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Biblio Leaf – a solar powered e-reader from Toshiba

By Damir Beciri
26 December 2010

toshiba-biblio-leaf-lismo-book-storeIn our previous articles, we mentioned how some e-readers or writing board like Boogie Board Paperless LCD Writing Tablet could benefit from solar power, and avoid usage of energy needed for recharging or even the resources needed for battery production. Toshiba and KDDI, Japan’s second biggest mobile carrier, have unveiled a solar powered e-book reader named Biblio Leaf.

The device features a 6″ electronic paper display with a resolution of 800 X 600 pixels. Its measures are 198×130×9.8mm (about 7.8×5.1×0.4 inches), and it weights 295.8 grams (10.4 ounces). The device includes a touch stylus and features buttons to shuffle through pages and manipulate the display.

The solar panel has also been included in the body itself. As you may notice from the provided images, it is located in the bottom right corner – a place that doesn’t seem suitable for the solar panel since the right hand could damage it when you hold it. The company claims that the solar panel will be capable to charge the battery enough for users to read up to 25 books or 7500 pages on a single charge, however, they didn’t announce how long it will take to fully charge the device.

The Biblio Leaf has 2GB of internal memory which can be expanded via microSD memory cards. It has KDDI 3G connectivity, as well as Wi-Fi. The Biblio Leaf is compatible with XMDF, PDF and EPUB file formats. KDDI is in partnership with Booklista, an ebook distribution business that was launched a few days ago. The name of the new store will be entitled “LISMO BookStore”, which will feature mostly novels, how-to guides and business books. Currently there are only 20,000 ebooks available, but KDDI wants to increase the number of ebooks to over 100,000 in March 2011.

Aside the inconvenient placement of the solar panel, due to small size of it, the battery charging could take longer time compared to prototypes that have been introduced to the public (for example, LG prototype needs 4 hours to charge itself with a larger panel). Another bad characteristic is the transition between screens which isn’t seamless and overlaps over the previous content on screen after it loads.

With the advancements in the solar energy harvesting and electronics with lower energy consumption, the solar-powered e-readers could become a new trend. Aside Toshiba, LG is developing a prototype solar reader scheduled to hit the markets in 2012. The Biblio Leaf is currently available only in Japan and there are no announcements when and where it could become available in near future.

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