Most eBook readers use electronic paper (ePaper) from E Ink Corp. of the U.S., but the situation is changing as a number of alternative technologies reach the commercial level. This means more choice for terminal manufacturers, and opens up a variety of possible reader characteristics.

The main feature of eBook readers is that they use electronic paper (ePaper). Compared to conventional displays such as liquid crystal display (LCD) panels, ePaper offers characteristics, such as character visibility close to that of paper, and low power consumption, making it essential in dedicated eBook readers.

Until now, however, terminal manufacturers have been using only one type of ePaper, for all effects and purposes: the black-and-white ePaper developed by E Ink Corp. of the U.S. E Ink has been the only company to commercialize ePaper suitable for use in eBook readers.

As a result, almost all of the tens of eBook readers in the market, including the Kindle from Inc. of the U.S. and the Reader from Sony Corp. of Japan, use ePaper manufactured by E Ink. And perhaps because of that, many of the specifications of available readers resemble each other closely, often making it difficult to tell one from another on the market. For terminal manufacturers, it has been very difficult to make their products stand out from the crowd without some way to make their ePaper look different from that of the competition.

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