Chipmaker Marvell and paper-like display maker E Ink have announced a new platform for next-generation eReaders, rolling in Wi-Fi, 3G connectivity, Bluetooth, power management capabilities and support for E Ink displays into a single-chip solution. The companies hope the design will accelerate the already-burgeoning eReader market and make devices available at many price points, from super-fast and super-slim high-end readers to consumer devices that are affordable around the world.
The system is based on the Marvell Armada 166E application processor. E Ink and Marvell also teamed up with FirstPaper LLC to enable support for a range of display sizes and resolutions, including large-format eReaders.
“With this announcement, Marvell raises the technology bar and takes the lead in the eReader market,” said Marvell co-founder Weili Dai, in a statement. “The Armada eReader has the potential to deliver the first mass market product accessible and affordable to billions of consumers around the world.”
The first devices using the platform are the already-announced enTourage Edge dual screen eReader/netbook, along with Spring Designs’ dual-screen Alex reader and a reader from Plastic Logic. More devices based on the platform are expected to reach consumers in 2010.
According to Ms. Dai, devices based on the Marvell platform should be able to had street prices starting as low as $150—well below the starting $200 price point for current eReaders—and will also offer better performance, loading pages in less than a second.
The eReader market is expected to be a fast-growing segment of the consumer electronics market in the next few years. According to iSuppli, about 1.1 million eReaders were sold in 2008 but the market should expand to over 18 million units in 2012. Other industry forecasts place eReader sales for 2009 at around 3 million units.