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Topic: Contrast

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Subject: Contrast
Date Posted: 8/13/2011 11:40 AM ET
Member Since: 1/20/2007
Posts: 795
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Have any of you ever compared the contrast in print between the different ereaders?  I like my Sony because it is very simple to use, but have decided that the gray ink on a lighter gray background is no less tiring to read than a computer screen.  If any of the other readers offer better contrast I might consider replacing; if not I'll stick with kindle for pc.  Thanks!

Date Posted: 8/13/2011 12:43 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
Posts: 7,977
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IIRC, all e-ink screens are made by the same company. The second generation of screens, called "Pearl" were developed in 2010 and have a higher contrast. (I noticed a great difference between my prs-500 and the prs 650 screens and contrasts). And if you're working with a Sony 600, they were known to have problems with the clearness of the screen. (Although some on the forums seem to have had no problems with theirs. So YMMV on that one.)  So it may depend on what 'generation' and size of eink screen you've got.

I've got a Sony prs-650, a Sony prs-350 and a Kindle 3 (wifi) with Special Offers. All three screens are pretty much the same, but the 350 seems a bit 'clearer' to me because the pixels are smaller and closer because of the smaller sized screen.

But once the Pearl screens came out, I think all the e-ink readers had them in their machines. So pixel density may be the only real difference between the screens, and their actual sizes. There are also various fonts that can be changed in the Sony, depending on if you want to hack it or not. Many forum discussions about the various fonts are interesting reading. (I'd like the Kindle font better than the Sony font, and might even do a hack for it, but I don't want to have to buy the kindle font. Too expensive.)

What Sony do you have?

Other than that, you get into tablet screens, and they're all different sizes and pixel densities.

Date Posted: 8/14/2011 2:39 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,476
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Studies have shown that a lower contrast actually is better for folks with low vision.  Supposedly less eye strain.  This is why legal pads are yellow.  It also helps with signage, so train and road signs are switching to gold or that funny green rather than white.

Date Posted: 8/14/2011 8:15 AM ET
Member Since: 1/20/2007
Posts: 795
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Yeah, I remember reading that low contrast is supposed to be better, so I was surprised to find myself having trouble with it.  I did find a display of several different ereaders in our Best Buy store.  The Kindle and Kobo  weren't any better to me than the Sony, the Nook was a little better, and the Nook color much better. (not an e-ink screen on that one.)  May talk to Santa Claus about that! :)

Date Posted: 8/14/2011 1:09 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,476
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If you read in low level light, then contrast becomes much more important.  Much public lighting, such as train stations, have become pretty low for reading.

I think the Nook color has back lighting.  This can also be a cause of eyestrain.  I know I'm not comfortable reading on my tablet for long.  Horrible in the sun.  But I do love it for reading in bed, where the light level is low.

Many tablet readers, such as the Nook Color, come preset with the backlight cranked up.  It looks pretty cranked up.  It is a marketing decision.  This setting makes more eyestrain and less time on the battery.  You can usually change the back lighting setting.