Seeking full-function tablet PC with E-Ink display
May 17, 2011 2:24 PM   Subscribe

I may be in the market for a tablet PC, and in the best of all worlds would like to find a model with an E-ink *and* LCD display with Wi-Fi. Does such a thing currently exist?

I have heard that the Ipad 3 coming out this fall will have a dual layer E-Ink & LCD display. I like the idea of E-ink to extend battery life and to help stave off eyestrain from using the tablet as an e-reader. LCD would also be useful in certain circumstances (videos, games). But I'd also like to make use of the computing functions of the device; e-books, web navigating via Wi-Fi, email, calendaring, minor gaming, videos, taking meeting minutes, document review, etc. Don't want anything I need to connect to cell phone service (pardon my phrasing... I'm not a tech expert). Need a front facing camera, jack to plug in headphones or talk headset, + prefer a USB port. The more battery life the better: Under 8 hours when unplugged won't cut it. I've looked at the Amazon Kindle, but this does not have the computing power I'd like.

Tablet & tech experts: Should I wait for the mythical Ipad 3's release to see if they do go with the convertible screen? Or check out another device? (Is there another tech analogous to E-ink?) I'm not attached to the thought of an Ipad (especially given Apple's limitations on apps & functions); if there's a powerful Android tablet out there with this type of screen that'll meet my other preferences I'd consider that too. Thanks!
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy to Technology (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You might look at the Notion Ink Adam, which seems to meet your needs using a Pixel Qi display.
posted by JMOZ at 2:27 PM on May 17, 2011

cuddles.mcsnuggy: "I have heard that the Ipad 3 coming out this fall will have a dual layer E-Ink & LCD display."

This was only a rumor on one tech site and I personally believe there's zero chance of Apple coming out with such a hybrid. Apple does simple and beautiful and doesn't cram lots of ports or features on a device. I only mention it to temper your expectations about such a thing coming out.
posted by sharkfu at 2:32 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have heard that the Ipad 3 coming out this fall will have a dual layer E-Ink & LCD display.

That's very highly unlikely, due to the added cost and lack of color support in eInk displays, but I guess it's not impossible. More probable is that the iPad 3 will have a Retina Display similar to the iPhone 4, where the resolution will be doubled from the iPad and iPad 2 models.

eInk has some technical downsides; most notably, a glacially slow refresh rate and lack of color support. If you want a pure reading device, the Kindle is very well-suited to the task, and you can't go wrong with getting that and waiting for an iPad 3 for other tablet computing.

Or you could just get an iPad 2 now, which is already a pretty sweet bit of gear for gaming, video, calendaring, email, documentation, meeting notes, eBooks, etc. If a shiny screen doesn't bother you, you can run the Amazon Kindle app on iOS, to read Kindle and other eBooks.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:39 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have heard that the Ipad 3 coming out this fall will have a dual layer E-Ink & LCD display

I have not heard this, at least from from any remotely reputable rumor source, and I follow Apple-related rumors pretty closely. And frankly, it just isn't Apple's style - e-ink refresh rates are still fine for book-reading, a la the Kindle, but it's still not something I could imagine the details-obsessed Steve Jobs allowing in. Also, while there are plenty of us who prefer e-ink for long-form book reading, an awful lot of people seem perfectly happy reading on an iPad's LCD, which seems to cut down the need for Apple to throw on a whole new display technology.

What you want doesn't (yet) exist, hasn't been announced, and I certainly wouldn't wait around for it. Especially since the notion of an iPad 3 in the fall is, itself, 100% semi-invented rumor; Apple very rarely leaks and doesn't do pre-announcements. If you want a powerful tablet - and it sounds like you do - you need/want one of the most recent Android options, like the HTC Flyer or iPad. I'd suggest buying one of those first, and then if you find the eyestrain to be a problem - certainly I do - pick up a Kindle too, for its nigh-infinite battery life and reading-friendly screen. Cheap? Nah. But right now, the device you want doesn't exist and isn't on the foreseeable horizon.
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:46 PM on May 17, 2011

There's this thing that has both LCD and e-ink in two separate screens, and there's the Notion Ink Adam with its Pixel Qi screen. Here are some review videos.
posted by Zed at 3:02 PM on May 17, 2011

I have heard that the Ipad 3 coming out this fall will have a dual layer E-Ink & LCD display

Apple did file a patent for an e-ink/LCD combo screen in October 2009, but this doesn't mean it will come out anytime soon.

Personally, I'm digging my kindle for now, and am holding out for an iPad with better cameras and high-res display.
posted by indeterminacy at 3:02 PM on May 17, 2011

I present to you the answer. Eink with wacom on stylus, android os tablet on the other side. Its even on sale. Unfortunately the reviews are pretty much uniformly terrible - dodgy hardware implemenation, practically beta level OS stuff, or so I hear, which is sad cause the damned thing could have been perfect.

I use an iPad for book reading (technical papers and books) and notetaking. As a reader its bright screen is suboptimal compared to my old sony ereader. As a notetaking device its capactive screen is suboptimal for precise writing. But somehow it is still the best option out there.

Yes apple does have weird ideas of things, but there are apps out there that basically act as work arounds e.g. Goodreader gives a file structure and the option of reading against a variable gray background to cut down on eye strain. Notetaker HD solve the lack of precision in a capacitive screen (almost all tablets have that these days).

What kind of reading do you want to do? EInk is fine for novels. Seriously reading something like a paper demands that you flip back and forth and zoom in and out a lot, which EInk can't handle. An LCD is your only option for that sort.
posted by Chekhovian at 5:35 PM on May 17, 2011

Sorry Zed, my eyes skipped over you comment.
posted by Chekhovian at 5:37 PM on May 17, 2011

Thanks so much for the answers so far. Looks for the most part like my dream isn't quite a reality yet. The Pocket Edge isn't really ideal; screens are too small for my taste with a bulky form factor. Unfortunately the Notion Ink Adam is close but seems buggy & not-ready-for-primetime if we go by the Engadget review. And it's as heavy as my existing netbook.

E-ink would be for reading novels mostly. Are there any other tablet screens that offer good readability when unlit? I do have concerns with eyestrain. Does the Ipad, or any other tablet, have an option to turn the backlight completely off & still be legible? Or are there apps of some sort (Ipad or Android) which assist with readability while reducing eyestrain?
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 6:01 PM on May 17, 2011

I recently imported an Asus eeeNote EA-800 from Taiwan. It has a non-backlit monochrome LCD with Wacom pen. It is the best.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 7:37 PM on May 17, 2011

For what it's worth, I'd love to have the gadget you describe, too. And I, too, lament that it doesn't seem to exist yet. I think your best bet would be two devices -- there's no beating e-ink for readability, and there's no beating a smartphone or tablet for general functionality.
posted by Zed at 9:12 PM on May 17, 2011

Android Entourage eDGE is what you're looking for but the reviews were sooooooo bad.

I remember finding this at the time just after grabbing a Kindle and an iPad and saying "what I want is this duct-taped to this with a wire connecting them"...
posted by KMH at 6:18 AM on September 16, 2011

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