Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Anything Is Possible: Like Actually Enjoying A Good Digital Read

Better ergonomics for digital books ...

"If the Jetsons have taught us anything, it's that in the future, paper will be a thing of the past and everything we read will be on a computer screen.

This isn't just about work. That future is already here, thanks first to word processing and then to the Internet. It's about reading for pleasure, too, the sort now done sprawled on the couch with a favorite book or magazine and a cat on the lap.

Most people beyond a certain age would regard reading for pleasure on a computer an oxymoron. The machine is associated with the office, and nothing quite takes your mind off a detective novel than having an email alert pop up. The ergonomics are all wrong, too; the eyes get tired, and even an Aeron chair has nothing on a good recliner. No wonder most people still print out anything long they need to read carefully.

All this, though, is slowly starting to change. There are new ways to read old things.

... Even better than a laptop for casual reading, at least for books, would be a digital reader the size of a book itself. Alas, there have been so many failed attempts at these e-books that they've acquired a reputation as, like in the old joke, a technology of the future -- that always will be.

But in the past year, there has been another go at digital readers, thanks to an innovative screen technology from a Cambridge company called E Ink. This display is monochrome, and reflects ambient light rather than being back lit like an LCD. While you need to be in a fairly bright room for the screen to be easily readable, you can also take it outside in the bright sun, where it looks its best.

Its resolution is much higher than on a desktop monitor, resulting in smooth text without any jaggy edges. And since you aren't staring into a bright light, your eyes don't get as tired."    (Continued via Wall Street Journal)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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