AU Optronics Corp (AUO) of Taiwan exhibited an electronic book (e-book) reader consisting of an electronic paper (e-paper) panel and a touch panel at Display Taiwan 2009 (the 11th International Flat Panel Display Exposition).
The e-book reader was developed based on SiPix Imaging Inc's Microcup technology. Displayed in the Leading Mobile Technology section of AUO's booth, it was drawing attention from visitors.
The e-book reader features a screen size of 6 inches, a pixel count of 800 x 600 and a resolution of 167dpi, 16 gray levels, a reflectance of 27% (including the touch panel) and a contrast ratio of 8:1. AUO demonstrated the function to easily turn a page by touching the screen.
In addition, the e-paper panel (without the touch panel) was showcased at SiPix's booth. Its screen size, pixel count and number of gray levels are the same as those of the entire e-book reader. But its reflectance and contrast ratio are 33% and 7:1, respectively.
AUO purchased SiPix in March 2009 and is now selling its e-paper. The new e-book reader was manufactured on SiPix's production line in Chung-Li City, Taoyuan County, Taiwan, with a TFT array glass substrate made on AUO's 3.5- and 4.0-generation lines.
In the current business model, AUO will exclusively sell the panel incorporating SiPix's e-paper. It is not a flexible panel because its backplane circuit board uses a glass substrate. However, if AUO develops and commercializes a flexible backplane circuit board by using, for example, organic TFT, it will be possible to make flexible e-paper.
C. T. Liu, senior VP/GM of the Consumer Product Display Business Group of AUO and chairman of SiPix, made the following comment on future strategies at SiPix's booth.
"We will start shipping 6-inch e-book readers in the third quarter of this year," he said. "We are expecting to ship three million units in 2009 and six million units in 2010. After the 6-inch model, we are planning to release 8- and 9-inch models."
"Our next product, 'Flex-it bright plus,' which we are now developing, will have an enhanced reflectance of 36% and a response speed of 550ms, improved from 280ms," he continued. "We have high hopes for the future of electronic paper and believe that it will replace LCD panels and change our lives."