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Dasung just released a 25 inch eInk monitor (reddit.com)
725 points by tyler109 68 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 382 comments



E Ink is a great example of how the patent system stifles innovation.

One company developed a small, expensive, newspaper-quality electrophoretic display with a refresh rate so terrible it was only suitable for books, decided that that was good enough, and 15 years later every comment in this thread is looking forward to finally seeing some innovation in this space "once the patents expire."

That is some first class bullshit. We could have had large form, glossy brochure quality displays with video refresh rates by now, but nobody outside of China wanted to get anywhere near this patent minefield.


Again I remind about the idea of exponential patents: the holder has to pay every year twice as much as last year.

If the patent is protecting some business's hockey-stick growth, it's worth the fee, so it fulfills the original purpose of patents, that is, avoiding trade secrets while protecting cash-cow inventions for a limited time.

But sitting on a patent becomes prohibitively expensive soon enough even for a large company.


> If the patent is protecting some business's hockey-stick growth, it's worth the fee, so it fulfills the original purpose of patents, that is, avoiding trade secrets while protecting cash-cow inventions for a limited time.

Wasn't the original purpose of patents not to protect big business's hockey-stick grown, but to allow small inventors to capitalize on their inventions (and not have them shamelessly ripped off by some big business). I think the other original purpose was to make sure inventions would eventually become publicized and exploitable by all.

That exponential patents idea seems like it would render patent protection prohibitively expensive for all except maybe the rich or inventors unusually well-position to quickly capitalize on their invention. The little guy who takes ten years to get his business off the ground is out of luck.


My experience with the little guy and patents are second hand: my uncle is the literal bearded guy tinkering in his garage... until he invented a new sprinkler head which he promp tly patented. This was a massive win for everyone involved: he didn't need to raise enough capital to build a factory, on the other hand the factory who eventually bought it became one of the world leaders in the field and sold many millions of it without fronting the cost for the R&D process. So yes, sometimes the patent system works.


The problem is that some areas of technology are now completely outside of the little guy's domain. Biotech and even electronics patents now require large r&d budgets, otherwise they're obvious and thus not innovative. In other words, a lone inventor in those areas without a serious R&D budget probably means a patent troll. I think in these areas (unlike mechanical engineering) patents should become exponential. As a reform, it would be more palpable to change the fee schedule depending on the area of the patent.


What’s your uncle doing now? Still inventing?


He is mostly retired, dabbling in some coding. Inbetween he rode the solar wave, had a successful solar installation company, with two more patents which of course were nowhere near as successful.


The original purpose was to make friends of the king rich by allowing only them to tax the sale of salt or whatever and using his army to kill anyone who didn't like that.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letters_patent


The original purpose of patents was dealing out monopoly rights to various fields of business to domedtic groups well connected to the crown.


Indeed, that's the point. Either you make your patent make money for you, or sell it. Otherwise, you let your exclusive rights go.

A ton of patented stuff is regularly reinvented by people. In many fields, key ideas are so well-understood by practitioners that who patents them first is mostly a game of chance.

There's no point to allow someone (usually a company that does nothing but sits on patents) to do nothing while blocking everyone else from independently reinventing and implementing it. It is especially spearheaded against companies which buy and then bury an idea to preserve their incumbent status for 25 years more.

A monopoly is a bad thing. Sometimes it's a lesser evil, but most often it's not.


The keyword here is "limited" time, ideally more limited than it is now for inventions that don't take off fast enough. Maybe the original inventor doesn't have the skills to perfect it and is just sitting on the patent.


In theory licensing patents solves this problem. If the original inventor doesn’t license or sell the product then owning the patent is literally worthless. Unfortunately, that requires a skilled patent office to reject trivial patents, but not minor but ingenious improvements. Which is in practice an unrealistic standard.

However, I think the balance generally works in the other direction. 20 years feels excessive, but it’s arguably fast enough that taking something from a lab to mass production often eats up 1/2 the time. Further, many patents that are obvious like asteroid mining are going to expire long before their practical. On the other hand simply waiting out the clock to manufacture something means being really behind, thus pushing licensing.


> If the original inventor doesn’t license or sell the product then owning the patent is literally worthless.

That's only true for the public.

A company may not with to license patent use under truly fair conditions, because it would compete with their products using a different technology, they may not with to license to potential competitors, and/or small businesses (fairly).

Alternatively, holder may be using the patent, but choose that their current cash-cow is good-enough so why support competition and innovation, when they can just bump it up slightly every 10 years or so.


> it would compete with their products

Defensive and overly broad patents are definitely a thing, but the intent is to give a monopoly for a limited time. Locking down alternatives not currently in production that are obvious workarounds is kind of a requirement for most patents to be meaningful. The issue is when a company in effect owns an industry and then keeps submitting obvious patents. But, here the problem is with obvious patents being granted.


I think this would just move people back to trade secrets.

That said, I think patents could be given out less often when the operation of the device is clear or can easily be discovered by the public without a patent.

E-Ink screens released without a patent kept under 'trade secret' wouldn't have mattered, the idea would have been implemented elsewhere.

I suppose you could argue that without exclusive rights the original inventor wouldn't have bothered to create it at all - in that case there's probably a better middle ground of something less than 20yrs. 5yrs? 2yrs? First $1million in profit?


But it's still trade secrets. I can tell you most companies will not patent the processes etc. that are crucial to their business, because they know that the knowledge in those is worth much more than the patents would be (it gives them a big a competitive advantage). Instead they patent the ideas behind their products in an as broad as possible manner so that nobody can actually know what they actually do and that it covers nearly every possible variations.

That's why with the current system we are left with the worst of both worlds.


Is moving back to "trade secrets" really a bad thing?

Is there any evidence that the introduction of patents actually encouraged innovation?


The purpose was to both incentivize invention, but also require detailed specs of that invention to be given to the public. In exchange the inventor gets exclusive rights for a limited time.

If trade secrets cause knowledge to be held from the public and then ultimately lost that would be worse.

Whether that’s still relevant today I don’t know. In cases with massive research R&D like drug discovery they still seem really important.

In that case a trade secret wouldn’t be enough to justify up front investment if the drug can be copied and sold as a generic for cheap along side it.


I'm not sure I understand how a patent system would ever encourage knowledge to be made public in a way that wouldn't have already happened.

Even with a patent system, if your innovation is not easily reverse-engineered then you have no reason to patent it. If you invention is easily reverse-engineered, then the knowledge becomes public effectively as soon as you release your innovation, and that is when a patent is most useful.


Even if your invention isn't easily reverse engineered, it could still be re-engineered by others once you've demonstrated the concept and the market. Trade secrets aren't guarantees.


Right but that's my point. I don't think there is clear evidence that it encourages innovation, and if the technology can be re-engineered from the end result then you are not really helping society with a patent system. If it cannot be re-engineered from the end product, I don't see a reason anyone would use the patent system.


Gotcha, but I guess the counter would be that you can't really know what someone else will be able to figure out. Some groundbreaking historical discoveries were made in quick succession by multiple people working independently; others weren't.


I think the system was not designed so much for end products, but for industrial technology that produced end products.


> I think this would just move people back to trade secrets.

You make it sounds like trade secrets don't exist anymore.


They do, but there’s a trade off. If you go the trade secret route you don’t have exclusive rights.

If someone else figures out how to build or reverse engineer your invention they can do so. If an employee leaks the secret you can go after them, but can’t stop others from using it.


In practice aren't many patents so vague/broad that they are unhelpful in deciphering how to build something?

And don't companies keep various details about how to produce something secret.

It seems to me, that many companies in effect have it both ways.


> If you go the trade secret route you don’t have exclusive rights.

Most patents don't describe in full how the sausage is done. That's been well known for decades now, in various disciplines.


In case of eInk, it's both patents and trade secrets...


I think the major flaw in patents is that they provide a monopoly on the technology (for a limited time). Monopolies are bad. Let the USPTO determine a fair price for a technology. That way the company can decide if they keep the technology secret, and the USPTO can decide if they think the technology is too important for society and it needs to be open (and thus increase the price). Other companies can then get a license on the technology for that price. And no companies can be denied access to a technology (like the current situation).


Ideas are global though, and the patent system isn't.

In order to turn a patent in to a literal recipe for a competing product all you have to do is step out of a registered jurisdiction.

So people who actually come up with something meaningful have the financial burden of registering in numerous major jurisdictions at a minimum.

However, each comes with its own quirks, costs, and processes, some of which can be slower (eg. Japan) or qualitatively different (actual novelty checks performed vs. only cursory inspection) and thus vary from verging on legally dubious (more like "option to expend lawyers on creating problems for competitors in the future" than actual patent) to total lockdown.

It's a mess. Mostly it only keeps patent lawyers in business. We need to get rid of it.


> In order to turn a patent in to a literal recipe for a competing product all you have to do is step out of a registered jurisdiction.

When you have a registered patent in the USA and the EU, there is no real alternative market for competition except India and China - because both the US and EU will reject any import of a patent-violating product.


Well those are some big generalizations. Objectively, USA and EU are neither the largest and certainly not the fastest growing markets for many products. In other words: even if that is true - who cares? Also, traditionally Japan is considered a major developed world market by patent law.


weird juxtaposition of arguments. you start by arguing that one system's rules aren't relevant when there are many jurisdictions.

then you talk about each jurisdiction having very unique flavors & characters to them.

the favt that the uspto governs such a vast share of products-sold carries a lot of weight. I tend to think increasing the cost of patents is a silly idea, because right now they cost nearly nothing if you file & do the reject/re-apply dance yourself (and know how to). unless we the people are going to start charging billions for good ideas being monopolized, I tend towards a fair reasonable & non-discriminatory access model for all ideas, with a depreciating over time scale. i'd rather open the closed system than try to find the right price for it. but either way, I think the uspto & Congress has a lot of power to fix this practically free hand out that ongoingly locks down this world & obstructs progress time & time again.


If we begin with the unspoken assumption that the system is supposed to be useful, then it's effectively dead in the water because ideas aren't under national jurisdictions. I think this "weird juxtaposition" is the innate problem with the status quo.


Nobody, and certainly not the USPTO, is able to determine the future value of any patent.


Nobody can predict the future value of pretty much anything, yet trading happens all the time.

To improve the predictive capability of the USPTO, they could host a bidding process in which other companies can participate.


I have pretty low faith in USPTO (or, to be fair, any other organization), making reasonable predictions on the technology value. And even if they did, I think inventors would feel low-balled: "those idiots did not understand the revolutionary benefit of my invention", etc.

Rather than trying to estimate the value of the idea we could drastically reduce the time for patent protection. Shortening protection period to 2-5 years should still encourage inventions, but would discourage early carpet-bombing filings (which scare many inventors away) as well as move successful inventions into public domain while they are still relevant. My 2c.


5 years is plenty of time for patenting some clever software trick that took a minute to think up and a week to implement (eg. minigames in loading screens). But some inventions take years or even decades of research (eg in materials science) and, even after being invented, may take a year or more to spool up the production line, let alone the procurement process.


Would it make sense to have the patent office choose the patent length between say 2 to 20 years?

Estimating the value seems pretty much impossible, but estimating a length seems more reasonable. Clever software trick, quick to invent, easy to capitalise -> 2 years. Ground breaking new drug/material with slow market deployment -> 20 years.

There's still some subjectivity involved (but that's already the case with the current patent system), but you could try to base it on some objective metrics.


Or perhaps it could be a fixed duration per field, somehow, so that you know before filing what you will get.

It would be easy to discriminate between 20 years for drugs vs. 5 for anything software, but I guess it's tricky to decide whether something like e-paper should count as fast-moving consumer-facing tech or hard-won physics/chemistry knowledge.


If something is in research phase it should not be patented yet. And once invented, a 5-year protection still gives the inventor a 5-year advantage. If it cannot leverage it effectively, sorry but too bad.

No method is perfect, but I think that in most cases a 5-year protection is enough to encourage invention.


Many products contain hundreds of distinct "inventions" in the patent sense. One can't necessarily hold off on registering a patent for an individual invention for 5 years while the rest of the product is developed, as you'd risk a competitor inventing the same before you have patent protections.


Patent does not protect a product, but a specific technology. If 1 technology out of 10 in a product is under patent protection the competitor (and the public) cannot copy the product as is, but is welcome to use any expired technologies any way it sees fit.

In general, it is a business decision on whether to patent a technology that it is not ready for the production: the risk of not making a product in 5 years vs the risk of competitor getting there first. It is not perfect, but I would prefer that inventions that the owner wants to own (and suppress competition for) but cannot commercialize in 5 years enter public domain. My 2c.


That's kind of what the private market already does, without the PTO's involvement. If people think your patent has value, they can license or or buy rights to it.


No, because if the patent applicant keeps the technology secret, there is no patent. Meaning the road is open for other companies to invent the same technology.


The point of patents is that the invention should be described, and patents are publicly accessible. This is what allows you to discuss infringements in a regular court.


Just to point out, there do seem to be certain (niche) fields where Patents can be kept "secret". eg National Security, Nuclear, (etc) type of things:

https://slate.com/technology/2018/05/the-thousands-of-secret...


it being impossible to get 100% right doesn't mean we must be afraid to try to assess merit.

perhaps a fair value assessment might include some % of revenue or profit, to self adjust?


It's not likely to be remotely correct. The only people who have a chance at it are those who are willing to risk their own money on it.


I want to nitpick. Monopolies aren't bad. Monopolies tend to be dangerous because they aren't self regulating and they can easily extort consumers. But monopolies can also be very useful to consumers if they are acting in their interests, particularly in goods that have network effects (where the number of participants directly increases the product's utility or makes it cheaper. As opposed to a S curve). Bell labs existed because the government gave Bell a monopoly over telephone networks so there wouldn't be hundreds of wires everywhere (literal network), but the lab was part of the deal.


Why would the USPTO not rig things in favor of US companies by underpricing the value of patents from foreign companies?


Compulsory licensing is already a thing in many countries. It's mostly used in drug manufacturing.


Copyright also provides a monopoly, that’s the whole point, if it didn’t then the GPL, etc would be useless.


Why should I invest in R&D then


That's right, the greedy approach would free a patent now to unlock a technology, but what do we do about not freezing creativity over the next decade?


I am no fan of the patent system, but what you propose is worse. Companies can get a license but by a price defined by the market. Giving this power to some burocrat seems odd.


If you merely double the cost though it removes the human element for error.


For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

H. L. Mencken


> Again I remind about the idea of exponential patents: the holder has to pay every year twice as much as last year.

Would not be very effective for companies like Amazon or Apple which have billions to play with. Rather a 5 years maximum duration would be more effective across the board instead of the ridiculous 20 years we have to live with.


>> Would not be very effective for companies like Amazon or Apple which have billions to play with.

On the contrary, such companies tend to have tons of patents. Apple for example has over 70,000 patents for the 2009-18 period alone. Exponential fees would quickly add up to a substantial amount of money on such a massive portfolio.


Hmm, maybe also have a them exponent by number of patents. So if you are small player you can handle having the core ones. If you are just throwing stuff at wall and see what sticks it gets really expensive. Could also force companies to focus on those patents that actually stand or are important for them...


I think having a mandatory auction + proceeds rebate system is better and then whoever holds it can write indefinite contracts/licences.

For example, imagine you get 100% rebate of auction proceeds untill year 5, then it drops 1% per year:

- at year 5 it's nearly impossible to do a hostile accquisition because you have a 100x advantage and only lose 1% of highest or second highest if it's a blind auctio.

- by year 25 you have to pony up up to 20% FMV per year just to retain monopoly. And only have a 5x advantage vs a competing bidder.

- the remaining fraction if paid back to consumers as basic income, can be thought of as a

- losing an auction doesn't hurt your buisness operation if you wrote yourself a perpetual contract

- auction loser is compensated less every year the contract ages and therefore has strong incentive to sublicense

- government and trade groups can buy out key patents at fair prices

- defensive patent pools still work, trolling is riskier


Why would it help to put an arbitrarily high price on a monopoly?

In the case where the profit (from owning the patent) is less than the cost of the patent it will be equivalent to the absence of patents. In the case where the profit is higher than the patent cost it’s still a company bribing the government for monopoly rights.

Unless the profits made by the government from patents is used to put a discount on the retail price of the product for which the patent is held. But even this is probably worse than free competition.


thats still not a good enough reason to maintain a failing system.


> E Ink is a great example of how the patent system stifles innovation.

I don't see how this is an obvious fact. I don't even see how this is a valid example.

> every comment in this thread is looking forward to finally seeing some innovation in this space "once the patents expire

It is telling, very telling that when asked, none of those comments are even able to describe which patent it is that is blocking "innovation in this space".

Here's the facts.

The physics of bistable displays is complex. Many have tried with very different technologies. Electrowetting. Interferometric. Other types of electrophoretic. Electrochemical.

The investors in all of these realized it was too expensive to get it to the finish line. Even Amazon decided to trash Liquavista.

The truth is that investors would rather invest in some new consumer internet service, or AI/ML, which is a simpler problem that will give a quicker return on their money rather than try to create a bistable display solution.

If you go to SID, you'll see that there's tonnes of startups that try to solve the "fast" or "color" bistable display chalenge, and they all fail due to fundamental physics problems and burn out their funding. That's also probably why E Ink isn't able to get past their limitations.

I genuinely hope this helps people understand that this is not "patent system stifles innovation".


> none of those comments are even able to describe which patent it is that is blocking "innovation in this space".

That's because there are over 700 of them:

https://patents.justia.com/assignee/e-ink-corporation

None of what you said about the physics of low power displays is wrong, but you're giving E Ink Corporation a pass when they really don't deserve one. They've been unreasonably hostile to basically everybody that has wanted to work with them over the years. No volume price breaks, no prototype-quantity orders (at any price), no partnering with other manufacturers, no shared development projects, absolutely no sharing of the proprietary driving waveforms to groups that want to use a different controller, etc.

Many, many embedded, tablet, even IoT projects that started out wanting to use an eInk display for power reasons had to settle for other technologies because the company just wasn't interested in exploring new leads that weren't one of their existing eBook partners. I can understand having priorities, but you're not supposed to be able to sit on a patent hoard this large while behaving this badly (FRAND requirements, etc.).


Yeah this is why a lot of battery-powered electronic shelf labels use LCD. E-Ink's product is great but they're impossible to actually build into a working product line because their terms are so odious.


Even trying to purchase one as a hacker to use with a Pi to create a “modern day” HP 200LX palm-top required so much legal complexity bullshit and painful terms that it literally wasn’t possible.

I could buy the part on the grey market from China, but the documentation was literally non-existent (as in, there was zero, none. At least from the seller I wanted it from).

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/HP_200LX

Does anyone have any suggestions for a screen that would fit this sort of use-case? The UI/UX I planned on being a straight Linux TTY1 to begin with.


If you're online interested in limited quantities, this Sharp display might well fit the bill:

https://www.adafruit.com/product/4694

It's a "memory LCD", which has very low no power drain when idle, but has an LCD's refresh speed (i.e., fast enough to display video).

You can also get some decently-documented eInk boards from Waveshare in 1" to 13" sizes, though the costs are definitely too high for anything but one-off Maker projects:

https://www.waveshare.com/product/displays/e-paper.htm

You may also find the PaperTTY project interesting for your TUI:

https://github.com/joukos/PaperTTY


> That's because there are over 700 of them:

And... what's wrong with that specifically please? Tonnes of companies have hundreds and even thousands of patents. The original claim that innovation is being blocked needs a clear example to support it.

> No volume price breaks, no prototype-quantity orders (at any price), no partnering with other manufacturers, no shared development projects

None of this sounds like blocking innovation. Sounds more like a difference in perception about costs. It would be like me expecting to get preferential treatment from one of the LCD vendors to develop something.

> but you're not supposed to be able to sit on a patent hoard this large while behaving this badly

I see a lot of superlatives but googling doesn't give me any hint of what you're referring to as their bad behaviour.


There is no point in even trying to improve the technology right now because the patent holder would just take it anyway.


If you had constructed a new technology that is an improvement of a patented technology, the original owner doesn't gain ownership over your improvement. They only have the right to prohibit use of the original technology. If you patent the improvement, then anyone who wants to use it would have to license both your patent and the base patent's inventions. There isn't a concept of "derivative works" (like in copyright law) where if you didn't license the base patent, you lose ownership over the improvement. If you had failed to patent the improvement, then yes, the patent holder could conceivably use your improvement without paying you, but that's a different scenario.

In very large and complicated fields, you'll often have a minefield of conflicting patent claims, much of which are minor improvement patents. These often coalesce into patent pools, assuming all participants in the pool are interested in playing ball. (Looking at you, H.265.) You don't see certain players looking to invalidate patents on the basis of not having been paid for the right to improve their invention, because such a right doesn't really exist.


The original owner can just refuse to license their patients however, leaving the improvements useless.


They can charge you so much for the license that you'll never be competitive even if your technology is a great improvement on the process.

It's generally not good for your business plan to include the ability for your direct competitors to shut you down if you become too competitive.


> There is no point in even trying to improve the technology right now because the patent holder would just take it anyway

I don't follow your thesis. Are you claiming there's someone out there who is being blocked by the eink manufacturer with a threat of a patent?


You would have to be insane to put yourself in the position to start with, so as long as the threat of the patent looms over the industry nobody is going to bother.

The comparison earlier to FDM 3D printing is spot on. The entire industry stagnated for over a decade under Stratiasys, who had no interest in pursuing the consumer market. It was only after the patents expired that the explosion of affordable printers and innovation in filaments happened.


But why are we switching topics to FDM 3D printing? The claim that 2nd OP made was that the eink manufacturer was being nasty and was suing other companies. But when I googled, I found no such evidence and I don't see any reply from anyone explaining what nasty stuff they did so it seems like that claim might be total BS. I see lots of other startups even in electrophoretic, like Clearink which won some awards but is struggling to get money. It seems like the real issue is that no one out there wants to put money into making these displays as it is low profit compared to software startups.


You’re right. I absolutely adore my Onyx Boox Note2 — it’s e-ink display is just brilliant, but it also proves your point: they’re a Chinese company through and through, building amazing tools and gadgets because patents don’t scare them off.

Also, the fact they ported basically every software feature from the Note3 which came out weeks after I got my Note2 made me amazingly happy, their after sales support has been surprisingly good, the new firmware has removed literally all latency when using the Wacom stylus for note taking, and I recently bought the Staedtler “pencil” Wacom compatible stylus and now I’ve literally ditched pen and paper for good.

It’s that excellent, for me.


We could have had large form, glossy brochure quality displays with video refresh rates by now

...or more than 16 levels (4-bit) of grayscale, something that a hobbyist has already shown is possible:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16140284

We could also have mass-produced electrophoretic sheet (basically the display without the electrodes), that you can "draw" on with any suitable voltage source; you can see someone playing with one in this video and showing how the technology works (and is fundamentally quite simple):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXxSOR1PHpE

...and someone else, coincidentally also Russian, making his own eink display(!):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGVZCEuoccE


> We could have had large form, glossy brochure quality displays with video refresh rates by now

Based on what principle? It strikes me as most of the comments here lack a basic understanding of the physics behind electrophoresis. It is an inherently slow process.

> ...or more than 16 levels (4-bit) of grayscale, something that a hobbyist has already shown is possible:

a simple google search showed me that you're quite badly mistaken. 5-bit grayscale or 32 levels is widely used. Just google nxp 6sololite 5-bit eink and you'll find "Up to 5-bit pixel grayscale representation" and has been for 5 or 6 years.


Their sales/marketing philosophy was disappointing too. Zero interest in supporting the hobbyist community.


The idea is that they encourage people to come up with a better way to do the same thing.

The problem is patents have come closer to patenting the overarching concept rather than an implementation.

A patent application should be required to come with [an] implementation[s] to show that every claim being made exists and has actually been developed.


Completely Agree. Affordable E-Ink large external displays[1] have become like fusion energy.

That said, I wonder why there hasn't been a competing tech e.g. like LED vs LCD; Are the fundamental physics behind E-Ink so perfect for the low-power display that no other alternative is possible (or) is it just the absurd patent which stifles even exploring this direction.

[1]https://needgap.com/problems/43-affordable-e-ink-large-exter... (Disclaimer: It's a problem validation platform, I created).


Just checked out Needgap, awesome work!


Thank you for checking it out!


> become like fusion energy

This fusion reactor could be affordable. It just needs to be invented first:

https://patents.google.com/patent/US20190295733A1/en


I didn't question it's affordability, just that it's always 30 years away!

https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6464477


30 years away if properly funded.

It has never been properly funded.


> ... the patent system stifles innovation.

This is not broad-strokes true. Within the realm of tech? Maybe. Within the realm of XYZ? Maybe.

Innovation requires investment and time. The classic example for the positive merits of the patent system is the pharmaceutical industry. No pharma company is going to spend 5 - 20 years and millions or billions developing new medicine if someone can immediately copy it and make a generic brand pricing it cheaper (they don't need to make back those costs). The issue of drugs costing an arm and a leg here is not really relevant either as that's moreso an American phenomenon, here in Australia or the UK they are reasonably priced.

Anyway the point here is that the patent system's happy-path design is to give the inventor of X time to make their money back and some profit before competition drives the price down. Is that abused? Absolutely whole-heartedly yes. Is the solution to the abuse the absolute removal of the patent system? Absolutely not.


>This is not broad-strokes true.

It absolutely is, though. Innovation is inherently hampered when someone owns the right to the use of a technology.


Innovation is also hampered when inventors are not sufficiently compensated for the broad social value they create with a new invention. When anyone is allowed to copy a new invention instantly, there is not enough incentive to innovate. A good patent system must strike a balance between these two forces.


>inventors are not sufficiently compensated

Patents do little to nothing in this regard.


Incorrect. Patents quite literally to provide the developer of a new technology a legal monopoly for some time so they can (maybe) recoup their costs as an incentivisation mechanism to encourage innovation.


s/literally/theoretically/

When I'm looking to spend money to solve a problem, I search for a product or service to buy.

I never, ever, ever search for a patent to license, because that's stepping into a legal minefield.

Show me a field where people looking to spend money to solve a problem search the patent database for solutions, and I'll believe there's a field where patents are a good thing.


I already explained why that's not the case. Not everyone has the capacity to work charitably, as much as that would make for a better world, and resorting to "this is bad let's completely get rid of it" completely ignores the intermediate state required to transition to that utopia.


Exactly the same thing happened in the 3D printing space.


I'm not sure what you mean by that, there are new & improved models of 3d printers coming out all the time and decent hobbyist printers are becoming available for progressively lower prices.


I believe the major fdm patents were filed decades ago and little was done until recently when they expired.


Parent is probably talking about SLS (selective laser sintering). Patents expired in 2014.


Yes, that started to happen once the key patents expired.


> the patent system stifles innovation.

Patents protect inventors and encourage innovation. There's no better way to encourage invention than to protect those who came up with the idea.

I don't like it when they're applied to software but that's another story.


> Patents protect inventors and encourage innovation.

Practically, patents only protect large-scale holders with time and finance to enforce them.

"For a claim that could be worth less than a $1 million, median legal costs are $650,000. "

https://www.cnet.com/news/how-much-is-that-patent-lawsuit-go...

I've seen this first hand, a friend obtained a patent on an invention and offered it to various companies. They feigned disinterest and then simply developed their own versions of it. He couldn't afford to sue, so did nothing.


The clever play would be to sell the patent to a patent troll, and let the companies deal with the litigation. Ironically having multiple violators can make the patent more valuable.


> Practically, patents only protect large-scale holders with time and finance to enforce them

They still do protect individual inventors. And, this isn't justification that patents discourage innovation, as a parent comment alleged.

Patents protect individuals who may be acquired and compensated by larger entities. There's nothing dubious about this.


Patents both encourage and discourage innovation.

- If I invent something and patent it, I can assure that I am the only one that can benefit from it for a period of time; to recoup the costs involved.

- If I invent something based on someone else's patent, they can deny me the right to use their patent if they think it would negatively impact them (for example, if my version is better and nobody would buy their version once mine was available). In many cases, it's just not worth bothering to even try innovating in an area because of this (and similar reasons).

Patents have both good and bad points. Presenting just the good or just the bad, and pretending it's the only valid view, is disingenuous at best.


Patents support a fairly narrow model of what innovation is "supposed to be"-- the one man in a garage who can scale his product from zero to infinity with little to no outside support.

The thing is, for a lot of industries, that's a dated pipedream. It's not 1804 and you're not Richard Trevithick. You're not going to challenge TSMC with a semiconductor fab built in the backyard shed. Even if you had huge amounts of startup capital and a laser-focused market vision, there's also a lot of innovation that's time-sensitive: for example, if you're building a better petrol engine or coal-burning generator, will you be able to scale before the product is obsolete?

Beyond that, I suspect there are also a fair number of patent holders who just take potshots at the market-- wildly mis-guessing their target market or (attempting to get orders or raise funds) based on promising undeliverables, because they don't have the full knowledge of getting a product to market. After their business fails, they'll just spend the rest of the patent term as legal unexploded ordnance-- useless by themselves but waiting to blow the leg off of some poor sod who happened to step in the wrong place.

Reducing the term from 20 years to 10 or even 5 would tend to prioritize partnership development rather than the "one man in a garage" mentality: with the clock ticking that fast, your best chance is to license broadly, hoping that someone will get product to market before the patent expires.


This is what frustrates me - I would love eInk panels, or a reader in a larger format than your standard kindle and kobo affair so I could read textbooks properly.

An A4 or slightly larger eReader should have existed (and not cost ridiculous money) years ago.


Hmm, it does exist though in the form of Sony Digital Paper, the first version of which was released a few years ago. I have one and it works quite well for me.


Agreed, it does exist - but that model you speak of is £849 for me - that is not an accessible price.

An iPad pro that is the same size is only £100 more for me, but then thats not what I am after.

As ePaper and eInk has been around for a while now, I would expect that much like TVs the price per inch drops over time but it seems fixed at that 7" mark then the price rockets.

I get that a larger format eReader is a smaller market than the standard book, but I don't get how I can get 10 kindles (or similar) for the same price as that Sony one just because of size. If someone can enlighten me why I'd be grateful, if after a certain point the screens get harder to manufacture maybe?


Any firm with a truly valuable product could buy the patent (or at minimum, a license). This is basically Coase Theorem 101. At this scale, transaction costs are not significant and so the property right will end up allocated to the most efficient holder.

Even if you don’t like that pure theory point, litigation is expensive and takes a long time. If some small little patent holder is really being stubborn and you’ve got something valuable, it’s not that hard to grind them into dust while you get big. Litigation financing makes this a little harder than it used to be but still.


And yet the reality does not reflect the theory.


In theory, theory and practice are the same.

In practice, they are not.


>We could have had large form, glossy brochure quality displays with video refresh rates by now, but nobody outside of China wanted to get anywhere near this patent minefield.

That is quite the leap.

Some inventions we know and love would have never seen the light of day if the patent protection window was lesser.


The flip side of your observation: Every device your comment is being read on represents at least hundreds of patents, profits from which sped up the development of microcomputers from none when I was born to hilariously inexpensive now.


I have a 13.3-inch Dasung e-ink monitor, and use it daily for three to six hours (basically, whenever I use my PC). Some days ago the HDMI cable it came with broke, so before I had the opportunity to replace it, I had to switch back to an LED monitor for the time being. Well, surely anyone can already guess what happened... After just a couple of days, I came upon a long forgotten enemy: eye fatigue. Blurry vision, trouble focusing it, and a light headache.

Like many others here, I wish the technology could have advanced faster and been made more accessible for everyone. Without the obstacles it still faces, I'm sure we would already have color screens with a good refresh rate. C'est la vie.


> Well, surely anyone can already guess what happened... After just a couple of days, I came upon a long forgotten enemy: eye fatigue. Blurry vision, trouble focusing it, and a light headache.

Is this actually a common problem? I've never had this with even 12 hours a day in front of a screen, or is this just luck?


Some people are more sensitive to this issue than others. Age is a big factor, weight is another (because of faster dehydration), and of course monitor calibration, environmental light, etc. But yes, monitors eventually kill eyes and brains, even flatscreens.


> But yes, monitors eventually kill eyes

Are you sure?

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/safeguarding-your-...

"Myth: Reading in dim light will worsen your vision.

Fact: Although dim lighting will not adversely affect your eyesight, it will tire your eyes out more quickly."

"Myth: Staring at a computer screen all day is bad for the eyes.

Fact: Although using a computer will not harm your eyes, staring at a computer screen all day will contribute to eyestrain or tired eyes. Adjust lighting so that it does not create a glare or harsh reflection on the screen."


I'm going to repeat my comment from 11 days ago where you posted the same thing:

> So the myth is true, unless for some reason you don't consider eyestrain and tired eyes "bad for the eyes".


I think you're confusing me with someone else as I don't believe I've ever posted that link before.

> So the myth is true, unless for some reason you don't consider eyestrain and tired eyes "bad for the eyes".

I was replying to "monitors eventually kill eyes and brains". I would equate "kill" to "permanently damage" and not "temporarily tired" so maybe we're just disagreeing on definitions?

And how bad is it really? Do you have anything to back what you mean and its severity? Most activities cause temporary fatigue after several hours so what makes this special?


> I think you're confusing me with someone else

You're right, but the similarity between your comment and the one from 11 days ago is uncanny: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25417481


Looks like the poster there was refuting that screens cause permanent eye damage, and similar to here your reply is about temporary eye damage instead.


If I cannot use my eyes because they are too tired, they are “killed” for the day, in my book. As the other comment says, your own source makes the opposite point that the one you were probably trying to make.


> If I cannot use my eyes because they are too tired, they are “killed” for the day, in my book. As the other comment says, your own source makes the opposite point that the one you were probably trying to make.

We're clearly using different interpretations of the word "killed".

I have no memory of my eyes being "killed for the day" so I was asking for evidence that maybe I am accumulating eye damage that will eventually catch up on me.


Everyone might perceive Tired Eyes or "Killed Eyes" differently. For some it might be a little scratching/dry eyes for others it might make them headaches und blurred vision up to not be able to use screens anymore for the day.

No matter what it is, in COVID times when everyone uses the screen 8h+ / day we should have some better screen tech, which is at least as good as a book. It can't be that this occupational hazard should be accpeted like it is right now.

Other professions like medical radiology imaging are more forward thinking in this: http://europepmc.org/article/PMC/5449879


Have you tried using OLEDs? I can't imagine how eInk would be different from an OLED on grayscale and low brightness settings... other than the fact that OLED will be better in terms of availability, refresh rates, response times, resolution and price.


Anyone here understand why LCD would cause eye strain and EInk wouldn't? Is it emissive vs reflective? Why would this make a difference? The only source of strain I can imagine for a monitor is if 1) it's too bright, 2) it's at bad distance so your eyes have to accommodate or verge uncomfortably. Does it have something with the spectrum of the reflected light?


There are many reasons. Accomodation, Nerves, Bad Sight, Weak Muscles, Heterophoria, etc.

There is a whole community dedicated to LED Strain: https://ledstrain.org/



I hope color eink monitors become a reality soon. For those who suffer from eye strain through conventional LED this would be a game changer.


Can I ask you how is the feedback when you write on your keyboard? Isn't there a delay?


The refresh rate is really good for an e-ink screen. There's no significant delay when typing. It's not blazing fast, but it never gets noticeable enough to be annoying. I even watch videos on this thing, although I account for the lag by adding a 200 ms A-V delay on mpv (Ctrl++).


To be completely clear, do you mean that there's a median of ~200ms of latency?

That's kind of my "oww, server is too far away" point with SSH...


It's closer to 150 ms. mpv only lets you increase or decrease delay in intervals of a hundred milliseconds, as far as I know.


Thanks.

FWIW, that's what the default keybindings configure.

You can create your own input.conf to override this - ^F for `audio-delay`: https://raw.githubusercontent.com/mpv-player/mpv/master/etc/...

You can also specify --audio-delay (^F in https://mpv.io/manual/master/) which accepts fractions of seconds, but that makes for much slower iteration.


It looks like the breakthrough here is in making a large (bigger than e-reader-sized) e-paper display available as a self-contained, HDMI-compatible monitor instead of just a display assembly for OEMs and experienced DIYers.

While I don’t expect this to also be a breakthrough in terms of pricing, hopefully it starts driving the volume that will eventually make this type of display more accessible.


A slightly more accessible option right now is an AMOLED screen. If you work on applications with a black background, like a terminal or a text editor, it has some of the same benefits. Namely, there's no backlight as individual pixels get lighted on their own.

Sadly, AMOLED hasn't progressed as quickly as we expected and big screens are both rare and expensive. Besides, eInk has some advantages like lower energy consumption.


If you don't care too much about the vibrant colors and viewing angles of IPS and OLED, I can recommend VA screens. They have far better contrast than IPS. The black is indeed black. I find it great for working in dark mode on text. However the colors and viewing angles are a trade-off. Although I find the viewing angles are still better than TN and can be somewhat mitigated with a curved screen.

I personally use a curved 32" 4K VA screen. The resolution, text size and contrast make this great for text heavy work.


I agree about what you said, I've been on ultra wide 21:9 VA with 1500R curve for a couple of years and it's been really good.

I am curious about the new 1000R displays though, at first it seemed like a gimmick - but it totally makes sense curving the screen so much in order to diminish or even radicate the need to refocus your eyes as they look across the panel.

But I haven't had a chance to try it out in person yet due to the current times. Anyone here on ultra wide 1000R?


And OLEDs themselves might be on their way out before they manage to get mass adoption.

Samsung yet again made a breakthrough in LEDs, now, inorganic.


I know little about the details of display technology - do you have any info/links about this breakthrough?


Last public publication 2011: https://www.nature.com/articles/nphoton.2011.295

Then they go dark for 9 years

And almost 10 years later, bang: https://www.sammobile.com/news/samsung-quantum-dot-successor...

It takes a company like Samsung to singlehandedly pursue a pie in the sky science institute level project for 10 years before even a mere prospect of commercial returns emerges.


The trend of darkmode adoption shows actually huge demand for eink: https://forum.ei2030.org/t/the-trend-in-darkmode-adoption-is...


This seems like an interesting site, but that is by far the most off-putting and manipulative text I've ever seen on a cookie notice.

> We know having to press this sucks, but unless we see a decentralized Web 3.0, some elements on our site are cookies baked by others that could track you. You have to put up with this, otherwise, might as well shut yourself out of the world.

edit: tyler109 - given that you've linked that site 11 times so far in this thread, I'm guessing you're affiliated with or run that site? If so, might I ask that you edit the cookie text to not be so... bad? Or much better, add a button to it to let readers opt out of the pointless tracking? Also, if you are affiliated with it, could you maybe disclose it in some of the comments where you link to it?


I'm just a regular forum member there trying to answer the questions. But I will inform the admins.


The forum is less than a month old and you are a moderator, so you are at the very least, a very active member in a very young forum.

https://forum.ei2030.org/about


While I don’t expect this to also be a breakthrough in terms of pricing, hopefully it starts driving the volume that will eventually make this type of display more accessible.

eInk is notoriously proprietary and patent-encumbered, which is largely what makes for the astronomical price. Once the patents start expiring, we should start seeing the prices of displays become closer to LCDs.


Do you have any info on these patents? Interested to learn who owns them, and since when.


The company owns them. There are some references here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E_Ink

Some of the earliest ones are starting to expire.


I think it also has a very impressive refresh rate for an e-ink display. It's actually usable as a monitor for reading, writing, programming...


It also has impressive response times. I guess you can play videos at 5FPS or so.


Mousing around at even 30 fps can be a struggle. So I am guessing this is better for people who are keyboard-centric.


What I understood of e-ink technology is that it's about the total amount of changes that are involved. It might be feasible to track a 32x32 cursor at 60fps even though a full refresh might take a whole second or two.


As a kid I was so excited when dad would bring home a color monitor. We could finally play sim city 2000, too.

And now people are excited many years later for a new kind of grayscale monitor :P


It’s easy on the eyes. Really big deal for those of us with poor eyesight due to Nerve, muscle, or dryness Issues


I have 13” dasung monitor. Its is an eink monitor so no light beaming from screen. I has solved the headaches I used to get after working on lcd monitor.


How do you use it day to day?


As an external monitor for coding and reading documentation.


I don't need color for code. I need high resolution and to be able to stare at it for hours on end. Right now I get around this by having an ambient light sensors adjusting my monitors but it's buggy and error prone.

I look forward to having a red light setup for night coding like my father had for his photography dark room.


I like color in my code. I suppose different font weights and shades of grey can make up for it if the resolution is high enough.


How is the refresh rate? Is this monitor different than my experience with the Kindle?


I think the video in the post would let you compare for yourself


Skip to 4:04 for the display of video on the monitor.


Honestly, that’s amazingly good.


Yeah, it's on-par with LCDs from about 20 years ago.


> Right now I get around this by having an ambient light sensors adjusting my monitors but it's buggy and error prone.

Can you expand a bit more on this solution? Is this something you made or COTS?


An old ColorMunki projector calibrator connected by usb and attached to the screen with a zip tie. I have a python script that polls it when the screen goes to sleep or when I request a re-calibration using redshift.

It used to be automatic but it's not stable because there's only one point of measure. If I stood up and cast a shadow on the screen it decided that the whole room has gone dark and dimmed the screen to be invisible.

The only reason why I prefer that over doing it manually is the white point balance. It beats sitting around with a piece of white paper eyeballing it to match white on the screen.


Very cool! Thanks for sharing!


This approach sounds similar to clight, which uses a webcam to adjust backlight levels (so may be a little less fidgety than using a color calibration sensor if you just care about brightness): https://github.com/FedeDP/Clight


Mismatching color balance gives me a headache. Anecdotally it affects everyone most people just don't notice what it is that's bugging them.


Is there a body of evidence that suggests it is better for our eyes?


If anything there's individual anecdotal evidence - people able to compare for themselves how their eyes feel using an eink screen vs. backlit; "better for eyes" I believe isn't meant in relation to physical effects (which may exist) but primarily for psychological/biological impact - including sleep patterns, etc.



https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24386252 (from 2013) talks about LCD vs E-ink, and determines backlit LCD induces eyestrain (as measured by blinks per second and self reported visual fatigue) at a higher level, and that the E-ink Paperwhite has a profile similar to paper.


My eyes used to hurt from staring at my screen. It got a lot better after turning down the brightness to ~15%. With the same strategy I can comfortably read in bed on my iPad with the added benefit of colors and 120Hz. I recommend trying this if eink feels much better to you. Another notable side effect is you might end up going back to light themes.


Anybody who thinks a non e-ink screen is comparable even at "low" brightness should try turning the screen brightness down to lower than 15% in a completely dark room and turning the screen away - you will see that you still essentially have a torch in your hands that you are shining constantly in your eyes when reading.

I have tried every option with smartphone screens,: low brightness, night light filters, dark themes and nothing short of paper is remotely as free of strain as e-ink hardware.


Of course if you're in a completely dark room any LCD is going to be bright. But in that scenario you can't use an eink screen either. The point is if there is some light, you can probably find a brightness setting such that your LCD is emitting about as much light as an eink display will reflect, making them (at least subjectively to me) equivalent.


I can turn my eink book on with enough backlight to read it and my wife next to me in bed won't notice. Even in total darkness. I haven't managed that with my phone at any brightness


Not really, I can read a book using the light of my phone displaying a black screen at minimum brightness.

Now OLED _might_ be able to fix things, but manufacturers don't provide low brightness settings for most screens at the moment (even though anything with a LED backlight could have almost arbitrarily low brightness), so I'm not particularly optimistic.

The example from that one guy that made a fake painting by matching light levels to a white wall was pretty convincing though, so I think it can be done it just isn't for some reason.


FYI on iOS you can use the accessibility settings (via the zoom filter, with zoom turned off and darkness turned to max) to lower the brightness beyond the normal limit.

I have this setting tied to triple-clicking the sleep button, so I can activate it easily in the morning or late at night.


Thank you so much for this comment. I can’t believe I didn’t know this, I’ve been inverting my colors & sometimes wearing cheap, non-polarized sunglasses at night — no more!

I had to fiddle with the settings quite a bit to get a 1x zoom w/ the filter, though.


This is a very little-known feature. I work in accessibility and have had an iPhone since day 1. But the only reason I know about this very well-hidden trick is that an Apple employee told me!


>that one guy that made a fake painting by matching light levels to a white wall

Do you happen to have a link to this? I remember reading the original post years ago, but I didn't save it and could never find it again.


I had to search for a bit but I managed to find it: https://www.claybavor.com/blog/a-canvas-made-of-pixels

It's been referenced on HN a few times: https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que...


That's the one, thanks!


Dark theme works for me, lowering the the brightness doesn’t.


Got OLED?


One common source of eye strain is likely due to our eyes having to adjust to the inconsistent brightness of our workspaces.

Another solution you can use instead of or in addition to this is installing backlights and more area lighting. Provide more even lighting coverage throughout the room, and don't compute or watch TV in completely dark rooms. Anecdotally this works for me at least.


I mean there's an industry built on people that prefer it to LCD screens, so while it's hard to say it's objectively better I reckon we can at least conclude that there's a significant group of people that prefer it.


> Is there a body of evidence that suggests it is better for our eyes?

Is there any body of evidence that working with displays with refresh rates in the 60hz range with improper contrast ratio days after days do NOT damage one's vision?


Refresh rate on a LCD does not cause flicker the same way a 60hz CRT did. The 60hz here says nothing.


Having run my monitor at 29Hz for work laptop, I feel that refresh rate isn't too big deal. Doesn't look as nice, but really makes not much difference for browsing or coding or even teams calls.

(Old 27" 1440p DELL where I have to use old HDMI-port as DP or Dual-Link DVI isn't option for main pc anymore, so trickery is needed)


Is reflective technology really better for these? The main flaw I see in emissive technology is in situations where they are relatively dark in high ambient lighting. On the other hand, in poor lighting conditions, emissive technologies are easier for the eyes.

It seems to me that if the emissive technology is up to par and properly calibrated it shouldn't be worse.


There is some alternative technology called RLCD. Apparently it's the best of both worlds: https://goodereader.com/blog/e-paper/tcl-nxtpaper-wants-to-c...


Yes it's really a life saver for many of us


Haha, so true!

As a kid, I remember how excited I was when we upgraded from CGA to EGA, let alone VGA or SVGA, and now I'm practically drooling over how amazing my eyes would feel from staring at a monochrome e-ink display all day!

I'm sounding like an old man now, but as an 80's kid I couldn't dream of the tech we have available today. We were all imagining flying cars and the like, but in many ways what we have, and so available, is much more incredible.

Back on topic though - if the resolution and refresh rate really are as good as shown in the videos, then as a developer, this would genuinely make a huge difference to my working day. My eyes are practically begging for it!

Unless there are markets I'm not seeing, this is undoubtedly a niche product, and I'm very pleasantly surprised that a company has invested to bring it to fruition. I haven't been this existed since NVMe, and I hope this thing ships soon so I can find out how much it costs and read reviews!


My first VGA monitor was a bit of an oddity in that it was completely grayscale (a very nice white too). I don't remember the circumstances of how I got it but I didn't spend as much time on the computer at home back then. So it didn't really matter as much.

When VGA itself improved enough to buy my first color VGA monitor, it was a bit of a let down in that the sharpness was a definite step down from that monitor.


I'd sometimes put my early 90's Mac into grayscale mode. In my case, it was because my Mac only supported 8 bit color, but in grayscale, the shading was much better. 8 bit grayscale was the equivalent of 16 bit color in terms of clarity. Removed the dithering or weirdness in certain images.


VGA monochrome was popular in like the early 90s as an affordable way to get high res VGA without shelling out for the then expensive VGA color monitors.


I loved the old flat crt grey scale vga monitors


Well people would prefer color if they could get it, every techie in the ebook world is wistfully awaiting the day that a high quality color e-reader is released.


I always heard everything old will be new again growing up, but as I age is interesting to see it actually happen.


It's missing a single feature. That's a really low bar for old being new again.


why? was there a epaper kind of display whenever you were younger? or are you comparing this to monochrome light emitting displays?


The Atari ST's late 80s monochrome CRT looked a bit like an eink display, with no discernible flicker even at 72 Hz. It certainly looked very different from a 72 Hz colour CRT displaying a monochrome image. I think it used a different type of phosphor.


You’d need much lower than 72 hz for you to notice flicker. Regular VGA was 60 hz. Amiga interlace had noticeable flicker with an effective rate of 25 to 30 hz.


This is biology-dependent. With CRTs, I could detect flicker all the way up to 85Hz* (where it vanished for me). Made it a real pain to find a good monitor.

* Hitachi 21" CRT which seemed enormous at the time


You are right. Perhaps I should've phrased it as "most people need..."

The Amiga interlace flicker was bothersome to me. When I got an Amiga 3000 with the built in deinterlacer / flicker fixer, it was like night and day...


I am at dismay how few high resolution grayscale LCDs are left there, let alone good reflective ones.

Now, they actually cost more than 20 years ago.


Wgat was used in the olpc xo-1? The reflective mode looked really, really nice.


The Pixel Qi transreflective LCD. By Mary Lou Jepsen. I recall being able to easily read websites in direct noonday sun.


First colour monitor I had was orange, light orange, dark orange and very dark orange - a CGA laptop from my dads work. I remember Railroad Tycoon Ran with option 5,1,2 but Civilisation would have to wait a few years for the full blown desktop 286 (12Mhz, 1M ram and a full 40MB hard drive!)


Sounds like a gas plasma display.


No, it’s a plain CRT.

Monochrome CRTs can use any color for the phosphor, and cheap displays usually used some variant of green or orange.


Laptop, it wasnt a CRT

Like this

https://gtello.pagesperso-orange.fr/t3200_e.htm


Thanks. I'd said gas plasma because it can be really orange, where the common CRT color is more amber/yellow than orange.


Here is a video where Dasung presents their product: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9qrURPAtnY


Thanks, none of those Chinese links were working for me. The refresh rate is better than I expected but I kinda like color. We’re a few years out for me it seems :/


Try to refresh/reload after opening them, they don't seem to like external referers. Or copy the link to a new tab, that's a more reliable way on any browser.


I think I could deal with monochrome for coding. But these monitors are still way too expensive for me, if they retailed for less than ~1k$ I'd consider it.


I’m sure I’ll just be told how stupid and wrong I am... but I like colors for coding. I think it’s important to quickly see keywords vs variables vs functions vs comments vs preprocessor.


Oh I like colors too, don't get me wrong, I just think I'd be willing to compromise for the comfort of using an e-ink display.

And you don't have to drop all highlighting altogether: you still gave greyscale, underlining, font weight, italics etc... You'll just have to be a little more creative.


I think a couple different grayscale values with different font styles could work fine for coding keywords/variables/comments, but I really would like to know the native refresh rate.

Kindles have only gotten cheaper over time, so I don't see why e-ink monitors can't do the same.


> But these monitors are still way too expensive for me

I will never be an early adopter for that precise reason. I _do_ think the monitors look quite lovely but I am not interested in a product with such a hefty price tag while being made in China. (Full disclosure, I will go out of my way to avoid Chinese products even if the price tag is more reasonable.) That being said, I would pay $1k for a 13" monitor made in Germany, Europe, Japan or USA.


Not sure of the exact reason you would do so, though if it's about the quality then you may realize that we're not living in the 2000s anymore and there are rises and falls in terms of product quality of a nation's industry. Japanese products were known for being cheap and unreliable until international brands like Sony started to come up. China is also going through this process and brands like Huawei and Xiaomi are already trusted by many international consumers.

Also an irony of you mentioning Germany is that many German companies have actually been bought up by Chinese capital in the recent years.


> Not sure of the exact reason you would do so

Rampant human rights abuses. As long as the CCP is in power in China, I do not feel comfortable buying Chinese products.

> Also an irony of you mentioning Germany is that many German companies have actually been bought up by Chinese capital in the recent years.

That affects none of the companies I value, though.


Then you need to go for the "13 inch one


I considered it but it's a little too small for my taste.


They get on to moving images about 2 min in here https://youtu.be/A9qrURPAtnY?t=110


From the Chinese poster, it says the price is 1XXX9 CNY (it's intentionally written this way to build up expectations), which ranges from $1530 to $3050.


So next week I expect to see the wall-mounted, mahogany bezeled version that refreshes the front page of the NYT or the Times of India each hour. Perfect gift for that person who has everything.

(From a thread a month or so ago, where someone did this as a maker, now it's much more commercially viable)


The Visionect one is around the same price as this but substantially larger - https://www.visionect.com/product/place-and-play-32/ - I think this is what the person used the other day

It's essentially plug-and-play - no major technical skill required to use it


Refresh rate: 750 ms (4 bit full screen) / 100 ms (1 bit partial)

Doesn't seem to be in the same league if we factor in refresh rates. Doesn't seem to be usable as a monitor.

But it would perfectly work for refreshing a newspaper every hour. :)


Yes but the Dasung monitor is much faster


I bought a current model on Amazon, about 6 months ago, but was really disappointed. I have a rooted Nook Glowlight, years old, yet I find it much better.

The Dasung had several 'modes' you could choose, but none worked well. Worse, their software is closed source, is fairly buggy, and requires root for zero reason. I felt very uncomfortable about installing it, and didn't.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Paperlike/comments/au0yuc/dasung_on...

Without the software installed, you have to manually hit the 'refresh' button. This is done to clear up errant pixels aka a screen flash. Yet the refresh process was slow, so to test, rather than let their questionable software do it, I hit the manual button on the monitor.

The flash on/off was highly annoying, and I couldn't imagine reading text, coding, working this way once the software was installed.

Customer service from dasung was non-existent. I had to return it.

I so much want an e-ink display.


There is many hacks to make Dasung work for you: https://forum.ei2030.org/t/best-dasung-eink-monitor-setup/42...


Yes it definitely can't be a monitor - it doesn't accept any kind of video input, syncs over wifi etc.


> It's essentially plug-and-play

Doesn’t it require a cloud service subscription to drive, or failing that, locally hosting their cloud service to drive?


Here's the link to said HN thread:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25063726


and here I would be happy with a wall just playing old fashioned static and then position furniture in front of it as if it were an ordinary wall.

I am just reminded of various sci fi type shows and movies where the outside world was simply a colorful screen that changed periodically if at all. this type of use could make even the most boxed in apartments much more livable





I have their not-eReader (a tablet sized e-ink display) and it's really nice. I usually have it connected as secondary monitor to my laptop and placed in a small arm/stand next to it. Often, I read docs like man pages or API docs on it while coding. This generally works really well with the included HDMI+USB cable. Sometimes I also read news websites on it and use it as an eReader for "regular" books. It has a sort of custom Android on it and one can install quite a few apps on it as well (e.g. to watch YouTube---yes, not perfect, but surprisingly well). The refresh rate is indeed really nice.


I have one of those, I have not determined how to effectively use it.

As well as one of the USB dasung paperlike screens. Unfortunately accessing the software and use on modern windows and mac os seems impossible.


How well does it handle PDFs?


Very well. PDF is the easiest task.


How funny we are in awe of cyberpunk gibsonian minority report holo interface but what we want is the closest thing to paper possible.

I want a second generation screen :).


Then again, paper that can be updated is an ancient sci-fi trope, so perhaps it's not so ironic.


Retention is better with paper.


But does that translate to eink? Based on my experience with studying and notetaking, I think retention is better with paper because it's an object you're interacting with. The fact that text (whether I'm reading or writing it) is on a static location relative to the world seems to give it some extra anchor in my memory. Assuming I'm not completely imagining that effect, then an eink monitor wouldn't have any of those benefits.


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