TCL created the thinnest flexible display, paper-thin

TCL created the thinnest flexible display, paper-thin

At IFA 2020 in Berlin, TCL unveils a color equivalent of E-Ink screens called Next Paper

Evgeny Opanasenko

TCL created the thinnest flexible display, paper-thin

Techno section editor

Chinese manufacturer TCL, familiar to Ukrainian buyers for its smartphones and TVs, has developed a new version of E-Ink technology that could make a long-held dream of an energy efficient color screen a reality, Engadget reported.

E-ink devices in early 2010 showed a huge energy saving advantage, but had a disadvantage in displaying monochrome images, and many manufacturers have tried to fix this problem. However, the idea was shelved, and for 10 years no revolutions took place in this direction.

See also in the story about what new technologies we will be pleased with the next decade:

Last year, TCL showcased its work on foldable phones, including a dual-hinge phone that closely resembles a device from the fictional world of Westworld. This is yet another answer to the titans Samsung and Huawei who have released their Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Mate X flexible smartphones.

At this week's IFA in Berlin, TCL announced that it has developed a new display technology that has the same qualities as E-Ink panels commonly found in e-books. Despite being called Next Paper, it is not an electrophoretic display.

TCL created the thinnest flexible display, paper-thin

Next Paper

Instead, the Chinese manufacturer has developed an alternative to traditional LCD technology that eliminates the need for LED backlighting to create an image. The on-screen display of Next Paper is achieved through a highly reflective layer that allows natural light to be used. TCL claims to own 11 patents in this area.

The company says the first commercial Next Paper display will feature Full HD resolution and provide 25% more contrast than a conventional E-Ink display. And while not as thin as an E-Ink panel, it is 36% thinner than a conventional LCD and has 65% less power consumption. At the same time, there is full support for millions of colors (as opposed to the maximum of 4096 colors on E-Ink).

But there are several disadvantages to such an energy efficient screen. First, it doesn't work at night – users will need external light to see anything on the screen. Secondly, the refresh rate on Next Paper is very low and is inferior to LCD panels – less than 24 frames per second.

Because of these shortcomings, you shouldn't expect Next Paper to hit TVs and smartphones anytime soon. However, the development can be used in the advertising sector for electronic signage or interactive e-books with full color display. But TCL says it is actively working on a tablet with such a screen, which is slated for release early next year.

See also TCL shutting down production of BlackBerry smartphones. At the same time, smartphones are predicted to drop in value thanks to a new invention.

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