Qualcomm's Mirasol color e-readers are real, in production, and awesome

Leading Chinese E-reader maker Hanvon is the company to watch if you're interested in energy efficient color e-reader display technology. Last year, the company debuted the world's first color e-reader using E Ink's color E Paper display, and today, Qualcomm announced that Hanvon has created the thinnest e-reader yet to use Qualcomm's MEMS-based Mirasol display technology.

We've been eagerly awaiting Mirasol's commercial arrival for two years, and little appeared to change between the 2010 and 2011 Consumer Electronics shows. Both times, Qualcomm turned up with a dummy unit that had no real software to interact with, that simply ran a demo video. This year, it's all changed. There are now three major companies pushing Mirasol e-readers in Asia, and we finally get to see how well they work.

Just yesterday, Qualcomm announced its first Chinese product to offer a Mirasol display, the Shanghai Nutshell Bambook. This 5.7" Android 2.3-based device is essentially a Chinese version of the Kyobo e-reader that debuted in South Korea last November. It runs on a Qualcomm 1GHz Snapdragon S2-class processor, and is quite responsive. One of the very cool parts about the device is its ability to intelligently switch backlighting on and off depending upon ambient lighting conditions, making usage of it much easier. We take a look at it in the video we've embedded above.

Hanvon's C18, announced today, features the same screen, processor, and Android underpinnings, but it offers a slightly flatter chassis and lighter weight than the other two Mirasol e-readers, which are based on Qualcomm's reference design. I'll be on the CES showfloor this afternoon, and I'll snap some photos of just how much thinner this e-reader is than the ones I played with last night.

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