Paper 2.0 - Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology enters the market

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January 19, 2007 The second coming of the book, the paper and ink mainstay of human knowledge for most of the last 5000 years, appears to be almost upon us. Despite thousands of years of technological development, paper has maintained its readability advantage of over modern display technology but technology is just about to surpass it and the logical big players are getting ready tp produce readable displays that offer an experience akin to that of reading on paper - this is known as Electronic Paper. E-Ink’s Electronic Paper Displays are the current dominant player in the marketplace, with its displays used in the iRex Iliad and Sony Readers, with other implementations in clocks, watches, smart cards, billboards and mobile phones but there will be others and Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology (TMD) entered the fray this week when it announced not only that it has developed a high-resolution, 16-level grayscale, highly-reflective, 5-inch VGA monochrome thin-film transistor (TFT) liquid crystal display (LCD) which offers the combined features of high resolution and high reflectance, but that it had started mass production. The display technology looks fantastic (see images inside), and is well suited for monochrome applications such as found in electronic dictionaries and books or operating panels of multifunctional office automation equipment.

Demand for electronic dictionaries has been growing due to their ability to easily and conveniently retrieve a wealth of information. In fact, sales of electronic dictionaries in the Japanese market reached 2.5 million units in fiscal year 2005, up 8.7 percent over the previous year.1 There is also a growing demand for advanced models that feature entries accompanied by photos and illustrations.

Concurrently, the sales of multifunctional office automation equipment (which incorporate not only copying functions but also printer, scanner, facsimile and other functions) recorded worldwide sales of 4.2 million units in FY2005, an 8.8% increase over the previous year.*1 Demand is now shifting towards models which offer an easily readable and simple operating panel for multiple function control.

In order to meet such needs, TMD has developed a TFT LCD that ensures high-contrast images by incorporating a high-resolution VGA display, with 16-level grayscale, and advanced optical performance. The newly developed TFT LCD adopts a new, highly efficient reflective surface and internal reflection technology to maximize such optical performance, providing clear and crisp images, and is able to display small, well-defined characters easily. In addition, the new product has completely eliminated the need for a backlight thanks to the highly reflective optical performance, and thus enables a low power system design, one of the essential requirements for electronic dictionaries and ensures longer battery-powered operation. Furthermore, the new product provides faster display image rewriting compared to other reflective type display technologies, thus enabling displays which are more easily legible even during fast scrolling of texts or during video clips in electronic dictionaries or books.

With the above-mentioned advantageous features, the new product provides natural-looking representation of photos and paper-like images. In addition, with its high resolution it enables the viewing of a variety of functions even on a compact-size operating panel. Product specifications Display size - 12.7 cm (5.01-inch) VGA (640 (H) x 480 (V)) Monochrome reflective display: Internal reflective display Contrast ratio - 12:1 (typical) Response time - Tr + Tf = 20 ms (typical) Levels of gray - 16 Power consumption 4 mW (Binary representation) 20 mW (16-level grayscale representation)

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