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Last Updated: Friday, 26 March, 2004, 09:19 GMT
Digital paper makes device debut
The Sony e-Book Reader, Sony/E-Ink
The Libriť is due to go on sale in Japan in April
Soon you could be reading a book printed on electronic paper.

Sony, Philips and digital paper pioneer E-Ink have announced an electronic book reader that is due to go on sale in Japan in late April for $375 (£204).

Called Libriť, the device will be the size of a paperback book and can hold 500 texts in its onboard memory.

The device will also have a PC connection built in to allow owners to download fresh reading material such as newspapers and comics.

Book here

The display has a resolution of 170 pixels per inch, which E-Ink says is comparable to the print quality of newspaper.

Unlike more familiar LCD displays, the screen can be read at almost any angle and in bright sunlight as it uses tiny charged beads to form letters and images.

Each pixel point on the display is a tiny pit containing a small number of black and white beads each one of which is about as wide as a human hair.

Image on digital paper, E-Ink
An image on the prototype reader
The white beads are positively charged and the black beads negatively charged.

Each pit is topped with a transparent electrode and has two other electrodes at its base.

Changing the charge on the base electrodes makes either white or black beads leap to the top of the pit forming either a blank or black spot on the larger display.

Making one base electrode positive and the other negative creates a grey spot.

The Libriť has been under development since 2001 and brings together technology from four companies.

E-Ink and partner Toppan make the basic electronic paper technology, Philips is supplying the electronics to drive the display and Sony has handled the design of the outer case.

The Libriť will weigh just over 300g including batteries and front cover and will run off four AAA batteries.

E-Ink says the display only draws on battery power when text is refreshed which means it will be able to display about 10,000 pages before the batteries need changing.

The device is 13mm thick and its screen measures 15cm diagonally.

It also includes a qwerty keyboard, USB 2.0 connector and a slot for Sony Memory Sticks.

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