Some of the posts planned for the series are: Dasung Paperlike HD-FT teardown, Thinkpad T480 teardown, Creating the prototype, Installing and configuring NixOS, M-x e-ink-laptop-mode
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out.
Thank you for writing it up.
I look forward to your project as well. Best of luck!
Have you experimented with the Dasung Display much? I tried one and found it too noisy at displaying text.
Admittedly it was just connected to a Mac, but it deterred me from keeping hold of it.
Also - does ‘M-x e-ink-laptop-mode’ refer to a real thing, or is that a placeholder for something you are going to write?
I've used the monitors for a few years now, and some adjustments need to be made and vary on the operating system used, the fonts/text being one of the settings to change.
The M-x e-ink-laptop-mode, was about emacs. I spend most of my time in emacs, and I intend to write an "eink-laptop-mode" that adjusts color, text, makes it more suitable for writing, etc.
I found the Mac desktop didn’t work particularly well. I was considering trying a text only setup - e.g. Linux with i3, but never got around to it.
> The M-x e-ink-laptop-mode, was about emacs. I spend most of my time in emacs, and I intend to write an "eink-laptop-mode" that adjusts color, text, makes it more suitable for writing, etc.
That’s what I guessed. I agree e-ink needs software adaptation to get the best out of it.
Congrats on the build and write up, it looks awesome and I'll be following your posts!
I did a screen conversion on a thinkpad t430s which I still have (not Eink, just a better LCD). Do you know of any 16:9 eink displays that take eDP as input? Or anything that would fit in a 14” chassis?
Just beginning to get into the eink world so some direction would be super helpful. Would definitely be up for swapping one into my thinkpad.
The complaints of the article ends with any Linux distribution and docker. I'm not sure which distributions would use docker in their own porting process. Most distributions have a huge distinction between users and maintainers and probably no one who is a target of that article is aware of the pains of maintaining a Linux distribution when they agree traditional distributions are fun.
Scrolling is pretty much worse case. The more of the display you repaint the longer it's going to take.
There's also a trade off...getting faster refresh means worse resolution and contrast.
Sadly doesn’t look like the spin off company producing the displays went anywhere :(
It is certainly possible, just not a popular demand for most laptops.
It'd be interesting to see what the battery life of an e-ink laptop actually is. A laptop with the battery life of a kindle seems like an impossible dream
The setup I’ve been thinking of putting together is similar, except I’ve been wanting to pair an e-ink monitor with something like a Raspberry Pi 400 (https://www.raspberrypi.org/products/raspberry-pi-400) for a kind of deliberately-slow, ultra-low-wattage dev and writing environment. End result would be extremely goofy I imagine, but that’s also part of the reason I want to do it!
Anyways, excited to see the rest of your posts on the project :)
I love your idea for creating "a deliberately-slow, ultra-low-wattage dev and writing environment." Keep me posted on it! It sounds like it would rock!
Where are the e-ink knockoffs? What sort of enforcement are these folks doing that nobody else seems to be able to?
And consumers are fairly satisfied with devices that get charged once every day, and can take a 15 minute quick-charge to add multiple hours of additional usage to them.
As noted, we already have e-ink phones that can do both colour and video, while there is some ghosting it's getting to the point of usable. Just need a big display to match it.
eInk's primary advantages are power (and only if your idle period is long enough; if you have to update it with any frequence you're going to lose pretty soon to a memory LCD); and angles/polarity (specially compared to LCD), which some people also claim produces less headaches.
The company also doesn't exist and only produced 10" 1024x600 screens, which are barely usable. If you know of another usable product, or have anything to back up your claims, please do share.
I also have the Metawatch. These are purely reflective, not transflective. They boast whopping 20:1 contrast ratios -- https://www.sharpsma.com/products?sharpCategory=Memory%20LCD... . Even at its best days (carta) eInk didn't reach that 15:1 https://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/E_Ink_Carta , and nowadays it's more like 10:1.
I've owned two devices with them so far, and quite frankly the newer one works just as well (if not better) than E-Ink outdoors but still has a backlight when necessary. Also, it can display color and smooth motion. The minor downside I see is the lack of an ability to display an image with zero battery consumption, such as on E-Ink, but the consumption is still so low that the transflective LCD watches can last weeks with an always-on display.
With the refresh rate of e-ink, wouldn't the google play store be useless anyway? Most apps would be unbearable (games a non-starter, scrolling a no-no, etc).
Everybody would like a Ferrari/Rolex/etc., but they don't get cheaper because of it. In fact, high demand combined with a monopoly means you don't need to lower prices at all. (You lower price to raise demand, but you don't need to if you have strong demand at your current prices).
Competition does lower prices. And with patents competition is impossible. As if for a competitor to make improvements to the process/technology, while still using parts of it (they would still infringe).
In my experience in the display industry, the main driver of price is cost and the main driver of cost is volume. If a customer puts in a signed escrowed order for a million displays lilke what Apple did, then processes get scaled, factories get built, and per-unit prices go down.
That my understanding of how 6" matrix E-Ink displays went from costing thousands of dollars per display when they were being built in low volumes of hundreds of displays to costing sub-50 when they were being built for Sony, Amazon and others in volumes of hundreds of thousands of displays. The same is true of the LCD industry and the OLED industry. The same is true of the cellphone industry.
> And with patents competition is impossible
I can't understand what exactly you're talking about. Is this the E-Ink-is-expensive-because-of-patents trope? I've asked before whenever I see this trope on HN, what specific patent are you referring to? Patent thicket? This extraordinary claim requires evidence. I go to SID, never heard anyone claiming this kind of stuff. Tonnes of competition but physics, featureset, costs, volume, customer demand gets in the way. It is why even well funded companies like Liquavista-Amazon and Mirasol-Qualcom didn't make it.
I'm talking about exactly this: if a company holds patents on a technology, other companies can't improve the same technology (using parts of the patented tech and improving specific aspects with inventions of their own) without licensing it.
>This extraordinary claim requires evidence.
Nothing extraordinary, and it's not about E-ink being cheap or expensive, it's just an invariant where there are patents.
You're making a claim equivalent to saying Microsoft holds patents on operating system technologies, other companies can't improve the same technology.
I'm guessing you're not actually involved in the display industry because you chose not to reply with a clearly defined specific problem that is blocked by patents. I actually work in the display industry so I just see the repetition and self-citation claims (OP's article refers to yet another HN throwaway post) on HN as being disappointing.
No, I'm stating the fact that other companies can't improve the same exact technology (as defined in the patent).
If Microsoft has patents on aspects X, Y, Z of filesystems, other companies can still make filesystems, even improved ones.
But they can't make a filesystem that also leverages X, Y, Z (or any combination of them) unless they license, and also can't make a filesystem with an improved version of X, Y, or Z lest they infringe on the X, Y, Z pattent.
So this isn't about other companies still being able to make improved eg. OSes in the general sense, but if they can build improved OSes that also leverage the same patented techniques where needed (and they can't).
That's equivalent to saying Samsung can't improve the same exact technology used by AU Optronics. Rightfully so.
> So this isn't about other companies still being able to make improved eg. OSes in the general sense, but if they can build improved OSes that also leverage the same patented techniques where needed (and they can't)
I think I've explained my point clearly enough. I'll wait for you to give some factual evidence as to which patent you believe is giving rise to your statement of "they can't".
Well, that "rightly so" is where we disagree - and what patents were made to provide. If you are pro-patent, then that's that.
:-) I wouldn't describe myself as pro-patent. I would say I'm pro-fair play. If Alice spends years in front of a fume hood developing a new ITO coating or polymer that reduces cost and improves manufacturability of a product, then she deserves to be protected from corporate VP Big Bob getting his engineer to just reverse engineer Alice's work. If you agree that Alice's work deserves some protection for some period of time, then we both share the same concept of right/wrong. Whether patents are the best way, and how they can be made more effective and less vulnerable to turkeys and vultures, is a discussion we could have in good faith. But at the very least we would need to base the discussion on facts rather than what I see in some other posts (not alleging you have done this) where they're writing Kiplingesque just-so stories to explain display product pricing while not knowing the difference between ITO and AgNP.
Thanks for having some persecution syndrome or conspiracy theory about "the downvote brigade" and about me having "some other agenda for promoting this story".
In actually, I don't give a duck about the E-ink industry, but I do dislike the effect patents have in general, and am talking out of general principles about that.
You might be happy with E-ink patents in particular or patens in general. You might also be an E-ink industry insider (wouldn't that make you the one that is more possible to have an "agenda" ot at least a vested interest?), and have far more information that me, a mere e-ink consumer, about the impact of patents there.
You could still respond (or not respond) on a thread about the impact on patents (on e-ink and in general) without being rude and second-guessing the other person.
How about that?
I have not read such claims. What I have read are individual small-scale customers approaching base layer producers like E-Ink and being disappointed after expecting assistance in getting their product ideas to market. That's analogous to a 10,000 unit/month or less customer approaching say a liquid crystal supplier, or AU Optronics and expecting any form of support or assistance. The outcome of such an interaction is pretty much guaranteed. Even the top tier distributors won't talk to you unless you're expected to order at least 100,000 units a year. Anything less and you go through the normal OEM development path of which there's tonnes of partners. You do what everybody else who has a display product idea does, which is go to SID or maybe just CES, and talk to OEM vendors. If you've got an E-Ink product idea, probably somebody like Netronix would be your OEM partner but even they probably won't talk to you unless you're putting down big NRE. That's just how it is. Volume drives the products. You can't have small volume and cheap unless you're reusing some component that someone else has driven the volume for. That's just as true in the display industry as it is in any other tech industry, eg: LCDs, OLEDs, CPUs, memory, sensors, even passives like resistors and capacitors!
I don't follow. I also don't see how it is different than any other industry be it bricks or CPUs. Buy a few and the per unit price is high. Buy millions and the per unit price is low.
> Of course you'll give me wholesale pricing on volume in any market.
> But are product creators scared off when a big part of each unit's cost will go to license the screen technology?
I keep seeing this claim. I believe it is wrong and asked for evidence. In response to which OP has promised to correct the article. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26247268
Which companies / patents did they buy up? I keep seeing this rumor floating around but their Wikipedia article lists exactly one acquisition (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E_Ink#Acquisition) and a casual Google doesn't show any others.
I am curious if you work in the display industry. Do you know what the pricing for PQi displays actually was? Did you actually use a PixelQi display on a daily basis yourself? To be clear, I'm not attempting to be negative, but I actually work in the display industry and found the PixelQi display on the OLPC-XO-1 to be unusable. My perception of the display was one with very low quality color with backlight; and terrible viewing angle and unreadable contrast levels in bright sunlight. It also had low resolution. The XO-1 display I had access to had lots of pixel defects. If I am not mistaken (as I do not know actual pricing that Quanta got for the PixelQi displays) they were more expensive than LCDs and required additional parts that made managing their supply chain overall difficult. Most experts in my industry that I talked to expressed the opinion that it was a reality-distortion field type charismatic executive who managed to convince people at OLPC to try that idea. It was funded by UN and money from developing countries budgets who were excited by the promise of being able to educate their masses. Sadly it looks as if those countries were taken for a ride, rather than benefiting from a genuinely merit based idea.
So I am very interested to hear what details you will share to back up the "really good" and "clearly affordable" parts of your claim. If your claim is true then it would suggest that my whole industry ought to abandon our current design and architectural roadmaps and switch to Jepsen's design! :-D I say that in a humourous context because last I heard in 2019 Jepsen abandoned badmouthing the entire display industry and switched to talking about telepathy and VR.
I'll paste what I last commented about this because I'm already giving up trying to get any form of sane discussion on it.
As I have stated, I was looking for evidence or proof for OP's claim about patents and did not find it, nor does OP appear to be able or willing to back up his/her claim. My opinion is that display pricing is driven primarily by volume, and secondarily by a lot of other rapidly fluctuating variables related to ITO/TFT manufacturing costs. I'm sure patents has some effect on the industry, but most likely negligible as I've never heard companies being impacted by it. At least not in my corner of the industry.
To be frank, I believe OP's claim about patents is wrong and is just some kind of worldview that for some reason has caught on recently in HN and is getting repeated without being challenged.
The simplest evidence I can give that volume is the main driver of pricing is to compare EPD 6" matrix display pricing between 2007 where it was 100x more expensive than it is today. Patents haven't changed. Volume has. That was driven by large scale buyers like Sony, Amazon, and others.
What's next, people will continue to repeat this bullshit while citing this article as source? Will we go full circle?
It seems kind of obvious to me that if it was cheaper people would reach for it more often and find cool uses for it. There’s some more circular logic for you.
But the drivers sucked and the screen was too small and you want to have a white background text editor just for the eink screen. Switch that to the wrong screen and you're suddenly blinded.
Was fun, but I wouldn't recommend it. Making everything dark mode is easier, or keeping screen brightness super low is the easier option.
Huh? Don't matter to you, or don't matter so much to you?
Because I get annoyed, when there is a system stutter and I am editing text, because then the edits are not always where they should be.
Your issue (which I agree is mildly annoying) is about inconsistency.
I'd mostly emacs in it, which seems pretty suitable for e-ink displays.
How does that relate to greyscale with multiple configurations and how does ClearInk manage pixel state?
You could make a rear “shield” that connects to the monitor via VESA. The shield could hold the the Rpi, batteries, and an adjustable kick stand. You’d connect a keyboard via USB.
The upcoming Quartz64  mentioned in the article might simplify this, thanks to the included ePD connector. Unfortunately I haven’t been super impressed with my PineBook Pro. Mostly the suspend bug is annoying.
Maybe a luggable form factor and e-ink display would help, since there’s no lid to close and the low-draw display can stay on longer without killing the battery.  https://www.makeuseof.com/quartz64-e-ink-sbc/
If that work involves scrolling or anything like that, I imagine those "4 straigt hours" having the productivity of 30 minutes in a regular display.
Also note my tech EDC/emergency kit at https://imgur.com/a/xmRmYSn which also uses a Dasung device, the 7.8" not-eReader as an external monitor to an also 7" laptop.
Also note Dasung within the next few months intends to start shipping in China at least a 25.3" eInk monitor.
But it was fun to write in direct sunlight, in just a slightly less of a hipster fashion than using i.e. https://getfreewrite.com/ :D
I think the lack of syntax highlighting is going to be the major hindrance for me moving forwards.
I find even with its top end refresh rate, it still is hard to get into a good workflow with it, but it is possible.
I in many ways prefer the ReMarkable, but the Lumi does have a lot of features for different use-cases, like using as external monitor.
(I never worked on it, no skin in the game)
Could it easily be grafted onto something like a RasPi, maybe with a mechanical keyboard and trackpad and lots of Li cells?
I did find people who cheated and used X $DISPLAY. I don't think thats quite the goal here :-)