While the e-reader price war continues, LG is quietly making plans to become a major innovator in the e-paper market. According to an SEC filing made last Friday, the company plans to be making big, flexible e-paper screens as well as smaller-size color e-paper by the end of the year.
The lack of color has been a major drawback to e-reader screens, allowing more visual gadgets like the iPad to eclipse them. E Ink, the screen technology in most e-reader displays, has been working on color screens for years, but problems with battery life and refresh rates remain.
Similarly, flexible screens are already possible (the Sprint Skiff, pictured above, has one, but the screen is housed in a rigid frame), but no manufacturer has brought to market an e-reader that you can roll up like a newspaper. Now, here's what LG said about the technology to the SEC:
By the end of 2010, we are also expecting to commence mass-production of 19-inch flexible e-papers and 9.7-inch color e-papers.
Taking that statement at face value, it appears that LG has perfected color and flexible e-paper (even if it hasn't put them in the same product). While we've had our hopes about bendy e-readers dashed before, it just doesn't make sense to create an e-paper product with a 19-inch screen where the gadget itself isn't flexible. And even though a color e-reader would probably mean recharging a lot more often than a Kindle, we'll take it over the tiring backlight of the iPad, at least for extended reading.
It all depends on how much these potential products cost, of course. Still, it just might be possible that even while e-readers are fast becoming commodities, a new generation is on the horizon with vastly improved technology. We can but hope.