What exactly is "e-ink"?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by Redjericho, Jun 25, 2012.

  1. Redjericho macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2011
    It sounds cool, but what exactly is it, and what are the benefits of it?
  2. Rodster macrumors 68040

    May 15, 2007
    The Amazon Kindle's not the Kindle Fire uses e-ink. It's just like reading a book. The typeface, font, pages look like a book and it's so easy to read.
  3. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    E-Ink is a form of display that doesn't use a backlight. Instead it has greyscale 'pixels' that reflect the room light:


    It's closer to reading print on paper than looking at a TV screen, but it has slow refresh rates. The low end e-readers use them because they're nice to read on and they use very little battery power.
  4. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Jul 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    It's very easy on batteries. The only time it uses power is when it changes the "pixel" from black to white or white to black. Therefore it uses very little power to run. Unlike the iPad, it is very legible in bright sunlight, no glare.
  5. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    Unfortunately, e-Ink displays are a bit more fragile than even LCD screens, and when they break, they are about as useless:

  6. Redjericho thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2011
    Appreciate the info! It actually does look like a revolutionary product, though it may be a while until it is even considered for a device as versatile as a tablet or smart phone.

    It doesn't have color, does it?
  7. Whorehay macrumors 6502a


    Feb 17, 2008
    There is color e-ink technology I believe, but it hasn't gone mainstream. Likely too many limitations with it (or LCD tech is just that much better), whether cost or technology-wise.

    Anyway, during the day, I prefer reading on the Kindle. e-Ink is really nice and it's something you have to see in person to believe. Retina display on the new iPad is comparable in terms of sharpness from a certain distance, but the weight and absence of backlight makes reading books on the Kindle a lot easier.
  8. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    While so many people say e-ink looks just like paper, to me it doesn't really. It looks dark grey on light grey rather than black on white, and the lack of contrast makes my head hurt. It also takes much longer than an LCD display to refresh a page, and "blinks" when refreshing, as in the whole page turns black, then displays the next page. Recent models have gotten much faster at refreshing than previous ones, and also only blinks every few pages instead of every page. I still don't like it. It does have battery life that is measured in months, rather than hours, and is a lot lighter than LCD screens. But if someone offers to exchange my iPad for a Kindle, my answer would be "Over my dead body!" :D
  9. Fattytail macrumors 6502a

    Apr 11, 2012
    Agreed. I drank the Kool-aid and bought a Kindle a couple of years ago, expecting to be WOWed. Text looked blurry and eyes felt strained. Puzzled the hell out of me until I realized that the contrast of e-ink screens is far worse than LCD screens. So while text looks ultra smooth at first glance, it's hard for me to focus on e-ink screens for long. Tried again with the prior generation Kindle. Same effect. The retina display on the new iPad all but renders e-ink technology dead in my eyes. Neither the iPad's weight nor backlight bother me at all. In fact, the backlight is useful because I do most of my reading indoors in dim or zero light conditions.
  10. iMacFarlane macrumors 65816


    Apr 5, 2012
    Adrift in a sea of possibilities
    I got a Kindle (3G) a few years ago and was really impressed with it. Good size, good weight, more than enough memory. The 'file management' is weak (no subfolders, so be prepared to wade through all the books in a series, not in the proper order of sequence), but the display is nice.

    I never read it.

    I have many books installed on it, from previous sources and free pubs. But the screen is way too 'dim'. The only time I seriously tried to read a book, I would sit at the kitchen table with the bright kitchen lights above me or with the sun streaming in through the 6 kitchen windows overlooking our back patio. I can't see the thing if I'm in bed unless I lay on my stomach and hold the thing under the lamp on my night stand. Really? Just way too uncomfortable to establish the conditions of lighting to make the thing usable.

    Now, the iPad is another thing altogether. Make the picture/text any size you want, in color, black on white, backlit.

    I think I just talked myself into getting one . . . :rolleyes:
  11. Ingster macrumors 6502


    Apr 2, 2007
    Leeds, UK
    I'm the opposite way than most here, the kindle 2 is my number one reading device, it is with me almost all day, i read countless books on it, i used to read on my 3g iphone but didn't like the screen size, i've tried reading on my ipad and whereas i can read web pages all day at work i don't like to read books off it, sound weird but without the glare of a backlight my eyes can relax.

    Also if you're in bright surroundings the e-ink screen is not obscured by the sunlight, and the battery life is imense!

    P.S. If you have read from an ipad at night and you doze off, expect concussion from the device falling into your face! Ouch!
  12. barachus macrumors regular

    Jul 9, 2010
    same here, my kindle is my main reading device, my new ipad is just too cumbersome for me to read, and i think the e-ink is just perfect for reading
  13. Seamaster macrumors 65816


    Feb 24, 2003
    Me too — the iPad is a great portable computer, but it's a lousy e-reader. The Kindle is a joy to read on.
  14. poloponies Suspended

    May 3, 2010
    Totally subjective. I only read on my iPad (and I read a lot). The Kindles are barely used in our house.
  15. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    I think the point is, it's a personal preference, and some people love e-ink, while some don't. Whenever a thread becomes flooded with "I love e-ink" posts, I feel like I ought to speak up to give some balance. If the OP or anybody else does decide to buy an e-ink device, they should be aware that while people who like e-ink does seem to be in the majority, at least among those who post here on this topic, there is also a significant percentage of people who don't like e-ink, or prefer reading on LCD. So people should try e-ink for themselves, because that's the only way to see if it'll work for them.
  16. squidkitten macrumors 6502


    Mar 10, 2012
    Yeah, I think it's entirely preference. I read a lot on my MBP so maybe I'm just used to backlit screens, but I absolutely love reading on my iPad 3. The retina display just makes text so crisp, and I usually have the backlight at like 60%, so it never hurts my eyes.

    I got my mother a Kindle Touch for Christmas last year, and I think e-ink technology is great for her, especially since she can't look at backlights for too long without getting a headache.

    I personally agree with the comments about the kindle being too dim/not having enough contrast for my personal comfort.

    However, I'm very envious of the Kindle's size. The iPad's size is perfect for gaming/computing, and it's not terrible for reading, but the Kindle just fits more nicely in the hand.

    Also, I'm not as shy about just tossing a Kindle into my bag on the go. I'm more delicate with my iPad since it's a more expensive machine, and sometimes I miss the careless way I could tote around my Kindle haha
  17. wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
    Basically, the text looks like a book. It doesn't need constant refreshing and there is no backlight (similar to a book), so it is said to be more comfortable to read. The battery life is stellar since it only needs power to change the content on the screen. It doesn't require power to keep displaying content, but only when changing the stuff on the screen (such as, "flipping" a page)

    Also, no glare in front of direct light as you would get on say, an iPad.
  18. Vizin, Jun 27, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
  19. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    ^ This. Clearly not all people have the same opinion of e-ink. It's a subjective matter.
  20. Legios macrumors regular

    Jan 19, 2012
    I like my nook simple touch because I know im only ever going to read on it. The ipad was used for everything else so I wanted a devoted reader.
  21. TheWheelMan macrumors 6502a


    Mar 15, 2011
    The gray background on an e-ink works fine, but best in brighter light. That's the one real drawback with e-ink, you really need good lighting to get the best reading experience.

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