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Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Another 'disruptive' e-paper solution?

Once again, we hear of a new e-paper solution. This time TCL has announced the release of a new 'disruptive' e-paper technology - termed as NXTPAPER - that is 65% more energy-efficient than regular LCD displays. TCL was also vague stating new tablet devices will be released "soon" using an NXTPAPER screen.

NXTPAPER is a colour reflective LCD technology that works without a backlight. TCL also claim this technology is an eye-health innovation with eleven eye health-related patents registered. We've seen reflective LCD screens before - the Hisense Q5 uses a monochrome version - so it is not clear how innovative NXTPAPER is. 

Unfortunately, promising e-paper technologies in the past failed. In a technology industry that is dominated by smartphones - sometimes with gimmicky upgrades - e-paper solutions are a genuinely needed innovation. For example, the One Laptop per Child initiative released educational laptops that utilised Pixel Qi screen technology. Pixel Qi was a company that produced energy-efficient and sunlight-readable screens. The screen operated in dual-mode in which you could completely turn off the backlight for better outdoor readability. 

It is justifiable to be sceptical if we will see a device released with NXTPAPER technology. We've had e-paper technologies in the past that promised a lot but disappeared, e.g. Mirasol and Liquavista. More recently, CLEARink announced partnerships to produce devices using their reflective low-power displays targetted at education, but nothing has been released. 

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