The Inky pHAT is a 2.13 inch 212 by 104 pixel tri-colour display, featuring both red white and black pigments, similar to the sort of screen you would find in an Amazon Kindle, with the addition of the red colouring. It has a range of uses, ideal for low energy projects and for displaying key information.
Upon arrival, the board is packaged in a nice resealable anti-static bag, wrapped very thickly in bubble wrap. This is very nicely done, as electronic paper displays do tent to have a habit of breaking during transit being very thin. Alike most Pimoroni HAT’s and pHAT's, the PCB follows their standard black white and gold colour scheme. Although this is the case, the Inky pHAT does however come fully soldered with a surface mounted header, something I personally prefer not being too keen on soldering myself! The screen comes with a logo image on the display, really showing the potential of the display, with the detail of the image being quite astonishing for such a tiny display! The screen fits very nicely on the board, coming pre-adhered, and tutorial link on the side, making it even easier to get started. The display ribbon is routed through a small indent in the board, keeping with the slim zero sized form factor, and making it easier to fit into enclosures for example name badges, without the worry of the cable being trapped or damaged. It plugs into a socket connector on the rear, which also is home to a nice cartoony image of a very cute squid!
Pimoroni are perfect when it comes to product software and support, having a range of options available. For first time user’s there is a great tutorial made by Sandy giving you install instructions (a one line installer), all the basic examples with very thorough documentation as well as a small tutorial on how to display text and images on the display. Instead of the one line installer, Pimoroni also offer their own dashboard, enabling users to install software packages with the click of a button. This is something for beginners who may be a little scared of the command line, enabling the use of a graphical menu instead. The software comes with the option of installing examples as well as the software packages. These come with a calendar’s, a weather display and name badge among many more, however with both the cal-ics.py and qr.py example as I had to install a couple of python packages (icalendar and qrcode), something that would have been great if it had been done in the install process. For people a little confused, you can do it with the following code into the command line:
sudo pip install -U pip (module)
For example to install the qr module, you simply need to type sudo pip install -U pip qrcode to remove the “no module” error in python. They also have a dedicated forum and email address for any problems, which usually respond very quickly! Finally, the refresh rate of the screen is a little slow, taking roughly 15 seconds to change the display. This is one of the major downsides to the screen, making it harder for projects that need constant refreshing, however it is perfect for less demanding projects, such as tweet displays or name badges.
The screen does take roughly 15 seconds to refresh, making it harder to use for some projects
It's very detailed and well illustrated, I especially like how the board comes ready assembled and good to go!