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Old 06-09-2011, 12:37 AM   #1
spellbanisher
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Eink vs LCD: Is what Amazon says true?

Amazon has listed "technical reasons" as to why eink is easier on the eyes than LCD. Here are the reasons.

Quote:
Ambient brightness: Every time your eye switches from a bright screen (like LCD) to the dimmer ambient room, your eyes adjust which may result in fatigue. With E Ink, the page is the same brightness as everything else in the room so there's no adjustment needed.

No parallax: Parallax is the apparent displacement of an observed object due to a change in the position of the observer. Text on an E Ink screen does not appear to shift at different viewing angles.

Less glare: All E Ink surfaces are treated to be matte like a printed page. Most LCDs are not, which creates glare and decreases legibility.

Uniform contrast ratio: The contrast ratio of an LCD varies detectably with viewing angle. E Ink's contrast is uniform, so you can read comfortably at any angle.

No aperture ratio loss: LCDs have tiny black gaps between each pixel, but E Ink screens have 100% aperture ratio. The blacks and whites on an E Ink screen are uniform, improving image quality.
I know that eink vs lcd threads have been done before, but I want to address what is specifically listed on the Kindle page at amazon.

Last edited by spellbanisher; 06-09-2011 at 01:06 AM.
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Old 06-09-2011, 01:41 AM   #2
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I don't know about how "true" it is...I think it gives some interesting possibilities as to why some people feel eyestrain and its accompaniments so readily and strongly, and why others don't. Actually, I'm skipping something in my motive for replying...

At this very moment, having just played some Ratchet and Clank on the PS3, I am suffering, as I always do with these first-person-type games, some serious "motion sickness". My stomach is currently ululating and undulating in a region located simultaneously proximal to a sickly swelling in the back of my throat and above the pulsating forcefield of a suddenly-migrainal brainscape. I am aware, frustratingly so, from watching others play and noting the games' massive popularity, that these types of games don't cause such symptoms in most, and in others they do to varying degrees up to and probably past mine.

So, reading these "technical reasons" actually has the psychosomatic effect of making me feel even further queazy, particularly the first three. I can "relate" to them, and daren't touch my iPad at the moment. Some of this is possibly an empathetic response, but also, I suspect, it has something to do with aggravation of symptoms which perhaps I am sensitive to to a particular degree (though I'd note that when not in a "motion sickness" state, I have no problems reading on my iPad, though I have a comfort preference for my Kindle). The "movement" of parallax, the shifting focus of glare, the adjusting to brightnesses...all of these would aggravate my motion sickness (and, even absent the game-playing, would certainly aggravate my migraines).

It's all interesting. There'll obviously be reasonable doubt about a seller's "technical reasons" as to why one of their product specifications is "better", but it will be interesting if people who do feel said "eyestrain" symptoms with backlit LCD's have any kind of visceral "Yes!" reaction to the detailed points. Not that that is "proof" by the usual scientific standards, but it's all grist to the mill when it comes to expanding the conversation around the topic.

Cheers,
Marc (doomed to play Little Big Planet 1 & 2 forever )
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Old 06-09-2011, 01:55 AM   #3
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Quote:
Ambient brightness: Every time your eye switches from a bright screen (like LCD) to the dimmer ambient room, your eyes adjust which may result in fatigue. With E Ink, the page is the same brightness as everything else in the room so there's no adjustment needed.
They do have a point here, in a way. But it works both ways. If I'm in a dark(er) environment, e-ink most certainly isn't easier on the eyes unless I bring extra lights. And LCD isn't easier on the eyes in a dark(er) environment unless I turn down the brightness of the screen. On my JE100 I can turn the brightness so low, that it hardly gives out any ambient brightness (I can't light my path with it, for example) and I can read for hours on that. While if I were to use my e-ink and a clip-on light, I'd grow tired of the reflection on my screen.

Quote:
No parallax: Parallax is the apparent displacement of an observed object due to a change in the position of the observer. Text on an E Ink screen does not appear to shift at different viewing angles.
Again, not always true. At least for LCD. If you have a cheap screen, yes. If you have a better quality, no. At least, not noticeable during normal reading experiences.

Quote:
Less glare: All E Ink surfaces are treated to be matte like a printed page. Most LCDs are not, which creates glare and decreases legibility.
Again, not always true. While I do love the matte surface of my readers, I do have the same matte surface on all of my LCD readers. Anti-glare films are a LCD-user's best friend. Not only against glare, but also against scratches...

Quote:
Uniform contrast ratio: The contrast ratio of an LCD varies detectably with viewing angle. E Ink's contrast is uniform, so you can read comfortably at any angle.
See the parallax part. This depends highly on the quality of the screen.

Quote:
No aperture ratio loss: LCDs have tiny black gaps between each pixel, but E Ink screens have 100% aperture ratio. The blacks and whites on an E Ink screen are uniform, improving image quality.
Again, see contrast and parallax. If the pixel density is high enough, you won't see those "black gaps" unless you use a microscope...

Overal, yes, e-ink has the advantage of always being decent on all counts. For LCD you need the better (and more expensive) quality. But to say that e-ink is always better than LCD for reading, I really will never buy that.
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Old 06-09-2011, 01:58 AM   #4
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i'm just wondering xP since the screen is said to be "treated", how do i clean it? just wipe it off? i once used a little water as i saw there were small stains on it and wanted to wipe it off completely...
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Old 06-09-2011, 02:00 AM   #5
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As usual, use a lint-free cloth and some non-alcohol based, non aggressive cleaner.
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Old 06-09-2011, 02:05 AM   #6
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I love my Kindle, but most advantages disappear at night if you use the lighted cover, as I do. That diagonal light gives an unevenness down the page that is anything but easy on the eyes.
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Old 06-09-2011, 02:13 AM   #7
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^ Hmmm, good info re: the lighted cover. I am now glad I didn't purchase that one.

I have not found this to be the case with my K3. The light I purchased is a single AAA, single lamp and the head unit has a light diffuser lens. On my K3, the light is very evenly dispersed across the entire screen. There is a tiny bit of glare/reflection at the 12 o'clock position but this only impacts the first couple of sentences in that specific area but even this can be reduced with an ever so slight, momentary tilt of my K3.

Certainly not quite as elegant a system as the lighted cover, but I can deal with the small inconvenience of carrying a separate light.
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Old 06-09-2011, 02:40 AM   #8
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I remember in the Charlie Rose interview Jeff Bezos did about the Kindle he compared the LCD screen to trying to read with a flashlight shining in your face. Certainly I have noticed that if I read on my netbook for too long my eyes suffer some strain and that I don't get that strain while looking at the Kindle page.
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Old 06-09-2011, 02:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMB View Post
I love my Kindle, but most advantages disappear at night if you use the lighted cover, as I do. That diagonal light gives an unevenness down the page that is anything but easy on the eyes.
I love my lighted cover. I love that the light gets its power from the Kindle, so I don't have to worry about batteries or charging it. I love that the light disappears into the cover, such that people aren't even aware it has a light. I love my cover's apple-greenness even.

But, yes, I would have to concede its actual lighting is not optimum for me, in the way described, though not intolerable.

In all my years of reading (pbooks inclusive) I've never had much luck with book-lights. Their weight, build quality, globe-lifetime, light colour, light quality...it's all been a frustration that would easily be solved with my bedside light if it wasn't such a disturbance to The Loved One. ~sigh~

[EDIT: Oops, I'm at risk of derailing the conversation towards a purely book-light discussion. Please don't follow my lead, people! Sorry, spellbanisher ]

Cheers,
Marc

Last edited by montsnmags; 06-09-2011 at 02:48 AM.
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Old 06-09-2011, 05:20 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by montsnmags View Post
I love my lighted cover. I love that the light gets its power from the Kindle, so I don't have to worry about batteries or charging it. I love that the light disappears into the cover, such that people aren't even aware it has a light. I love my cover's apple-greenness even.

But, yes, I would have to concede its actual lighting is not optimum for me, in the way described, though not intolerable.

In all my years of reading (pbooks inclusive) I've never had much luck with book-lights. Their weight, build quality, globe-lifetime, light colour, light quality...it's all been a frustration that would easily be solved with my bedside light if it wasn't such a disturbance to The Loved One. ~sigh~

[EDIT: Oops, I'm at risk of derailing the conversation towards a purely book-light discussion. Please don't follow my lead, people! Sorry, spellbanisher ]

Cheers,
Marc
Well, talking about book lights isn't really off topic. For me, LCD screens will always have a major advantage, simply because I just can't stand book lights. I never am able to find the correct angle so I can see the entire surface, without being blinded by either the lamp itself, or the reflection off the surface (be it paper or electronic).

But in order to read comfortably from a LCD screen, you must be able to adjust the brightness so it won't be too bright compared to your surroundings. I find that I can't use my Android tablet in the dark, as I just can't turn down the brightness enough, for example.
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Old 06-09-2011, 05:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweetpea View Post
Well, talking about book lights isn't really off topic.
...
No, I agree talking about ebook device lighting in general terms as it relates to this topic, isn't off-topic. But I was in danger of talking about "Which is the best specific model of book light?", so was worried I might end up hijacking the thread. And I think there may be some other threads where book lights are discussed in such a manner.

Cheers,
Marc
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Old 06-09-2011, 08:28 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spellbanisher View Post
Less glare: All E Ink surfaces are treated to be matte like a printed page. Most LCDs are not, which creates glare and decreases legibility.
.
I've never understood this switch to shiny reflective screens, but my old laptop has a matt screen that you can view at any angle under any lighting conditions. It's actually less reflective than my Kindle's screen, which needs to be held at a specific angle to avoid glare from a bedside lamp.
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Old 06-09-2011, 09:57 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr ploppy View Post
I've never understood this switch to shiny reflective screens, but my old laptop has a matt screen that you can view at any angle under any lighting conditions. It's actually less reflective than my Kindle's screen, which needs to be held at a specific angle to avoid glare from a bedside lamp.
My new laptop has a nice matte screen as well. The problem is, that people only compare devices they know and have seen. And most phones (which is what most people will have seen that is comparable to a dedicated e-ink device) have a glossy screen.
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Old 06-09-2011, 10:18 AM   #14
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I do find it easier to fall asleep at night after reading on my Kindle vs. an iPod Touch. This might be because the size difference, but believe it's just the screen difference.
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Old 06-09-2011, 01:19 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crich70 View Post
I remember in the Charlie Rose interview Jeff Bezos did about the Kindle he compared the LCD screen to trying to read with a flashlight shining in your face. Certainly I have noticed that if I read on my netbook for too long my eyes suffer some strain and that I don't get that strain while looking at the Kindle page.
Most decent tablets these days have night-reading modes in which the text is illuminted but the background is black. Night-reading mode is actually less bright than the book lights for ereaders. Night reading mode looks like this:



Quote:
Originally Posted by montsnmags View Post
I love my lighted cover. I love that the light gets its power from the Kindle, so I don't have to worry about batteries or charging it. I love that the light disappears into the cover, such that people aren't even aware it has a light. I love my cover's apple-greenness even.

But, yes, I would have to concede its actual lighting is not optimum for me, in the way described, though not intolerable.

In all my years of reading (pbooks inclusive) I've never had much luck with book-lights. Their weight, build quality, globe-lifetime, light colour, light quality...it's all been a frustration that would easily be solved with my bedside light if it wasn't such a disturbance to The Loved One. ~sigh~

[EDIT: Oops, I'm at risk of derailing the conversation towards a purely book-light discussion. Please don't follow my lead, people! Sorry, spellbanisher ]

Cheers,
Marc
I should report you to the mods!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr ploppy View Post
I've never understood this switch to shiny reflective screens, but my old laptop has a matt screen that you can view at any angle under any lighting conditions. It's actually less reflective than my Kindle's screen, which needs to be held at a specific angle to avoid glare from a bedside lamp.
Hmmm, I'd like to blame Apple for this one. My Dell Laptop, which is five years old, has a matte screen. Almost all the Dell monitors at the college I went to had matte screens. All the computers my brother owns (he owns two desktop computers and two laptops) all have matte screens. The first glossy computer monitors I ever saw were the mac computers. The Ipad also has a glossy screen, as does the Ipod and the Iphone, and now it seems that all tablets and phones have glossy screens, even though matte makes much more sense for a portable device. Maybe I'm wrong there. Does anyone have experience with glossy screens on pc's that are older than five years?

Here is the difference between glossy and matte:

Quote:
Originally Posted by http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/how-to/tips/4213062
Glossy screens produce an image that's generally regarded as "richer." Admittedly, that's a nebulous term, but essentially it means there is more color depth and vibrancy. On the downside, glossy screens are more susceptible to glare, reflecting light from windows and light bulbs. And they tend to show fingerprints and smudges more readily, especially when they are off.

Matte screens tend to handle glare better, due to a polarized coating over the glass that diffuses ambient light. A side effect of the matte finish is a slight blurring, reduced contrast and a narrower viewing angle.

Read more: LCD Monitors: Glossy vs. Matte - Popular Mechanics
Some comparisons between glossy and matte. In both shots the glossy is on the left.


The one indisputable advantage that eink has over lcd is that in brighter conditions, eink has greater contrast, whereas lcd has reduced contrast, although I think there are now reflective lcd monitors.

Here is the co-founder of eink going into more depth as to why he thinks eink is better than LCD for reading.

Quote:
While LCDs are adequate for reading, E Ink was invented and engineered for the best possible reading experience. Your readers might like to hear about a few technical factors that are not well known and contribute to the difference:

1. Ambient brightness
Over the years many people have told me that reading an emissive display is bothersome to them while E Ink is not.

I think one reason is that as you read, your eyes skip along the lines of text, dwelling for a fraction of a second on small groups of words. Your eyes are constantly moving ? hundreds of times per minute. So it is very important that your eyes be able to refocus on the surface of a screen within a split-second.

Emissive displays are ill-suited for this. While you are reading a book, you see a lot more than the screen. Your field of vision is wider than the page alone and your eyes often glance off the page. With a backlit screen, every time your eye switches from a bright screen to the dimmer ambient room, your eye muscles must make an adjustment. And the more adjustments, the more chance for eyestrain.

With paper or E Ink, the page is the same brightness as everything else in the room. Your eye needs less adjustment effort to go back and forth. You can see and understand information more immediately. Paper is the ultimate “glanceable” display and that helps improve comprehension and maximize reading speed.

2. No parallax / closer to the eye

Have you ever gazed at a calculator display and noticed a bit of a shadow? That is parallax. The same thing happens on your emissive LCD. The white color is actually coming from a backlight behind the LCD; the black color is coming from a shadow cast by the liquid crystal material in the middle of the LCD glass sandwich. So black and white are different distances from your eye. This degree of shadowing changes with the viewing angle. There are also two sheets of glass and multiple polarizer films between your eye and the white background, which creates a slight feeling of separation between screen and real world.

In an E Ink display, the electronic ink contains black and white particles that are both moved physically by electrophoresis to the front of the display. So both black and white are exactly the same distance from your eye. Furthermore, both are at the front pressed up to the top layer of glass. This greatly contributes to the feeling that the information is printed on the top of a page.

3. Less glare

All E Ink display surfaces are treated to be matte like a printed page. Most LCDs are not. This is not an obvious feature when you buy the product, but it makes a huge difference to legibility in some settings.

4. Same contrast across the entire page

Although modern LCDs have greatly improved their viewing angle uniformity, there is still a detectable difference in contrast ratio across the page. These differences in contrast make it just a tiny bit harder to resolve images as your eye skips along the page. As the screen gets larger or closer to your eyes, as with a handheld book, this angular difference is increased.

5. No aperture ratio loss

The pixels on LCD screens do not have a full aperture ratio, because each pixel must be separated by a black border. The border hides the underlying transistor and separates the areas of the color filter. There are actually 3 sets of borders per pixel, since color LCDs have RGB subpixels. This all adds up to tiny black gaps between each pixel. As LCDs reach higher resolutions there are even more dead gaps as a percentage of viewing area.

E Ink screens have a 100% aperture ratio. There is no black mask and no black border between pixels. When two neighboring pixels are white on an E Ink screen, the pixels merge to form a solid block of white. Therefore the blacks and whites on an E Ink screen are uniform, again improving image quality.

Russ Wilcox, co-founder E Ink <– absolutely biased in favor of E Ink! =) ‘
I think most of the points were addressed by sweetpea; in general, LCD screens have the problems noted by Russ Wilcox, but higher end LCD screens probably do not have these problems. Personally, I've never had a problem with lcd, for the most part, but I prefer eink for aesthetic reasons. I have an ebookwise 1150, and I never experienced eye strain with it. The only problem, and it was a huge problem for me, was the screen glare, which made it difficult to use the reader in all but very low light conditions (or in the dark).

Last edited by spellbanisher; 06-09-2011 at 01:30 PM.
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