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Old 12-30-2009, 06:43 PM   #1
DD1509
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Death of E-Ink display?

With the pending Apple tablet and now the Microsoft via Kurzweil reader software, is this spelling the death of the E-Ink screen? The big TWO are going to push a color screen with back lighting. They want a rich, robust, backlit color environment. B&N helped a bit toward this goal by adding color in their 2nd display at the bottom of the Nook. The future looks like it will be an LED screen.

Can the E-Ink display hold off this onslaught? Will it simply become a blip on the radar of the history of eBooks when we look back in 5 years?

I am not sure that Amazon, B&N and all the rest can hold off the weight of being crushed by these two big players and likely more to come.

I own two Kindles and like the plain screen for reading a eBook. I am not sure I want all the glitz of a tablet with lots of other features. Of course, I remain open-minded to some slick new device in the near future.

However, the greater public has yet to vote. This would be the next 50 million buyers of the next generation of eBooks/eReaders. Most of this 50 million have not even seen an E-Ink screen. They likely will not see they have a real choice.

What do you think?
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Old 12-30-2009, 07:11 PM   #2
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Of course it can.

While LED lighting reduces the flicker associated with LCD screens, it does nothing for problems such as power consumption and unreadability under external lighting.

Colour has got nothing to do with reading books, and those who whine on about it merely betray the fact that they're not looking for a book reader, they're looking for a smaller version of their computer screen. LCD screens can produce only a poor facsimile of a glossy magazine, but there may be those who are fooled by the Apple shine into accepting it.

eInk certainly needs a lot of work still, but standard LCD screens (LED-lit or not) aren't the answer.
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Old 12-30-2009, 07:17 PM   #3
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Can we give this mythical Apple Tablet a rest? It's not going to be the death of e-ink even if it was real. Besides, the battery life won't be good enough to take on an 8 hour plane flight without needing a recharge.
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Old 12-30-2009, 07:25 PM   #4
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Old 12-30-2009, 07:31 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DD1509 View Post
With the pending Apple tablet and now the Microsoft via Kurzweil reader software, is this spelling the death of the E-Ink screen?
Probably not.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DD1509
The big TWO are going to push a color screen with back lighting. They want a rich, robust, backlit color environment.... The future looks like it will be an LED screen.
LED is just a backlight; the screens will be harder to read, heavier, reduce comprehension and require more power. A tablet device will measure its battery life in hours and weight in pounds, whereas with eInk it's days and ounces. Color eInk is also in the works, and flexible screens are also possible. Device costs are also dropping, which makes them more attractive.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DD1509
Can the E-Ink display hold off this onslaught?
It's certainly possible, e.g. a similar successive tech could always replace it. EBooks are only one target for eInk, by the way; things like street ads are another market. So they'll probably be fine, unless they fail to execute at some point.

The only caveat is magazines; I don't think eInk devices have really gotten that down yet. However a lot of that is screen size; e.g. a magazine on a 6" tablet will be as difficult to design for as a 6" eInk screen.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DD1509
I am not sure that Amazon, B&N and all the rest can hold off the weight of being crushed by these two big players and likely more to come.
Amazon and B&N can easily write software for any tablet, as demonstrated by their existing software for the iPhone and PC. No one's success is guaranteed, but clearly they can adapt to a change in the device ecosystem.

Plus, the publishers are terrified of how iTunes dominated the legit music download market, so I doubt they will just flock to or kowtow to any new retailer, especially Apple or MS.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DD1509
However, the greater public has yet to vote. This would be the next 50 million buyers of the next generation of eBooks/eReaders.
Sure, but this is not necessarily a zero-sum game.

Not all book buyers purchase books equally. Most people only buy or read a few books a year, and a small portion buys 10+ books a year and thus represents a significant chunk of the revenues. So even if tablets become used by more individuals to read books, it's plausible that an eInk / ePaper / focused device will still be the source for most of the actual ebooks that get read.

I.e. as long as that small slice wants a device that's really good for reading, I'm pretty confident someone is going to sell a device that's really good for reading (whatever that may be). LCD currently does not fit that bill, for example, and is unlikely to do so in the future.

Separately, it's quite possible that the education market may prefer to provide devices that are made for reading, and aren't capable of providing dozens of distractions for the students. They won't be too thrilled by a device that conks out after 4, 5 or even 6 hours.

Last but not least, it is actually somewhat rare (afaik) for a multifunction device to completely replace a focused one. The only instance I can think of is the PDA getting largely rolled into smartphones.
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:02 PM   #6
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
Can we give this mythical Apple Tablet a rest? It's not going to be the death of e-ink even if it was real. Besides, the battery life won't be good enough to take on an 8 hour plane flight without needing a recharge.
I'm fairly convinced that Apple will release a tablet, but I personally suspect it will be an oversized ipod touch - heavily restricted, expensive, marketed as a new and better way of doing things. It certainly wont knocking off e-ink.
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:40 PM   #8
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Colour has got nothing to do with reading books, and those who whine on about it merely betray the fact that they're not looking for a book reader, they're looking for a smaller version of their computer screen. LCD screens can produce only a poor facsimile of a glossy magazine, but there may be those who are fooled by the Apple shine into accepting it.
Very true.

I think e-ink or some equivalent screen will stay around as there will always be a market for dedicated readers for people who just want to read text.

I do definitely want a smaller version of my computer screen. A4 size, good stylus writing support etc. Reading's a pretty minor hobby of mine, so I'd get more frequent use out of a tablet than I do my Kindle which just gets read at night before sleep (when I used to read paper backs) and on plane trips.

Tablet I could use for academic documents, PDA, net browsing, video watching etc. so I'm very anxious to see some tablet devices (not the full fledged tablet laptops that have been around) start coming out as I've said repeatedly.

But no question, they won't kill off dedicated readers or e-ink. It's not an either/or proposition. There's plenty of room in the market from all kinds of devices which can display ebooks-from dedicated e-ink devices, to laptops/pcs, to tablet devices to smart phones and PDAs.

And the more the better as any thing that increases the number of people with the ability to buy and read e-books is good for all of us--regardless of device were prefer to read on personally. Expanding the market will lead to better selection, better prices, and probably the death of DRM eventually (easier to be tough on a niche vs. a mass market media with fierce competition).
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:46 PM   #9
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I'm fairly convinced that Apple will release a tablet, but I personally suspect it will be an oversized ipod touch - heavily restricted, expensive, marketed as a new and better way of doing things. It certainly wont knocking off e-ink.
If such was to get released, I'd have to agree with your assessment.Plus the battery won't last long enough for reading.
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:51 PM   #10
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I don't think it's a matter of eInk vs. the world. I see it as non-backlit (including the Toshiba LCD) vs. backlit.

The premise of the non-backlit screens is that they are noticeably easier on the eyes for many people.

If the premise is true, then the market for non-backlit screens shouldn't diminish because of the marketing power of backlit screen companies.
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Old 12-30-2009, 09:02 PM   #11
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I don't think it's a matter of eInk vs. the world. I see it as non-backlit (including the Toshiba LCD) vs. backlit.

The premise of the non-backlit screens is that they are noticeably easier on the eyes for many people.

If the premise is true, then the market for non-backlit screens shouldn't diminish because of the marketing power of backlit screen companies.
One of the problems with a lot of LCD is sunlight. If the LCD is not good in direct sunlight, then it won't work as a reader. The GPS I have is LCD and terrible in direct sunlight. But the way it's mostly used, it's mounted in the car such that it does not get hit with direct sunlight. My cell phone is not wonderful in direct sunlight. Again LCD. My 505 being eink is wonderful in direct sunlight.
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Old 12-30-2009, 09:34 PM   #12
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If such was to get released, I'd have to agree with your assessment.Plus the battery won't last long enough for reading.
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One of the problems with a lot of LCD is sunlight. If the LCD is not good in direct sunlight, then it won't work as a reader. The GPS I have is LCD and terrible in direct sunlight. But the way it's mostly used, it's mounted in the car such that it does not get hit with direct sunlight. My cell phone is not wonderful in direct sunlight. Again LCD. My 505 being eink is wonderful in direct sunlight.

I will say, that it's wise to not overstate things like these, like they're objective deal breakers for everyone who wants a device to do some reading on.

A tablet's battery life won't be nowhere near an e-ink device. But if they can get it to 4-6 hours (or a couple more) that's more than enough for most people for reading. I hardly ever read for more than a couple hours at a time, and most often it's for 30-60 minutes. And I do 99% of my reading in doors near power outlets anyway.

To the second, while the sunlight thing is true, not everyone cares about reading in sunlight. I seldom ever read outside, or do much of anything outdoors period, so it's a non-factor for me.

Not really a rant at just you. Just many people here talk like e-books are only for the avid readers on this site who read all the damn time. Which leaves out us more casual readers who don't necessarily need super long battery life, ability to read in sun, screens easy on the eyes in long reading sessions etc.

Again, there's room for all kinds of devices with the ability to read e-books. And this site isn't meant just for avid readers who want dedicated reader devices (hence the forums for smart phones, PDAs etc.), so it bugs me to see some "snobbery" (for lack of a better word) toward the usefulness of non-eink devices for reading e-books.

By the same token, other's need to quit posting topics about tablets or other devices killing e-ink. Again, plenty of room for all kinds of devices that can access e-books so all of us can find the device(s) that suit our e-book needs.

Last edited by dmaul1114; 12-30-2009 at 09:36 PM.
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Old 12-30-2009, 09:45 PM   #13
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Old 12-30-2009, 10:00 PM   #14
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Not really a rant at just you. Just many people here talk like e-books are only for the avid readers on this site who read all the damn time. Which leaves out us more casual readers who don't necessarily need super long battery life, ability to read in sun, screens easy on the eyes in long reading sessions etc.
in December 2008, we took a trip for the holidays to Scotland. I took my 505 with me. That is not a short trip. And I was glad I had a device that the battery lasted the entire trip. I did read a lot and if I had only 4 or so hours of battery life, the thing would have died before the plane touched down and I would have been left with a useless device. So for some, battery life is rather important. And the ability to read in direct sunlight is actually more important then you think. When it's a nice day outside, I do like to go outside and if I take my 505, I like knowing I can read in the sun. As for screens, they do need to be easy on the eyes. And that is a subjective thing. I could read on an LCD screen. But the LCD screen would also have to be able to be viewed in direct sunlight and have good battery life for the device.
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Old 12-30-2009, 10:08 PM   #15
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I certainly hope eInk doesn't go away. It's a must for me - I can stare at an LCD screen for hours if I'm playing a game or watching videos, but not for reading. I don't know how it's different, but it is. I think there are plenty of other people out there who don't like reading on LCD screens, though. I hope there are enough to keep eInk devices alive.
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