eReader Screen Types
Most ebook readers on the market today utilize one of two different screen types - eInk/SiPix or LCD. The type of screen used for different ebook readers can easily alter the reading or user experience.
For years, EInk (and its competitor, SiPix), have been making digital paper screens that are ideals for reading ebooks. These grayscale screens create a crisp reading environment that allows you to read in nearly any type of sunlight and provides strong visual contrast compared to reading on an LCD screen, allowing for faster reading time. As well, they are the most environmentally- and traveler- friendly option since they consume very little power, meaning a longer battery life for you between charges.
Advantages: Ideal text display quality, improved reading speed, longer battery time, good contrast for outdoor reading
Disadvantages: mostly grayscale (color option still very new), no backlighting, slow refresh rate, unable to play video/animation.
Types of eInk Screen Technologies
eInk Pearl (Grayscale)
The eInk pearl is the second generation of eInk's electronic paper technology. The Pearl has a very high contrast rate, better than the first generation E Pearl screen. It is currently the most used eInk screen on grayscale ereader devices.
eInk VizPlex (Greyscale)
The eInk VizPlex was the first generation of eInk products. This type of screen was known for being easier to read in the daylight was the first screen used by ebook readers. This type of screen has mostly been replaced with the eInk Pearl technology.
SiPix is the most well known competitor for eInk when it comes to electronic paper technology. They patented the Microcups technology, which is the technology used for suspecting black ink on the paper. The material for making the screen is also impact resistant and moisture resistant. eInk Pearl (Grayscale): The eInk pearl is the second generation of eInk's electronic paper technology. The Pearl has a very high contrast rate, better than the first generation E Pearl screen. It is currently the most used eInk screen on grayscale ereading tablets.
eInk Triton (Color)
The eInk Triton is the first colored electronic paper screen on the market. This screen displays 16 shades of gray and 4,086 shades of color. The Triton is marketed to be easier on the eyes in high light areas.
For years, LCD screens have been known for their vibrant color and fast refresh rate (how quickly they can change what is shown on the screen). While they are still fairly new in the world of ebook readers, they are quickly dominating the market due to their ability to their ability to handle video games and animation. As well, LCD screens can provide better touch screen control, allowing for game play and a more natural way of turning pages while reading. LCD screens are also better for reading indoors and at night, due to their backlighting.
Advantages: backlit screens, fast refresh rate, can clearly show animation, vibrant colors, better for reading indoors
Disadvantages: Difficult to read outdoors, high power consumption, harder on the eyes, shorter battery life
Types of LCD Screens
LCD TFT (Color)
The TPS or Thin Film Transistor LCD screen are the most commonly used LCD screens on the market today. This type of technology is known for having improved vision quality, compared to older types of technology used in monitors. This common type of LCD screen is used in television sets, computer monitors, mobile phones, ereaders, and other mobile devices.
LCD IPS (Color)
The IPS or In-Plane Switching LCD screen is screen that is known for showing a wide range of colors and having reduced issues with wide angle viewing. Its accurate depiction of colors makes it ideal for high end computer monitors, professional graphic tablets, high end ereaders and tablets that have the capability for playing video games and displaying pictures.
LCD FFS (Color)
The FFS or Fringe Field Switching is a type of IPS technology that is known for having even wider viewing angles, boasting a full 180 degree view angle without distortion. It is one of the latest IPS technologies used in high end ereader and tablets to allow better viewing at a distance.
LCD LTPS (Color)
LTPS or Low Temperature Poly Silicon LCD is the latest technology in LCD screens. These faster and more integrated screens are able to show more detail and higher resolutions than their counterparts. With closer together pixels, they are able to achieve densities of over 200 dpi.
eInk & LCD - Double Screen Ereaders
Some ebook readers on the market have a dual screen, one eInk, the other an LCD. Usually the LCD screen is reserved for menus and watching videos, tasks that do not do well on eInk. There are unfortunately very few options with dual screens, even though they are very user friendly and convenient.
Advantages: Easier reading, ability to watch videos, user friendly
Disadvantages: Bulky, uses more battery life, few options available, more expensive
eInk vs. LCD comparison
- Good display quality (crisp, easy on the eyes, paper-like)
- Easy to read outdoors and in bright sunlight
- Low power consumption (battery lasts longer)
- Full color display
- Fast refresh rate (support for video, rapid animation, etc.)
- Backlit (can read in the dark)
- Black&White/Greyscale *
- No backlight (can't be read in the dark)
- Slow refresh rate (cannot play video/animation)
- Harder on the eyes
- High power consumption (battery doesn't last long)
- Harder to read outdoors and in bright sunlight
* - color eInk technology is already available (see eInk Triton), although it is still very limited in comparison with LCD.