,996
TechSpot Elite
When it comes to what's good for your eyes when reading for long hours, e-ink is indispensable. This "Next Paper" is no paper, it is still an LCD, which emits light (just less of it) and not as healthy for long readings as e-ink.

Also, e-ink can maintain image with zero energy consumption, which this technology can't, so it will always be more power hungry.
 

cliffordcooley

Posts: 12,476   +5,853
This "Next Paper" is no paper, it is still an LCD, which emits light (just less of it)
A liquid-crystal display (LCD) is a flat-panel display or other electronically modulated optical device that uses the light-modulating properties of liquid crystals combined with polarizers. Liquid crystals do not emit light directly, instead using a backlight or reflector to produce images in color or monochrome.
 

Aries Lyon

Posts: 20   +19
When it comes to what's good for your eyes when reading for long hours, e-ink is indispensable. This "Next Paper" is no paper, it is still an LCD, which emits light (just less of it) and not as healthy for long readings as e-ink.

Also, e-ink can maintain image with zero energy consumption, which this technology can't, so it will always be more power hungry.
"If it's not e-ink it's useless"

The world is not black and white, and something in-between traditional LCD and e-ink is very much welcome. Power savings are always good, even if they aren't e-ink levels (and they don't need to be)
 

Evernessince

Posts: 5,343   +5,840
When it comes to what's good for your eyes when reading for long hours, e-ink is indispensable. This "Next Paper" is no paper, it is still an LCD, which emits light (just less of it) and not as healthy for long readings as e-ink.

Also, e-ink can maintain image with zero energy consumption, which this technology can't, so it will always be more power hungry.
Technically speaking you should always calibrate your display according to your ambient lighting conditions to prevent eye stress and improve contrast ratio. I just wish that display manufacturers would integrate an ambient light sensor and adjust display brightness automatically (of course with user definable maximum and minimum values along with and eye care profile that adjusts how much and how quickly the brightness changes).

Phones already do this. For samsung it's called adaptive brightness. Way too bright by default IMO but it does do a good job of adjusting brightness according to ambient light.

 

cliffordcooley

Posts: 12,476   +5,853
Even more promising if it also includes back-lighting. But that will likely not happen. Because no back-lighting needed is its main selling point.
Phones already do this.
My LG G6 is always too dark on auto. I can't see anything unless I turn auto off and manually brighten the screen.
 

ET3D

Posts: 1,712   +354
If it has good contrast and colours, I can definitely see myself getting something like this.

it is still an LCD, which emits light
Just to strengthen what cliffordcooley already quoted, the entire point of this display is that it uses reflective light, exactly like eInk.
 

orbital

Posts: 8   +5
If it has good contrast and colours, I can definitely see myself getting something like this.



Just to strengthen what cliffordcooley already quoted, the entire point of this display is that it uses reflective light, exactly like eInk.
I would too. E-ink is good but for static images only. I have an Android e-book reader and the display kills otherwise a great device with 8-core CPU and enough RAM and storage for everything one does on a smartphone. The A2 mode works OK but is of limited use and once again - for close-to-static images - anything more dynamic and you need to turn it off.

And for the display limitations, they have also cut the OS down - most Android apps are half-usable, memory management is pretty bad where in the case of more than sometimes even one app is getting killed when another one is opened, and battery life when wifi is on is simply terrible. This "Next Paper" display can fill in the niche with having a low-power display with high refresh rate capability and a computing package similar to a smartphone. I'll take it any day (even if black and one only) knowing that I'll be having an e-ink eye experience, long battery life, will be able to watch and game on it, and last but not least - enjoy full-featured apps. Hopefully at the right price...
 

bazz2004

Posts: 1,638   +270
I absolutely agree with orbital having spent a silly amount of money last year on an iPad sized Android 6.1 e-reader. I wish I hadn't. They are pretty poor at anything other than being used as an e-reader and I faced a long battle to get to grips with it. We are long overdue a technical leap.
 

p51d007

Posts: 2,492   +1,766
Smartphone companies will jump on this! LOL, give them another excuse to OVERCHARGE
for the phones.
 

cliffordcooley

Posts: 12,476   +5,853
give them another excuse to OVERCHARGE for the phones.
That would be the one and only feature worth paying extra for in my opinion. I don't know how many times I have trouble seeing the display on my phone while outside. All because I have the back-light turned down for inside reading.