Ebook readers suffer because they use E-Ink, which isn't in color and doesn't refresh fast enough to do video. Qualcomm is quietly showing off its Mirasol display, now in full color with 30-frame-per-second video. See for yourself:
The video was shot by IntoMobile. As they describe it, the tech sounds like a massive DLP chip—that is, a panel covered with tiny reflective mirrors. Each mirror can change color but it's a passive screen, with no backlight (like most LCDs) and no self-illumination (a la OLED). They get lit up by whatever light is in the room. Saving energy is the key here—anytime you eliminate a light source, you cut way down on the juice. No word on when this will appear on devices, but it's Qualcomm, so you can bet there will at least be some experimental products before too long.
Speaking of experimental products, Time's Josh Quittner points out, on his blog, that several of Qualcomm's components could go together to make a formidable ebook device. Besides this screen, they've got the multi-network mobile chipset (Gobi), a respectable mobile CPU (Snapdragon), and a powerful media delivery system (MediaFLO). Forget the Kindle—who needs Amazon? Oh right, books. [IntoMobile via Netly]