As most people know by now, Barnes & Noble is releasing a new Nook Color e-reader in a few weeks, and that e-reader's color screen is an LCD. As soon as the company announced that its new e-reader had an LCD and not some sort of more exotic screen technology, some readers cried foul. In fact, the first comment out of the gate on our Barnes & Noble unveils Nook Color post was about eyestrain.
"It's very neat-looking, and the price point seems aggressive enough to make an impact for sure. That being said, is eyestrain an issue? I thought the benefit of e-ink was a combination of ease of reading, outdoor or well-lit reading, and battery life..."
A little farther down, another commenter wrote: "LCD technology for an eReader is going backwards for me. It's not that reading on an LCD is so horrible for me, but rather reading on an e-Ink display is so much more pleasing to my eyes."
Other readers came down more favorably on the side of LCD, saying they stare at a computer screen all day and it doesn't bother them. However you look at it, though, the Nook Color hasn't even hit stores yet and the debate over eyestrain is already raging. We got some of this when the iPad came out, but the discussion is more amped up because Barnes & Noble is calling the Nook Color the "reader's tablet," whereas the iPad hasn't been marketed first and foremost as an e-reader.
When we asked William Lynch, Barnes & Noble's CEO, about the potential for eyestrain with Nook Color screen, he said the company had done extensive research on displays and discovered that eyestrain with LCDs was not the huge issue many people were making it out to be. Furthermore, the company is also using a high-resolution next-generation panel from LG that's backlit with LED.
Now, it's not that I don't take Mr. Lynch at his word, but I thought I'd put in a call to an impartial third-party who might be able to shed some light on the issue. So I dialed up my ophthalmologist, Dr. Mark Hornfeld, who has a practice in Manhattan. I said, hey, Mark (yes, I call him by his first name), do any of your patients talk about reading with the iPad, Nook, and Kindle? Are people concerned about eyestrain when using these new e-readers? What's the deal?… Read more