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Old 06-22-2011, 12:43 PM   #1
Namekuseijin
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Long battery life vs General purpose facilities

So, after much reading on these forums I've been finding myself constrained with my smartphone for reading. Sure it's handy enough, is always with me in my pocket, allows me to read my personal lib with a personal soundtrack to shut down the external noisy world, no need to be constrained to a single vendor of ebooks (just install apps from everyone), good for bedtime reading (no need for light) etc. But it's also quite small so as not to allow for truly comfortable reading, I'll give you that (even though 6" is not that much bigger than 3"7)...

Still, with all the talking from folks here I became fond of e Ink displays and, truth be told, the 6" modern models are so damn good looking in their silver look and pearl displays... I also feel like I gotta have one of these, to ride the B&W bandwagon before color displays become a reality. It's like living in the 30's and not watching a Chaplin before Technicolor shows up. I do wonder if my daughter will enjoy illustrated books or comics in shades of gray...

And now for the main reason: having your battery life dry in about less than a day of usage is really annoying. Now this is what has been bothering me: although everyone touts E Ink displays for their low power consumption, yet it seems to me the more e-readers cram more features in, the faster the battery goes down.

Sure, it's nice enough to have wi-fi, web browsing, pdf panning and scrolling, mp3 playback, a gyroscope to automatically render the page either in portrait or landscape mode, touchscreen and possibly short video clips or animations, but what's the point when your E Ink device won't be up to the propagated 1 month battery? How about a one button "Turn off all battery eating features" so we can have just reading and page turns to spend it?

I read recently in some tech support forum from one of these readers that "page turn" doesn't mean simply turning a page: it's implied to mean screen refresh, because E Ink doesn't demand power to keep pages, just to change them. Whatever change happens on screen, it means a "page turn", be it "scrolling or panning a single page" of a PDF, or scrolling a web page or calling up the menu or keyboard on screen. All of these demand refresh and eat up battery. The more smooth the refresh, like scrolling a PDF page, the more "page turns" per second.

I wonder how many people complaining of battery life of a few e-readers read mostly PDFs rather than reflowable content like ePub. I read that PDF on a 6" screen demands constant zooming and scrolling, otherwise it's too plain small. Sadly, it's also the main format expected from children illustrated books... BTW, anyone have had any good stories of illustrated books and 6" displays?

So, do you also feel like e-readers have been agregating too much power-consuming features mostly irrelevant for reading? Who needs a multitasking operating system kernel when all you want to do is to read a book a time? Why always on gyroscope instead of a "landscape" switch? Why the race for ever faster E Ink refresh rates when it is precisely the refresh that eats power?

Faster refresh rates may mean stupid short B&W video clips but also means stupidly short battery lifes akin to that of color, high refresh rate LCD screens and then E Ink will be dead trying to compete. Let's not lose focus, right?

Last edited by Namekuseijin; 06-22-2011 at 12:47 PM.
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Old 06-22-2011, 12:55 PM   #2
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A great post. As a new owner of an eInk device, these are the exact reasons for me getting it: a great battery life, and simple reading ability. Unfortunately I was planning on using mine for pdfs, so given your comment about the poorer battery life from that I might spend some effort converting into ePub.

I need nothing more than the ability to read, highlight and make notes. No Wifi to distract me please!
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Old 06-22-2011, 01:07 PM   #3
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Please don't take my comments for granted. I figured it out from the tech support account, but I'm expecting some people here could comment more properly on the issue.

I also imagine PDF rendering may take a bit more processing than displaying mostly plain text from ePubs, and that too would mean more power leakage.
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Old 06-22-2011, 01:21 PM   #4
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You're right that draining my smartphone battery during the day is unacceptable. It has some functions (phone) that I want available 24/7.

I get around that limitation more by charging options than by limiting my use. I have dedicated chargers in my car, home, work, and when I travel. As I use my smartphone even more I went to a battery-extending case (Mophie Juicepack Plus for me). These days I am not constrained by my battery, only my data plan, lol.
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Old 06-22-2011, 01:36 PM   #5
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Well, I always have free charge available, but it's still annoying in case you take a long trip on vacation and there really is no power outlet around. No outside reading too is pretty annoying (like when I'm on the bus and the sun is on my side and all I can see on screen is my own unlucky face reflected)...
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