Marco Arment writes about the benefits of e-reader displays. I’m on his side on every issue, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, but there is one important benefit he’s missed out on.
There is a pure ergonomic benefit to e-ink that LCDs will never be able to offer, and that is that like paper, they rely on ambient light. It might seem curious that I should point to a restriction as a benefit, but e-ink gives us more than just great battery life.
I recently spent 24 hours in a sleep centre, where I was monitored very closely by skilled professionals armed with some seriously heavy duty equipment. I went to sleep at night (kind of) wired up like some kind of pre-wakened Frankstein’s monster.
During the day, I was asked to try to go to sleep every two hours. For half an hour preceding my nap, I was told to stop using my iPad. I was surprised as I used the iPad to help me reach a soporific state, or so I thought. It turns out that emitted light falling on the retinas stimulates wakefulness. I shouldn’t have been surprised.
It appears that this problem with iPad displays causing insomnia is more common than I thought and for this reason, e-ink displays, such as the one on the Kindle I bought after my sleep centre session, should be popular for some time to come.