Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Qualcomm Mirasol E-Reader "Canned," Qualcomm head confirms.

Qualcomm boss confirms Mirasol ereader canned

Pocket-Link reports that the head of Qualcomm, Paul Jacobs, has confirmed that an ereader originally scheduled for release in the first quarter this year, was cancelled as he wasn't happy with it.

 We know that it wasn't released, since we're already ending the 2nd quarter.

They'd planned to "launch a low volume ereader product" but decided against a product they "didn't really like." The article mentions that it had been rumored that Amazon "could be on board" but most of us have seen Jeff Bezos say often that the technology wasn't ready.

Now Jacobs sounds as if he's refocusing on the battery-eating LCD OLED tablet arena, although it's clear that Mirasol colors are not nearly as vibrant.  That's an understatement.  I had thought they'd be acceptable as eReader screens because they'd be compared to b&w e-Ink screens.  Even if you can read these in daylight, the cost of a tablet is considerably higher, and people will compare the Mirasol effect to an LCD OLED's vivid colors, while already having a daylight-option with e-Ink readers.  So, I'm personally not convinced re the re-focus to tablet hardware.

 However, Jacobs adds, ""We don't today have as vibrant colour as an OLED display - but we have a roadmap that gets us to a much brighter colour."

In the meantime, he mentioned a "billion dollar investment for the plant" in Taiwan, currently a 'small operation,' so we'll see, but I can't see that anyone can expect that much very soon.

UPDATE Engadget has a more positive spin on this.

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  1. "although it's clear that Mirasol colors are not nearly as vibrant. That's an understatement. "

    Have you actually seen one? Pics don't look so bad (and beats the heck out of eink color).

  2. I assume 'LCD OLED' refers to smartphones and other mobile devices (e.g. Samsung, Motorola, Zune HD etc.), not tablets. The 'tablet' references seem to have been added by the writer of the article (wishful thinking?). I'm not aware of any tablets with OLED screens, currently, due to cost. The Qualcomm site itself only refers to mobile device and ereader applications (last time I checked). That's where the power savings and usability in bright light are most critical, and the color reproduction less so.

    Given the relative success of tablets using conventional LCD, it's not clear there's room for a higher priced but ickier looking screen in such a device. And now Qualcomm seems to have convinced themselves that the ereader market is not viable either (and I'd agree).

  3. Tom, I think Jacobs used 'OLED' as a comparison because of his plans to do screens that could replace what are currently vivid-colored LCD -- but he has been interested in producing a 5" device and he was probably thinking of the smaller ones such as larger-screen smartphones.
    The article's writer inserted "[on tablets]" when Jacobs started talking about LCD screens as he was also clearly off an e-reader target right now.

  4. Self-correction: Qualcomm has video 'demos' of tablet devices. But I think the logic is still clear if you assume Mirasol would replace OLED screens and no tablets actually use those yet. Phone displays that don't have to turn themselves off after 5 seconds and were readable in full sunlight would be welcome, however, even if the color wasn't quite as vibrant.

  5. Anonymous,
    It's been said that the screen contrast of the Mirasol (and also of e-Ink color at its current state) leave something to be desired when it comes to reading text, which is what ereaders are mainly for.

    I don't think that the text I've seen in video and pictures can compare to the Pearl B&W screen. Paper-bound books tend to be black on white, so color is not as missed on most novels, which is the type of ebook on bestseller lists.

    The NookColor, which is a sort of hybrid e-reader/tablet, uses really vivid colors and Mirasol would be compared against that look, AND its lack of stronger contrast would be judged against the beautifully high-contrast Pearl E-Ink screen for text.

    Pricing considerations (Jacobs mentioned the plan to do a low-volume e-reader product) are added too.


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