We’ve heard about the benefits of reflective electronic paper displays time and again, so why aren’t there E Ink monitors for those who spend all their time on a computer reading, writing, or crunching numbers? The answer is that there are E Ink computer displays, but they come with a lot of trade-offs. Philips’ new solution is a split screen monitor that puts both a black-and-white E Ink panel and a full-color LCD on your desk.
Electronic paper displays are so easy on the eyes because they both essentially work the same way as the printed page. Instead of light being directly beamed into a user’s eyes from a glowing panel, the technology relies on reflected light from another source. When an e-paper screen has a matte finish on the surface, light is further softened before it hits the eye.
The screens used for e-readers have other benefits too, including no flickering, but with limited refresh rates, ghosting artifacts, lower resolutions, and color with a very limited palette, electronic paper still can’t compete against LCD or OLED screens when it comes to the countless other tasks we use computers for—everything from watching movies to surfing the web.
Instead of trying to push the performance of electronic paper displays to compete with an LCD panel, Philips is just acknowledging the pros and cons of each technology with its 24B1D5600 monitor, which pairs a 23.8-inch LCD alongside a 13.3-inch E Ink screen right next to it.
Most of your day-to-day computing tasks will be handled by the LCD, which boasts a resolution of 2,560 × 1,440 pixels, a 75 Hz refresh rate, and the ability to reproduce 16.7 million colors. But if you find yourself having to read a long document or a text-heavy website, the 150 PPI, 1,200 x 1,600 E Ink panel right next to it can step in when your eyes need a break. It’s like having an e-paper tablet connected to the side of the screen. It can be angled inwards up to 45-degrees to find the perfect viewing angle, and has its own screen illumination including color temperature adjustments for those trying to minimize their blue light exposure at night.
Both the LCD and E Ink panels will need their own separate connection to your computer and a power source, but they’re plug-and-play compatible with both Windows and macOS computers, so you can spread your desktop across the two. For Windows-based machines, Philips also offers a SmartRemote app that purportedly makes it easier to display text-based document files on the E Ink panel in higher quality, including on-screen buttons for zooming and panning when a document doesn’t fit on the screen. However, when using that app, documents can only be displayed, and not actively edited.
Although available in markets like China for around $850, the Philips 24B1D5600 doesn’t look like it’s arrived in North America just yet, so those interested in importing one will have to do so through stores like Good e-Reader, which is currently asking a steep $1,600 for the setup, plus an extra $100 in shipping.
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