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South Korean eReader is the first with Qualcomm's mirasol display

by Tom Dunlap

November 22 2011

Qualcomm and Kyobo Book Centre today announced the availability of the first eReader featuring the much-anticipated mirasol display technology.

The Kyobo e-Reader features a 5.7-inch 1024 x 768 mirasol display, and has a very high 223 pixels per inch (ppi). Internally, it has Qualcomm’s 1.0 GHz Snapdragon S2 class processor and WiFi, but no 3G. A custom application interface sits atop an Android 2.3 base.

Kyobo and Qualcomm are collaborating to deliver an impressive portfolio including books, magazines and video. The Kyobo e-Reader includes access to Kyobo’s 90,000 e-book library, notably including early rights from Korean publisher Minumsa for the much-anticipated Steve Jobs’ biography, a month before any other Korean digital outlet. 

“The Kyobo e-Reader brings the user a true book reading experience,” said Kyobo chief executive Mr. Seong-Ryong Kim. “With our diverse content and leading edge technology from Qualcomm, Kyobo Book Centre will provide a premium reading experience to our customers.”

Kyobo’s e-Reader is now available for US $310. Kyobo Platinum Book Club members can purchase the e-reader at a discounted price of US $265. The e-readers are available at bookstore locations across South Korea.

Mirasol: miracle eReader tech?

The industry has been buzzing for a year about mirasol, the reflective color display technology that's energy-efficient, runs full-motion video and can be viewed in direct sunlight.

Mirasol is the first display tech to use interferometric modulation (IMOD), a micro-electro-mechanical systems-based technology that is capable of creating color from ambient reflected light. The displays offer refresh rates to support interactive content, and in different states are able to reflect light at specific wavelengths, and absorb it in other states to create the color black. This allowing for better viewing quality in a wide range of  conditions, including bright sunlight, and greatly reduced battery consumption, while still permitting  video playback up to 30 frames per second.

The Qualcomm marketing department describes the tech a little more eloquently, saying Mirasol “has drawn on the same color-producing process that makes a butterfly’s wings shimmer to develop the revolutionary [display].”

The new tech almost certainly plays into the Kyobo eReader's high price point, which begs the question: Will South Korean consumers be willing to pay US $310 for an eReader?

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