Kyobo 6-inch eReader with Mirasol color e-paper display

Mirasol displays promise the best of both worlds: the energy efficiency and ultra-clear text of black-and-white ePaper displays like those found on the Kindle and Nook eReaders, combined with the full array of colors you find on a traditional tablet like the iPad or Kindle Fire. Up until now, unfortunately, no device has ever actually made its way to retail outlets sporting the video-capable Mirasol display. Around this time two years ago, Qualcomm announced that a Mirasol color eReader would be available in time for the holiday season in 2010.

Two years after that announcement, Kyobo’s tablet is up for sale in Korea. The Kyobo eReader goes for $310, and its makers boast “weeks” of runtime. It’s powered by a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and a 5.7-inch color touchscreen display that runs at a resolution of 1024×768. Android 2.3 provides the software base.

Two years after that announcement, Kyobo’s tablet is up for sale in Korea. The Kyobo eReader goes for $310, and its makers boast “weeks” of runtime. It’s powered by a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and a 5.7-inch color touchscreen display that runs at a resolution of 1024×768. Android 2.3 provides the software base.

Just over $300 for a color tablet with an energy-sipping e-Ink display that will run for weeks doesn’t sound too bad, does it? But there’s an asterisk to be added. That’s only possible with reduced display brightness and a 30 minute per day cap on your tablet use, so really you’re talking about 7 to 10 hours of actual activity and loads of stand-by time. Those are still pretty good marks, and at least someone has had the gumption to put a Mirasol display in a tablet and start selling it.

As for whether or not bigger manufacturers will follow suit, we’ll just have to cross our fingers. Maybe that 8.9-inch Kindle Fire update will sport a Mirasol display, too.

Kyobo, South Korea’s largest bookstore chain, is launching the first e-reader to use Qualcomm’s Mirasol technology. It has a color screen that can apparently be read even in bright sunlight, with a long battery life. E-books make up around 15 percent of trade book sales in South Korea, second only to the United States.

Kyobo’s touchscreen Android e-reader will sell for 349,000 South Korean won (U.S. $310). It “includes access to Kyobo’s 90,000 ebook library, notably including early rights from Korean publisher Minumsa for the much-anticipated Steve Jobs’ exclusive biography, a full one-month before any other Korean digital outlet,” according to the press release.

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