In brief: The market for E-Ink displays remains small despite numerous advances in the underlying technology. Still, that doesn’t stop companies like Onyx from trying to introduce it to a new audience. To that end, the company has developed not one but two e-paper monitors that are just as expensive as they are impressive.
E-ink displays have forever changed e-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle and note-taking tablets like the Remarkable, and over the past few years they’ve been implemented in several commercial and industrial applications, from the lowly price tag in some supermarkets, up to the large area digital signage you can see in some urban centers.
That said, they’re far from becoming mainstream. Onyx is one of the companies that has been trying to change that with a lineup of monitors called Mira. The latest addition to that family is the Onyx Boox Mira, a 13.3-inch E-Ink monitor announced in May and now available for pre-order from the Onyx online store.
The Onyx Boox Mira is equipped with an E Ink Mobius panel that has a resolution of 2200 by 1650 pixels, which makes for a relatively crisp image at 207 pixels per inch. The 4:3 aspect ratio means this panel great for productivity, and there’s also a touch digitizer that allows you to use it as you would a tablet. The input options include a mini HDMI port and two USB Type-C ports.
Since this is an E-Ink display, it doesn’t need much power to operate since electrophoretic displays only use power when changing the image on the display. This makes the Onyx Boox Mira a good choice as a portable secondary monitor for people who need one for their workflow. It also has a VESA mount if you want it to become a more permanent fixture in your setup.
You won’t be able to play games on it due to the low refresh rate achievable with E-Ink display technology, but the Onyx Boox Mira does support a “video” mode which improves the experience of watching animation on this monitor.
At $800, this device is definitely not for everyone, and it does have some limitations that may further limit its appeal. The monitor itself is only 8 mm thick and weighs a little under 600 grams, but it has to compete with a slew of less expensive portable monitors that offer a color display and can sometimes be used as standalone tablets. By comparison, the Onyx Boox Mira can only be used as an external display for web browsing, programming, and other productivity tasks.
However, Onyx is convinced there is a market for e-paper monitors. This is why it has also created a 25.3-inch fixed monitor in the form of the Onyx Boox Mira Pro. This model has an aluminum stand, a resolution of 3200 by 1800 pixels, and built-in stereo speakers — all at an eye-watering price of $1,800.
In the meantime, companies like TCL are working on building affordable alternatives to E-Ink display technology. Last year, the Chinese company revealed a paper-like color display that’s supposed to offer higher contrast than E-Ink while having almost none of its drawbacks. A tablet that showcases the new technology was supposed to be unveiled this year, but current market conditions have pushed the release date to 2022-2023.