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Polymer Vision Readius

 Polymer Vision Readius Cancelled
10th February 2007

Note: this device was cancelled when Polymer Vision folded.

Most gadget freaks will know that the disadvantage of a handheld device with a large screen is that the device ends up being rather bulky. Which is all fairly obvious.

However, the Polymer Vision Readius demonstrates a radically different approach. Based around a rollable display, the Readius comes with a 5" screen in a device not much bigger than a standard mobile phone when the display is retracted (the Readius measures 100 x 56 x 21mm and weighs 150 grams).

 Readius (closed) At its heart, the Polymer Vision Readius uses a TFT controlled Electronic Ink technology on a flexible substrate to create a monochrome display that is quite flexible. We've seen Electronic Ink before (on the Motorola FONE F3), but there has been nothing similar to the Readius before. This type of display has very low power requirements and can be used easily in direct sunlight (because it relies purely on reflected light). The low power consumption on the Readius means that it can last for up to 10 days of usage between charges.

The Readius isn't a phone - although it does comes with EDGE and UMTS data support. The display is a large 5" 320x240 pixel display capable of displaying 16 greyscales. The inbuilt software includes an email client, RSS newsreader, document viewer and audio playback capabilities. The Readius is actually controlled by something Polymer Vision describe as a "touch sensitive LED user interface" which consists of a number of soft keys along the side of the keyboard (pictured at the top of the page).

 Readius Half Open It looks great, and there's no doubt that the Readius is a very clever device.. but there are some obvious shortcomings. The main problem is inherent in the design of the display itself. Currently the Electronic Ink technology used in the Readius gives a very slow update speed that effectively limits the device to displaying a page of text at a time, without any moving images or scrolling. It's not a particularly high resolution display either, when you consider that the Nokia N800 squeezes in 800x480 pixels in a 4.1" display, but then the Nokia is much heavier and does not have the battery life of the Readius.

Significantly, there does not appear to be a web browser on the Readius, and it cannot make voice calls. Again, these are due to limitations in display technology and weight. On the other hand, the Readius should ship with at least 4GB of internal memory, which allows plenty of space for downloaded documents, email and audio files. One other novel feature is the use of DVB-H IP datacasting which potentially allows free-to-air data transmissions to be picked up from the same transmitters used for DVB-H broadcasts (for example, with the long awaited Nokia N92). The display on the Readius simply won't handle TV pictures though.

This is very much a first generation device - future versions of the display technology should allow moving video and colour image. With a couple more years development, this type of flexible display could make the like of the Apple iPhone appear obsolete.

The Italian TIM network has signed up for the Readius, for release sometime during 2007. Take up by other carriers is not known, nor is there any firm indication about a release date.

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Polymer Vision Readius

Available:

2007

Network:

GSM + UMTS

Data:

GPRS + EDGE + UMTS (3G)

Screen:

320x240 pixels, monochrome

Camera:

No

Size:

Rollable display device
100 x 56 x 21 mm /  150 grams

Bluetooth:

No

Memory card:

No

Infra-red:

No

Polyphonic:

No

Java:

No

Battery life:

Up to 10 days

 

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