Electronic Paper — Paper Route
Perhaps the most notable features of the iLiad are its long rechargeable battery life (up to two weeks) and the support of numerous content formats, including PDF, XHTML, TXT, and MP3. Even more impressive are its connectivity options: USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi. At present, iRex is working with publishers in Sweden, the U.K. and the United States. The iRex can also be “written on” using a stylus, thus allowing it to serve as a kind of tablet PC.
Field tests on user acceptance have been under way since early last year. In Belgium, for example, the Flemish-language financial daily De Tijd distributed iRex iLiad e-book readers in April 2006 to 200 subscribers as part of a test to determine the effectiveness of the product with consumers. The test lasted for three months, and helped iRex make any necessary modifications before it is mass produced, as well as to help set a retail price for the product. The iLiad officially hit the market last summer, boasting a cost of 649 Euros (or US$811, as of this writing).
In April 2004, Sony, E Ink, Royal Philips Electronics and Toppan Printing (a supplier of color filters for flat-panel displays) conjointly launched in Japan a first- generation e-paper display in Sony’s black-and-white e-book reader, the EBR-1000 LIBRIé. This device, like the iLiad, is also based on E Ink’s technology.
A Page Turner
Users of the LIBRIé can download and store 500 books of about 250 pages each to the reader. The quality of the display is 170 pixels per inch (ppi) and, like other E Ink applications, is a reflective (not backlit) display, which boasts a readability that is perhaps the closest to ink-on-paper that e-book developers have ever come. It has been estimated that readers can read up to 10,000 pages before the e-book reader’s four AAA batteries need replacing.