Other manufacturers may be holding back to see how the land lies but Hanvon has bitten the bullet and announced that it intends to be the first company to bring a color e-Ink reader to the consumer marketplace. The color e-Reader was shown off recently at a trade show in Japan and will be available in China from March next year. There's scant official information available but read on for what we do know for sure.

Although the question of color regularly comes up in the debate over which e-Reader format is best, a number of manufacturers have chosen to adopt a wait and see approach and state that customers want vibrant color. Currently, all color e-Readers are LCD but if one company's gamble pays off, all that may soon change. Hanvon has announced that it will be the first company to bring color e-Ink readers to consumers.

Each digital format has its advantages and disadvantages. E-Ink offers low power consumption and being readable in direct sunlight , with most users saying that they're also easier on the eyes than LCD. But LCD does have the multimedia trump card – in fact, Hanvon's new color e-Ink reader won't be able handle any fast moving video images and the colors won't be as sharp as on LCD. The display quality could be similar to the e-Magazine device shown at Computex in the summer.

Hanvon's color e-Ink reader will have a 9.68-inch touchscreen, giving it a page size about the equivalent of a sheet of A4 paper. It will use the latest Triton screen launched by E Ink Holdings where a colored filter array is added in front of the black and white e-Ink display to create a color effect. Triton technology offers 4096 colors, a viewing angle of almost 180 degrees and resolution capabilities in excess of 200 dpi.

The device will be both Wi-Fi and 3G capable but it's not been revealed exactly how much storage will be included – Hanvon saying only that there'll be room for thousands of e-books. Unofficial sources state 2GB of solid state memory with microSD expansion and also indicate that the device will run on a Freescale processor and Windows CE 6.0.

Hanvon unveiled the color e-Ink reader earlier this month at the FPD International Exhibition in Chiba, Japan and says that it will be available in China from March next year. The company has also hinted that U.S. availability is a possibility.

The company has vowed to keep at the front end of e-Reader development so who knows, perhaps the new electrowetting technique developed by the University of Cincinatti might influence a whole new color e-Ink direction back towards actual paper.

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