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Eyeballs On the Kyobo eReader and Its Mirasol Display: Color! Video! Disappointment!

Originally shown at CES a couple of years ago, Qualcomm's Mirasol display technology was promised to bridge the gap between LCD and e-ink display technology. And even though Qualcomm dumped a lot of money into building the infrastructure to put the displays into production, their arrival has been very, very slow.

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Mimicking the iridescent nature of a butterfly's wings, the Mirasol display technology sips power like an e-ink display, but still delivers full motion video and animated UIs. And also color. But color that looks like the faded signs in the window of your local convenience store.

Playing with one of the first eReaders to use a Mirasol display, the Korean Kyobo, the colors were unfortunately a bit on the disappointing side. There's a considerable amount of dithering going on, which is a technique used to reduce the banding seen in gradients on color displays with a limited bit depth. And while the Mirasol can indeed handle full motion video, there was the occasional dropped frame and tearing, but that could also be related to the processor used on the Kyobo. So it seems that in order to really take advantage of a Mirasol display, a tablet device will have to be equipped with a fairly capable processor, which could reduce some of the excellent battery life the technology promises.

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By this point I had hoped that Mirasol displays would be popping up in far more devices than just a Korean eReader, but it's clear that the technology isn't exactly the perfect hybrid of e-ink and LCDs. In fact, while I was originally very excited about what Qualcomm had cooked up, I'm starting to get the same sinking feeling I had with SED display technology that never came to be. [Qualcomm]

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DISCUSSION

I've been saying all along that the displays need to be CMYK, not RGB. Emissive screens are RGB, reflective needs to be CMYK. Thats why we print with CMYK inks in halftone patterns.