For Reading: Kindle > Kindle Fire > iPad

Just finished reading The Hunger Games on Kindle Fire.

Based on the limited experience of reading that one book on Kindle Fire, a few books on iPad, and lots of books on Kindles, here are my thoughts.

Note: I have read quite a few books on Nook Color (another 7″ reading tablet, which happens to be very similar to Kindle Fire).

Kindle is by far the best device for reading books

Why is Kindle better than Kindle Fire?

Kindle’s eInk screen is optimized for reading. The eInk really is better than LCDs. It does not tire your eyes (which Kindle Fire does, to a noticeable amount). It does not tire your hands (which Kindle Fire does, a bit).

If a person had both, and didn’t have to read in the dark, the person would almost always pick the Kindle for reading.

Things like size and weight are not things you should gloss over. If you like to read without resting the book on something, then Kindle is the best option because it is very compact and light. Kindle Fire is manageable but iPad isn’t. With iPad, you absolutely must rest it on something because it’s just too heavy for one-handed reading and it turns into a work-out if you do two-handed reading.

Kindle Fire provides a good reading experience, but nothing like the Kindle

If we strip away all our strong feelings of love and belonging, and look at just the quality of reading experience, then a few things stand out -

  1. Kindle Fire is good for reading.
  2. The LCD screen isn’t as good as eInk. It does tire the eyes.
  3. The IPS LCD screen isn’t very readable in sunlight. By ‘isn’t very’ we mean ‘basically isn’t’.
  4. The weight is a bit much – you’ll have to switch hands after half an hour or so. Or you’ll have to get something to rest it against.
  5. The size is very good. Not as great as Kindle but still good. This is a BIG advantage of 7″ Tablets over 10″ and even 8.9″ Tablets. 7″ is very close to a paperback and manageable.
  6. Kindle Fire is very good for night reading – after you dial down the brightness.
  7. Kindle Fire’s size and weight and wieldiness (ability to handle it easily) make it considerably better than iPad for reading. The mainstream press can throw all the ‘animated page turn’ nonsense it wants and claim iPad is better for reading than Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet – However, the size and weight of the 7″ Tablets are far more suited to reading.

My theory of there being LCD compatible people and LCD incompatible people seems weaker and weaker. I think it has more to do with people being in love with their device and not being willing to admit that eInk really is better for reading. OR there are just people who use a different definition of reading (one book a year) to claim LCD devices are as good for reading.

After now owning an iPhone, a Nook Color, and an iPad for over a year each, and reading quite a few books on each, it just seems to me that the feeling of ‘Tablets and Smartphones are so pretty and lovable’ is really the root cause of all the ‘LCD is as good as eInk’ claims.

You can see it in extreme effect in people who claim – LCD is fine for reading in sunlight. Just find the shade. Just dial down the brightness.

LCD compatible people = People who love their devices so much they morph LCD compatibility into themselves. A sort of placebo effect.

For anyone who claims that LCDs are just as readable as eInk:

Q1: Do you love your LCD device? Are you very fond of it?

Q2: What about the Kindle you played with for 5 minutes before dismissing it? Does it hold any more meaning for you than a hole in the wall?

That right there is why LCD seems as good to you as eInk. Everyone who owns and uses BOTH a Kindle and a Tablet (Kindle Fire, Nook Color, iPad) for a reasonable period of time (6 months) can attest to the fact that eInk really is better for reading.

Your eyes and your hands can attest to it too – ask them right after you’ve read a book on a LCD tablet. Ironically, the situation in which an LCD outshines a Kindle (reading at night) is the situation that most hurts your eyes and body (due to your sleep patterns being affected and due to the huge contrast between the LCD screen and the dark environment).

iPad isn’t really suited for reading

Three reasons:

  1. LCD isn’t as good as eInk. It’s not even close. This includes things like tiring the eyes and not being readable in sunlight.
  2. The size isn’t very convenient. A 10″ Tablet is quite a bit larger than a paperback. That makes it unwieldy and a horror if you’re reading a book (as opposed to 10 minute snippets of reading between other things).
  3. The weight is a real pain. You can always rest it against something and claim the weight isn’t an issue. But that introduces newer problems (reading in something other than your favorite reading positions, what it does to your neck, the reading distance becoming unoptimal). Bottom line: If you can’t hold your eBook Reader in your hands while reading, that’s a good hint it isn’t really an eBook Reader.

There are lots of redeeming qualities for the iPad. The first few are things related to reading:

  1. It can be read on at night. Note: So can the 7″ Tablets and they eliminate the weight and unwieldiness problems.
  2. It has Color. This is admittedly important for some categories of books.
  3. You can get books from any store. Note: Kindle Fire allows this by letting you sideload apps from other sources. Not as convenient, but doable.

There are also things unrelated to reading: It’s great for movies, it has a bigger screen, it has a touch screen, and so forth.

Qualities unrelated to reading are NOT a killer reason to buy an iPad for reading. This is something that people who don’t read much don’t seem to get. You aren’t going to buy an umbrella if you’re looking for a pair of pants just because an umbrella is rain-proof.

If you’re looking for a device for reading – There’s no competition. Kindle is far better than iPad, and it is clearly better than Kindle Fire.

Note: Kindle and Nook are pretty close. Nook Touch (with eInk) is going to be available on sale for $79 on Black Friday. You might want to take a look.

If you own an iPad, don’t despair – You can get a Kindle for $79, or you can think yourself into being LCD compatible. Do keep in mind that the cost on your eyes and neck and wrists might not be something you’ll be able to wish away. The cost on eyes part also holds for Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet.

If you’re choosing between Kindle and Kindle Fire, it becomes really interesting. The weight and unwieldiness problems are gone with 7″ Tablets like Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet. So it comes down to how much you value reading. If your main reason for buying a Kindle Fire is reading, then my very strong recommendation would be to buy a Kindle 3 instead (the one with the keyboard). If your main use of the device will be for reading, then it makes sense to get the device that is the very best for reading.

For Reading: Kindle >> Kindle Fire >> iPad. For Reading: eInk >>>> LCD.

Kindle eInk vs Everyone else’s LCD, 2 Kandles for $10, Book Bargains for Charity

Let’s start with the deal on the Kandle Kindle Reading Light -

  1. 2 Kandles for $10.  Here’s how to get them – First add 2 Kandles to your Cart (must be same color). Then on the Review Order page you will see $15 off the second Kandle and a total price of $35. Now enter code: KANDLELT. After applying this code the total price for both Kandles will go down to $10.

There’s only 1 left in stock of the black variant and you can’t mix and match so white Kandles are the only option. Kandles only ship to the US.

These are well reviewed with 4 stars on 302 reviews. At $10 for 2 you can’t really complain. You might have bought them earlier when there was a 2 for $25 deal – It’s unfortunate that the price is now 2 for $10 but it seems to be a stock clearing sale and there’s little that can be done.

Charity Book Bargains from Simon Wood

In honor of his recently deceased cat, Bug, Simon Wood is doing a fundraiser for Best Friends (guessing it’s an animal care organization) and will donate ALL the royalties from his book sales for the next two weeks.

He’s got quite a few good books with two in particular being great bargains -

  1. The Scrubs by Simon Wood and Simon Janus. Price: $1. Genre: Horror, Occult. Rated 5 stars on 12 reviews.

    James Jeter, the notorious serial killer with a sixth sense, holds court inside London’s Wormwood Scrubs Prison. He’s the focus of the “North Wing Project.” Under the influence of a hallucinogen, Jeter can create an alternative world known as “The Rift” containing the souls of his victims. Pardons are on offer to inmates who’ll enter The Rift. Michael Keeler has nothing to lose and little to live for. He’s sent into The Rift to learn the identity of Jeter’s last victim.

    It’s a mission where the guilty can be redeemed, but at a price…

  2. Working Stiffs by Simon Wood. Price: $2.39. Genre: Suspense, Mystery, Crime Anthology . Rated 4.5 stars on 10 reviews.

    Until now, Vincent’s father has kept one side of the business a secret from his son. Vincent is about to learn the family business.

    On the most important day of his career, Sam’s world will unravel when he helps a woman in distress.

    Todd has failed in every job he’s undertaken, but that changes when he backs into a drug dealer’s car. Now he’s in hock with organized crime and can only get himself out from under if he works for them to pay off his debt.

    Kenneth Casper is ailing and so is his business empire. His shareholders circle like vultures. Casper pins all his hopes on a Peruvian shaman with a miracle cure.  

You can find the remaining Simon Woods books in the Kindle Store. There are some other deals in there.

CNet’s thank you to B&N for the Nook scoop

Consider this sequence of events -

  1. CNet gets a ‘tip’ from a tipster that a Nook Color exists.
  2. CNet gets a ‘tip’ that B&N mistakenly put up a page with a photo of the Color Nook. A page that isn’t cached in the search engines and can’t be found. So, apparently, B&N’s mistake only lasted long enough for CNet to find it – Imagine the fortuitiousness of CNet searching at the very moment the mistake was made and capturing the photo in a split instant.
  3. CNet publishes an article claiming that LCD and eInk are equally good for reading. It just happens to talk about the Nook Color’s LCD screen and its suitability for reading.

All of this happened in just a week or so. Which brings us to one of the Press’ Favorite claims.

Kindle eInk Screen is no better than LCD for reading

First it was the New York Times talking about iPad’s LCD screen being just as good as eInk. Now it’s CNet talking about Nook Color’s LCD screen being just as good as eInk.

Here is the token ‘expert comment’ in the CNet article -

I dialed up my ophthalmologist, Dr. Mark Hornfeld, who has a practice in Manhattan.

However, the problem, he said, is that when a lot of people hit 40, their near vision starts to diminish, which is why people need reading glasses.

Yeah, go ahead. Now, it’s all our fault.

Then we get the obligatory ‘bright light shining into your eyes doesn’t make a difference’ part -

if you’re reading a bright screen in the dark, your eyes will adjust. Your pupil gets large in the dark, so when you turn on a brightly lit display, it may bother your eyes at first, but they’ll compensate.

It’s like when you wake up in the morning, open the shades, and are blinded by the light at first. But then you get used to it.

Really, did he just compare having a back-lit screen shining into your eyes at night with natural light in the morning?

Finally, we get the ‘blame something else entirely’ part -

when you read or watch a movie, you simply don’t blink as much, so your eyes can get dry–especially if you’re already prone to having an underlying dry-eye problem.

Now blame both watching movies and reading books. What do we know at the end of that ‘expert discussion’

Absolutely nothing. There’s no scientific study or proof to back up his claims – it’s just one person’s opinion.

He might be an opthamologist but each of us is an expert on what we like and don’t like and how our eyes feel with different reading screens. It’s getting tiring to hear experts say that it’s because you’re 40 and need reading glasses.

There are people who don’t mind LCDs and there are people who do

The truth is, for a lot of people, there is a very clear distinction -

  1. Reading on eInk is just like reading on paper – painless. We can read for hours and hours without headaches or eye-strain.
  2. Reading on LCD screens is painful/stressful beyond a certain point (15 to 30 minutes). It’s just not possible to read on LCD screens for hours at a time without getting very tired eyes or even a headache.

We are talking about the LCD incompatibles here. Not to be mistaken with the LCD compatibles who are unaffected by LCDs and in fact cherish the ability to have their books in color which, undoubtedly, greatly increases their enjoyment of the book.

The LCD incompatibles are different – We know that having a bright light shine into their eyes bothers them, that they want something other than LCDs after using LCDs all day at work, and we also know that reading from a back-lit screen at night disrupts their sleeping patterns.

They seemed to have missed the countless generations of evolutionary development that trained the LCD compatibles to be completely unaffected by LCDs. Perhaps LCD compatibles are all people from a tribe that grew up on the side of the earth that had a 24 hour LCD screen shining down on them instead of the sun and the moon.

A dislike of LCD screens and an incompatibility with them is not an imaginary thing. It’s a very real thing.

Yet, the LCD compatibles are so in love with LCD that they can’t imagine anything being better and they therefore decide that LCD incompatibles must be imagining things.

In the absence of solid proof that LCDs are just as good as eInk when it comes to reading LCD lovers will just have to accept that a lot of people don’t like reading on LCD screens, that they experience real eye strain when reading on LCD screens, and for them eInk is much better than LCDs.

It’s amazing that the Press continues to attack the #1 selling point for Kindle and other dedicated reading devices. We’ve gone from zero to 5 million Kindles and still we hear the same ridiculous arguments. In another 3 years we’ll be at 50 million Kindles and we’ll still have reporters writing about how eInk is no better than LCD and how a Tablet is a better eReader because you can play games on it.

LCD-compatibles vs LCD-incompatibles (aka eReader owners)

John Biggs at CrunchGear echoes GigaOm’s thoughts that the Kindle Store is very likely to win the eBook wars. He also echoes OM’s belief that eReaders as devices will die out.

This puts me in the awkward position of loving one half of the article and being disappointed by the other. The author realizes the significance of Amazon being the first mover in the eReader space and appreciates just how strong of an eco-system Amazon is building up. Yet, he totally discounts all the people who simply don’t enjoy reading books on back-lit LCD screens.

Since the concept of ‘personal preference’ doesn’t seem to reverberate with people who can read endlessly on LCD screens we should encourage them to think of LCD compatibility as a genetic trait akin to blood types.  

The LCD compatibility gene and LCD Compatibles

What are the distinguishing traits of the LCD compatibles?

  1. An ability to be completely unaffected by LCD screens. This includes reading endlessly on them without any side effects and not having their sleep disturbed even when reading on LCDs late at night.
  2. An inability to notice any difference between reading on eInk and reading on LCDs. 
  3. The inability to appreciate that there might be LCD-incompatibles. This is sometimes accompanied by the ‘LCD lover’s burden’ of wanting to show the LCD-incompatibles that they are simply mistaken and that LCDs are marvellous for reading.

There are also certain traits that are found often enough in LCD compatibles to suggest some link with the LCD compatibility gene -

  1. A fair number of LCD compatibles are struck with multipurposeitis – a condition which creates an extreme loathing of any device with a single purpose.
  2. Another common accompanying trait is color-fixation – This makes certain LCD compatibles able to appreciate ebooks only when they are displayed on a color screen.
  3. There’s a segment of LCD Compatibles that manage to read LCD screens even in bright sunlight and through glare. This is so rare that it isn’t yet well understood.
  4. A few LCD compatibles find the LCD screen to be much better for reading than eInk. This trait is, for some strange reason, usually found in technical journalists who get Apple exclusives.
  5. A rapidly expanding condition is 100dollaritis which is reflected by a desire to see all non-LCD screen devices at $100 or below. This traits evolves and morphs faster than avian flu and is suspected to be a mutated version of 150dollaritis.

The one commonality amongst these 5 disparate traits is that it predisposes affected LCD compatibles to endlessly share the benefits and comparative advantages of LCD screens on blogs, forums, and newspaper sites. In a lot of cases these 5 traits give LCD compatibles extra-sensory powers where they are able to imagine and synthesize the experience of reading on eInk without ever actually touching or seeing an eInk device.

The LCD-incompatibles

It’s painfully clear from their reports and experiences that LCD incompatibles are rather different from LCD compatibles -

  1. Reading on LCD screens for longer than 20-30 minutes tires their eyes. After an hour or so they start getting headaches and their eyes get extremely fatigued.
  2. LCD incompatibles prefer reading on eInk. They claim that the magical and revolutionary eInk screen doesn’t tire their eyes and they can read for hours on end without headaches or fatigue.
  3. LCD compatibles suffer from bookitis – It’s an extremely irrational love of books and reading which usually blinds them to things like how beautiful the device they read a book on is and how aesthetically brilliant the imaginary bookshelves on their reading device are. Amazingly they discount such crucially important things and some are even known to want a device that ‘just disappears’ instead of shining and glittering.  
  4. LCD incompatibles show a disturbing tendency to believe that different people have different preferences and that it’s an acceptable thing. Shockingly, they have no desire to rescue and convert those different from themselves.  
  5. LCD incompatibles have an extreme aversion to the religious zealot segment of LCD compatibles who’re trying to ‘convert’ them to LCD reading.

Just as we have traits that might be associated with the presence of the LCD compatibility gene there are traits suspected to be associated with its absence -

  1. Onepurposeitis is a common affliction where affected LCD incompatibles think that a device should be optimized for a single purpose. This is reflected in an extreme avoidance of swiss army knives and gadgets that are ‘barely good enough’ for doing a lot of things.
  2. An aversion to multi-tasking is found in enough LCD incompatibles to make scientists wonder if  there’s a connection.
  3. Weakhanditis afflicts nearly all LCD incompatibles – This makes them incapable of holding any device heavier than 1.49 pounds with one hand for longer than 5-10 minutes. Weakhanditis is usually accompanied by the irrational desire that a device be painless to use.
  4. A disproportionately high percentage of LCD incompatibles detest advertising and are very difficult to manipulate. There is speculation that this combined with LCD incompatibles’ fondness for reading is why books have never had advertising in between chapters.
  5. There is an almost complete absence of ‘shiny new toy’ syndrome amongst LCD incompatibles. In fact, most actually make rational purchase decisions and focus on value for money and usefulness. P. T. Barnum is claimed to have said -

    There’s a sucker born every minute … and two non-suckers. The latter are usually LCD incompatibles.

Most LCD incompatibles are the opposite of LCD compatibles and don’t endlessly talk up their preferences. Not only are they reluctant to argue mindlessly they actually are polite and put forth reasonable arguments. This has many experts puzzled as the Internet is known to cause even rational people to instantly devolve into rude sociopaths.

Can LCD compatibles and LCD incompatibles co-exist?

This is an intriguing question – While most LCD compatibles have given up on LCD incompatibles some overzealous LCD compatibles are absolutely relentless in their attempts to convert LCD-incompatibles to the church of the LCD. Meanwhile LCD incompatibles seem totally unconcerned about the wishes of these fervent LCD compatibles.

Speculation is that at some point of time the obsessed LCD compatibles might focus on one or more of their other genetic gifts and start helping out other incompatibles. This particular group of LCD compatibles are blessed with numerous compatibilities, a relentless drive to help convert whatever incompatibles they can find (regardless of the extent or nature of incompatibility), and an amazing ability to disregard other people’s lack of desire to do things the compatibles want them to do.

The more promising development is that the overzealous LCD compatibles are getting tired and might take a break from their LCD crusade. That would leave all the LCD-incompatibles in peace which they would probably use to read books on eInk devices – thereby causing the overzealous LCD compatibles to get so frustrated that they spontaneously combust.

Kindle better for reading during the day, iPad at night may lead to loss of sleep

Let’s start with an interesting 2 person experiment that Jason Perlow at ZDNet carried out. It involved two people reading books and experiencing reading on both iPad and Kindle in various lighting conditions. They then note down their thoughts on whether the eInk screen of the Kindle really is better for reading than the iPad’s LCD.

ZDNet’s 2 person reading experiment finds Kindle and eInk better for reading during the day and in sunlight

Here’s what Jason Perlow found when comparing Kindle and iPad for reading -

  1. Kindle and Sony Reader were better for indoor daylight reading than iPad.
  2. Kindle for iPad is better than iBooks.
  3. The iPad is a total no-go in sunlight. eReaders work great in sunlight.

The post has exact details on the amount of time for which the two readers could read on the various devices before their eyes got tired.

For people who feel that reading on LCD does not tire the eyes these figures should be interesting -

Living Room: With the iPad, I was only able to go for about 45 minutes (before experiencing significant eye strain).

Kitchen (more light): was able to read for approximately 15-20 minutes before experiencing significant eyestrain and discomfort. Sandi again fared a little better, with about 30 minutes of tolerance.

The experimenters find the iPad is unreadable outside -

Outdoors, it was a total fail for the iPad. The screen immediately turned into a mirror … was completely unreadable

Contrast that with what one of the first 5 ‘official‘ iPad reviewers, Andy Ihnatko, wrote in his iPad Review -

My first full day out-and-about with the iPad underscored a problem with the display: the glossy screen can create a lot of glare.

… Glare aside, the screen does work fine in bright sunlight if you’ve got the screen brightness set to 100% …

The Press are writing that the iPad is readable in sunlight when the reality is that its screen turns into a mirror.

How can we trust the Press to be right about their claims that LCD is just as good for reading as eInk?

This ZDNet experiment is important in that -

  1. It had two people actually read a book (as opposed to look at the screen for 5 minutes and say it’s fine).
  2. It had both people experience eye-strain.
  3. They experienced eye-strain sooner on the LCD screen of the iPad than on the eInk screen of the Kindle.

The iPad apologists will be happy to know that they found different results for night.

iPad shines at night

For night reading they tried reading from 10 pm to midnight under complete darkness and also with the help of a bedside lamp.

Here’s what Jason Perlow found for night reading with eReaders -

  1. Eye strain after 40 minutes of reading with the bedside lamp for both eReader and iPad. 
  2. With a clip-on LED light and an eReader he could read for hours. However, the light would be distracting to his wife.
  3. Sandi found reading on Kindle with a reading light was comfortable. However, her spouse would get disturbed.

Here’s what he found for night reading with the iPad -

  1. Kindle for iPad works really well with White text on a Black background.
  2. This also reduces the amount of light coming out and thus is far less likely to disturb his wife.
  3. His friend found black text on white with 10% to 15% brightness worked well for her.

He ends with this -

both Sandi and I were very surprised how well the iPad performs in dimly lit rooms and in complete darkness.

If it weren’t for the considerable heft of the iPad, she would strongly consider using one to replace her Kindle for reading in bed at night, citing less chance for disruption of her spouse and less eyestrain than using a Mighty Brite or similar LED clip lamp with the Vizplex display on the Kindle

It’s remarkable that even after finding the iPad to be better for reading at night the experimenter is sticking with her Kindle. It’s because the iPad is too heavy and awkward – 1.5 pounds means heavier than a big hardcover.

The ‘iPad is better for reading at night’ conclusion seems pretty cut and dry – until we factor in another article that fortuitously came out this morning.

iPad tells the brain to stay awake and messes with your sleep cycle

The LA Times has an article where sleep experts (credentials below) say using iPad before bed can affect sleeping habits while eReaders like the Kindle are safe.

Here’s why the iPad’s backlight is a problem -

… direct exposure to such abnormal light sources (such as the iPad’s backlight) inhibits the body’s secretion of melatonin, say several sleep experts.

In this regard the iPad is actually worse than TV -

Light-emitting devices, including cellphones and yep, the iPad, tell the brain to stay alert.

Because users hold those devices so close to their face, staring directly into the light, the effect is amplified compared with, say, a TV across the room or a bedside lamp, said Frisca Yan-Go, director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center in Santa Monica.

Then we have another expert chime in -

“The take-home lesson is that insomnia and electronics gadgets emitting light should not [be] mixed before bedtime,” UCLA Neurology Clinic Director Alon Avidan, also an associate professor at the university, wrote in an e-mail. However, “Kindle is better for your sleep,”

That’s certainly interesting.

All signs point to eInk powered dedicated reading devices

Let’s summarize what the experiments are telling us -

  1. eInk readers like the Kindle are better for reading with natural light.
  2. They also cause less eyestrain (or to put it another way you can read longer without straining your eyes).
  3. iPad is unreadable in sunlight.
  4. iPad is better for reading in the dark as there’s no need for a reading light that would distract other people.
  5. iPad caused less eye strain (for one reader) than reading an eInk screen with a reading light.

It seems like a simple conclusion – eReaders for daytime and sunlight and iPad and LCD screens for night.

Except the sleep disorder experts blow away the case for using iPad and LCD screen reading devices in the dark. According to them (and you have to admit its pretty sound logic) -

  1. Reading on the iPad means our brains get the signal to stay alert.
  2. The effect of the iPad is worse than a TV or a reading lamp.
  3. The iPad messes with our sleep cycle.

If the experts are right then it means that the iPad isn’t just great for reading in the dark – it’s so great that you’ll begin to lose sleep.

Illogical post on eInk readability by the NY Times

New York Times have a train wreck of an article – you have to read it.

Update: So lots of people are commenting that the post is not an attack on the readability of eReaders and they’re right. It manages to be lots of things and an attack on eInk is not one of them. So my mistake.

What’s wrong with the New York Times article asking whether eReaders cause eye strain?

Claiming that Doctors said reading on a screen is harmless

The article makes a blanket statement –  

First of all: doctors say that reading on a screen won’t cause any harm.

No, they didn’t. One doctor said this -

“The current problem with reading on screens is that we need to adjust our bodies to our computer screens, rather than the screens adjusting to us,” Dr. Meredith said.

You really mean to tell me that users are expected to adjust our bodies to their computer screens. Since when does what’s comfortable for technology take precedence?

The biggest reason this is all hogwash is that no comprehensive research has been done into the effect of LCD screens on eyes. It doesn’t matter what doctors feel – without research it has no more value than what your mother feels and she probably thinks screens cause eye-strain.

(Perhaps) Loading up the article against eReaders

Update: This whole section is probably invalid as lots of people don’t see any bias against ereaders.

The title of the article itself – Do eReaders cause eye strain?

Why ask whether eReaders causing eye-strain? The article is about reading on screens in general.

There’s also this gem -

E Ink has a very low contrast ratio. Although it can offer an excellent reading experience in bright sunlight, the screens can become uncomfortable to use in dark settings because of the lack of contrast and backlighting on the screen.

Is he really criticizing eInk for not being readable in dark settings? It doesn’t work in dark settings because, like a book, it is supposed to be used with a light.

Complete lack of coherence and direction

These are all the different questions and topics the articles tumbles through (without answering any) -

  1. Para 2: How does reading on a screen affect the eyes. (for the record – There’s no concrete answer to this anywhere – no one has researched it in depth).
  2. Para 3: Doctors say – reading on a screen won’t cause harm. Tell that to people who get headaches and eye strain.  
  3. Para 4 and 5:  Some Doctor who thinks we should adjust our bodies for the screens.
  4. Para 9: Club together eInk and IPS LCD as eReader display technologies. 
  5. Para 10-13: Different screens for different situations hypothesis. This hypothesis is also not backed by any sort of research.    
  6. Para 14, 15: New supposed secret to eliminate eye-strain – look away every 20 minutes. Again with no research to back it up.
  7. Para 16, 17, 18: Claim from someone who works for HP (sells 65 million displays a year) that the new LCDs don’t affect the eyes. Yeah – it’s not as if he has an incentive to lie about any problems there might be with LCDs.

All of this is in the same article – without any transitions or any research.

After reading this article here’s what you’d think -

  • Reading on screens doesn’t cause eye strain. That means there must be something wrong with me.
  • We should adjust our bodies for our screens. Wait a minute – thought screens didn’t cause any problems.
  • We should use different screens for different purposes. What? Thought they don’t cause any problems.
  • We should look away every 20 minutes and let our eyes rest. Totally confused now.
  • LCDs don’t affect our eyes.

Here’s a better option – Let someone do some actual research and then write about it.

Until then let readers decide for themselves – let them test out eInk, test out LCD based ‘eReaders’, and test out computer screens.


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