The Fujitsu color e-reader looked promising when it underwent trials in a Japanese cafe earlier this year. And now Fujitsu’s officially pulled the veil off of the device, announcing its specs and making it available for sale in Japan.
The FLEPia is a full sunlight-visible e-ink device, capable of displaying greyscale and color imagery (with 260,000 colors) on its 8-inch touchscreen, which has 1024 x 768-pixel resolution. There’s an SD memory card slot, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0 EDR and it can run for 40 hours from a single charge. It runs Windows CE 5.0, so it can be used for reading e-books, browsing the web, emailing, reading Word, Excel and Powerpoint files, PDFs, TXT files, and JPEG imagery–that means it can also be set into digital picture frame mode.
But the device has two major problems. First, the screen refresh rate is an astonishing 1.8 seconds. Although the Kindle’s screen update isn’t pretty (with that oddly eye-grabbing color-invert) it’s at least speedy. Waiting nearly two seconds for the FLEPia to change its display is almost certainly going to get tiresome. Think about reading a physical book–flipping a page takes a fraction of a second to grab it, flip it, hold the book in place and track your eyes to the top of the new page. That’s a far cry from the FLEPia’s performance. And when in web or email-viewing modes it’ll be really annoying. The 1.8 second time is also just for 64 colors, since it rises to 8 seconds for the full 260,000 color range.
Second, the FLEPia’s price. On launch on April 20th it’ll cost ¥99,750 which is around $1,000. That’s nearly three times the Kindle’s price, although Amazon’s unit is smaller and grey-scale only.
Still, it’s the first of its kind to be seen, and it’s pretty much heralding the future of digital publishing. We can expect flexible fast-updating color e-paper in the next few years for sure, but until then the half-inch deep, 0.84-pounds FLEPia is neat enough.