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I made an eInk newspaper (gregraiz.com)
547 points by graiz 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 211 comments

That's funny -- I just did the same thing! We both must have read that same earlier post about using Visionect to display the NYT and ran out and ordered one.

I didn't get a chance to write it up yet but here's my software https://github.com/elidickinson/newsvision

I skipped the HTML renderer and used the python library to push image data right to the display's frame buffer. Seems simpler if you're doing the hard work of turning it into an image yourself anyway. I also grabbed the full list of newspapers and used imagemagick to annotate each image with the paper name and location. It's a little hacky, but seems to work.

It's admittedly an expensive display, but it really is very well made piece of hardware.

The earlier post, if I’m not mistaken: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25063726

Yes exactly. There was also this one prior where the author built the panel/frame themselves: https://onezero.medium.com/the-morning-paper-revisited-35b40...

Yes. The hardware looks great.

Some other ideas: overlay additional data or insert other screens in the rotation like a local weather map and bus times. Add another mode to display portraits or fine art. I also want to try different dithering and scaling techniques to see if I can get the text crisper.

I also think it’d be neat to make an alexa skill for it so you could issue voice commands. Maybe have it show the song and artist data for what’s playing on Spotify.

I thought about this. It would be a throwback to Pointcast (Circa 1990) for anyone who remembers that. They did the same thing... news, weather, stocks on a rotating schedule.

> the python library to push image data right to the display's frame buffer

How are you doing this? It looks like you’re pushing it to their cloud service (or your local docker copy, if configured as such)

I’m using their cloud hosting now (I think it’s free for the first month) but it would work the same once I’m self hosting the Visionect server. Just change the url to push to localhost and run both containers on the same box. Should be low overhead with the HTML rendering disabled. Could run it on a cheap cloud server or I’ll probably use an old laptop on the local network.

I didn’t understand going through HTML to render it with a headless browser instead of rendering the PDF directly with Ghostscript or something like that.

2 reasons I'd use HTML

1. I'm taking untrusted PDFs and running them on my machine. Using something like say puppeteer that PDF renderer runs in a sandbox. Ghostscript, not so much. PDFs can have code in them

2. Using HTML via puppeteer lets me render tons of other things I might want to render than just PDFs. Plenty if beautiful algorithmic art out there that runs in a browser.

I used poppler-utils but the OP apparently used imagemagick on PDFs directly which I didn’t know was possible.

(To be fair the device does HTML rendering by default and the API for pushing images isn’t super obvious)

Thanks for posting. I didn't see a way to post directly to the display. I'll have to dig into.

For those who own a reMarkable tablet, you can get a similar effect on your suspend screen by running remarkable-news[0]. When suspended, power consumption is very low (idle) and the screen is not powered, making it ideal for static content.

[0] https://github.com/Evidlo/remarkable_news

I have reMarkable tablet, but I have not installed anything. What is a chance of bricking the device by doing so? I also found that I can't really write any notes with it as it is not encrypted, so now it is just a - oh irony - a paperweight for me. I should have done more research before buying. Is it possible to encrypt the notes?

Good news is that you can't trully brick a reMarkable v1 unless you break the hardware. I 'bricked' my reMarkable v1 before and used a tool to boot the CPU into recovery mode to load a new kernel over the usb port[1].

Using this mode, I was able to unbrick it but it's a complex process so it's not for the faint of heart. It's still good to know that with enough elbow grease, you can always unbrick a remarkable.

[1] https://github.com/boundarydevices/imx_usb_loader

As much as I like to Encrypt All The Things™, unless you're concerned about somebody stealing the physical device, you don't need to encrypt it.

It should be possible to set up an encrypted directory with something like FUSE (though afaik FUSE doesn't run on the reMarkable), though. https://github.com/evidlo/remarkable_entware lets you install fstools.

I would like to read and scribble on work documents (personal data, confidential documentation and so on) and regardless whether the device could be stolen or data unencrypted landed on rM servers, if there was a leak no insurer would help with that in terms of recovering losses. It is just not possible to use for business as potential for the damage huge. Now I am not sure why would I take any chances even with personal notes, not to mention loading any personal documents on it and who knows who looks at it when they land on the cloud unencrypted. It takes only one disgruntled employee.

It wouldn't be as nice as an e-ink device, but the Surface is pretty nice for doodling on PDFs.

User friendly encryption is being worked on: https://github.com/toltec-dev/toltec/pull/318

This is awesome. Thanks for the headsup

I've always thought the future of newspapers was an iPad sized e-ink reader. One cheap enough for papers to give away to their subscribers. Yet it hasn't happened and I'm left wondering why?

I think it's because the newspaper industry has tunnel vision. You might ask what about newspaper apps on phones? First it isn't an ideal screen size for a newspaper. Second they only show a fraction of the articles. They also keep articles on their scroll for days and days. I don't know about you but I don't chose a digital delivery to get days old stories.

I think the industry needs a well funded disruptor. Living in Michigan I can tell you that without Elon Musk we'd never be moving toward battery powered automobiles. I've dealt with Gannett's customer service and I have come away convinced that they hate their customers.

Putting cost aside, I think it's, first, because people don't want a separate device just for newspapers. That's just clutter. I want to read my news on the same device I read magazine articles and novels and blogs.

And second, while e-ink devices are really great at sequential reading -- page after page of a novel -- they're not that great at browsing lots of articles, picking the ones you're interested in, just because the refresh rate and scrolling is awfully slow.

Most people aren't bothered about reading news on their phone at all. It really is an ideal screen size for accessing bite-sized pieces of news throughout the day when we have short breaks, which honestly is how most people do it these days.

If you want leisurely long-form journalism over breakfast, you're really only looking at the Sunday paper, or certain weekly magazines. And so you can splurge to get those on actual paper, or else curl up with your iPad or Kindle.

And organizations like the NYT have adapted the format of certain stories to be tablet/computer friendly.

Honestly the lets have a digital newspaper that imitates the form of a paper newspaper is going back to how people were thinking in the late 90s (fishwrap I think? out of MIT). I honestly don't even reach for my tablet all that much because I'm already on my phone or a laptop.

I do like e-ink for flowing text reading and I have a Kindle but I don't have any interest in a different tablet that's just for newspapers absent the newer more dynamic features.

>in the late 90s (fishwrap I think? out of MIT)

That's a project I haven't heard mentioned in a long while! We're both getting old though... Fishwrap is from the early 90s... got started in 1993 and the main paper on it was published in 1995.

It wasn't too long ago that people said they didn't want to read books digitally, but the Kindle seems to be doing fine.

The newspaper business model is broken. At the rate of decline we will be left with at most a half dozen newspapers in this country. There are many places I can get national news, but only one or two places that I can get local news.

If you eliminate the cost of printing and distribution you can charge less enabling more subscribers and make a profit all without any advertising. Add in a small amount of ads and you can charge less enabling even more subscribers.

Even more important those ads can be targeted. Why should an East side business pay for distribution of their ad to an entire metro area?

But lots of good reporters cost money. Add in the cost of giving away digital devices and it's not a business that can be bootstrapped.

If printing and distribution were the only issue, we'd be awash in local news online whether ad-supported or behind paywalls. The town where I live has effectively zero local news available online unless there's something significant enough to (rarely) hit a local news aggregator in the state. Having a dedicated eink reader isn't going to change that.

My small town's local newspaper died because they were trying to pay college-educated people (with student loan debt) minimum wage. Nope. Not gonna fly even in a small town with low cost of living. Also, they had horrific customer service for many years.

One could make the same argument for why Kindle would never work: people don’t want a separate device just for books. I think it’s more a matter of preference and how optimized a medium is for a type of content. Provide enough benefit and people will gladly have another device.

I for one would be quite interested in a separate device just for newspapers, something that has absolutely no other functions (other than perhaps a built-in glossary) and allows me to just catch up on news as a deliberate action, without getting drawn into various rabbit holes.

It’s the e-ink patent problem. Nothing innovative is happening because of the e-ink parent company.

> It’s the e-ink patent problem. Nothing innovative is happening because of the e-ink parent company.

I guess I give up fighting this trope and I get downvoted even when I politely request a citation to backup such a strong claim. I'll join you then. How about: " Yes, all problems are due to patents. It can't possibly be due to low volume and low demand for these types of displays. It has to be patents. Wipe out all patents and et voila , we'll have 10 cent priced 32 inch bistable displays from all the vendors like eink, clearink, and liquavista, Iridigm will all come back to life and the laws of physics and manufacturing economics will bend to the will of HN posters."

According the founder of the company making the eInk display used in the post we're talking about https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25067359

> I hate to say it, but the only way we could have brought the price down with current quantities is if we built an inferior product as the price right now is the function of Bill-of-Materials.

Doesn't sound like patents is the problem

Please don't start with this BS again. Every time e-ink is mentioned in this forum, the same. There is absolutely no proof that e-Ink is boycotting their own business, much less using patents. There are eInk devices and manufacturers to spare.

eInk is just expensive to manufacture.

Personally I think there is just no demand.

You could build a large reflective LCD for a fraction of the price; you would have none of the problems of eInk -- such as the bad refresh rate -- and users have a hard time distinguishing an eInk panel from a reflective-LCD panel anyway (see the Pebble). Even accounting for the energy consumption it would probably be a close call in cost, unless you plan on updating the panel only a couple times per week. The fact that no one of the LCD panel manufacturers are doing this even with leftovers from other production lines just shows how little demand there is, outside of HN-welcome hobbyist projects and other low-power areas such as smartwatches.

The "e-ink patent" trope here is very suspicious. I understand that many people on HN think all intellectual property is bad and would love to throw away parts the U.S. Constitution that provide for that. (Curiously HN gets people who want to be as rich as Elon Musk, but don't think anything should cost money!)

But why the obsessive focus on e-ink? This isn't some silly "click a button" software patent. This is a real "invention" that involves complex physics, material science, and expensive specialized manufacturing lines. If anything seems like an "invention" of the sort that the framers of the constitution had in mind, this does.

So I must believe that the mention of "patents" whenever e-ink is mentioned is some sort of coordinated FUD attack by a competitor or someone with some sort of agenda.

I agree with your conclusion that the reason e-ink seems expensive is lack of demand. More demand could drive production efficiencies and scale.

I think that, in the e-ink case, the monopoly price is outweighting the benefit for society that the monopoly grant brought. I agree it's not a frivolous one, but whatever licensing they do so others can use their tech, seems to be both restrictive and onerous.

> Curiously HN gets people who want to be as rich as Elon Musk, but don't think anything should cost money!

Those are different people, just both using HN

What exactly is patented? Really, nobody else can make e-ink? It doesn't seem like this idea is in any way original.

You can easily search US Patents here: http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html

> Really, nobody else can make e-ink? It doesn't seem like this idea is in any way original.

I must be stupid, because the implementation of e-ink certainly seems novel, original, and useful to me! I would never have thought of it, nor did I see it before I saw the first e-ink display:

Here's a description:

     Small capsules filled with a clear fluid containing tiny particles, each about as wide as a human hair.

    Each electronic paper display is made up of millions of such capsules in a thin film, with the particles inside the capsules of different colors and different electric charges. Electrodes are placed above and below the capsule film. When a positive or negative electric field is applied to an individual electrode, the color particles with the corresponding charge will move either to the top or bottom of a capsule, making the surface of the e-paper display appear a certain color

The idea was around since 70s https://www.wired.com/1997/05/ff-digitalink/

Just because people had money to implement it, does not mean it should not be available for anyone else. It seems the patents are used to protect investments of privileged people and that's wrong.

It's in the U.S. Constitution. So implementing your ideal would take quite a bit of doing. What are you proposing? That the State control all labor and property?

I understand that now nobody can make e-ink display without paying fees, which I find insane as it is not an original idea. Something that anyone researching the field could come up with shouldn't be patentable. Currently the system favours the rich and promotes walled gardens.

> I understand that now nobody can make e-ink display without paying fees, which I find insane as it is not an original idea

What exactly do you mean when you say "make e-ink display"? That's exactly like saying "nobody can make Microsoft operating system without paying fees". E-Ink is a company that makes lots of different types of displays that vary hugely. Do you mean an electrophoretic display or bistable displays? If yes, then you're quite mistaken because there have been and are lots of companies and startups making bistable displays. E-ink is just the most well known one. Others like Clearink have been winning awards at display shows but have not yet been able to scale their tech successfully. If no, then what exactly are you talking about?

> which I find insane as it is not an original idea.

Your point would be strengthened if you had been able to accurately explain what "idea" you're actually talking about.

> Something that anyone researching the field could come up with shouldn't be patentable. Currently the system favours the rich and promotes walled gardens.

Please try to explain yourself better please. I work in the display industry and I've never heard this from industry insiders. Since you think there is a walled garden, tell us, what specific patent (since you mentioned a patent) is blocking you from building your display product? If you try to reply with responses like "all their patents" or "patent thickets" then it will be clear you're not actually walled out of anything.

I think I got mislead by the original comment - thank you for explaining that to me. I don't have a horse in e-ink race, but the interesting patent I came across recently is this one: https://patents.google.com/patent/US20170060527A1/en It's a good example how obvious things get patented these days. Essentially if you want to do a circuit simulation of an electronic device, to make it more realistic you of course want to simulate real world values of components and not the nominal ones in the schematic. Someone else who I showed it to said that they essentially patented Monte Carlo method...

But we're talking about e-Ink displays here, and not "Digital emulation of an analog device with tolerance modeling"

And every time there's an e-Ink thread here, a chorus of people chime in and say "Damn Patents! If it weren't for patents, and that pesky U.S. Constitution, everyone would have e-Ink!"

> It doesn't seem like this idea is in any way original.

Good thing ideas aren't patentable then!

Cell phones have tens of thousands of patents. Yet the innovations keep coming.

> Yet it hasn't happened and I'm left wondering why?

I thought it had to do more with the patents on a lot of the e-ink technology? I've been waiting for a proper e-ink monitor that wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg for years.

You and me both. Maybe it's demand that will drive down the price. Now, if you and I each buy one ... I will if you will.


> I've always thought the future of newspapers was an iPad sized e-ink reader. One cheap enough for papers to give away to their subscribers. Yet it hasn't happened and I'm left wondering why

There simply aren't any anywhere near that cheap, especially not that big. Besides, everyone in the market for newspapers already has a smartphone or tablet, and those are better at displaying ads, video, etc. The breadth of articles shown is probably of low concern to the newspaper, or they would have fixed it.

I suspect that the digital news industry is dealing with a similar thing to the streaming industry: Everyone wants to run directly to customers, so customers need to subscribe to every newspaper and magazine they want to see, individually.

I subscribe to two digital newspapers. I'd subscribe to a lot more, if they were bundled into aggregators (that didn't push worthless sports pages on customers, like cable systems do).

When Apple came out with their AppleNews+, I thought that was it, but then I saw that they don't actually have much that I want.

Both streamers and news organizations need to get their shit together, and bundle. I don't see that happening, any time soon, so the options are still dealing with a Balkanized media scene.

The problem is likely related to the one with video. Sure, I can give you an aggregated subscription but it will cost you $1,000+ per year. How many people will pay that?

(And that's around what the basic cable TV bundle cost so it's hardly out of line.)

I think that if it replaced cable, and it were billed in a similar manner, a lot of folks would definitely consider it.

The problem with cable, was that horrible "forced" bundling.

Lose that, and it's worth the money.

For video today, you have the a la carte choice. I dropped my cable bundle and spend less per month for better programming. It means I don't have any live TV but it's a reasonable tradeoff for me. I don't really need an aggregator. I have 3 or 4 monthly charges, any of which I can drop at any time and I'm fine with that.

The issue with newspapers/magazines is that there are so many of them and there may be only an article or 2 a month I'm really interested in.

Because it is easier to adapt software to hardware than the opposite.

You'd think there would be e-ink devices aimed at mangas nowadays. But the software was adapted to phone usage, that's how you get webtoons and artists playing with the possibilities given by scrolling.

> I think it's because the newspaper industry has tunnel vision.

I don't know about that. Most people who wants to read the news will often opt for a tablet like the iPad because not only they can read on it, they can also watch videos, send messages, etc.

It's all about maximizing the use of their money with a device that can do as much as possible. I do have an eReader, but compared to tablet owners it's a small market.

The best digital-first news I have seen is https://pudding.cool/ (which is very niche).

As others mentioned, i think the news-tablet is very "take a newspaper and add internet" view when we everyone already has internet connected devices. It almost seems even more tunnel visioned.

To me it seems like they bought regulation so that Google and others will have to pay for posting excerpts. This means probably they'll get enough money to keep the status quo and won't innovate. Why would they? Money will roll in anyway.

To spend $2500 on this is a bit outrageous. You can't carry it with you or fold it up. Who reads a newspaper standing in front of a wall... Unless you're at a urinal?

The price needs to come down to make this useful.

It's $250 a year for a daily paper subscription to the NYT. I could get it for ten years for the cost of this tech.

I would love to have something of this kind as a calendar and agenda on my wall, but as you mentioned the price is currently ridiculously oppressive. Can't wait for the patents to expire so competition in this space becomes viable.

Hello, I work for Visionect, the company that makes the hardware. We have a wireless e-ink based product that does exactly what you want. Check out Joan at https://getjoan.com

Joan doesn’t have the 32” display though, right? I’m in the same boat as GP, but I want the giant display. Pinboard style.

Edit: since they’re the same company, can the Joan software be run on the Visionect hardware?

Hi. Yes, we have a 32" Place&Play product but currently can't be used as a replacement for the Joan product line. On the other hand, we have smaller 13" Joan devices available.

At $899 for a 13" display, the price doesn't seem to scale down well to the smaller area. The 32" display is more than 5 times the area, but less than 3 times the price.

Waveshare has a 13" link display + Raspberry Pi hat for $445. That's pretty bare bones — but you could have a go at DIY and save.

I was referring to the Joan display mentioned, but Waveshare is another interesting option. I assume you're referring to this[0] product, which would still require a Raspberry Pi, so $445 is not the total cost to get something working. Of course still much less than $899 when you throw that in.

[0] https://www.waveshare.com/13.3inch-e-paper-hat.htm

They have many more options. If you go down slightly in size, it's less than half that price: https://www.waveshare.com/product/displays/e-paper.htm

I would love to experiment with some of the hardware, but it is just too crazy expensive. If the company would be willing to part with some blemished, damaged, or returned product or components for a more modest price, I would be happy to buy those. My Gmail username is the same as my HN username.

I love this idea for a lot of things, and I think it beats the "smart mirror" trend in aesthetics and energy, but the price is a definite roadblock.

My understanding is the patents aren’t the major obstacle today. There just isn’t enough volume yet to drive down production cost. LEDs used to be real expensive too.

Which companies other than EInk are making these displays? Displaydata might but I can't tell.

This is the comment I was thinking of from the founder of visionect https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25067824

That's really interesting.

It’s art! It looks great. It happens to also be useful but that’s not the main reason to buy it.

Well, as an actual newspaper indeed this approach is not handy. But if the author of the blog-post is a journalist, editor or a writer (in a newspaper) I totally can see this as a show of his "works" on a wall of fame in his office.

Agree. It's too expensive. I rationalized it as art and less expensive than most NFT's. As an art piece I do expect it to be good discussion piece and the construction makes me think that it'll last for 10 years without issues.

My initial thought was to turn this into a product but the cost of eInk at this size would need to drop to the $500-800 range to make it reasonably viable.

Agree. My thinking was... Hey it's art, somewhat functional, fun and much cheaper and more practical than many NFT's these days.

That said... I did feel a bit price gouged. There's not enough of a market to drive the price down. It's not really a consumer product and the company reached out and was somewhat surprised that I bought one.

> Who reads a newspaper standing in front of a wall... Unless you're at a urinal?

You answered your own question — and I think like that idea a lot.

there are companies making android-powered (not eink, but regular LCD) screen urinals to sell advertising now...


I am not sure this is the future I wanted.

also, how many years until this no longer retrieves security updates, gets pwned, and displays goatse at random intervals?

Oh no, ads! Ruining everything (of course).

It is absolutely ridiculously expensive. You can get an amazing 65" OLED 4K display for that :P

However, maybe he was able to buy it on his company or something.. Part of office decoration expenses? If you're a software integration business I could imagine that would impress potential clients.

I have a 65” 4K OLED. I would not want to use it in this situation with the risk of burn-in from static content. Moreover, any LED consumes way more energy to keep the display always on, and in my mind that quality is a requirement for something like this. (Yes I know the Samsung Frame exists but I don’t think you can customize your content in Art Mode like this)

No, I didn't mean for that purpose.

I just mean it's exceptionally bad price/performance for a display.

I think a Samsung Frame would probably be the closest replacement.

$600 for the 32" version. $1,900 for the 65".

Not really there either. The 32” is 1080 instead of 4K. The cool/warm backlight is nice but you’re still working with a QLED (phosphors respond to a blue backlight, instead of white LED). You’ll still have a bit of black light leak. Still looking for reflective displays, not transmissive.

Is there anything inherent to the manufacture of large eInk displays that causes them to be expensive?

AKA, is this a $2,500 product because it's a niche with comparatively low demand, or would it still cost $2,500 to produce even at much larger volumes?

> AKA, is this a $2,500 product because it's a niche with comparatively low demand, or would it still cost $2,500 to produce even at much larger volumes?

Because it is niche and hand made. You can probably buy the fpl material for dollars per square inch but when you don't have a high volume fully automated factory you'll have yield losses when you laminate with TFT and all the various layers. If everything is fully automated, then yields go from like 10% success to 90% success and prices fall correspondingly. I suspect the unsurmountable problem is more likely to be that large eink displays will never be able to beat large lcd displays so they'll never get to high volume.

I remember reading there was a lot of defects in eInk displays? So the bigger the screen, the bigger the chance of defects, hence the exponential price increase.

The 32 inch e-Ink display costs $2,576. For which you can get an 86 inch 4K HDTV at Costco.

The e-Ink people have got to get their costs down.

> The e-Ink people have got to get their costs down.

I work in the display industry. No vendor can get their cost down unless they're able to get their volumes up to millions of units per quarter. It's a power scaling law. I doubt E-Ink even manages to sell 10,000 32 inch displays per quarter and if I'm not mistaken these backplanes and laminate material are kerfed by hand! Notice that small sized displays on the other hand are much cheaper. As long as there's nobody willing to pony up an order for a million 32 inch displays, the status quo will likely remain the same.

It’s amazing to think about how much everything we use around us may actually cost without volume. Free trade is good stuff but hope we can keep it going for a long time.

Honestly I'm surprised I don't see more instances of the technology being used for things like windows or sunglasses with controllable opacity/tinting. It's a much less price sensitive market at least. I've seen them in practice but it's rare and generally in contexts where I assume it is super duper expensive (like in hotels in Dubai sorts of places).

As far as E-Ink goes, my understanding is that it works by moving charged ink particles from one end of a microscopic capsule to the other, so that white and black particles switch places, resulting in a visible color change. All this is to say that the display surface isn't exactly changing color or opacity, it's just moving it around, so I doubt it could be used to create a surface that goes from transparent to opaque and vice versa.

On the other hand, LCD could be used to create an opacity-changing window, but LCD panels block a lot of light even when they're fully "transparent," which is why they consume so much power (their backlights have to be very bright).

I believe the version I saw uses a polarized filter and some kind of film that works similarly to e-ink to control how much light goes through. They had a White Paper on it called JustTint.

Interesting; found a few words about it here: https://www.eink.com/e-ink-film.html Very curious as to how it works.

They are not the same product though. The e-ink display uses 99% less power than a similarly sized LCD/LED display according to the manufacturer. It would also still work (i.e. display a static page) even with no power.

Yeah, you can turn an e-ink device completely off, unpowered, and it will continues to display whatever was on the screen, unchanged, until you power it and change it. Any moment the display is not actually changing, it can be using zero power. Zero. That's the real amazing thing about e-ink.

Slight topic hijack:

I desperately want an eInk display attached to my computer.

I have amblyopia, and my vision can only be corrected to ~20/50. I develop significant eye strain using normal computer monitors and eInk is much easier on my eyes.

The only monitor-sized eInk display I’m aware of for normal consumers is the 13.3” Onyx Boox Max at nearly $1000.

Does anyone know of a cheaper product out there that would meet my needs?

Dasung is the only manufacturer that's known for producing e-ink monitors but they are not any cheaper:

- Review of Dasung's current generation 13.3" e-ink monitor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AeC3LIFTaho

- Preview video of their upcoming 25.3" e-ink monitor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9qrURPAtnY

If low cost is a priority, previous generations of Dasung's e-ink displays occasionally show up on eBay.

any idea what the 25.3" e-ink monitor will cost?

its €1500 for the 13.3" version, so …


Probably around €3 or 4k then.

Well there is the remarkable[1]. I'm not really sure if it would fit your needs, but It's worth a look imho.

Pro: As you get a root shell by default, it's nicely hackable and costs a lot less than the Onyx Boox Max.

Con: it's only 10.3".

[1]: https://remarkable.com/

Its not much cheaper if you compare to Onyx equivalent - Onyx Boox Note Air or Boox Note 3 which are also 10.3 and run on Android.


I have the 6” Onyx Boox and it definitely runs a weird distribution of Android. I wouldn’t be surprised if you can get root or even bootloader, but I haven’t needed it.

That said, if I buy one in the 10” range, it seems that Onyx hasn’t released modifications to GPL code so Remarkable might be a more ethical choice.

Nope. Large eInk is unfortunately super niche and expensive. Dasung also has eInk products designed to be monitors but they are just as expensive as Boox's stuff while doing less (but they are better as monitors). Since Boox's products are all just Android tablets you could try apps like SpaceDesk to use a cheaper 10" eInk tablet as a monitor which are a fair bit cheaper at ~$500.

If only YC backed tech startups specializing in eInk.

There aren't any cheaper options (e-ink displays are patent encumbered) but Dasung has a similarly priced 13.3" display built with the intention of being used as a monitor if you end up going that route. Even crazier is a 23.5" version they just came out with for just over $3,000.

Does 10" do it for you? At $139 you could use several.


Not a bad deal. Waveshare has the same display + Raspberry Pi hat for a little more (no ESP32 though, it's BYOCPU):


That’s a pretty interesting device - inexpensive enough that maybe I could justify having it on my fridge.

I’ve considered something similar to this — essentially make a matrix like they did in the old days with CRTs.

Maybe a transflective LCD would also be easy on the eyes.


I put a 10" eInk in a picture frame and it looks fantastic. Really waiting for the day when 32" becomes affordable.

WaveShare, come on, I'm looking at you.

I tried this with a Raspberry Pi zero, and I basically couldn't get it to work. I noticed it also got very hot very fast.

Are there any challenges that you ran into while building your project

I used this https://www.waveshare.com/10.3inch-e-Paper-HAT.htm

with a Pi Zero W with no issues other than occasional hangups of the signalling but that was solved with a software watchdog.

Here are some pics of my setup. I had to de-solder the Waveshare header and solder on a 90 degree header to get this to fit in the frame in a low profile. (Ugh I wish things were sold without headers soldered)



As far as getting hot really fast, the first thing I can think of is if you accidentally plugged in the GPIO rotated 180 degrees -- even briefly -- you might have fried one or both boards.

Second thing I can think of, although it's more likely to just damage the e-Ink rather than make things become hot -- is e-Ink displays don't like to be hot-plugged/unplugged -- you should have all the connections plugged in before switching the system on.

Can you set this up as a calendar?

Yeah, but it involves a lot of development. I made this a few months back : https://github.com/ugomeda/esp32-epaper-display

I'm working on a more "user-friendly" version :)

Yeah you can do whatever you want with it, it just displays an image, so as long as you can generate the image you want you can load it up.

Just note that it takes a couple seconds to refresh so don't expect too much in the way of animations.

Very cool! This reminds me a bit of the installation outside UC Berkeley's Free Speech Cafe, where they display the day's issue of about a dozen world newspapers, including one from exactly 100 years ago to the day [1]. (They stopped updating during the pandemic.)

Your project sounds like the perfect piece of technology to add to an installation like this (or to essentially create a new version of it).

[1] https://www.berkeleyside.com/2020/08/07/stop-the-presses-the...

Slight tangent, but Calibre has a feature that lets you download articles from various sites (including news sites) and producing ebooks out of each (daily). When I first bought an ebook reader, this became my primary way of consuming news. I'd connect my ereader to the PC, and download the news. One ebook per newspaper.

It was so much better than reading on the PC. And it looked a lot like a traditional newspaper. No banner ads and pointless links. Just the story with relevant photos in B/W.

Then I stopped reading news. Still have fond memories of reading the news on eInk, though.

Hmmm this seems right up my street.

Do you manually add the pages or can it auto scrape?

The details are here.[1] A third party HOWTO is here.[2]

Calibre has a bunch of "recipes" for some popular news sites. I know I added some of my own. It was not particularly hard, but of course, it breaks when the source makes changes to their site.

You specify the recipes you want and it downloads them periodically.

This link[3] has examples of how it would look on an ereader (it's quite old so it may look different now):

[1] https://manual.calibre-ebook.com/news.html

[2] https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/get-news-updates-kindle-calibr...

[3] https://michaeltalbotuk.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/how-to-use-...

This is basically a rip off the previously discussed (and much more well-written) original here: https://onezero.medium.com/the-morning-paper-revisited-35b40...

It was previously discussed at length - I actually assumed someone had rediscovered it and posted it here again. Interesting that TFM doesn’t cite the very relevant prior art.

Did you read the post?

> Why did I build this? I saw something similar online a few years ago and I couldn’t find it for sale so I decided to built it myself.

It is lazy that he should have done some searching make a more concrete cite than just mention that he remembers seeing it. But at least he mentions he was influenced by prior art.

Not lazy... I googled for quite a bit and couldn't find the link. I wasn't claiming it as original. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Sorry, I didn't mean any offense by the comment. If anything, I think even if the link was findable not finding it but saying you saw it somewhere is fine. In this case, ya, not being able to find the link is a good enough excuse to just mentioning that you saw it elsewhere.

Shame on the people that make interesting hobby projects without citing everybody that ever influenced them.

Here’s another one from 4 months ago with lots of discussion.


Man I love e-ink devices so much. My Onyx Boox Note Air is one of the nicest and useful devices I have ever owned. I absolutely love it and their open platform. (I even ditched my Kindle oasis for the Poke3)

I always regarded e-ink as a soon-to-be (or already) obsolete technology and while that might still be true, I absolutely love it for reading and writing. There is currently nothing better.

Open? In what universe? They are blatant GPL violators: https://www.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/hl09g7/onyx_boox_chi...

Open because it runs Android and I can install any apps I want and even root the thing if I wanted to. (And by default it runs without google play services)

Compare this to the Remarkable who probably does not violate the GPL but whose software platform does not allow me to simply add more functionality.

Good example of “practically open” to “technically in the GNU sense ... bla bla bla”.

Isn't remarkable a simple linux system with qt applications that you can modify as you like?

It's not as simple, though. The stock Qt application which contains the entire GUI is completely closed-source meaning that if you want to do even something as simple as adding a simple menu to launch your custom application you have to binary-monkey-patch the main GUI exec. This is as terrible as it sounds.

There's a practical angle to this too. Without them opening their kernel modifications you are at the mercy of some small company in China for all future support and security updates.

> whose software platform does not allow me to simply add more functionality


So on one hand I have a few applications by some dudes on github and on the other I can install apps like firefox, the kindle app, read-it-later clients like wallabag, etc.

I think the phrase here would be "no consumer friendly customization".

Personally I would choose the reMarkable rather than any Android one _precisely_ because I find the reMarkable to be the one that is "more open in practice" one (it even lets you know the root password by default), even though Android is technically much more open source. By experience, I know the former category of devices tends to age much better.

With the limited internal storage there is not much future-proofness to me. A folder I sync to my device with PDF, books, etc. is close to 6GB. There is not much room left for others.

The way it looks remarkable wants to introduce a paid cloud service. Also ironically, they are very closed down in their communication.

I JUST learned this googling around because of this post.

This is such a bummer to me — I’m not going to toss my 6” Onyx but I probably won’t buy one of their other products now.

How is the stylus input on the Note Air? Does it seem good enough for drawing?

I’d say it is very good. According to mydeepguide it is between remarkable 1 and 2. So not the best but pretty good. I used an iPad and Pencil before and it feels better compared to that. But the iPad is more dependent on the iPad.

I am shot at drawing, so not sure. I only draw up diagrams and things like that.

I did something similar with the new york times home page .pdf they provide:

(I just emailed it to myself each morning)

It got old pretty quickly.

What I found was that the New York Times has great articles that get posted here on HN.

However with the front page with subjects I didn't really care about, I noticed a definite bias. I don't really care about subjects related to trump or biden, but their stories were pretty overtly subjective. I learned a bit about media bias that I wouldn't have picked up reading just tech articles (being so close to the subject).

now I email myself wikipedia current events:


>now I email myself wikipedia current events

Same (except the email part). Its also useful to check the page history for each day too since it can often be a political battleground.

I wish there was a way to add touch such screens a touch panel. I've search long time how to do it but I only could find prebuilt panels for ratios different than the eink screen I was interested. If anyone knows how to build one it will be very helpful to me as I want to build my custom reader/notetaker from scratch.

Lol his previous post was from 2006 ("CSS Still sucks" - about which I partly agree with some of his points but not overall - I think it did wonders for the web and I use it a lot to customise sites so they don't piss me off with their bloated designs).

Nice project, but reading a paper from the wall doesn't seem very comfortable.

PS: This screen is ridiculously expensive but you can get pretty nice 12" ones for 200 bucks from waveshare. Even with a 3-color option (black/white/red). Someone also did this with a 7" full colour one recently. Which looked amazing, if you have very good eyes :P Those full colour ones cost only 70 bucks by the way, though getting one is a problem in itself.

The 12” ones from Waveshare are unfortunately 1-bit grayscale (e.g. on/off, black/white) so any of the pictures will require quite a bit of dithering and the text isn’t as crisp as I’d like even at the large resolution.

Probably resolvable with an algorithm, but I gave up and finished the project. I would get the largest display that offers 4-but grayscale from Waveshare and go with it.

> The display is 99% more power efficient than a traditional LCD, so the display can run for months without being charged.

Wow! It's not even twice as power efficient as an LCD! I would have thought it would be much more power efficient than that.

The manufacture's web page makes the same claim: https://www.visionect.com/product/place-and-play-32/

How does it run for months on a battery if it's only 99% more efficient than an LCD panel?

now that you're saying it, it does read like you say. I and probably 99% of people read it the way it's meant: it uses just 1% of the energy needed for an equally big LCD, which means it can stay on 100 times as long. They should've used a better wording, yes.

You can add javascript as a bookmark in chrome to bring up the current New York Times front page:

  javascript: link=today=new Date();dd=today.getDate();mm=today.getMonth()+1;window.location="https://static01.nyt.com/images/"+today.getFullYear()+'/'+((mm<10)?'0'+mm:mm)+'/'+((dd<10)?'0'+dd:dd)+"/nytfrontpage/scan.pdf";

Laser printer also works quite well. It can even display multiple pages at the same time :)

Or how about the actual newspaper?

Newspaper can't do gifs

After seeing the one with the new york times, I thought about having a colour eink display that would display related album or artist art as I played music from my chromecast audio plugged in my hifi. Just finding a high quality source of images is hard but Apple iTunes has a decent selection.

Other opportunities could be displaying the days RSS feeds or HN posts.

As far as I have seen, color eink is just an lcd with an extra matte plastic layer over the top.

You can get 3 color real e paper displays but thats really pushing the tech and it takes ages to refresh.

It's very cool that this is catching on. $2500 is expensive but if demand can be spread outside of the existing commercial market then a virtuous circle may result - falling product prices combined with lowered energy use and increased utility. This could pair very well with a simple voice-controlled interface; besides newspapers it seems like it could be great for maps and dashboards/instrumentation displays. I really hope this follows the same track as 'digital photo frames' that preceded LEDs becoming cheap, ubiquitous, and of excellent quality. Great as they are, I also like E-ink for its lower power use and lack of luminance.

Re the blog page, I would have liked larger photos including close-ups; it looks great in the video but with a cut every few seconds it's hard to really study the quality.

It's about the cost of a two year subscription of a reputable newspaper. It would be nice if one of them cut a deal e.g. subscription and a tablet and make PR about being eco-friendly as it will not use paper etc.

What reputable newspaper costs $1250 a year?

I messed up. Telegraph costs about ~$600 per year, The Times is about similar price, so both could get you in the $1200 area (It's good to see different sides to find truth somewhere in the middle, so having just one subscription is not a great idea).

Looks great until you see the price of the display. €2,300 buys you a daily newspaper every day for 5 years...

I did something similar with a much smaller (and much less expensive) 12.48” screen from Waveshare.

Cost about $200 all in. Guests are frequently confused why I’ve printed out today’s New York Times.

One downside is the aspect ratio not aligning so the newspaper must be cropped. I’ve chosen to show the top 60% or so of the paper.

Another is that the display I chose is 1-but and dithering uses up quite a bit of the useful resolution. If I were starting over again I’d get a display with 4-but grayscale.

Credit where credit is due. I'm pretty sure Max Braun did this first. Check out all of his other projects: https://braun.design

Unfortunately, the price for the e-ink display is "€2,300".

That's aaaalmost down to vaguely-affordable, though. Used to be that eInk Corp. wouldn't even pick up the phone for less than at least $10k+

These direct-sales eInk products are essentially SDKs for their tech, so it makes sense that they’ve always been low-volume B2B products with high per-unit prices.

Nevertheless, there has been a recent decrease in price of this SDK hardware. I believe it’s been driven by eInk having created a modular substrate (all the stuff in a display, minus the panel) allowing cheaper iteration on their panel technology. So people can buy the SDK substrate component once; and then buy a new SDK panel component each time eInk reformulates it. Lower manufacturing costs + cheaper logistics for eInk Corp. = cheaper costs for everyone else, even when buying the whole kit together.

(Sort of the same reason that essentially the same cube-shelf design is cheaper from IKEA — IKEA just packs wood tightly into a flat box, and then piles those flat boxes up in a shipping container; and when you buy it and get it delivered, it’s still flat right up until it’s in your house. Other manufacturers, meanwhile, assemble the thing at some point — whether at the factory or at the story — and then ship it at least once in assembled form, where it’s taking up a huge amount of space in the container / on the truck.)

I actually realized when I was in the ikea warehouse recently pondering why ikea still don’t offer home delivery for most things: they actually just never pay anyone to move or handle less than a pallet-load of flat pack boxes at a time. You do that labor yourself for them - taking the cart, finding the box (or multiple separate boxes for a lot of their more customizable combination items) in the warehouse, picking it, taking it to the scanning station, loading it for transport. All that labor that you do as a customer is a core part of Ikea’s competitive advantage. Even if other companies ship you items flatpacked, they’re still doing all that work ikea doesn’t.

It’s funny. I live in a city where public transit is very good and I don’t need to own a car (so I don’t.) One of the inconveniences in my life is getting large furniture from stores. I can get to an IKEA just fine — but I have no way to get the products back home on my own.

If they would let me, I would actually be perfectly happy to go to the IKEA, pick the boxes myself, and even load them into their truck myself, if that would result in the items then being driven to my house. I have to imagine that IKEA would be pretty okay with that arrangement as well. I wonder why they don’t offer that “service”...

Is there no third-party filling that niche? Here in Berlin there's companies that pretty much offer "guy with van that picks you up at IKEA" (or other furniture stores, but at IKEA there's usually one lingering about waiting for customers)

Although I thought they'd deliver almost everything by now too if you want. but haven't checked in a long time.

The IKEAs I've been to all offer delivery for a fee, and at least one offered order picking for an additional fee.

It may look easy for you but it would complicate things for them. After packing your stuff you would probably want to get back home in the same vehicle, right? Otherwise the driver could get there before you. But in order to optimize, they will try to serve several customers at once - it would be impossible to let them all into the same large truck.

SO basically you have two options: either use their online story (the most convenient option) or use public transport to go there and a taxi (of adequate size) to get back home. I usually use the former option after having visited the store first to actually try the products I intend to buy. I don't treat their stores as stores but as showrooms.

In Sweden, IKEA have trailers and vans that you can rent, or they can deliver it to you.

Funnily enough officially they still don't. For some reason you're in theory not allowed to buy the evaluation kits as a consumer.

$2,576 US

I really like the concept of eInk, but for that price a regular wall-mounted display plus DAKboard[1] plus electricity will have to suffice.

[1] https://dakboard.com/site

Yikes. I immediately went to see how much it was, because I have always wanted to buy a large eink screen. Guess I'll be waiting a bit more.

I love this and would buy one instantly if it wasn’t this horrendously expensive. I suppose we’ll just have to wait for the IKEA WOLLPAPERR edition...

Edit: there seem to be smaller, hackable displays around as surplus, but still, nothing as big: https://hackaday.com/2020/11/27/repurposing-large-electronic...

I would love to have one of these eInk displays in my woodworking shop for displaying project plans while I work! I hope this product becomes commoditized soon!

For those of us who:

    1. Don't have $2300 to spend on a hobby
    2. Can live with very slow refresh-rates
I've found an epaper / eInk display on Waveshare that might be interesting.


It’s just way too expensive. PLACE & PLAY 32″ – $2,576.00 eInk tech is great, it’s been around for a long time and the adoption is very slow. For this pri e you can get very thing lg oled hdr tv 60-70”.

Oh cool!

> €2,300.00


Couldn't the HTML rendering be done on a smartphone, and then sent wirelessly to the display? So, essentially making the display a "dumb" one?

I'm probably missing something, but it seems wasteful to convert PDFs to HTML just to convert them to images in a separate stage immediately afterward?

Someone else mentioned a way to push images directly to the display but I didn't find an API to make this work. Also using HTML allows my to inject other dynamic content, not just PDF's such as a dashboard, weather, widgets, etc. It also makes it easier to display error messages if the newspaper server is down without needing to render images for errors.

It is possible to use the HTTP backend where you manually convert PDF to images and then push images directly to the server and the device.

$3,549.65 AUD for that 32" panel is... astounding!

One powerful computer and 6 very nice monitors can be purchased with that money...

I am looking to use one of these but then setup as a family calendar. Any suggestions.

There is a product, called Joan Home that is meant for home use and can display a single Google calendar https://getjoan.com/shop/joan-home/. If you share the calendar, it can be perfect to show family events.

Disclaimer: I work for the company that develops the Joan product and the e-ink display, mentioned in the article.

Great product, love the idea. €4.99/mo is a lot for essentially querying an external database. What is that subscription get me, exactly?

I built one using an old, cheap eReader. https://shkspr.mobi/blog/2020/02/turn-an-old-ereader-into-an...

This is probably the easiest one to get started with https://www.crowdsupply.com/e-radionica/inkplate-6

Its old kindle screens reverse engineered and stuck on a dev board containing an esp wifi chip.

Visionect place & play is great if you can swing the price.

You should cite the original

In case anyone's wondering, the display costs over $2500.

You could start a (tiny) newspaper for the cost of this.

Not going to lie, this is sort of bad ass!

Only for $2.5k, though.

Not bad for $2,576.00

I like the display, but the need for a CMS running in a docker container on the other end to push images is asinine. Why is the eink market this weird?

The visionect server? I actually like that it’s a relatively dumb hardware with “server” software you can choose to run yourself. It’s pretty good software especially from a hardware company.

Yes, because the device is "dumb", it can achieve long battery autonomy. For example, our Joan products can work up to 6 months on battery without recharging.

It’s fine it’s a dumb display, I’m just surprised i can’t just make a socket connection and push some packets into the display over lan. It’s not just “server” software, there’s a full legit web app sitting in the middle.

Listening on a port (running as a server) requires that the network interface remains up at all times, consuming more battery, than a client interface where the network interface can be turned off (or put into low power mode) until the next poll event occurs.

Really depends on the cycle, from experience in a similar project, with a dedicated low-power enabled processor, then waking up, booting and connecting to network draws a lot of power. If you do that often enough you will actually loose power

You might be interested in a more DIY approach: https://onezero.medium.com/the-morning-paper-revisited-35b40...

The current solution offers a management interface for a fleet of such devices with different content and "renderers" and power and activity statistics and charts and an HTTP API interface.

The base eink display doesn't take common image formats natively. Instead images need to be dithered and encoded in a specific format to convey the greyscale or color map. The backend architecture is likely used to convert an html rending into the EPD binary format.

The Visionect Server is able to automatically pre-optimize the images before they're rendered on the device display (e.g. grayscaling, contrast correction).

Sure but none of that is a reason to require a cloud app intermediary.

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