LG Offers Flexible E-Paper for Newspapers

Posted by: Ihlwan Moon on January 14, 2010

Most e-readers available in the market so far have been just too small for newspapers. But it could soon be a reality for you to enjoy the sensation of holding a sheet of newspaper during the morning subway commute without having to check your mail box (or go to the newsstand) to pick up your daily. South Korea’s LG Display on Jan. 14 unveiled the prototype of a 19-inch flexible e-paper that’s almost as large as a page of a tabloid newspaper.

The device, optimized for an e-newspaper, has yet to be packaged as a marketable product. LG Display specializes in display panels and doesn’t make any finished product. “This will be the start,” says LG spokesman Lee Bang Soo, adding that he expects a manufacturer to introduce a commercial e-reader that not only could replace newspapers and paper magazines but also allow users to enjoy audio and video content.

The e-paper is virtually paper-thin with thickness of only 0.3 millimeters. It uses thin-film-transistor on metal foil rather than glass substrate to give the device flexibility. Measuring 25 centimeters by 40 centimeters (9.8 in. by 15.7 in), it weighs only 130 grams, though it will get thicker and heavier if a manufacturer wires it up with touchscreen technology to give full Internet access.

Last week at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, New York publishing company Hearst unveiled its Skiff Reader with 11.5-in. screen that used the same LG panel technology. The Skiff, weighing just over one pound and lasting over a week of average use between charge, is due to be sold later this year in more than 1,000 Sprint retail outlets across the U.S. The Skiff service will let users directly download magazine issues, books and newspapers. LG says the new flexible e-paper can also be wrapped around pillars and other locations for advertisement applications.

Pricing will be a hurdle for the time being. While LG gave no pricing information, existing e-readers with 10-in.-screen are sold as much as $700 a piece. Nevertheless, market researcher DisplaySearch expects the e-book market to grow to $1.2 billion next year from $370 million last year. If prices drop quickly, newspaper companies could do away with printing and distributing millions of sheets of paper in the not-too-distant future.

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Reader Comments

gto

February 4, 2010 7:40 AM

E-paper to replace newspapers ? Its only a matter of time until the e-paper or similar variant will replace your traditional newspaper.
Movie-buffs may remember an e-paper in Harry Potter & also in Minority report which gives a glimpse of how an e-paper could give updates to the latest news or events.
Problems/issues to solve include
1) One Industry Std where all (most) publishers will follow or take up (similar to HD DVD v Blu-ray)
2) Pricing (as mentioned in article)
3) Advertising model to be worked out and the types of ads available
4) Distribution ie who will retail them and through which provider(s) (Telephony Co or ISP or 3rd party)

So a person decides to buy an initial e-paper at your cornerstore / post office / news agent / supermarket etc. They can prepay a day / weeks / mth or can initiate later at their own time. They can then choose which Paper(s) to download and start reading.

Why will this trimph over a Kindle or iPad ?
Simplicity & Tradition
Its simple to operate and it allows the physical flicking of pages and the feel of (almost) paper and its attractive lightweight & super thin
Maybe 5 - 10 years before this comes out in a big way

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