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Step 3: eReader eInk vs. LCD/LED Screen

Which is better? Do I need color on my eReader?

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eInk techology is principled upon being a non-backlit technolgy. eReaders have typically contained a very benign subtle print substance called eInk which is printed guessed it epaper (electronic paper). You might describe this type of electronic print technology as subdued and unlively which is true, and it's that way on purpose - to most imitate the experience of reading an actual book and in doing so prevent eyestrain. Avid readers are the best candidates for purchasing an eReader and this group has slowly been making the transition to eReaders much to the credit of the eInk and ePaper feel.

LCD Screen technology (liquid crystal display) is a display techology based on twisting "liquid" crystals to create all the necessary colors in the spectrum. The twisting crystals produce no light and are dependent upon a backlighting source, typically either CFL florescent or LED (light emitting diodes) technology.


Eyestrain, or eye fatigue from LCD Screens is caused by two aspects of the screen. One is the backlighting which is either supplied by CFL flourescent bulbs or recently the much brighter LED backlighting. The second is the screen refresh rate of the LCD display. The refresh rate is fatigueing to the eye due to the constant flickering of the screen as it redraws itself 60 or more times a second.

That stated, there have been new eReaders entering the market with LCD screens, namely the Barnes and Noble Nook Color and several Tablets such as the iPad that can also be promoted and used as eReaders. LCD screens contain the forewarned refresh rate issues described above but do give us the added advantage of color which the eink format lacks. This is especially appealing for magazine and periodical lovers. Reading for long periods of time from a backlit LCD screen will certainly cause eyestrain as most of us know we have felt on our way home from a long day in front of the computer at work.

For the avid reader that consumes and devours hour upon hour of novels and cant wait to get their hands on the latest bestseller, there is really no contest. An eInk eReader is going to treat your eyes better and cause less fatigue.

Advantage: eInk eReaders

Battery Life

Another advantage for eInk eReaders is that the technology uses far less power. This is partly due to the technology and partly due to the fact that there is no backlight and thus no color in the eInk eReaders. As a result battery life in some backlit LCD screen eReaders is siginificantly less. The Sharper Image Literati with LCD screen is 4 hours. The Nook Color is 8 hours. Conversely, the Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook have extremely long battery life - allowing users to go a couple weeks or more between charges (when keeping the wifi connectivity turned off).

Advantage: eInk eReaders


Obviously color adds tremendous flexibility in the types of publication open for reading on the eReader such as magazines, childrends books and newspapers. If the eReader has browsing capability, it also offers color on the web.

Advantage: LCD Screen

Dark or Low Light Reading

An LCD screen requires backlighting, thus is light enabled for dark rooms. This might be attractive for those whose spouse is complaining to them to turn the light off. Of course, a reading light clip will work with an eInk eReader just like it does with a paper book, but the internal lighting again adds this flexibility.

Advantage: LCD Screen

Page Turn Speed

Page turn speed is an important category for eReader due to te fact that it has been an inhibiting factor with eInk technology. LCD screens can be fast. The new Nook Color is nearly as quick as the iPad. In addition the LCD screens on newer models will typically have touch screen capability allowing for page turning by swiping the screen rather than pressing the page turn button. The speed of the page turn is also useful for showing pictures or other materials from the LCD screen. Scrolling through a magazine quickly is only possible this way.

Advantage: LCD Screen


eInk cannot show motion due to the limited electronic charge required for the technology (to imitate the look of a printed book page). LCD Screens allow the eReader the flexibility to see flash graphics, animations, and - in the future - possibly video. For instance, a quick cookbook video showing preparation of a dish.

Advantage: LCD Screen


Deciding which of these technologies is right for you in an eReader depends upon your lifestyle, preferences and what the eBook Reader will be used for. You can get a good idea from the categories above which should serve you best depending upon your habits. eInk is more practical for the avid book reader. LCD screens are more flexible for the color experience.

11 Step Guide to Buying an eReader

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