E-Ink Monitors

Overview

 

E-Ink monitors are a type of screen that that provides a reading experience more comparable to reading a paper than reading off of a traditional LCD screen. E-ink monitors do not use harsh backlighting, which allows the user to work for longer periods of time without suffering from visual fatigue symptoms like eye pain, headaches, or insomnia that can be caused by other traditional monitors (DASUNG, 2017). Unlike traditional computers and tablets, at the moment e-ink monitors are mostly optimized for reading, while graphics or video display may be less optimal. E-ink monitors are used in certain computer monitors like Paperlike Pro by DASUNG and many e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle. E-ink monitors are portable, readable in sunlight, and have very strong battery lives (Janssens & Martin, 2009). They are a convenient way to read e-books and files since the battery can last for weeks at a time and does not have many apps that can distract its user from what they are reading (Siegenthaler, Schmid, Wyss, & Wurtz, 2012). E-ink monitors can use WiFi to transfer files onto the devices directly or rely on USB ports for data transfer from computers. Some models also allow users to purchase and download e-books directly through their own online book store (Janssens & Martin, 2009). Unlike regular computers and tablets, e-readers use an electronic ink (e-Ink) to produce a product very similar to paper (Siegenthaler, Wurtz, Bergamin, & Groner, 2011).

Researchers have found that the use of e-ink monitors reduce the amount of visual fatigue the user experiences compared to using a traditional LCD screen (Benedetto, Drai-Zerbib, Pedrotti, Tissier, & Baccino, 2013; Siegenthaler, Bochud, Bergamin, & Wurtz, 2012). Benedetto et al. (2013) observed the effects of display technology on visual fatigue by having twelve participants read on an LCD e-reader, an E-ink e-reader, and a paper book. Participants were tested in three different prolonged reading sessions that were separated by ten days. Critical Flicker Frequency (CFF), amount of eye blinking, and a Visual Fatigue Scale were measured. It was found that prolonged reading on the LCD screen triggered higher visual fatigued when compared to the E-ink monitor and the paper book. The LCD screen led to a decreased number of blinks, increased rate of tear evaporation, reduced pupil size, and increased perceived visual fatigue (Benedetto et al., 2013).

There are some limitations in using E-ink monitors. Not all e-ink monitors have a backlight, making it difficult to read in places without lighting. Additionally, not all E-ink monitors have an option for highlighting, note taking, or bookmarking (Janssens & Martin, 2009). Depending on the model of E-ink monitor, some may require internet in order to purchase and download the books directly to the device.

 

Research Rating: Due to the experimental nature of the information cited in this description, this information is to be trusted as valid and reliable. Note that not every E-Ink monitor has been empirically validated, but the research does show that in general, E-Ink e-monitors are preferable to LCD monitors for reducing visual fatigue.

Advantages:

  • Convenient small size

  • Easy to learn

  • Strong battery life

  • Very similar to reading a printed book

  • Lower cost

 

 

Disadvantages:

  • Slower than LCD e-readers

  • Need external light to read for those without backlight

 

 

To Consider:

  • E-ink monitors are much easier to read in bright sunlight

Exact prices change frequently, which is why only approximate ranges are listed. 

$ - Under $5

$$ - Between $6 and $50

$$$ - Between $51 and $250

$$$$ - Over $250

Academic Intervention Lab

Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto, ON M5S 1V6, Canada
     Email: academicinterventionlab@utoronto.ca

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