One big disadvantage to e-readers is that they’re made of breakable glass and sensitive electronics that can get damaged when dropped. Books, by contrast, are pretty durable.
LG Display has brought flexible, light and tough e-readers a little closer to reality. The company announced that it is mass-producing a flexible electronic paper display, or EPD.
It’s called the XGA, and is 6″ across, smaller than most tablets and bigger than a phone. LG says the e-reader can handle getting bent up to 40 degrees and is only 0.7 millimeters thick — about the same as six sheets of typical office paper and slimmer than typical displays. It also weighs less than half an ounce. It has a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels, which is as good as any current e-reader.
As for toughness, LG says the display can handle getting dropped 1.5 meters, or a hair under five feet. That’s about where most people would hold an e-reader standing up.
This isn’t the first flexible display — AU Optronics unveiled one in November — but this is the first that has gone into real production. LG says the breakthrough was in manufacturing. Instead of building the back of the display with breakable glass, they built it with plastic, which is why it can bend. The press release isn’t clear on exactly how LG got the e-ink display to work on a plastic substrate, but they did.
It won’t be in any real e-readers for a while yet — the first releases are going to Chinese companies, and to European manufacturers next month.