Hanvon look likely to be the first company to launch a color ereader based on an e-paper display rather than an LCD. According to the New York Times, the Chinese company will unveil its so-far unnamed ereader device at the FPD International 2010 tradeshow in Tokyo, complete with a 9.68-inch color e-paper screen from industry heavyweight E Ink.
E Ink had previously promised that their color e-paper screens should be available by the end of 2010, though the Hanvon model will miss that launch window. Instead it's expected to arrive in China in March 2011 - we're guessing it'll be brought to CES 2011 in January with great fanfare as well - with a reasonably hefty price-tag of $440, though that will also include WiFi and 3G connectivity for downloading content while mobile.
That price is still cheaper than the iPad in China, though the Hanvon ereader isn't being targeted as a direct alternative. Instead, it's more dedicated to ebook duties, and can manage the same sort of battery life as its greyscale cousins since the underlying E Ink screen is the same, merely with a color filter over the top. The panel is unable to display smooth video, only basic animations, and clarity is reduced because of the filter, but it should still be more outdoor-visible than a regular LCD screen.