De Tijd: First downloadable daily

Posted on February 11, 2006 
Filed Under Uncategorized

(from various sources)
Belgium is launching an e-paper test.

De Tijd, the Antwerp based daily with Belgium’s highest online readership, will be the world’s first paper to launch a digital version, for a three-month trial period beginning in April 2006.

The paper will take the form of a portable electronic device – a paper thin screen the size of a newspaper page filled with millions of black and white microcapsules.

When an electrical current with data is sent through the screen,these microcapsules form letters that are as sharp as regular newspaper print.

The electronic “ink” has 16 levels of grey. When readers flip to the next page or choose a specific article, the particles scramble and rearrange.

The pliable screens do not flicker and can therefore be read either indoors or outdoors.

Users will connect to the internet with the device and download their newspaper. Updates will be provided throughout the day.

Readers will be able to write comments and scribble on the paper by using a special marker. Interactive advertising will also be featured.

The electronic newspaper costs an astronomical 400 euros ­ but the first two hundred who sign up for the experiment are not being charged.

Based on an estimated use time of three hours per day, the device’s battery would last for a week. The device has a storage capacity of 244 megabytes – the equivalent of a month’s worth of newspapers, 30 books and office documents in different formats.

E Ink Corp, a spinoff of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has developed the technology.

Dutch company iRex Technologies used the method to build a portable electronic reading device.

E Ink is currently working on developing coloured ink. Added video and sound features could take up to 10 years to develop.

“If the testing period proves successful, we will draw up a business model based on the analysis,” the project manager Peter Bruynseels told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

Media experts at Belgian universities will then analyse readers’ evaluations.

The Belgian experiment reflects the newspaper’s fight for survival in a world of increasing competition, declining circulation and rising newsprint costs.

De Tijd will appear on several screens. “One shows the complete page as in the printed paper, the second lists only the headlines and the third displays the single article,” Bruynseels said.

The display is the size of two laptops, but needs 100 times less energy than a normal laptop screen.

De Tijd may also publish advertisement corresponding to the time of the day ­ coffee and cereals in the morning, beer and snacks in the evening.

Other tools include extra buttons for financial news which steer a reader to in-depth info on the latest stock exchange rates. The e-paper also memorises readers’ criteria when searching for a job, an apartment or Mr/Ms Perfect. ­

Bruynseels says there will also be savings because no paper is being used. Newspapers such as The Times or the Wall Street Journal can go through 200,000 tons of newsprint per year.

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