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Old 01-31-2010, 03:20 PM   #1
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Solution to reading books on the iPad and other backlit displays

The 2 advantages of bistable screens like what is used in the Kindle is the lack of back light and long battery life.

Reading on an LCD causes eye strain because of the back light. The simple solution is to invert the colors. For reading a book on an LCD, have the background color for the page be black and the letters be white. This will almost completely eliminate the eye strain. If you have ever seen a Bloomberg terminal, you know what I mean. Staring into a black screen doesn't cause eye strain.

As for the battery life, if the iPad had an OLED then it could last much longer reading a book with an inverted color screen because OLED uses much less energy to display the color black. It uses no energy to display a black pixel.
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Old 01-31-2010, 05:07 PM   #2
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In practice, a mostly-black image will *roughly* halve the power draw. Mostly-white images actually tend to have a higher power draw than LCD's. Maybe in a few OLED generations time this will be different, but...

(Also, it's not as simple as that. It's to do with environmental lighting and other factors as well)
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Old 01-31-2010, 05:44 PM   #3
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On my iphone I have used a black background and green letters. Worked good.... Actually I had no problem with normal white/black reading on the iPhone, it's just the screen is so small.....
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Old 01-31-2010, 07:55 PM   #4
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Staring into a black screen doesn't cause eye strain.
It does cause strain to my eyes. In the past I was able to read ebooks on a Palm, with white letters and black background. Not anymore - headache within an hour, unless light of lightbulb under which I read is much more intense than backlighting.

So, not a real solution.
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Old 01-31-2010, 09:22 PM   #5
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Reversing the screen is not ideal, but the only way I can stand to read on my phone. But for a 9.7" screen it will look extremely weird, like staring at one of those computer monitors from the 1980s. Definitely not enjoyable on an iPad.
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Old 01-31-2010, 09:35 PM   #6
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Reversing the screen is not ideal, but the only way I can stand to read on my phone. But for a 9.7" screen it will look extremely weird, like staring at one of those computer monitors from the 1980s. Definitely not enjoyable on an iPad.
I think that the type of people who buy the iPad wouldn't implement the color inversion even if it might solve the eye strain problem for long-read sessions.
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Old 01-31-2010, 09:43 PM   #7
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I think that the type of people who buy the iPad wouldn't implement the color inversion even if it might solve the eye strain problem for long-read sessions.
I'm trying to imagine the iBooks little page turning animation with a black and green screen.

As for eye strain. At work, I make sure my panels are at the max refresh rate, the backlights are almost off and the contrast is way up. The applications I have where I can set the colors have a dark gray background and very light gray text. I also have a strong, full spectrum light behind my head. It seems to help me get through the day.
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Old 01-31-2010, 09:47 PM   #8
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I have a netbook with the led backlight LCD and I can read on it all day. Of course I have it pluged in to AC to be able to do that. I agree battery life sucks, but the screen is not a problem for me and I have my screen backlight all the way to as dim as it gets and it is still bright enough. But on my desktops tha have the older still backlight LCD it does hurt my eyes to even read a short time.

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Old 01-31-2010, 10:18 PM   #9
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found interesting webpage on this subject. http://www.darkbackground.org/


Although, there is research that suggests that there is higher comprehension when there is black text on white background....
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/4...health-effects

Last edited by markbot; 01-31-2010 at 10:50 PM.
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Old 01-31-2010, 11:00 PM   #10
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It is wayyyyyy harder for me to read white letters on a black background than the other way around.
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Old 01-31-2010, 11:20 PM   #11
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I've tried inverted displays (anyone else here old enough to recall VT-series terminals?). While your advice sounds logical it is incorrect. Eye strain is still there. If you forced me, I'd prefer amber on black. But maybe that's just nostalgia...
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Old 01-31-2010, 11:58 PM   #12
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I've tried inverted displays (anyone else here old enough to recall VT-series terminals?). While your advice sounds logical it is incorrect. Eye strain is still there. If you forced me, I'd prefer amber on black. But maybe that's just nostalgia...
well, in general I mean light text on dark background. not necessarily white on black. i find light blue or yellow on dark gray to be good.
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Old 01-31-2010, 11:59 PM   #13
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I tried reverting colours on my wife's PDA mobipocket reader(she suffers migranes) green on black with success and then tried the same on my PDA. I could not change the colours on the book I was reading (purchased and de-DRM'ed). Some books seem to have the fonts hard coded it seems.
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:06 AM   #14
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It is wayyyyyy harder for me to read white letters on a black background than the other way around.
I agree! I went to the link in a previous post and a web opened with black background and white letters. I couldn't even focus!

I tried for 30 secs or so but it really bothered my eyes so much that I closed the site.

Maybe if I gave it more time my eyes might relax and enjoy it?

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Old 02-01-2010, 01:38 AM   #15
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Black background with off-white text is not bad for nighttime reading or situations where ambient light is very low compared to the backlight intensity.

I suspect most people who buy the iPad, other than users of these fora, will have no real problems with the backlight. I don't plan to buy one right away, but if nothing better comes out this year, I'll toss my Sony Reader and get an iPad to replace it. I have absolutely no worries whatsoever about eye strain. I'd like to try one and see how it works next to a well-lit window though, as that's the only problem I can imagine the display having.

I'm much more concerned about their software than I am about their hardware.
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