View Full Version : iPad V e-ink devices


neilmarr
04-21-2010, 06:00 AM
A fascinating in-depth comparison today of backlit iPad and 'traditional' e-ink readers under all lighting conditions. Personally, the piece reinforces my liking for e-ink, but -- horses for courses -- this is a handy review for those still trying to make up their minds. Best wishes. Neil

http://blogs.zdnet.com/perlow/?p=12719

WillAdams
04-21-2010, 09:23 AM
Pretty unfair to take the iPad to task for not working in daylight when it's not designed / marketed for such.

If one wants a device to use outdoors, then one should pick a screen suited / designed for such --- an e-ink or transflective LCD (I just picked up a Fujitsu Stylistic 4121 w/ indoor/outdoor screen and am finding it has transformed how I used my Tablet PC).

William

Tamara
04-21-2010, 10:16 AM
My biggest gripe with e-ink is needing so much light to read at night in bed or in any low light situation.

I think when someone considers a device, they should look at their own habits and buy the device that fits their habits.

gastan
04-21-2010, 11:16 AM
Pretty unfair to take the iPad to task for not working in daylight when it's not designed / marketed for such.


On the other hand, the iPad is being marketed as (among other things), and being touted by media pundits and other proponents, as an e-reading device.

If it's going to be marketed as an e-reading device it certainly is not unfair to compare it to other e-reading devices; and that includes e-reading device screens.

WillAdams
04-21-2010, 11:20 AM
Fair enough. To clarify, I'm not complaining of comparing it to other e-readers, just think it's ridiculous to complain of it doing something Apple has never indicated it could do.

FWIW, I can't help but wonder if the plethora of SKUs at launch isn't intended to:

- ease initial availability difficulties (the 64GB model is the only one available at the local Best Buy)
- inure retailers to a large number of SKUs so that they'll be able to cope w/ an enlarged iPad family which (I hope) will include 7" (smaller) and 12" (largest) screen sizes, and (hopefully) a choice of screen types which includes transflective LCDs

William

dmaul1114
04-21-2010, 12:58 PM
My biggest gripe with e-ink is needing so much light to read at night in bed or in any low light situation.

I think when someone considers a device, they should look at their own habits and buy the device that fits their habits.


Exactly. I NEVER , EVER read in direct sunlight. I read often in pretty dim lighting.

I also seldom ever read for more than an hour or two a day.

So for me, while I like my Kindle, a tablet device makes a lot more sense for my needs. Better for dim lighting, can do more than read so it's more useful to someone like me who's not an avid reader compared to most on this site etc.

For others who read more, read in sunlight etc., e-ink and other reflective screens are best.


So I don't think it's silly to complain about lcd devices not being good in direct sunlight, but to be objective such reviews should also note that e-ink devices aren't great in dim lighting and require hassling with clip on lights etc.

ac4lt
04-21-2010, 01:07 PM
My e-ink device won't even work properly in direct sunlight. Most of the screen looks washed out and it's totally unreadable. If I'm in outdoor light I have to shade the screen when I turn the page to make it legible. So I'm not so sure the "e-ink is readable in sunlight" argument holds a great deal of water. While I can read it in sunlight, I can't turn the page in sunlight.

dmaul1114
04-21-2010, 01:12 PM
I do think that is just a problem with certain e-ink screens in certain devices has since been fixed.

Graham
04-21-2010, 01:18 PM
Pretty unfair to take the iPad to task for not working in daylight when it's not designed / marketed for such.

You could equally say that it's unfair to take eInk devices to task for not being able to read them in low light conditions, but this is often given as one of the key advantages of the iPad as an eReader.

I think that if a comparison is being made of all devices which offer eReader functions then it's perfectly reasonable to point out the conditions where they work well and those where they might have issues.

Graham

ac4lt
04-21-2010, 01:25 PM
I do think that is just a problem with certain e-ink screens in certain devices has since been fixed.

I have an onyx boox bought just a couple of months ago. I would hope it's been fixed but there are at least some displays that act like this out in the wild.

pilotbob
04-21-2010, 01:26 PM
My biggest gripe with e-ink is needing so much light to read at night in bed or in any low light situation.

The 3rd generation screens that PVI is starting to preview will help with this. They have improved the contrast from 6:1 to 10:1 or better... supposed to go into production later this year. Not sure how long until we see new models of our favorite ebook devices with this gen screen though.

BOb

Shaggy
04-21-2010, 02:09 PM
Pretty unfair to take the iPad to task for not working in daylight when it's not designed / marketed for such.


Exactly. The iPad was not designed to be an eBook reader, and eBook readers are not designed to be multimedia tablets. These are two different products with two different markets. Might as well write an article comparing eInk readers with a laptop.

Why people keep trying to compare apples with oranges is beyond me, other than just the latest craze of comparing Apple's shiny new gadget with anything and everything they can think of. I guess such articles bring in lots of blog hits, maybe that's the only real reason.

Shaggy
04-21-2010, 02:15 PM
If it's going to be marketed as an e-reading device it certainly is not unfair to compare it to other e-reading devices; and that includes e-reading device screens.

It's not being marketed as an e-reading device. It's being marketed as a multimedia tablet which also happens to include an eBook app. It's definitely not it's primary function, and was never meant to be. It would be like saying that your PC is marketed as an MP3 player, just because it comes with Windows Media Player installed. Does that mean your PC is in competition with an iPod?

gastan
04-21-2010, 02:31 PM
It's not being marketed as an e-reading device.

From Apples own website under their short list of "iPad at a glance":

http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/shop_ipad/family/ipad?afid=p219%7CGOUS&cid=OAS-US-KWG-iPad-US

they are hyping it as "A new way to read and buy books" and claim that it's "More than a great ebook reader, it’s also an amazing place to browse and shop for books."

That sure sounds like marketing talk to me.

dmaul1114
04-21-2010, 02:48 PM
The iPad is being marketed with e-reading being one of its main features.

So I see no issues with discussing how well it does at that task. Most everyone I know that has or is interested in an iPad is interested in the e-book function. Maybe not as their main reason--as like me none of them are bookworms--but people are aware of the function. They show the iBook app a few times in the TV commercial etc.

So I see no problems about articles discussing that feature and how it compares to the other options for reading e-books. I do think such articles should be fair and point out the advantages the device has in terms of all the other functions it can do.

Because let's face it, the vast majority of people don't read enough to have much interest in shelling out $200+ for a dedicated e-reader--so for the mainstream being multifunction is a big selling point.

I want a tablet, and I will read on it. But I'll no doubt spend more time surfing the net, watching videos, playing games etc. based on my experience messing around with my girlfriend's ipad.

In a same token, there's no need to be so harsh on eyestrain etc. as the average joe isn't reading for hours a day like the people on this site. I seldom read more than an hour or so in a give stretch so I can read on pretty much anything. Articles should mention that eyestrain is really only a concern for most if they're doing long term reading etc.

But that's just a problem with any reviews/articles etc. as they're all just one person's biased personal opinion, so people shouldn't make to much of them nor waste time arguing over them. In the end of the day the only thing that matters on gadgets is your opinion on them and whether they fit your needs or not.

Graham
04-21-2010, 02:50 PM
The article posed the very reasonable question of whether the eReading experience was better on an iPad or a Kindle under various lighting conditions. Whether or not the iPad is marketed as an eReader is completely irrelevant.

Graham

Penforhire
04-21-2010, 02:55 PM
Interesting experiment. Thanks for the link.

The value of the comparison is higher for those of us who are heavy readers and will consider buying a $400-odd device in the near future, but not two. The writer was clear to separate the conditions so if you never read under open sky just ignore that condition in his report. I do not understand why anyone feels the need to point to it as a deficiency in Jason's report. Some of us do, in fact, read under open skies from time to time.

dmaul1114
04-21-2010, 03:17 PM
Interesting experiment. Thanks for the link.

The value of the comparison is higher for those of us who are heavy readers and will consider buying a $400-odd device in the near future, but not two. The writer was clear to separate the conditions so if you never read under open sky just ignore that condition in his report. I do not understand why anyone feels the need to point to it as a deficiency in Jason's report. Some of us do, in fact, read under open skies from time to time.

Agreed.

And having just now read the piece, he was fair and also talked about the benefits of the iPad in dim lighting which many e-ink lovers leave out when bashing lcd screens poor performance in direct sunlight.

So it was a fair comparison IMO.

CleverClothe
04-21-2010, 11:31 PM
I have an onyx boox bought just a couple of months ago. I would hope it's been fixed but there are at least some displays that act like this out in the wild.

All you need to do is shade the screen while it refreshes. A piece of paper, the shadow from your hand, or even just angling the screen away from the sun for a moment. I think the heat (or maybe ultraviolet light) gives the screen trouble when it tries to move the dye around.

dmikov
04-22-2010, 12:34 AM
Pretty unfair to take the iPad to task for not working in daylight when it's not designed / marketed for such.

If one wants a device to use outdoors, then one should pick a screen suited / designed for such --- an e-ink or transflective LCD (I just picked up a Fujitsu Stylistic 4121 w/ indoor/outdoor screen and am finding it has transformed how I used my Tablet PC).

William

Really? How about using the worst e-ink display (Sony 700) of all time for comparison - fair?

astra
04-22-2010, 07:03 AM
Pretty unfair to take the iPad to task for not working in daylight when it's not designed / marketed for such.

If one wants a device to use outdoors, then one should pick a screen suited / designed for such --- an e-ink or transflective LCD (I just picked up a Fujitsu Stylistic 4121 w/ indoor/outdoor screen and am finding it has transformed how I used my Tablet PC).

William

It is a gadget marketed as ebook reader amongst other features. Moreover, one could say that ebook reading is being advertised as one of the most important features of iPad. Since reading outdoors is a very common thing it is a fair thing to do.

daveps
04-22-2010, 07:46 AM
Doesn't the Onyx Boox have a touch screen? If so that's why it won't work in full sunlight, same reason you cannot play a Nintendo DS in full sunlight, the touch screen is very reflective?

Magnesus
04-22-2010, 08:23 AM
Doesn't the Onyx Boox have a touch screen?


Onyx Boox has Wacom touchscreen which is UNDER the E Ink layer. It works great in full sunlight.

Sunlight problem - washing out during page flip - afflicts only some faulty batches of E Ink screens.

Shaggy
04-22-2010, 01:16 PM
It's not being marketed as an e-reading device...

From Apples own website under their short list of "iPad at a glance":


...It's being marketed as a multimedia tablet which also happens to include an eBook app.

Yes, that is what I said if you read past my first sentence.

HarryT
04-22-2010, 01:20 PM
My biggest gripe with e-ink is needing so much light to read at night in bed or in any low light situation.


The contrast of current eInk screens is on a par with that of newspapers, or cheap paperbacks. They can be read in any light that you could read those in.

badbob001
04-22-2010, 01:47 PM
So I don't think it's silly to complain about lcd devices not being good in direct sunlight, but to be objective such reviews should also note that e-ink devices aren't great in dim lighting and require hassling with clip on lights etc.

Eh, you did read the review, right?

dmaul1114
04-22-2010, 01:56 PM
Eh, you did read the review, right?

Not at the time of that post, see my later post above where I finally got time to read it and said it was a fair review.

So yeah, first post was off base as I assumed it was more of the typical "if it glows it blows" nonsense from e-ink lovers. But it wasn't and was a fair review of the pros and cons of each type of device.

dmaul1114
04-22-2010, 01:57 PM
The contrast of current eInk screens is on a par with that of newspapers, or cheap paperbacks. They can be read in any light that you could read those in.

Which is why I like LCD.

It's more readable in my typical reading conditions than either e-ink or the cheap paperbacks I usually read before. :D

WillAdams
04-22-2010, 02:14 PM
Agreed. It's a very well-done writeup --- it's just that the results shouldn't be surprising to anyone w/ experience w/ the technologies, and it's unfortunate that it doesn't mention the possibilities afforded by other technologies (or turn that around --- it's unfortunate that transflective LCDs aren't more widely available).

William

Shaggy
04-22-2010, 02:16 PM
Eh, you did read the review, right?

You expect people to actually read the review that we're discussing? What a silly idea. :D

Tamara
04-22-2010, 03:00 PM
The contrast of current eInk screens is on a par with that of newspapers, or cheap paperbacks. They can be read in any light that you could read those in.

I honestly don't know how much light I would need for a paper or cheap paperback. I haven't bought either in years.

Magnesus
04-23-2010, 09:09 AM
I compared E Ink screen to some newspapers, paperbacks and even old books with yellowish paper. And although I think E Ink is great, it had MUCH less contrast than all of those. Even if the paper was comparable, the letter blackness was much better in paper books / newspapers.

astra
04-23-2010, 09:23 AM
I compared E Ink screen to some newspapers, paperbacks and even old books with yellowish paper. And although I think E Ink is great, it had MUCH less contrast than all of those. Even if the paper was comparable, the letter blackness was much better in paper books / newspapers.

I have had exactly the opposite experience.
It was either as HarryT said or in some cases even better.

leebase
04-23-2010, 10:30 AM
Yes, another wonderfully "scientific" article about two people's preferences. I read for hours at a time on my iPad. No strain at all. I simply adjust the brightness to the situation, use a nice large font, and ENJOY!

I love reading on my iPhone -- wasn't sure I'd actually use my iPad for book reading. But, within a couple days, I became hooked. Nice big gorgeous, easy to read screen.

Lee

astra
04-23-2010, 11:18 AM
Yes, another wonderfully "scientific" article about two people's preferences. I read for hours at a time on my iPad. No strain at all. I simply adjust the brightness to the situation, use a nice large font, and ENJOY!

I love reading on my iPhone -- wasn't sure I'd actually use my iPad for book reading. But, within a couple days, I became hooked. Nice big gorgeous, easy to read screen.

Lee

I am sure it is very personal.
Some 5 years ago, when I was studying, most of study materials were on-line materials and I had 19" LG CRT with 120Hz refresh rate. It was horrible. I decided to buy a laptop and one of the reasons was - no refresh rate. A friend of mine has warned me that I still can get eye strain. It is different from CRT but many people do get eye strain, although some, like him, don't notice it at all.
I didn't believe him.
He was right (as usual).
It was much better than CRT, however, I would get tired far quicker than I expected. With time it became worse.

My point is that there was no eInk. So, it was not eInk vs. LCD holy wars. It was just the reality I had to cope with. I never dreamed of reading ebooks back then because of eye strain.
eInk opened the doors to ebook world for me. As a consequence, any gadget with a backlit screen is out of the list of alternative ebook readers for me.
What does bother me on this forum, is that if I say that I disregard a particular gadget as ebook reader because it has backlit screen, LCD fans claim very loudly that I discriminate LCD screens. For whatever reason they feel like they have to wage a holy war with LCD vs. eInk, us vs. them camps.

Silly, stupid and childish.

dmaul1114
04-23-2010, 11:24 AM
What does bother me on this forum, is that if I say that I disregard a particular gadget as ebook reader because it has backlit screen, LCD fans claim very loudly that I discriminate LCD screens. For whatever reason they feel like they have to wage a holy war with LCD vs. eInk, us vs. them camps.

Silly, stupid and childish.

It goes both ways with the e-ink lovers posting "if it glows it blows" and going around and bashing LCD screens.

Plenty of idiots on both sides that have to go around bashing the other technology and taking digs at people who prefer it.

But that's just the nature of net forums. Doesn't matter what the topic is, you have fanboys who act like that on every site.

astra
04-23-2010, 11:44 AM
It goes both ways with the e-ink lovers posting "if it glows it blows" and going around and bashing LCD screens.

That's me. If somebody posts a topic: New ebook Reader AAA-BBB with 6" LCD screen!
Spec:
Review:
Questions: Would you buy it? Consider it? What do you think?

I always reply and say, no way I would buy a gadget with LCD screen to read ebooks or classify it as an ebook reader. Only eInk for me.
If we had a dedicated LCD forum, and the topic was posted there, then my reply would be qualified to be named: LCD bashing.

leebase
04-23-2010, 12:17 PM
It was much better than CRT, however, I would get tired far quicker than I expected. With time it became worse.

FWIW -- I am not someone who can read a book on a laptop. It does kill my eyes. Even though I work on my laptop all day, I still can't read long form on it.

I did not have that problem with either my iPhone or iPad. I'm sure it has to do with how I hold those devices vs my laptop, and the ease with which I can dim the screen and set the font size. It probably also has something to do with the sizes of those screens. My eyes have to travel a lot further reading on a large computer monitor.

I don't say this for YOU -- but others may find that, like me, there is something different between reading on a computer and reading on an iPad.

Lee

dmaul1114
04-23-2010, 07:08 PM
Well there's a difference between saying LCD isn't for you, and posting "if it glows it blows" or other inflammatory comments rather than just respectfully posting that it's not for you.

And I agree with leebase, I hate reading on a computer, but don't have much issues with my girlfriend's iPad. And I do think a lot has to do with the form factor--but like him, not saying it would work for you or anyone else. I couldn't give a crap less what anyone else likes to read on. All that matters is finding the right device for your own needs and reading on it.

whitepaper
04-24-2010, 12:50 AM
You can't compare iPad with e-ink, it should be compared with Kindle or sony reader. If you compare iPad and Kindle, sure iPad wins, Kindle is closed and is only purposed for Kindle copyrighted content reading, so their capabilities are completely different.

But if you compare LCD/OLED or whatever monitor with backlight with e-ink, E-ink sure wins in easy eye reading and power saving. What an e-reader needs is a good software, but till now since all the e-ink reader's vendors keep their environment closed, and provide very preliminary app, so no user ever experienced full advantage of e-ink.

Magnesus
04-26-2010, 04:33 AM
I have had exactly the opposite experience.
It was either as HarryT said or in some cases even better.

Really? Maybe my paperbacks are good, most have quite white pages and very black letters even those that are yellowish from age. :)

I agree though that in any light that the paperback is easy readable the E Ink devices I have or had were also easy readable. So in the regard of readability they are on par even if the contrast varies.

LDBoblo
04-26-2010, 07:16 AM
Really? Maybe my paperbacks are good, most have quite white pages and very black letters even those that are yellowish from age. :)

I agree though that in any light that the paperback is easy readable the E Ink devices I have or had were also easy readable. So in the regard of readability they are on par even if the contrast varies.

For me it's about a 20% difference. If the light is barely tolerable for a paperback, e-ink will not be sufficient. The difference is even greater with hardcovers and trade paperbacks.

Most of the time, both are fine, but e-ink pretty much always loses in contrast, and almost always loses in readability. I have problems imagining the kind of books some users here have been exposed to, considering their feelings that e-ink is generally equal or superior.

Sweetpea
04-26-2010, 07:23 AM
For me it's about a 20% difference. If the light is barely tolerable for a paperback, e-ink will not be sufficient. The difference is even greater with hardcovers and trade paperbacks.

Most of the time, both are fine, but e-ink pretty much always loses in contrast, and almost always loses in readability. I have problems imagining the kind of books some users here have been exposed to, considering their feelings that e-ink is generally equal or superior.

That's my impression as well. When reading inside, in the livingroom (where you don't have a specific reading light), I find the Mini harder to read than a real paper book. So, I'll just grab my backlit LCD screen for those situations.

Outside, in bright sunlight (they really have some bright sunlight in Southern Spain!), even when sitting in the shade, I find the e-ink more comfortable to read.

Lemurion
04-26-2010, 11:20 AM
I liked the article - it very closely mirrored my own experiences with my Sony 505 and the Droid. I do have the lightwedge cover on the Sony, which makes low-light reading easier, but the Droid really shows its strengths at night.

Personally, if I were to pick just one device for reading it would be the Sony hands down.

However if I were to pick just one device - the Droid would win for its greater functionality. It's not as good for reading, but it's better than my PDAs - and the other capabilities make up for it.

I think I'd feel the same way about the iPad, but I'm not sure. What I really want is the Android answer to the iPad.

BuddyBoy
04-26-2010, 02:00 PM
I can read on an LCD for several hours without eyestrain, but I prefer e-ink. For many years I was using the Rocket/RCA/Gemstar books - I loved the backlit screens, especially for reading at night, not to mention the ergonomics of the 1150.

When it comes to the iPad and reading, in my opinion, it's strengths are for colour illustrated books, and night reading. My only reservation with night reading is the size and weight. I own an REB1200 and GEM2150, the larger colour ebook readers, and found they were just to big and heavy to hold comfortably in bed. I preferred the grayscale and lightweight 1150.

Doesn't mean I not getting an iPad (picking one up in California next month!), but I doubt it will usurp my PRS505 anytime soon.

Edited to Add: Forgot the other strenght of the iPad vis-a-vis reading: Magazines! I'm going to be getting SO much more use out of my Zinio subscriptions.

tompe
04-26-2010, 07:14 PM
The contrast of current eInk screens is on a par with that of newspapers, or cheap paperbacks. They can be read in any light that you could read those in.

That is not true for my eyes. I need much more light for my Gen 3 than I need for a standard paper back book.