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Tuesday, 3 July 2012

eInk V LCD - Which is better?

If eBooks continue their rise in popularity over physical books, they will be the most popular format by year's end. Usually priced a lot cheaper than physical books and infinitely easier to get hold of , their appeal is obvious but even the most optimistic of eBook fans could never have predicted their remarkable rise.

They make publishing more democratic - I'm not sure if that's exactly true but they have certainly opened up the industry and allowed many writers to get their work out there in a way that, only a few short years ago was impossible. Now I'm not one of those who like to constantly bash traditional publishing - you can go HERE for that - but looking back over the Tainted Archive's and I found a post I wrote in 2009 which predicted that the next writing superstar would be discovered via independent eBook publishing and how right we were - Amanda Hocking, John Locke, E L James have all made their names and fortunes from online publishing.

The eBook market has now become mainstream, and new developments are coming thick and fast - a full colour eInk display is only just around the corner and when that happens eBooks will truly be able to do anything a physical book can do. And before anyone comments about the Nook Colour which already exists I would like to point out that the colour Nook is not an eInk display but a LED display which is all very fine, but it is only eInk that faithfully simulates the feel of reading on paper.

eInk creates a dramatic increase in contrast giving eReaders a contrast ratio close to a paperback book. The crisp text and detailed graphics are also highly readable in direct sunlight. The 16 levels of grey produce the sharpest rendering of images with smooth tones and rich detail. Turning pages in eReaders using eInk technology today is incredibly fast and eInk readers have a very low power consumption allowing devices to last months on a single charge. Real eInk displays are also is bi-stable, which means it needs no power to hold an image or page of text.

So is eInk better than LCD? Well I certainly prefer it but modern LCD screens such as the one on the Nook and later models of the iPad cause very little eyestrain, and there are actually many people who prefer LCD to eInk. It's all down to personal taste but to my mind eInk devices are better suited to reading books as tablets tend to have more distractions and I don't find the reading experience quite as immersive on my iPad - hey, it's just too easy to skip over to Angry Birds. When I read on my iPad I am aware of the iPad but when I read on my Kindle I'm sucked into the story and I'm not aware of the device in my hand at all.

I found a useful video on You Tube that shows the differences between the Kindle and iPad in differing reading conditions - I've embedded this below. Below this again you'll find another video that compares the three major eInk eReaders


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