Qualcomm's Mirasol reflective color display debuts on Korean e-reader

Kyobo, Korea's largest bookseller, has begun sales of a 5.7-inch device that features Qualcomm's long-awaited display technology.

Qualcomm's long-awaited Mirasol reflective color screen technology is on the market, in an e-reader that launched in South Korea on Tuesday.

The Kyobo eReader features a 5.7-inch touchscreen color display with a 1024 x 768 format at 223 pixels per inch. The device retails for 349,000 won (US$305) online and in the stores of Kyobo Book Centre, which says it is Korea's largest bookseller.

Mirasol has been under development for years by Qualcomm and its launch brings a third major display technology to the market for e-readers and tablets. Most displays today use either bright but power-hungry LCDs, or e-ink, which is energy-efficient but grayscale and slow to refresh.

Qualcomm's displays use tiny mirrors that change their reflectivity when small voltages are applied, shifting the color seen by users. They can quickly change colors to play video, require little power to hold an image, and the company says they work well in bright sunlight, though like e-ink they provide no light of their own. Earlier this month, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs said the technology will be in full production by the middle of 2012.

If used for 30 minutes per day, the new e-reader will provide weeks of reading on a single charge, Qualcomm and Kyobo said in a joint news release. The device also has its own light source to enable use in dark settings.

Most early e-readers featured grayscale screens. But a host of new devices, including Barnes & Noble's Nook Color and Amazon's Kindle Fire, have color screens and are blurring the line between e-readers and full-powered tablets.

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Jay Alabaster

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