Color e-ink displays are no longer imaginary. What we have seen in black and white so far in many e-book readers is also beginning to be seen in tablets with more uses and even monitors, but now we are breaking the limit with screens that can display thousands of colours.
The first great example that we will see of this in our own hands is the PocketBook InkPad Color, introduced this spring and that we have now been able to use personally. And our impression, at the moment, is that the color in the electronic ink screens has a promising future.
PocketBook InkPad Color, technical characteristics
|POCKETBOOK INKPAD COLOR|
|DIMENSIONS||195 x 136.5 x 8 mm|
|SCREEN||7.8-inch E Ink new Kaleido|
Resolution (B&W) : 1,872 x 1,404 px, 300 dpi
Resolution (color) : 468 x 624 px, 100 dpi
|PROCESSOR||Dual Core (2 x 1 GHz)|
|STORAGE||16GB expandable with microSD up to 32GB|
|EBOOK FORMATS||ACSM, CBR, CBZ, CHM, DJVU, DOC, DOCX, EPUB, EPUB (DRM), FB2, FB2.ZIP, HTM, HTML, MOBI, PDF, PDF (DRM), PRC, RTF, TXT|
|AUDIO FORMATS||MP3, OGG, M4A, M4B, OGG, OGG.ZIP, MP3, MP3.ZIP|
|IMAGE FORMATS||JPEG, BMP, PNG, TIFF|
Bluetooth 5.1USB-C with 3.5mm jack adapter
|OPERATING SYSTEM||Linux 3.10.65 with text-to-speech converter in 16 languages, dictionaries and integration with PB Cloud, Dropbox and ReadRate|
|PRICE||186.82 euros on Amazon|
The InkPad Color has a metallic appearance due to its finishes, but the reality is that we find a reader made of plastic. That gives it a feeling that doesn’t end up being too premium, but it still has a good grip and the overall aesthetic is far from suspending.
The screen is close to eight inches and is rather large by e-book reader standards. Even so, it is in a comfort zone in which we can hold the reader with one hand for a long time, without having problems due to weight or grip (it is appreciated that the plastic on the back is non-slip).
This screen is tactile, although the InkPad Color has four navigation buttons that remind me slightly of the controls that we could find in Android phones of a few years ago: two central buttons to advance and back pages, and two side buttons to access the main menu (left) or settings (right).
At the bottom of the reader, we find the on/off button, the microSD card slot and the USB-C charging port with the included cable. It is good news that more and more readers are embracing this port, universalizing it and leaving the MicroUSB behind. Between this port, the microSD cards and the online service options that we will see later, the InkPad Color stands out for the number of options we have to load content on it.
Naturally, the screen is what draws the most attention of this InkPad Color. This is an electronic ink panel capable of supporting 4,096 colors, although with a trick: the resolution drops from 1,872 x 1,404 px (300 dpi) to 468 x 624 px (100 dpi) when displaying those colors. It is a significant decline that can be seen with the naked eye, being able to distinguish the lines on the screen, and which gives us the message that the technology is still ready to display high-quality color images. The manufacturer knows this, and from then until now they focus on showing simple illustrations and drawings.
Now, if what you are looking for is a comic book reader with a color screen, I would still recommend a tablet with an LCD or LED screen. Reading them is possible on the InkPad Color, but the colors are much duller and are no longer true to reality. Yes, we could talk better about the device when it comes to reading black and white manga, for example.
On the brightness of the screen, not a complaint: the built-in lights of the InkPad Color allow you to read books and appreciate the illustrations even with direct sunlight hitting the device. Perhaps you could mention that there is a certain slowness of refreshment of the image compared to other readers, but it is not something that is going to be a problem.
Software: Most Book Management Options We Have Ever Seen
At the level of the device itself, we have a classic electronic book management operating system without surprises: a cover in which we see our library, an integrated store and the reading interface designed to disturb as little as possible.
We can interact with the interface through the touch screen, although the navigation buttons that I mentioned before have a comfortable alternative at the fingertips of our thumbs. A curious detail is that we have a task manager that gives us the ability to close processes: the InkPad Color can have up to three books open at the same time according to my own experience.
The best asset in this section is the good amount of options we have to load content. We can do it through the USB-C port connected to a computer (the reader is recognized as any external storage), through the microSD card or through one of the cloud services compatible with the system: the PB Cloud itself from the manufacturer or Dropbox. We can also send books by email, and the ReadRate portal is integrated to be able to leave reviews of what we read.
It is also very positive to see how this reader is able to store and play audiobooks. Here we do not have integrated speakers, but it is enough to connect any speaker or headphones via Bluetooth to be able to reproduce the audio. And if not, a USB-C to 3.5mm jack adapter is included in the box to use classic headphones.
And for the little ones, the InkPad Color also includes activities in which we can color basic illustrations using the finger. An LCD / LED tablet is going to give us much more in this regard, no doubt, but it is still a good way to entertain children when there is nothing else within reach.
Autonomy: color does not stain the best advantage of e-readers
I have little to say about the autonomy of this InkPad Color because even with a panel of 4,096 colours we are facing the classic consumption of any book reader: I have been using the device for more than two weeks at a rate of half an hour a day to read a book, using the lighting at 30% intensity, and I did not need to charge it at any time.
Plus, USB-C charging completes quickly, so you can improvise a weekend plan on the same Friday and charge the InkPad Color in a few minutes to forget about autonomy throughout the weekend and even a few days longer. And badly, you can always use the USB-C charger of your smartphone.
Some situations in which autonomy could be reduced is in the reproduction of audiobooks and in interactive colour books if they are used very frequently, but again: we are talking about a book reader with a battery that can last for days. and it can be charged in no time.
PocketBook InkPad Color: Our opinion
This InkPad Color is very interesting. It lays the first stone for a future of electronic ink devices that can take many different directions: audiobook player, children’s activities with interactive color books, comic book reader … it is a step that, with the limited current technology , surprises.
As a grayscale comic book and e-book reader, he passes with a passing grade. The advantage it has is that it is very complete, with several options to be able to load content as you want. I can also appreciate it very well to listen to audiobooks and read stories with simple, basic color illustrations.
Where it is necessary to be more adjusted is in the idea of a color comics reader. Yes, you can, but don’t expect the color quality of an LCD screen by any means . If you are one of those who are looking for the evolution of electronic ink to be able to embrace those colors, I am afraid that we still have to wait for the technology to evolve further.
However, this InkPad Color already shows that it is no longer a question of whether or not it will evolve, if not when. We are facing a clear demonstration that color electronic ink has a very promising future, that with devices like this it takes its first steps and already shows that it gives benefits in several areas.