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Old 03-01-2007, 01:43 PM   #1
Fauve
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Question Grey/low-contrast Reader screen?

Hello, all;

I recently bought a Sony Reader to replace my old Gemstar GEB2150. I mainly had to go from online reviews and documentation as to the Reader's features since no one locally sells it and I never had the chance to see a physical unit before I bought it. I received the Reader yesterday and am in the main very happy with it, but one thing bothers me. Even in very good, strong light my Reader's background is a darkish grey, never white, and it does not have good contrast with the black text. All of the photos I've seen of the Reader's screen made it look like the background was, if not a bright white, at least clearly white, rather than grey. Can other folks tell me what their Reader screens look like? I don't know if mine is normal or if there's something wrong with the unit.

Thanks!
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Old 03-01-2007, 02:05 PM   #2
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The pix tend to make the background look whiter than it really is -- it's one of the challenges of e-ink, that it doesn't photograph well.

That being said, it ought to be a fairly light gray in the background, such that if you get it in direct sunlight, it looks nearly white. I do know that the display gets a bit more ... fluid with use, so the contrast is a bit lower when it's been idle for a while, and improves after using it a bit, but that shouldn't take too much use to see, 4~5 page changes in quick succession should do it. Oh, yeah, it does get more sluggish as the temperature drops, so if you're using it in a particularly cold environment, you'll probably see some of that. Hmmm, and a low battery charge can result in the contrast dropping too....
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Old 03-01-2007, 02:20 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply! I think that part of the problem may be that I'm going from the GEB2150, a device with a backlight, to the Reader. It does seem odd not to have the backlight and it may be affecting my perception of the contrast.
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Old 03-01-2007, 02:22 PM   #4
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One thing I noticed early with this kind of display is that it does not do well with the yellowish lighting we have been accustomed to use.

You have to spotlight it with a compact fluorescent (CF) bulb. And in the process try not to light your hands, they will have a tendancy to be brighter than the screen; uncomfortably distracting. My favorite reading setup with it involves a cantilevered floorlamp with a CF in it right over the center of my head while in an easychair, with a lounging cover and two cats on my legs.

I've tried it next to a window in direct sun. At this it is the best ever outside reading experience, even more than paper, which becomes too bright and better than any edisplay available.
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Old 03-01-2007, 05:01 PM   #5
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I have found that a light in front of me provides the best experience. When the light is behind me I seem to go in and out of shadow and good reading a bit. Directly overhead tends to get my face in the light path or a reflection off the glass. Not much of a reflection, but a reflection none the less.
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Old 03-02-2007, 05:32 AM   #6
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Yes, you definitely need a good reading light for the Reader. In dim yellow light, the screen background does indeed look dark grey, but it bright white light it's almost white.
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Old 03-02-2007, 06:58 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fauve
All of the photos I've seen of the Reader's screen made it look like the background was, if not a bright white, at least clearly white, rather than grey.
The same effect has been noted for other e-ink devices as well.

See, for instance, http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7573
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Old 03-02-2007, 05:48 PM   #8
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Definitely try to find some Full spectrum Compact Flourescents or regular incadescent bulbs. This are much whiter than normal lights and make the contrast look much better on the reader.
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Old 06-09-2007, 11:30 PM   #9
brian_el_nino
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I'm sorry to say after having experienced the Reader for 2 months that eink technology is terribly flawed.

When after all the hoopla that this screen is the same or better than a paperback book, it makes you think.

If you have to pay $350 to read dark gray type on a light gray background with lousy contrast, on a fuzzy screen with ghosting problems; and then format and reformat files, while having 4 copies of every book in 4 different format, just in case; and then try 4 or 5 different book lights so you can read 150 characters in 10 seconds and get a cramp in your finger because instead of reading you're turning pages....

I'm sorry... I'm going back to grow with own trees in my own forest and print my own books on my 600 dpi laser printer with black toner and use any font I want with 10 point type.

Sony Reader does not represent a step forward; it's just another exercise in futility.
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Old 06-09-2007, 11:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brian_el_nino View Post
I'm sorry to say after having experienced the Reader for 2 months that eink technology is terribly flawed.

When after all the hoopla that this screen is the same or better than a paperback book, it makes you think.

If you have to pay $350 to read dark gray type on a light gray background with lousy contrast, on a fuzzy screen with ghosting problems; and then format and reformat files, while having 4 copies of every book in 4 different format, just in case; and then try 4 or 5 different book lights so you can read 150 characters in 10 seconds and get a cramp in your finger because instead of reading you're turning pages....

I'm sorry... I'm going back to grow with own trees in my own forest and print my own books on my 600 dpi laser printer with black toner and use any font I want with 10 point type.

Sony Reader does not represent a step forward; it's just another exercise in futility.
The text is black and not gray. The screen is not fuzzy. If it was, I'd have returned mine right away. yes the ghosting is a function of eink at present. But really, if you pay attention to the words and not the ghosting, it's not all that bad really. As for having 4 or 5 different formats of a book, that's up to you. I have them in 2 or 3 formats. I have them in the LRF, maybe LIT if that's how I bought it, maybe HTML or text if from Project Gutenberg, maybe HTML or HTML0 depending if I used Book designer or html2lrf to convert. Other then that, I have no need for other finished formats other then LRF and/or LIT. The source files I keep because someday it's possible that the Sony will support more formats or I'll end up with a different reader that I'll need to use the source files for. That's the nature of ebooks at the moment.

I'm sorry you are not happy. But have you really sat down and just read your books instead of looking at the reader? I know you see what you feel are problems when you look at your reader, but if you just look at the words, I think you'll find the problems are not really such problems.

Jon
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Old 06-10-2007, 01:50 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brian_el_nino View Post
When after all the hoopla that this screen is the same or better than a paperback book, it makes you think.
I find that statement completely astounding.

We've dealt with displays that are nowhere nearly as good as a paperback book for, literally, decades. All that time, a display that is as good as print has been a proverbial grail of the display industry. It finally arrives, only to bedismiss ed as though it were of no consequence whatsoever.

I'm utterly stunned by that, I don't even know how to respond to it.

I can honestly say that I'm glad your print to paper method works for you, and I do hope that it continues to work for you for as long as you need/want it to, but that's the extent of the comment I'm going to allow myself to make.
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Old 06-10-2007, 02:43 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NatCh View Post
I find that statement completely astounding.

We've dealt with displays that are nowhere nearly as good as a paperback book for, literally, decades. All that time, a display that is as good as print has been a proverbial grail of the display industry. It finally arrives, only to bedismiss ed as though it were of no consequence whatsoever.

I'm utterly stunned by that, I don't even know how to respond to it.
Perhaps the issue is that us Reader "fans" are coming to the Reader from years of reading eBooks on Palms, Pocket PCs, etc. Compared to that reading experience, the Reader is a revolution in clarify and "pleasure" of reading.

I would guess that perhaps this is Brian's first encounter with eBooks and that he's rather fallen for the "hype" that eInk is as good as, or better than, printed paper which it certainly isn't. The screen resolution is nothing like that of commercial printing and the contrast isn't as good, either, especially in poor light.

I completely disagree with the statement that "eink technology is terribly flawed", however. It's the best we've ever had, and we know it's going to get a lot better in the future.

For us eBook fans, the Reader is the best there's ever been. Perhaps, though, the hype is better than the reality for "newbies" to the eBook scene.
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Old 06-10-2007, 09:24 AM   #13
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Okay, I can see that possibility. I'm still pretty astounded though.
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Old 06-10-2007, 11:33 AM   #14
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I guess HarryT is right about brian_el_nino.
However, I am n00b here too
I came straight from paper books to sony reader. I have never used other devices to read books. I hate to read from PC monitor.

I like the reader though Moreover, I went to Belarus to visit of my in-laws and I didn't take the reader because I was scared of their customs. So, I took a paperback edition of a book. It was OK after 4 months reading on the reader only, but when I came back and continued to read the book on the reader I appreciated it even more. No regrets, no nostalgia.
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Old 06-10-2007, 05:00 PM   #15
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Hmm, I've been reading books on electronic devices for many years now, but I have to say the Sony Reader (and by extension eInk technology) is not exactly the bee's knees.

It *is* dark grey on light grey, esp. as I am looking at a 'real' book next to it right now. The font in the real book is smaller, yet eminently more readable. And in both cases, if I want to read in a darkened room, I have to attach a doodad to either one to have light directly on my text, as opposed to my almost 10 year old REB1100 with *backlight*... 2 steps forward, one step back... The REB is readable in the shade outside, and the times I have tried to read in full-blast bright sunshine are few and far inbetween, so that improvement has rather limited practical impact.

The resolution is still not quite high enough for comic/manga reading, esp. the text in the bubble. To some extent, it was working out better on my old REB1200 at 640*480, mostly because the color helped defining the text, like MS's Cleartype or Apple's solution.

Now don't get me wrong, I think, unlike the initial post, that the Sony Reader is usable, but it's mostly a trade-off. It's OK, I can live with it, but it's not nearly as great as some people here make it out to be.

It is a sad state of affairs when companies are experimenting with flexible displays, color and other gimmicks when they have, after all these years, not even managed to produce ONE SINGLE simply BLACK & WHITE (!) truely *large size* *high-resolution* *high-contrast* display readable in daylight AND with decent backlight in low-light conditions... in other words, like the books we've had for centuries with at least one notable improvement (the ability to read in the dark without additional light)

And I won't even get started on the software end of things, where things could be much better since there hasn't been any technological hurdle for years, and yet we're stuck in DRM-babel without even a frickin' search function or dictionary lookup, which I have enjoyed almost 10 years ago (!!) on my REB1100/1200...

Since a rant would not be complete without reminiscence, attached is the image that gave me hope of improvement. It took several *years* since to get a consumer version, without the double page format, and in reality not looking as nice, and without the software features I took for granted back then...
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