Sharp’s New Color E-Paper Displays Coming On US Market; Price And Color Reproduction Might Be Issues

February 21, 2024 by Dave Haynes

The color e-paper displays that Sharp NEC was demonstrating at the recent ISE trade show in Spain will be available in North America starting next month, in 13-inch and 25-inch versions, but eco-conscious buyers might be gulping when they see the prices.

The US office of Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America says in PR that the new Sharp ePaper displays are positioned as digital alternatives to paper posters, and also good for applications that are mainly static content but have periodically updated numbers or text, like menus and timetables.

The main proposition is, of course, the sustainability characteristics of e-paper displays, which only need power in illuminated spaces when information changes.

But potential buyers might have second thoughts when they see the price points. The 25-inch from Sharp is north of $2,200 USD on CDW and the PPDS one is almost $1,900 USD. By comparison, the cost of a 27-inch LCD monitor is going to be 10% of that – so buyers are really, really, really going to want to signal sustainability by ordering and deploying these units.

From PR:

Taking a substantial step forward towards the carbon-neutral era, the Sharp ePaper displays offer always-on visibility with as low as zero power consumption when viewing a static image, only drawing minimal power when updating the displayed image. The displays ensure unimpaired readability in both the brightest environments, as well as semi-outdoor settings, presenting static digital images with a low-reflection and paper-like quality. With full-color capability enhanced by Advanced Color ePaper (ACeP) color performance, they deliver outstanding visual performances with excellent contrast, 180° wide viewing angles, and fine resolution for an ergonomic content presentation that looks remarkably like paper. The paper-like appearance is easy on the eyes with no reflections or blue light, underlining Sharp’s commitment to sustainability and viewer comfort.

The Sharp ePaper displays offer quick and flexible installation options. Their slim, lightweight-design, which supports landscape, portrait, face-up, and face-down operation with multiple mounting points, not only enhances aesthetics but also provides space for an optional battery for versatile power solutions.

In addition, the ePaper displays feature an integrated System on a Chip (SoC) for a seamlessly intelligent and future-proof operation. It effortlessly delivers content through selected Content Management System (CMS) partners or offers a user-friendly experience with the simplest content management options via USB, WiFi, or Bluetooth.

The SoC aspect is interesting, as is the assertion that it can receive content from “selected” CMS partners.

The e-paper comes from Taiwan-based E Ink, with the collaboration between the manufacturers announced last year.

“Sharp’s new ePaper provides a sustainable and quick alternative to traditional poster boards and printed posters while fitting seamlessly into the ongoing business practices,” says Keith Yanke, VP Product & Solutions Marketing for Sharp. “The Sharp ePaper allows for easy integration into supported third party CMS solutions where users can manage the distribution and display of the ePaper according to a registered schedule, prepare the screen to be displayed, monitor the display status, and more. This is revolutionary for clients across industries that are seeking sustainable display methods.”

The Sharp ePapers will ship starting in March.

I saw these at ISE, and was, sorry, underwhelmed. Like the Tableaux product from PPDS (Philips), these displays are skinny and crisp, but the colors are muted, I think  because they have some sort of necessary filter overlay.

This is the Sharp:

This is the PPDS Tableaux, which looks better to me in the photo than it did in person …

They’d be fine for some applications, but brands who insist their very specific color be accurately replicated would probably not be very happy with the output.

Color e-paper keeps getting better, but I think we’re still some way from widespread adoption.

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