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Samsung's E-Reader Screens Boast 16.7 Million Colors

When will impressive electrowetting displays appear on tablets or Kindles?

Much of the buzz coming out of the SID Display Week 2011 International Symposium conference in Los Angeles this week is about high-resolution screens for tablets capable of 2560-by-1600 resolution -- five times that of the iPad's 1024-by-768 display. But Samsung, makers of those eye-popping screens, also unveiled new e-reader screens that use the colored oils of "electrowetting" and can show up to 16.7 million colors.

Engadget captured video of Samsung's electrowetting displays -- the product of its acquisition of Liquavista earlier this year -- that show how electrowetting displays look more like tablets than traditional e-ink e-readers, which use electrophoretic tech, like Amazon's Kindle.

Not only are electrowetting e-reader displays easier on the eyes than backlit LCDs, they also don't consume as much power and offer a refresh rate that's 70 times faster than e-ink. They can also display video -- thinning the line between e-reader and tablet.

There's no word from Samsung on whether the company intends to manufacture its own electrowetting e-readers or if it will sell the technology to third parties.

What I find most curious about electrowetting displays is how they will impact the next generation of tablets. If this tech was licensed to a company like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, they could be used in e-reader tablet hybrids -- not unlike Pixel Qi's innovative netbook e-reader screens.

Up until now, Amazon has held back from making tablets and ditching the e-ink Kindle because the company wanted to build a single-purpose device for "serious readers." This is also why Amazon waited to build a color Kindle. But if reports that Amazon is building a series of Android-powered tablets are true, perhaps Amazon could bridge the gap between e-reader and tablet using electrowetting technology, either by maintaining its loyalty to serious readers and single-purpose devices -- but with color -- or creating a hybrid tablet.

Either way, keep your eyes peeled: Samsung intends on mass producing electrowetting displays by the end of this year.

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