Like many other booksellers around the world, South Korea’s Kyobo Book Centre (Korean) is entering the ereader market with its new Kyobo eReader, and a 5.7-inch XGA display, battery life measured in weeks, Google’s Android under the hood, and (not surprising for the Korean market) an emphasis on Korean content. However, the Kyobo eReader has one feature that makes it absolutely unique on the planet: it uses a 5.7-inch XGA mirasol display from Qualcomm, a technology that combines the long battery possibilities of E Ink displays with a full color output and response times that let the display handle animated and video content. And, yes, it’s readable in full sunlight.
“The Kyobo e-Reader brings the user a true book reading experience,” said Kyobo Book Centre CEO Mr. Seong-Ryong Kim, in a statement. “With our diverse content and leading edge technology from Qualcomm, Kyobo Book Centre will provide a premium reading experience to our customers.”
Mirasol displays operate using a principle similar to the phenomena that enables a peacock’s feathers to shift between colors in different light: basically, the display minutely controls the distance between a membrane and a reflective glass surface, and the distance between them either blocks light or amplifies particular frequencies, causing the membrane to appear transparent, black, or a particular colors. Qualcomm’s mirasol display layer three of these together to create a full color red, green, and blue display. The displays only consume power then they’re moving the membranes around, and they move them fast: they only have to move a few hundred nanometers to change color, enabling them to respond fast enough to handle video. The mirasol display actually gets brighter (rather than washed out) in bright light, and for use in dim places Qualcomm includes a front-light LED system that mimics sunlight.
The Kyobo eReader isn’t the first device with a mirasol display: they’re on a few Asian phones, a a handful of media devices have used small versions of the displays. However, the Kyobo eReader is the first ereader to adopt the technology—the 5.7-inch display has a native resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels——and since it runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, it may appeal to Android fans looking for a little something different. The mirasol display offers very long battery life compared to the LCDs in typical tablets—Kyobo says the device will run for “weeks” with 30 minutes reading time a day and the front light set to 25 percent. The device also features a 1 GHz Qualcomm SnapDragon processor, multitouch touchscreen, and Wi-Fi connectivity—although users will need to turn Wi-Fi off to get maximum battery life. The Kyobo ereader will also feature English-language text-to-speech capabilities and the Diotek dictionary application.
The Kyobo eReader is available now in South Korea for a suggested retail price of KRW349,000—that’s about US$310, but Kyobo Platinum Book Club members can get the device for KRW299,000 (about US$265). There’s no word yet on whether Kyobo intends to market the device in countries outside Korea.