Plastic Logic display: Could Obviate Newspapers

Dennis Faas's picture

If Plastic Logic has its way, printed newspapers will be a thing of the past. The company today introduced a new electronic reader focused on handling business and newspaper documents.

The reader offers the same highly-readable display created by E Ink and offered on Sony and Amazon readers. The primary benefits of the E Ink display are that it does not need to be backlit, content remains on the screen even after power is turned off, and it looks better, not worse, in bright light.

The Plastic Logic display, however, is more than twice the size of the Sony and Amazon readers and can store hundreds of pages and be updated continuously via wireless link. Although the Plastic Logic display is much larger than that of Kindle, it weighs in at only 2 ounces more and is one-third of the Kindle's thickness. (Source:

Electronic readers may seem like some kind of esoteric gee-whiz gadgetry, but for newspapers and other publishers there are big dividends at stake. Preparation, production, and distribution costs for publishers continue to rise with no end in sight. Electronic readers would solve those problems and at the same time open up new targeted advertising opportunities for the publishers. Several major newspapers, among them the UK Guardian and the New York Times, are already planning or distributing electronic reader formats of their papers.

Electronic readers are not new. Sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke (2001 Space Odyssey et al) first conceived of the idea in 1968. Alan Kay, the Xerox PARC legend also experimented with the concept in 1972. Various other implementations have emerged since, including InfoScreen (1981), Sony Bookman (Sony 1991), Newspad (El Periodico Catalunya 1996), and the iLiad Reader (iRex Technologies 2006).

Plastic Logic may have the final word on e-reader technology, however. Based in Cambridge, UK, and a spinoff from the renowned Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University, the company's focus is on flexible display technology using very thin plastic substrates. They have already developed a useful flexible display (see demo).

Plastic Logic is well-positioned to dominate the field. In addition to having its own proprietary technology, the company recently began construction of a new plant to manufacture its flexible displays and has received a new infusion of investment capital ($50 million) to fund its launch. The use of plastic for its displays, to say nothing of introducing flexible displays, is truly game-changing technology. Its first flexible displays are expected to be in production in 2009. (Source:

Click here to see another Plastic Logic display in action:

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