>>So a couple questions for anyone who may know. I saw the Eink dev kits @
>>http://www.eink.com/kits/. Why are these priced at $3000? Is the purpose
>>price out the hobbyists [in favor of company developers]?
>Economies of scale, my friend. They are an R&D company that licenses
>the technology out to companies that do the actual end-product design
>Don't think of them as a fully equiped LCD panel manufacturer; the
>panels themselves are most likely from an off-site, limited custom
>manufacturing run; not cheap, but certainly cheaper than having to
>invest in that level of infrastructure themselves. LCD manufacturing
>is sort of a hybrid of PC Board and semiconductor fabrication
>technologies; non-trivial to implement.
The high price is due to a few factors. First, when this project was
proposed internally, it had to be set up such that we would make some
money on these kits. The price was set with after considering the cost
of the (low volume) components, plus amortization of NRE, tooling, and
engineering time to design the kit over the projected number of kits to
be sold, plus some profit for us. The kit has 5 custom circuit boards in
it with an a total of maybe 300 components to mount, custom packaging,
custom mechanical components, etc. Secondly, we wanted to set the price
at a level which would mostly appeal to engineering teams with near term
high volume applications in mind and a corporate development budget to
back it up. We are really trying to see our way to break even, and an
important factor in that effort is for us to get design ins with
products that will be high volume. We also have minimal resources for
support, so we wanted to keep the customer pool at the minimum needed to
encompass anyone very serious about commercial applications in the next
The screen is actually not a low volume part, and is the same screen
that goes in the Sony readers (both Japanese and soon to be launched US
version), and the Jinke reader in China. We make the electronic ink here
in Cambridge, it is coated and converted to a film by Toppan in Japan,
and sent to PVI in Taiwan. PVI laminates the film to a glass TFT plate,
bonds on the driver ICs and a connection foil, then sells this as a
display module to setmakers like Sony.
There are a few other screens available on an engineering sample basis,
but the 6" SVGA used in the kit is the only one currently in volume
production and available to the market in general.
>>Also is it possible to buy just the displays? (IE w/o the gumstix etc).
The display module is available directly from PVI in Taiwan. However,
they may not be terribly responsive unless you can convince them you
will soon be buying 10,000 a month. They are also focussed on serving
potential high volume customers first and foremost.
Buying just the display won't be useful to you unless you also do a lot
of engineering work to build a display controller (which is
significantly different from LCD control electronics). That is part of
what you get by purchasing a kit. For customers who do design in the
screen, we have reference designs for the controller section. But it
does take a fair amount of resources to do the layout and hardware
build. For instance the current display controller ASIC is in a 177 pin
BGA, which is basically impossible for a hobbyist to mount with any
>Sure! Just buy a Sony Librie from a company like Dynamism.com and
>pull it apart:
>Companies like Sony are the ones with the full-scale production facilities.
>But then perhaps E-Ink has some good news up their sleeve w.r.t.
>hobbyist options.?. Holly would have to answer that, assuming he's
>able to say/write anything at this time.
I really do want to have something to enable the hackers out there! Over
time as we develop a low support burden method to deal with lots of
customers and work to increase volume and decrease costs on the kit
components, the cost of the kit should be able to come down. Rest
assured I will announce drops in price or availability of other types of
kits (different screen sizes, etc.) to this list. Eventually I would
love to have something that the average hobbyist could afford.
Unfortunately, we just are not at that point right now.