There are two main types of eReader display technology: E-Ink (electronic ink) and LCD (liquid crystal display). In general, E-Ink readers are considered to be easier to read, with higher contrast, no glare and a more natural reading experience. LCD screens, on the other hand,are both more dynamic and more affordable. Each display technology has its own inherent pros and cons which should be considered before investing in an electronic reader.
E-Ink, or electronic ink, is used in the Amazon Kindle. E-Ink screens use a special type of electronic paper where characters and images are created by arranging pixels on a screen. The mechanism is similar to that of an Etch-a-Sketch. In this way, power is only needed to arrange the pixels. The image remains on the screen even if the unit is powered down.
In terms of reading, E-Ink screens are more like physical books printed on paper. They are not backlit, thus they need a light source to be read, just like a book. The benefits of this is that it produces less strain on the eyes and is a more natural reading experience. Furthermore, you won’t experience glare in bright lights and direct sunlight. E-Ink also holds its charge for a very long time.
The drawbacks of E-Ink is that it cannot display moving images, such as video or cursors, nor can it display color. E-Ink, for now, can only be displayed in shades of grey.
An LCD screen is on an eReader is the same as the screen on your laptop computer, flat screen TV or smartphone. The screen is backlit, thus requiring more battery power. Furthermore, the glass screen creates a glare. LCD screens are also notoriously difficult to read in direct sunlight. Viewing an LCD screen over long periods of time is also less enjoyable than reading a book or an E-Ink screen.
The pros of an LCD screen is that it can display full color and video. LCD screens are also very affordable and can be outfitted with touchscreens for easy navigation. In fact, many smartphones and tablets double as eReaders, such as the iPod Touch, iPad and BlackBerry Storm.
Which is best for you?
When deciding which type of eReader screen is best for you, there are two things you should consider: your usage and your needs. If you plan on reading outdoors or in brightly lit areas or for long periods of time, an E-Ink eReader makes sense because of its lack of a glare and its long battery life. But if you’d like to read in the dark—such as in bed or on a red eye flight—an LCD screen may be better. Furthermore, eReaders with LCD screens can offer other functionality, such as video or web browsing, bringing it closer to a smartphone experience.
Bottom-line: For those who intend to use your eReader strictly for books and strictly in well-lit areas, the E-Ink models are likely the best for you. If you are looking for an eReader that can do a bit more than simply read books and magazines, and LCD smartphone, tablet or reader could give you more bang for your buck.