eReaders: When e-ink needs a little helper

Posted on by Mike Evans

Fellow blogger Tony Cole of and I have a friendly difference of opinion over the ideal ereading device. He's definitely and e-ink man while I am a passionate LCDist (despite owning a Kindle, of which more later). We've gone to and fro on the problems of the reflective LCD displays in very sunny conditions but I've always been convinced that for every occasion when glare is a problem with LCD there are a dozen instances when ambient lighting is not good enough for comfortable reading on an e-ink screen. It seems the issue will never be resolved; it's almost as strong an example of intransigence as the ancient Windows-v-Mac debate. 

I do wonder, though, what is the point of e-ink when you have to clip a light to the top of the screen in order to carry on reading in low-light conditions. In this respect it is no better than a standard printed book. Ebooklite-179x300

Tony, never daunted, has discovered this gem, a neat device that clips to the top of any reader. It's all well and good, but I am sure if I bought one for my Kindle I would have to carry it around all the time. It would be on and off the device several times a day because, I have to say, many of my regular haunts are a little too gloomy for comfortable Kindling.

My iPhone, on the other hand never suffers in this respect. If I were again eight years old I could happily read away under the bedclothes with no risk of parental censure. It performs well in any lighting conditions. Seldom do I find the screen difficult to read because of sunlight or glare. The same applies to the iPad; it is just right as a reader as far as I am concerned. No need for accessories to clip to the top of the screen with these LCD displays.

I have owned the latest Kindle since it was introduced and it is an excellent device. Yet I now seldom carry it around and every time I travel I have a debate with myself. Taking it is no longer the automatic option simply because it is yet another device to carry. It just doesn't offer that much added value (over the iPhone) to make lugging it worthwhile. I am about to go abroad for two weeks and this time I have definitely decided not to take the Kindle. Instead I will rely on the iPhone; and if I want a bigger-format screen, I can call up the excellent Kindle app on my MacBook Air. 

I suppose I'm just biased.

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