E-Ink, the company behind the displays in pretty much every e-reader out there, is slowly moving towards getting the coveted color and touchscreen e-paper displays to consumers. We’ve seen color e-readers, and touchscreen e-readers, but nobody bought either and it seems like everyone was waiting on the “official” version from E-Ink.
There are two versions of touchscreen e-paper displays in the works, one capacitive and one electromagnetic, whatever that means. I would guess that one is for finger touches and one for stylus touches and writing. The new panels are scheduled to hit the market around the end of the year, but there’s no guarantee that means our market. Chinese manufacturers and OEMs will have access to the new screens, the production of which is being really ramped up, but who knows when you’ll see a color Kindle or Nook?
The advent of color and touchscreen in e-readers will also bring them more in line with tablet features — not a good thing, if you ask me. The more people associate readers with tablets, the more they’ll expect from readers, and readers are a whole other product. I guarantee that apart from a few games and basic reading-related apps, any steps taken toward tablet functionality will be met with “but the iPad does it better” in consumers. Better to reduce prices and make the primary experience (reading) better.