March 18, 2009, 8:16 AM — Fujitsu has unveiled the first consumer-level color e-paper device, the FLEPia. It has an 8-inch screen that can display 260,000 colors at a resolution of 768 x 1014, is just 12.5 mm thick, and will run for 40 hours on a charge. Storage is via SD card. The OS is Windows CE 5.0 (it comes with reader software included but is not purely an e-book device). It goes on sale today for 99,750 yen ($1011.47 US at today's exchange rate) and is scheduled to start shipping on April 20th. For more details read a translated press release here.
Sounds pretty sexy, until you see it in action. The rather muted colors might just be a factor of bad filming, but both response time and screen refresh rates seem very slow to me. The press release says that Microsoft Office can be "be used to generate text documents, spreadsheets, or presentations" but I can't imagine what that process would feel like. I suppose screen refresh isn't as much of a factor for e-book reading, but I still think color e-paper displays need a bit more development time before they become more than an interesting novelty. I certainly wouldn't want to 'flip through' a magazine if every page took this long to draw.
Still, it's a start and the technology will continue to improve. A color e-paper device with snappy refresh rates is no doubt right around the corner.
Thanks to Engadget for bringing the device to our attention.