Color Me Flepia: Fujitsu Launches E-Reader

For those who don't read Playboy for the articles, Fujitsu has an e-book for you. Dubbed the Flepia, the device is what the company calls the world's first color e-book -- it can display 260,000 colors. Quite a difference from's Kindle black and white e-book, which retails for $359.

Various documents and images -- from books, newspapers, magazines and the Internet -- can be seen on an 8-inch touch screen in high definition -- 768 x 1,014.

The Flepia goes on sale on April 20 -- in Japan only -- and will be available through Fujitsu Frontech's online store. The price tag? A whopping $1,000. Hmm, maybe things don't look worse in black and white.

The Flepia can trace its origins back to 2005, when Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd., Fujitsu Frontech Ltd. and Fujitsu Ltd. jointly developed what they said was the world's first film substrate-based bendable color electronic paper with an image memory function. Even back then the company was ahead of the pack.

"Electronic paper is especially convenient for use on curved surfaces, such as columns. In addition, electronic paper can be conveniently used in conjunction with mobile devices as an easy-to-read and portable display device," Fujitsu said in a statement at the time. "The thin and flexible electronic paper uses very low power to change screen images, thereby making it ideal for displaying information or advertisements in public areas as a type of new electronic media that can be handled as easily as paper."

In 2007, Fujitsu conducted a field test of the Flepia for corporate use. At that time, the device could be used for 50 continuous hours on a fully charged battery, and was able to hold a large volume of content -- a year's worth of newspapers, two years of weekly magazines or 5,500 books using an optional 4-GB SD card.

Unlike the commercial sample, the new Flepia has 40 hours of continuous battery operation when it is fully charged, and does not require power for continuous display of a screen image, meaning it only consumes power during redraw. (Conditions: display of 2,400 pages at one page per minute with 64 colors).

Using the pre-installed 4-GB SD card, the color e-paper terminal can store the equivalent of 5,000 conventional paper-based books when each book is 300 pages long at 600 KB per book.

Two popular e-book viewers widely used on PCs or mobile phones in Japan -- BunkoViewer (XMDF format; "bunko" refers to "library" in Japanese) and T-Time (.book format) -- are included as standard features. Roughly 20,000 Japanese e-books in either XMDF or .book format can be downloaded with Flepia.

The Flepia weighs in at 13.58 ounces and is 12.5mm thick, and is approximately three times the size of a Kindle. The new Flepia is now 1.5 times brighter and has greater contrast than its commercial predecessor. Redraw speed also has been enhanced by 1.7 times, and the device has an embedded wireless LAN and also is equipped with Bluetooth.

In addition to Microsoft's Windows CE5.0 (Japanese version), Flepia comes with Microsoft's Office to generate all those work documents and spreadsheets. A digital stylus also makes it fun to send e-mails or spam to co-workers and random strangers.