Poll: E-book readers - e-ink vs. back-lit color

To me this is a no-brainer. I can read my black-and-white e-ink Nook in any reasonable light conditions, outdoors or in, glare or no glare. To me this is 60% of the benefit of e-book readers (35% for the ability to carry lots of different books around, and 5% for the free e-books available). But eww, it’s black and white, where’s the color? Who cares? I’m reading books that, in their original life, had black words on a white page. Complaining about lack of color strikes me as similar to those people who won’t watch black and white movies because the color is “missing”.

What triggered this is a column in my own paper where the idiot reviewer says that the experience of a black and white e-book reader, when trying to access color materials, is “disappointing”. I shouldn’t pay attention since the idiot reviewer is a computer columnist, who apparently doesn’t get it that an e-book reader is not a computer and isn’t trying to be (and shouldn’t try to be).

However, I have a brilliant idea for the next break-out electronic gadget. Take a 7" i-pad clone, and install an e-ink book reader on the other side! Then you have the best of both worlds. Oh, you could add in the ability to make phone calls on it, and you now have a real triple threat.

Venture capitalists, care to fund the research to make this happen?

For everyone else, poll to follow: would you rather read (formerly) printed material, of whatever type, on a black and white e-ink reader, or on a back-lit color device like an i-pad?

I really don’t see the point, for my tastes, to wanting a color interface that will be less convenient than the e-ink version.

I’ve got the Sony PRS-700, the one with the LED reading lights, so I can have my cake and eat it, too: I have e-ink I can read in sunlight, but when I’m in bed, with the reader, I turn on the light, and don’t have to have the room light on to read. I don’t mind charging it every other day, or so. It’s the portability that I really treasure.

This is the reason I haven’t dipped into the e-reader market. 90% of my reading is done in low/no light conditions so my first preference would be a back-lit device. However, a boatload of people I know claim that the back-lit devices strain their eyes after a short time. Plus, I want to device to be compatible with font changes just as the original author intended.

I just told my geek son this weekend that I’m holding out for a dual-technology device. I think we’ve gotten spoiled with color devices so much that when we see a b/w image, it just doesn’t look right.

I like the kindle page that is like the page of a book. I’m charging so much stuff overnight (battery-charging, that is, not credit card charging, although I do a fair amount of that) that the extended battery life due (I’m guessing) to the non-back-lit-ness <?> of it is very cool. I can go a couple of weeks between charges.

But THE coolest thing about the e-reader is that I can see a book on amazon, want it, and two minutes later it’s on my kindle. Talk about instant gratification. I loved that amazon prime put the book in my mailbox two days later, but this is even better! And I can carry all these books around with me and never be without something GOOD to read. No more reading car magazines and Field & Stream at the doctor’s office.

For reading “regular” books, black and white is perfectly sufficient. After all, that’s what most printed books are.

I suspect that, eventually, color e-ink readers will be the norm (and they may be on their way relatively soon), which would be really nifty. Look at all the other things that started out in black-and-white but are now normally in color: still photography, movies, television, newspapers, computer monitors.

Kids do. Color opens up a whole other realm (and market).

I got a color Nook a few days ago (I voted with my wallet on this one). I hadn’t even contemplated e-readers until I saw it. Besides it’s e-reading and shopping functions it handles web-browsing, music, and pictures (video, too, but I haven’t explored this functionality yet). It’s a pretty spiffy device. If B&N play their cards right they have a winner. The iPad’s too big for my tastes (and too expensive to boot).

From what I understand, the biggest problem with e-ink is not the lack of color, but the slow changes. This isn’t all that big a problem for a book reader, but it is for almost anything else, so it limits how much you can bundle devices together.

That said, though, I’ve never seen an e-ink display in person, and of course you can’t tell how it looks by looking at images on an LCD display or printed on paper. So I can’t make an informed judgment of whether the trade-off is worth it.

I read on my iPhone, and don’t mind it at all. It’s great for reading under covers, and I love having my whole book collection with me everywhere I go.

I’ve had Sony Readers since they came out, and just got a new-gen Kindle. The Kindle is fabulous now! I just wish I could put my Sony content onto the Kindle.

Btw, the quality of display varies among e-ink devices.

While I may find grayscale eInk easier on the eyes, I’d go color LCD for practical reasons. Simply put, an eReader is not only for text. Many of us also plan to read magazines and newspapers on ours, and 16 shades of gray simply won’t do. Even the NY Times has gone color, albeit grudgingly. In fact, it was one of the last major papers to do so. I love stats and charts and it’s frequently difficult to distinguish between trend lines in grayscale. Furthermore, I read a lot of scientific non-fiction and have an entire collection of reference books, especially in medicine. Can you imagine a modern anatomy book in grayscale? How about a cookbook or how-to book with diagrams?

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. A color picture is worth two thousand.

So my vote is for Color LCD.

I’ve got both a Kindle and a tablet, and I prefer the Kindle for straight reading, and the tablet for everything else. (the tablet is a Win7 12" Asus ep121, if it matters).

No option for the color Nook, which I own, so I didn’t vote. I love reading a few articles in a magazine before nodding off, and I really like not having to turn on the light to do it. As I age I find I am more and more sensitive to light and sound, so the less lights turned on, the better for me. And I’ve never experienced the eyestrain I’ve heard of. Before I got the Nook, I read from my iPod all the time.

Umm…that would be option 2: back-lit, color.

I waffled for a month before I chose the Kindle. Try as I might, I cannot think of a single e-thing I would read that would benefit from being in color. The Kindle is one of those rare purchases I have made for which I can find no negatives. Speaking to my own needs, of course.

As for the OPs multi-use gadget, no thanks. I’ve learned that the more ‘purposes’ you try to cram into an electronic device, the more impractical it becomes for any of them. It becomes a series of compromises.

I use my phone for a phone. I use my computer for a computer. I use my camera for a camera. I use my Kindle for an e-reader.

Call me a fogey, but each of these devices does its job very well.

If your problem with transferring to the Kindle is based merely on file format rather than DRM, look into any of the various freeware programs that will convert EPUB to MOBI. I particularly recommend Calibre, which can pull books straight off one device, convert it, then drop it onto the other device.

I have a nook, and I like the e-ink. It’s a little more inconvenient when you want to read in the dark, but no more so than with a regular book. On the other hand, the smart phones I’ve had can’t really be read in the sun at all, at least not without considerable effort and eyestrain.

I have an iPad with the kindle app and I would buy a kindle in a heart beat (it’s lighter and smaller) if it were back lit. I have a ton of books on my iPad and I do A LOT of my reading at night, with no light on.

I have a NOOK Color and my wife has a NOOK. For me, the biggest advantage to the e-ink isn’t eye strain, it’s battery life. The Color doesn’t strain my eyes in the slightest, but the battery only lasts about eight hours.

At the pool recently, I was able to read without a problem though my wife’s e-ink version was better.

For reading most newspapers and magazines, the Color is clearly better. It’s also better if you want a tablet-type device that can surf the web. I don’t use it much for that, but some might. (Leaving on the WiFi will also hurt battery life).

For many, battery life and size are the deal breakers. If that’s the case, e-ink is the way to go. I would prefer a longer battery, but the advantages of the LCD are nice enough that I don’t consider it a big deal. Mine was a gift so I didn’t actually make the decision though I could have exchanged it for the e-ink version if I had really wanted.

The Kindle combined with the cover with the built in line is forged from the fires of the volcano Win.

I read freakishly quickly, so I can’t handle the e-ink. It just doesn’t refresh fast enough, and the “contrast shift” every time the display changes makes my eyes bleed. I get about 3-4 lines into reading white text on a black background, and then it flashes back to white, and I lose my place. Very annoying.

Of all the readers and displays I’ve seen, I have to say I like the iPad best - the “faux page” is the most like reading a traditional page, and the not-quite-white background is easier on my eyes.

I still haven’t had a good look at any e-ink devices, but since the last time this thread was active, I’ve read two or three novels on my iPod Touch, and didn’t find it in the least uncomfortable (plus convenient that I could read in bed with the lights off). And of course it can do a lot of other things, too. So that’s how I voted.