TCL's latest e-ink tech looks good on paper, but Chinese giant will have to back up extraordinary claims

Concept demo fast enough to show movies and games apparently

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As the world's second largest TV manufacturer, Chinese tech conglomerate TCL is best known for its displays. In that vein, it has shown off its newest e-ink technology at IFA, dubbed NXTPAPER, which promises richer colour and a refresh rate comparable to that of a smartphone.

Electronic paper displays, like those on the Amazon Kindle, consist of thousands of small capsules filled with pigment. When an electrical charge is applied to these capsules, they shift orientation and thus change what is shown on the display. Unlike traditional LCD displays, which require a constant electrical charge, electronic paper displays only require electricity when the content of the screen changes.

This principle is what allows the Kindle to have weeks-long standby times, whereas tablet computers have standby times measured in days. But electronic paper displays also have slower refresh rates, making them unsuitable for anything save consuming static content, like e-books and newspaper articles.

Speaking to El Reg, Stefan Streit, TCL's global marketing GM, said NXTPAPER would be fast enough for movies and some games, which is a remarkable claim. Streit was unable to offer a precise refresh rate when grilled, and we've asked TCL for further clarification.

Streit said NXTPAPER will be suited to outdoor viewing due to the lack of glare you typically get with standard LCD or LED displays. The firm also claimed 25 per cent better contrast rates when compared with a typical LCD panel, while consuming 65 per cent less power.

Meanwhile, the lack of a built-in backlight means an NXTPAPER display is 36 per cent thinner than an equivalent LCD. Of course, that also means they're not particularly useful at night.

Presently, NXTPAPER is merely being demonstrated as concept, although TCL hinted towards the tech appearing on future devices. While it'd be hard to imagine it appearing on a smartphone, particularly given the absence of backlighting, it could feasibly present itself on a tablet/e-reader crossover device, offering punters the best of both worlds. ®

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