back to article Q: What's black and white and read all over? A: E-reader displays

Reading on screen can be something of a chore. As computers have become smaller and more pocketable, so it's become more possible to carry around a device that not only has a reasonable quality display, but weighs little enough to be considered a replacement for a book. Kobo Glo HD Get Carta: Kobo's Glo HD has the latest e- …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a Nook HD, and l as a reader, my only complaint is its weight. I flashed it with Cyanogen, and am content.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      That - and the Kindle Fire HD - is essentially just a tablet, with an LCD screen, and custom firmware.

      And you're right - for many people that is sufficient. You can use an app to tweak the colours from the screen at night, and if you don't read in bright daylight, they're fine. Plus the screen is responsive enough that if you do something like flashing with Cynanogen, you have reasonable performance.

      Given all that, and their own various restrictions, it's hard to see how colour e-paper could break into the market and shift enough units that it would be able to be compete on price.

      1. Mage Silver badge


        Fire Family is now marketed as Fire, it's a tablet, not a Kindle.

        For dedicated readers of paperbacks, the current eReaders with eInk are fine. They don't need colour. It's a niche.

        Colour inherently on anything reflective can't be better than about 1/3rd of B&W brightness. Mono LCD is 1/2 brightness or less. Colour about 1/10th. Hence LCDs have backlights.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "I have a Nook HD, and l as a reader, my only complaint is its weight. I flashed it with Cyanogen, and am content."

      Me too (also flashed with Cyanogen), but I never considered it as a reader. I have a Kindle for that. Lighter and far easier on the eyes and it very, very unlikely to need recharging half way through a reading session.

      Maybe I'm just one of the few who not only hates this drift to high gloss finish screens but wonders what ever happened to the H&S legislation on non-reflective computer display screens and the requirement for reflective one in the workplace to be retrofitted with polarised or mesh filters.

  2. Jason Hindle

    Why colour?

    Certainly if all you're doing is reading a bit of Stephen King, it hardly matters. Surely colour only matters to text books, where colour can help clarify illustrations and diagrams; for that application the technology used will have to be very good.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Why colour?

      Comic books as well, and perhaps titles aimed at children. Magazines, too, could benefit as well.

      If the technology were fast and responsive enough, it would also mean you'd have devices that could potentially have much longer battery life, too.

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: Why colour?

        I'd kill for a colour e-Ink photo frame, myself. I realise colour reproduction isn't as good as an LCD, but being able to leave it on at night without lighting up the room and only take it off the wall every 6 months to charge it would more than make up.

        1. Andy the ex-Brit

          Re: Why colour?

          Should be a simple task for someone with the programming skills to convert an obsolete tablet to that purpose.

          Use the camera to read the lighting level and color temperature in the room. Adjust the display brightness and color temperature to match. This would automatically make it dark at night.

          You could potentially save more power by having it use a combination of camera and microphone to determine if anyone is around to look at it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why colour?

            A rear-illuminated LCD, even a dimmed one, is not the same as an e-Ink screen - in terms of both luminosity and battery life.

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Nice round up

    I did not realize there were any other technologies out there.

    I'll be looking up ore "e-paper" in future.

  4. rainjay

    Color e-paper as Betamax

    Sadly I agree with you on that, only the Pebble Time uses a color e-paper display whereas Apple and Android Wear smartwatches use OLED. E-paper looks great outdoors but the colors look muted with a backlight. OLED screens look fantastic indoors but they're useless outdoors in bright sunlight; the average Apple Watch buyer probably doesn't care about that or the dismal battery life.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Color e-paper as Betamax

      I have the pebble time, and it really is best in sunlight (almost like it must have been developed in California) and in well lit indoor environments. But there is a between the two lighting situation which is common in many homes where the colour display is utterly hopeless and the backlight inadequate. To deal with this I just use a black/white watchface, which is OK but not quite as good as a version 1 black/white pebble screen.

      There really is no need for colour on a Pebble watch. It does nothing to support the purpose of the watch apart from make it less usable. The version 1 display was much better, the Pebble Time styling is much better. Oh for a Time with the version 1 display.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One thing I don't understand is the very large price differential between the 6 inch and 9.7 inch e-ink readers. I don't think it costs that much more to make the larger screens so why the premium price for the larger units?

    We used to use Kindle DX units while on various industrial sites because it allowed us to, a) take a full range of service and technical manuals and b) allowed easy reading without too much scrolling. I say 'used to' because over the years the units didn't survive the industrial environment.

    Now we have a couple of Onyx Boox M96 units on trial which are quite nice, especially because of their ability to put in notations using a stylus but why do they have to have the Google play store up and running.

    At approx €260 I don't see them as a mass market item. I know of several students that have drooled over mine but are very reluctant to part with that much cash on what is only a tool to help with their studies.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      My guess would be that, while technically these things aren't that hard to make at whatever size you want - in fact some of them can be made using relatively small modifications to existing LCD production lines - it's largely a question of volume.

      Most people are going to be using the screens to read novels, and it's easy to ramp up production to the point where the payback time is quite short. The big screens are always going to be a niche, and so as well as the cost of the screen itself, the tooling costs and all those other elements of bringing the product to market are going to have to be written off over a much smaller number of units.

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Sony Digital Paper

      About 13.8"

      reduced from $1200 to $800.

      I suspect there are yield issues with larger eInk and that it's dearer than LCD, or a basic Kindle Touch would be less than €79 (inc VAT in Ireland).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Eventually bought a Kindle Paperwhite..

    I started off reading books using the Marvin and Kindle apps on an iPad, but although it's good for docs that need colour, it suffers from the general tablet problem: battery. In the end I bought a Kindle Paperwhite for travel, and that has been excellent. Every so often (not sure how often, but it's measured in weeks) it wants a charge, and I can read it with or without environment light present.

    Other than some functional changes I can't see a need for anything new - it does the job.

    Nice review - learned something new.

    1. The_Idiot

      Re: Eventually bought a Kindle Paperwhite..

      "Other than some functional changes I can't see a need for anything new"

      I entirely agree - and this, to me, in a nutshell highlights one of if not the biggest problems the e-reader market faces.

      The damn things work.

      Not only do the damn things work, but they pretty much do what they need to do. By the time you've put words on a page, given a battery life measured in the lifetime of stars (slight exaggeration for effect), added a night reading light - there isn't much left. OK - highlighting, the ability to add notes, and maybe a thesaurus? Nice to have, but not essential. You can't really come out with an extra bell or whistle next year and get everyone to buy a new e-reader.

      It's like light-bulbs, without being anything like light-bulbs at all (blush). Is it technically possible to make a light-bulb that lasts 999999999999999 years? Maybe. Would you get rich selling them? Probably not - no resales.....

      E-readers. I love them. But they'll most likely, in the long run, die just because they bloody _work_.

      1. Andy the ex-Brit

        Re: Eventually bought a Kindle Paperwhite..

        I wish. We currently have three in our house (all previous generation Kindle Paperwhites,) but we've paid for five. We cracked the screens on two of them.

        I would pay more for one that was a lot more durable. As it is, they're quite vulnerable unless you put them in a case that triples their weight and volume. And even then, they're not particularly water resistant.

      2. 9Rune5

        Re: Eventually bought a Kindle Paperwhite..

        My Sony PRS-T1 developed alzheimer's after about two years. I can no longer invoke the dictionary (the device will hang), and every time the device boots I have to tell it what date it is.

        Oh, and I punctured the screen last year. There is a small hole in the upper part of the screen, so I sometimes have to guess what character ends up underneath.

        Other than that the thing does what it is supposed to do. Very convenient way to read books. Not to mention a convenient way of transporting books while on vacation and similar!

        I look forward to a follow-up review of what new readers bring to the table...

      3. Nigel 11

        Re: Eventually bought a Kindle Paperwhite..

        E-readers. I love them. But they'll most likely, in the long run, die just because they bloody _work_.

        Not the ones that are tied into a proprietary locked-down framework for selling content. Amazon will carry on selling Kindles to supply a replacement market, because the profit is in selling the content to read on them. They'll buy the company that makes the displays if they have to. Having used a Kindle I'd buy a replacement even if my daily newspaper subscription was the *only* available content.

        I really wish that there were an open equivalent to a Kindle (even if only as open as an Android phone, rather than a Linux'ed PC), but I think you've nailed why there isn't and probably won't be.

  7. Christian Berger

    Colour is the least of the problems

    I have a Kobo mini which was back then at a great price point (40 Euros). The biggest issues with it are that it tries to force you into some services by the manufacturers and that the screen is not very large. Colour is one of those "nice to have" features you can do without. Actually if I had the choice, I'd rather have a laptop with a decent monochrome display than with a colour one. It would probably double the life time of the battery.

    The far bigger problem is that there is currently no good market for ebooks. That's because the publishers insist on DRM which means that the market is rather centralized with Adobe and Amazon being nearly the only players. Luckily, particularly for technical books, there's a large DRM-free market where you pay once and get multiple formats.

  8. Danny 4

    double sided tablet?

    Apart from the extra weight and cost etc, could a tablet have an IPS LCD on one side and epaper on the other? Just power up whichever is most suited for the task...

    1. Charles 9

      Re: double sided tablet?

      That's how the Yotaphone works, IIRC. I think part of the concern is that people normally put their fingers on the backside of a reader while reading so there's concern of triggering something accidentally. And even with an appropriate cover and toughened glass, I have to wonder about endurance issues.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: double sided tablet?

        Well you would just disable the side that wasn't in use. Much in the same way as the screen on a touch phone is disabled when the handset if place against the ear.

        1. Charles 9

          Re: double sided tablet?

          Thing is, that can be hit or miss. Your idea works on the assumption it doesn't miscue, which I've seen plenty of times with touchscreen phones: either it doesn't turn off right and the ear triggers a button or you take the phone off ear and you find the screen won't react. IOW, there's a fair chance a double-sided device will pick the wrong side.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    After I admired the crispness of the E-Ink display on a friend's Paperwhite they bought me one for Christmas. It passed the acid test of being readable in the garden. Its light weight was an advantage over most books when holding it above you while relaxing on your back.

    So far it has been used for one book - on Sir Thomas Brock the sculptor. The reason was that it was an unknown quantity where the paper version was £36 and the Kindle version £2.50. The Kindle text was good but the pictures were a nuisance in having to be re-sized. Several times an inadvertent shifting of the fingers lost my place completely as it jumped forwards/backwards

    Any other books that I have looked at were better to buy in the paper form. Usually the difference in price for the Kindle version was so little as to be not worthwhile given the various limitations of ownership.

    1. Trixr

      That's really not a good use-case. E-readers - I have a Kobo Glo, which is fabulous, and water resistant for bath time - are best for basic text. They are at best adequate for images in PDF.

      So I will not be buying any art, architecture, etc books in an e-reader format - you want large format on nice paper for that kind of thing.

    2. The Bam

      Not so good for non-textual content

      I use my Kindle Voyage daily and have pretty much given up buying dead-tree books. However I do like the occasional physics or maths text along with the novels, and that's where the Kindle falls down. In theory a 300dpi display should be able to handle figures and formulae, but in practice it's a bit of a slog, largely because the slow refresh rate means it's quite hard to zoom and pan. AND reading most PDFs is a task only for masochists.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Not so good for non-textual content

        Yes. But a lot of that is because the format (pdf) is not designed for e-paper displays, or perhaps that the pdf software in the Kindle is not well developed (because there's no money in it?) Not that much money in technical publishing either, compared to entertainment-type novels. That's why the mashed-tree technical books cost so much.

        This is the sort of thing that would rapidly get fixed, if Kindles were open devices.

  10. John Savard

    A reflective color display that changes between black and alternating red, green, and blue pixels sounds like it will have low contrast. That may be one problem with color.

    For a moment, I thought that maybe the answer is to have a two-layer display. One layer alternates between black and transparent, and below that is a layer of pixels that change between white and one of three colors. But that won't allow bright reds or yellows, even if it allows white, so instead three layers that alternate between transparent or a subtractive primary are what you need.

    You can get away with one layer of red, green, and blue pixels on an LCD display by making the backlight much brighter than what you see when you look at a blank white screen. That doesn't work for reflected light.

    1. Charles 9

      "For a moment, I thought that maybe the answer is to have a two-layer display. One layer alternates between black and transparent, and below that is a layer of pixels that change between white and one of three colors. But that won't allow bright reds or yellows, even if it allows white, so instead three layers that alternate between transparent or a subtractive primary are what you need."

      I think the trouble with a layered approach is that the lower layers will likely look muted or blurred having to go through the intervening layers to be reflected and then through them again to get out. Whichever primary's on the bottom—cyan, magenta, or yellow—isn't going to look too pretty if that's the only color you need to display. That's probably why most color tech uses the color dot approach instead.

  11. Chris Gray 1
    Thumb Up

    Could be a paradigm shift

    I've had a Kindle Keyboard (old one with WiFi/3G) for years, and continue to be quite happy with it. Works great in full tropical sunlight and in Canadian winter indoors.

    I would be happy to buy a colour device with similar characteristics. Maybe add a touch screen. It would be nice to see the book covers in the same full colour as you get on the physical books.

    Think about this: the contents of books is black and white, mostly because it costs quite a bit more to do colour printing, I'd guess. What if there were a market for coloured book contents? Would publishers then start putting colour in? Many books used to have occasional pictures in them. It would be nice to have those in colour. What about colour in the chapter headers, etc.? I think it could change things, over time.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Could be a paradigm shift

      Somehow, though, a colour coffee-table ebook doesn't sound like the sort of thing one would leave lying around to impress the casual visitor.

      I may be a Luddite - hell, I *am* a Luddite - but to me these are different markets. The books in which *I* am interested contain text, not pictures; and text is an inherently linear monochrome flowed concept. There are some excellent books with non-linear text, and some excellent books containing almost no words, but an awful lot of pictures, and no end of technical books with large and detailed diagrams and other illustrations - but these are edge cases whose use is adequately covered by a robust, reliable, and mature technology: ink on paper, conveniently bound into a 'book'.

      Let's not ruin the basic e-ink device by forcing uses other than these text reading functions on it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Could be a paradigm shift

      Me too - I've got a kindle keyboard and its fine (and I've read an order of magnitude more books since I bought it!) ... though I am conisdering the new paperwhite as think it is a worthwhile improvement. Books are basically black and white so current is fine ... though I did meet someone in book publishing who told me 2-3 years ago that I'd wasted my money on a kindle as "everyone is moving to publishing for tablets with colour and video and no-one will be doing books for ereaders by next year" ... hmm, still seem to be able to get anything I want for my kindle!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Could be a paradigm shift

        though I am conisdering the new paperwhite as think it is a worthwhile improvement.

        Oh, it is. It makes that simple device near perfect for what it is supposed to do, although I have been looking at maybe a hack to make it do other things as well (the most fun one appears to convert it into a weather display, but that code appears old). But it's OK as "just" a Kindle.

    3. Artaxerxes

      Re: Could be a paradigm shift

      I miss my Kindle Keyboard.

      Got a new Paperwhite as my KK got damaged, and urgh the interface is a step backwards by a mile, and I miss those little buttons on the side that meant you could go back and forwards without touching the screen, yes touchscreen is useful, but its now actually harder for me to turn the page and oh fuck it'll be winter soon and I'll have to take gloves off... shit.

      Still, the screen lights up which is useful at bus stops and low light.

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: Could be a paradigm shift

        One of the things I liked very much about my old Sony 505 was those physical page turn buttons - and in particular the fact that there were two sets. The round control bottom left, and the two buttons half way down the right side.

        So, however I was holding it, there were buttons conveniently to hand. And, personally, I much prefer having both directions available in the one place to the way some of the Kindles have had one button on each side in the past.

  12. PNGuinn

    OK - Here's the deal.

    1. At least A4 screen - ideally A4 long by Septic paper wide. MUST be reflective ie liquid paper or equivalent).

    Most of the documentation I read is A4 / Letter. My eyes are getting old and I don't want to squint through powerful glasses a few inches from the screen or have to scroll around a tiny screen.

    2. Something robust enough to take the daily knocks of working life.

    3. Plenty of internal storage for the reader - say 128 Mb minimum.

    4. Slot for an SDHC card.

    5. Ethernet connectivity.

    2. Able to load open formats eg pdf, odf etc.

    3. A device **I** own - I don't take kindly to being the product.

    4. Decent battery life - weeks - and AA / AAA batteries with the option to use either NiMh or alkaline cells.

    5. Easy in situ charging giving me the choice of changing batteries or plugging in.

    6. At least a couple of USB sockets and a small trackball - I HATE trackpads.

    7. A matt screen is essential, no need for colour, 600 dpi would be nice.

    I'm sure this sort of thing would have applications for the partially sighted as well as students and working engineers.

    For bonus points an extra processor, normally off for power conservation, which can be brought in to give access to a browser, office package etc with small virtual keyboard so that the brute could be used as an occasional laptop substitute. SIM socket for 3G might be nice but I'd probably use a USB dongle.

    Oh, and of course, running open souce software and os.

    If I was being silly I could add camera and the ability to make calls, but frankly, apart from the hilarity of holding an A4 device to my ear...nothing like this could beat the 3x optical zoom 8 MP compact camera that lives with me at work. Would be useful to display / record images from a snake camera though!

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: OK - Here's the deal.

      Sony Digital paper.

      Does A4 and allows stylus annotation $800

      Kindle DXG is rather more affordable and at 9.7" just about manages A4 / Letter PDF. Was recently still on with worldwide shipping and free 3G to Amazon and Wikipedia.

    2. John Gamble

      Re: OK - Here's the deal.

      "1. At least A4 screen - ideally A4 long by Septic paper wide. MUST be reflective ie liquid paper or equivalent)...."

      And ... pow, you're already disqualified. The tablet department is over there [hand wave], good luck with the rest of the requirements.

      The whole *point* of an e-reader is to replace books that you don't necessarily want in a physical format, and most books are much smaller than A4. Even the technical articles I read can be found in something other than A4 (a process I call "die PDF die"), and now that Kobo handles the EPUB3 format, the number of articles I read on it has increased, although not by a great rate (alas, PDF is not dying fast enough).

      I find that my current Kobo is just a little on the large size -- my previous one could fit in most of my jacket pockets -- but I'm willing to concede that for the other advantages.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: OK - Here's the deal.

        I wrote a PDF parser, so am extra super-motivated to hope PDF dies, but are there really non-PDF versions of popular magazines, for example ?

        I fear it will be a long time until it's 6 fonts under and I will be looking for an affordable A4 ebook reader until then.

        1. John Gamble

          Re: OK - Here's the deal.

          Like most standards, some areas will have them overthrown later than others, and yeah, I'm betting popular magazines will be among the last of them.

          But your post got me to thinking, and I took a tape measure to my Kobo. The screen is basically A6 (with some padding at the bottom for the screen controls, so the physical ratio is more like 1.6 instead of root 2). I wonder if there's some PDF-aware accommodation going on there -- I've seen magazine ads for it.

          (But seriously, A4? I could handle an A5 tablet -- that makes sense to me -- but I can't imagine dealing with the size and the weight and A4 would bring.)

          By the way, well done on the "6 fonts under" line.

  13. James 51

    Colour would be useful for notes and annotations. Actually using e-reader like paper means being able to make notes but this often gets over looked.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      The three pigment system that e-Ink has would possibly suffice for annotation; it's presently mostly used for shelf labelling, but I suppose there's no reason you could use it for note taking.

      Spectra uses 'microcups' which is the technology E-Ink got when they bought Sipix and although both black and red pigments are negatively charged, the red ones have a much larger charge. So, a small amount of power will waft the black particles to the surface, but apply a larger one and the red ones are pulled past them.

  14. Andy E

    And another thing....

    The reader is only part of the solution. You need something to manage the library.

    I have an old Kindle keyboard and having a hobby as a book review, I read lots of books. The Kindle's not perfect, but it does the job. Anyway, the problem I have is the poor interface for managing a large collection of books. Given how bad it is on the Kindle I use Calibre on a Mac which is a very nice piece of software. Unfortunately it always seems that Amazon don't want you to use it or any other library management tool. This makes it very difficult for the developers who are always having to try and workaround Amazon.

    I expect this problem will get worse as the storage capacities of the e-readers get bigger.

    1. Trixr

      Re: And another thing....

      Meh, I use Calibre exclusively. Ok, I have the Amazon app on my PC, but it's only there to suck down the books for literally a couple of minutes before I've imported them into Calibre and deDRMed them (and converted to ePub for my Kobo).

      I suppose if you like things like reading stats, it can be annoying, but that's not something that matters to me.

      But I agree for normal punters, they want something that works seamlessly and easily.

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: And another thing....

      Maybe it's the Mac version, but I've found Calibre Just Works with pretty much any DRM'd book I throw at it. And then of course it will quite happily convert them into whatever format I need.

      It might be slightly fiddly to set up but I'd say that for any elReg reader it's an absolute must.

      (Although it's starting to get into feature creep now, what with it's own epub editor, webserver and news downloader)

  15. AlexV

    Use-case for colour e-paper: digital frame

    I think the best use-case for colour e-paper would be digital photo frames that don't need to be plugged in. That's the main obstacle to photo frames at the moment; you want to have them in places that are on display, often far from any power supply, and certainly not with a wire trailing from them. Even more so when you have more than one of them, as is the usual case for traditional frames.

    An e-paper display would be ideal - you don't want to refresh the image frequently. Perhaps as little as once an hour or so would be sufficient, and probably only during certain parts of the day (no point refreshing multiple times if no-one is around). With that sort of power draw you might even be able to scavenge the power from WiFi, or if not at least make it practical to run for months off batteries.

    1. hammarbtyp

      Re: Use-case for colour e-paper: digital frame

      I think the challenge for that sort of application would be the brightness and resolution. Most of the e-ink colour displays I've seen make the image look like its been dipped in mud. Also e-photo frames don't need to be portable, so battery life is not a great issue(if you wanted to save power connect a sensor that turns the display off when no ones around.)

  16. Neil B

    The Kindle has been a top-drawer "just works" piece of kit in our household for years. Sure they've dolled it up with fancy-shmancy back-lights and touch-screens, but IMO they nailed that product almost from the word go.

  17. Chz

    Can't wait for the review

    I've been pretty disappointed with my Kobo Touch vs. the Kindles in the house. It's slow, the touchscreen is finicky about actually registering taps, it will randomly turn itself on in my bag and then skip 15 pages ahead, and the font selection is abhorrent. I don't gripe much considering it was half the price, however I do kind of wish I'd just bought the basic Kindle with buttons. But I have also heard that the newer ones are a lot closer to the Kindle in quality terms (looks like price also, unfortunately) , so I'm curious to see if they've reached rough parity.

    I do hope you separate out the ecosystem from the other factors. For some, it certainly matters. For anyone who can be bothered to figure out Calibre, it's entirely irrelevant.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Can't wait for the review

      I will certainly add the to my notes for when I'm writing it up, which will be sometime this week. Just as soon as I've got rid of my massive hangover.

  18. hammarbtyp

    Pros and Conns

    I've had a kindle e-reader for years, the one with Whispernet(does that still work?) and physical page turn buttons. I bought it originally as a e-reader, but also so I could access the internet while camping(I was too poor/tight to afford a smartphone in those days).

    This instantly showed the limitations of e-ink, in that web browsing was a frustrating experience(however it did so the benefit of having a always connected clod device). However as a e-reader it has been great, and generally I use it when flying because I know that I won't be eeking out it's battery life at the end of a 8 hour flight(I also like the fact it is not touch screen. Physical buttons are far better for page flipping).

    However it has its limitations. While it is great for text based literature, it is is generally useless for anything technical in nature. The small screen size and the tendency to re-format pages on a ad-hoc basis means that code examples or technical diagrams tend to be distribute haphazardly or badly rendered.

    I had high hopes for the A4 reader that Plastic Logic were promising to bring out in the day, but that turned out to be vapourware. I still think a low power A4 device would be great for schools and university if the price was low enough, but now you can get a perfectly usable A4 android tablet for less than £200 maybe that market has gone

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Pros and Conns

      "always connected clod device"

      Best typo I've read all day :)

      'we're migrating our email to the clod', 'all our files are backed up in the clod' etc.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Long-time e-Reader user, disappointed with current tech

    Like the author, I have an ageing Sony PRS-505 reader that has recently started to suffer from issues with decreasing battery life between charges.

    However, despite the improvements in clarity of more up-to-date screens, I find myself disappointed in the current e-Reader offerings.

    My main issue with devices like the Kobo and Kindle is the reliance on touch-screen for the majority, if not all, of the units functionality. I do a significant chunk of my daily reading in the local deli at lunch time, so being able to operate my reader by poking physical buttons with a fingernail or the handle of a knife is preferable to having to smear greasy fingers across the screen!

    Wi-Fi / cellular data access is something I don't really care about on a reader - I'd probably continue buying my eBooks on my PC and putting them onto whatever device I'm using from there after carrying out any necessary format conversion on Calibre as I currently do.

    Screen illumination is also not really a selling point; I've tried the Paperwhite and Glo and was underwhelmed. As someone who has enjoyed reading books for many, many years, I'd much rather have a well positioned (i.e. out of line of sight) reading lamp to read by!

    So, all-in-all, it seems to me that they've taken a well designed technology and packed a load of ultimately pointless 'fluff' features into it!

    I guess for the time being that I'll have to hope that my trusty PRS-505 holds out until someone decides to release a decent non-touch eReader device... or see if I can buy a nearly new PRS-505 from someone who doesn't read while eating their sandwiches!

    1. Alfred

      Re: Long-time e-Reader user, disappointed with current tech

      I had a run of PRS-505 models for the last few years. Generally replacing them when I broke one; they're a replacement for a stack of novels and get treated much the same. In pockets, rammed in bags, by the pool, all that sort of thing. Buy them second hand, run them into the ground.

      I likewise liked the buttons instead of the touch screen, and it simply did what it was meant to; a stack of novels, in a single slim box. The last time I broke one I wound up looking at all the options and got a second-hand PRS-300 for a song. Still got buttons rather than a touch screen, none of the unrequired bells and whistles of competitors (lights, internet access, Amazon supervising my reading etc etc), but it was even better for my particular needs; being a little bit smaller made it significantly more convenient. I wouldn't be without it.

      Maybe I should buy a few more second-hand while I still can so I've got a supply in the future when there are no good options for my needs (i.e. a replacement for a stack of novels) being made anymore.

    2. TSM
      Thumb Up

      Re: Long-time e-Reader user, disappointed with current tech

      There are times when it's hard to get a well-positioned reading lamp. Such as when you're walking to the bus stop, or on the bus, or off on your lunch break - in short, most of the time I'm using my Paperwhite. Even at home, the screen light comes in handy if (for example) you want to read in bed late at night without waking up your spouse; you can have the screen dimly lit and it will be easily readable (against the dark room) but produce far less general illumination than a reading lamp.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Long-time e-Reader user, disappointed with current tech

        If it's dark enough to require illumination when you're walking to the bus stop, it's either;

        - Raining, in which case the reader is probably tucked safely away in a bag or pocket, or

        - Night, in which case a head-torch is an acceptable accessory!

        Modern busses are generally well lit. So no additional illumination is required.

        I'm not currently burdened with a spouse or significant other to disturb with late-night reading habits, so when I happen to be sharing the bed... well, let's just say that reading doesn't exactly feature on the agenda! ;)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Long-time e-Reader user, disappointed with current tech

          It could be overcast but not raining, in which case it's too dark to read and not considered acceptable nor wise to be wearing a head torch. In any event, at least where I am head torches are discouraged in public: considered the realm of tradesmen who use the torches to free a hand while working in dark, cramped spaces. Night cyclists typically install headlights on their bicycles and pedestrians tend to stick to lit sidewalks, resorting to hand torches if forced to regularly travel unlit paths.

          I don't know which buses you've been in, but the ones I'm in are lit, but generally not lit enough. Same goes for airplanes. Besides, if you're on an overnighter, they usually turn the lights off to let some of the passengers sleep.

  20. Cody

    want a large screen android e-reader

    There must be a lot of people who want this too - 10 inch would be fine, bigger OK, and it should run android and not like the Sony large one be restricted to pdf. And a reasonable price too of course. Under £200.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: want a large screen android e-reader

      Sounds like the Onyx M96 is what you are looking for:

      9.7" screen, Android 4, stylus option:

      It seems to have a limited European distribution - like one company in Germany, and the price is a bit higher than you were asking for:

      Haven't played with it, so it might be brilliant, might be a total Hammond.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If you caption your photos "Compare the sharpness", DO NOT USE JPEGs

    Got it ?

  22. Vector


    I don't understand why most of these color e-paper technologies are described as using RGB elements. Since they are, by and large, intended to be lit reflectively, I would think CMY(K) would be a better choice for the same reasons that CMYK is the palette used for printing.

  23. dieseltaylor

    Lets be honest 9.7" e-readers do exist but are not reported

    I have had a Sony , a Kono, and the Onyx Boox - early veresion. Which I sat on so I now have another 9.7" e-reader the Pocket Book 912

    Does all the formats, plays music, in theory can browse the web and the battery lasts for months.

    For someone like me downloading pdf's, books from Gutenberg [3000+ of the 33000 available in English] it is a godsend with a screen real-estate 3 times the size of the bog standard readers. That means accounts, articles in two columns, and maps are hugely more easily read.

    A complaint I will make is the huge number of reviews in the UK media and not one mentions the 9.7" readers which in my view offer the best read. I read very ery fast if it is a novel and small screens just do not have enough text so plus all the other benefits make it ideal. Not everyone will agree but lets not suppress the existence of the big screen readers.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon