When an e-reader is better than a tablet or smartphone

Those who do not have an e-book are usually sure that they do not need it: “Why? books can be read from a smartphone, and a tablet is much better than this incomprehensible gadget. ” But for some reason e-books are in no hurry to disappear from store shelves. It’s just that in some aspects they really surpass all other mobile devices.

A person who first sees the screen of a turned off e-book often decides that it has a transparent sticker with a picture. The fact is that the screen of an e-book does not change the contrast at all when viewed from different angles – like a sheet of paper with text.

This happens thanks to the E-Ink technology (electronic ink). The pixels in E-Ink screens are made up of capsules filled with microscopic beads of different colors.

In ordinary gadgets, the screen is multi-layered, has partial transparency and is backlit from below. With the backlight turned off, you won’t be able to see anything on your smartphone. And in an e-book, the screen is opaque, the image is formed on its surface and is seen due to the reflected light – just like on a sheet of a regular book. As a result, the brighter the lighting, the worse the text is visible on the screen of a tablet or smartphone, and the better – on the screen of an e-book.

However, the screens of e-books are different. The advantages of the book and its price largely depend on the screen manufacturing technology.E-books of the budget segment are equipped with an E-Ink Carta screen. It differs from other screens in low contrast (15: 1) and low ppi (166-200).

However, the visual clarity of the image on the Carta screen is comparable to that of smartphones with a pixel density of 250-300 ppi. Due to the peculiarities of the technology, the pixels of e-books do not have a clear border, so the jagged diagonal lines on their screens are much less noticeable.
















Carta plus has increased contrast and pixel density (up to 300 ppi). In terms of image clarity, these screens are in no way inferior to the screens of top-end smartphones with 500 ppi – firstly, because of the aforementioned features of the technology, and secondly, because at a distance of 30 cm, the human eye is basically unable to distinguish 300 ppi from 500.

Kaleido is the only e-book screen capable of displaying color images. For ordinary readers, this opportunity will hardly seem useful, but comic book lovers will surely like it – yes, you can read comics and manga on the e-book. Among the disadvantages is the graininess of the white background. However, any gadgets with a color screen are guilty of this.

Mobius Carta screens have a plastic backing instead of glass, which eliminates one of the main disadvantages of e-reader screens – fragility. This allows producing large format “readers” based on Mobius Carta, which are convenient when working with large format electronic documents.

With good lighting, the e-book does not need any backlighting. But when the light falls, it behaves just like a regular book. Therefore, most modern e-books are equipped with a backlight. The fundamental difference between ordinary gadgets and “e-readers” here is that direct light enters our eyes in smartphones and tablets, and reflected light in e-books. In e-books, LEDs are not located on the substrate, but along the edges of the book, the light enters the screen itself using a special film that acts as a light guide. Therefore, even on budget “readers”, the backlight is more comfortable for the eyes than on smartphones.

The situation is even better on e-books equipped with MOON Light 2. On most smartphones, the brightness of the backlight is controlled by pulse width modulation (PWM): when you need to reduce the backlight intensity, the power to the LEDs starts to be supplied not constantly, but in pulses. As a result, less light enters the eyes, and the visual brightness of the screen decreases. The problem is that even though the screen’s flickering frequency is high enough not to be noticed, it still has a bad effect on vision. Eyes get tired, and long systematic gazing at the screen in general can lead to visual impairment. In MOON Light 2, the backlighting is not performed using PWM, but by changing the supply voltage of the LEDs, which completely removes flickering.

Backlit screens MOON Light 2 do not flicker, shine with reflected light and are as comfortable for the eyes as possible.

When you look at the screen of a smartphone or tablet, the gadget is working – the backlight is on, the video system is under load, the screen is redrawn dozens (or even hundreds) of times per second, the processor performs many background tasks. As a result, an average smartphone, when reading text from the screen, will sit down in 6-8 hours, even if at this time it is not loaded with any other tasks.

The e-book “sleeps” most of the time – the E-Ink screen does not require any power at all to save the image on it, it consumes power only at the moment of redrawing. The processor in the “reader”, in comparison with smartphones, and itself is much more economical, and there is almost no load on it – it only monitors keystrokes and occasionally sends another page to the screen. Therefore, e-books can hold a charge from a week to a month, depending on the operating mode. The use of backlighting, of course, shortens this period, but it is not critical. Therefore, on a long trip, for example, an e-book is simply out of competition.

Additional features
The functionality of the readers is not at all limited to just the ability to read books. Modern readers are full-fledged smart devices running an operating system based on Android or Linux; many applications from the corresponding repositories can be installed on them. For example, non-standard format viewers will make the “reader” an assistant in the study of specialized technical documentation.

Owners of mobile gadgets who are accustomed to touch screens should not worry – there are touch models among e-books; to turn pages on them, you just need to slide your finger across the screen. True, the presence of a touch screen increases the price of the device and reduces its autonomy – the battery on touch “readers” is discharged faster.

The e-reader can be used as a media player for listening to music or audiobooks – even if most of them do not have a speaker or a headphone jack. Many “readers” have bluetooth support and may well transmit audio to bluetooth headphones or speakers. And some e-books are even equipped with a reading function and can voice a text book.

Many e-books are equipped with Wi-Fi support and can be connected to the Internet. Even if full-fledged surfing on the “reading room” will not work, you can download new items from the electronic library on it without using a computer or mobile gadget.

Among the “readers” there are also models with moisture protection – they can be used outdoors without fear that the incoming rain will damage the electronic filling of the gadget.

With all the listed advantages, e-books also have disadvantages:

Long screen redraw time. It takes time to move the colored balls inside the capsules of the screen, so it takes up to a second to completely redraw the screen.
Fragility. Screens of “readers” are much inferior in strength to screens of smartphones and tablets. Therefore, a case with a hard cover is not a tribute to fashion, but a necessity. And the cover does not always help – the fall of the book on the floor or good pressure with the palm of the hand on the body of the book can damage the screen. Screens on a plastic substrate – Mobius Carta – have no drawback.