Key technology issues

  • Improved readability-Screen tech
  • Ability to annotate
  • Devices can change behaviours


Improved readability-Screen tech

From: JISC TechWatch: Preparing for Effective Adoption and Use of Ebooks in Education. November 2012.

Electronic paper: key technology in many e-readers
Electronic paper (also called e-paper or electronic ink) is the display technology behind many ebook readers. In this technology, the screen displays tiny microscapsules containing positively charged white particles and negatively charged black particles. When an electric field is applied, either the white or black particles move to the top. By applying positive and negative electric fields in a particular pattern, this display technology can make bitmaps or images appear on the screen. These bitmaps can be used to form letters and so display the text of an ebook. This means that most devices using electronic paper are “black and white” only (though in reality the screens are more greyscale than pure black and white).The main advantage of this electronic paper technology is that the ebook display screen can hold its image without requiring additional power. This means that, unlike devices with conventionally powered screens, the power is needed only when the page is “turned” (thus refreshing the screen). This fact has a positive impact on battery life, which means that adevice using electronic paper can have a battery life measured in days or weeks (a distinct advantage compared to laptops or tablets, which typically have a battery life measured in hours).

From: E-reader wars: does the iPad’s retina display measure up to e-ink? Does the retina display make the new iPad the must-have e-reader? by Cesar Torres. arstechnica 11 Apr 2012

Dr. Raymond Soneira, president of DisplayMate Technologies, recently published his full analysis of the iPad’s new display. The report states that the display of text in the new iPad is “incredibly razor sharp,” but that the new resolutions of the iPad may not be altogether necessary. He cites several reasons why Apple’s retina pixels might be overkill: not everyone has 20/20 vision, holding the iPad further away than recommended nullifies the benefits of the detail, subpixel rendering is truly the way to improve a display, and most people seem to be happy with 1600×1200 displays on large screens.

The current pixel density will render a lot of detail, but the only way to add more clarity on a display is to perform subpixel rendering, says Soneira. So you can be assured that text looks pretty sharp on the new iPad, but there are various scenarios in which all that sharpness may not matter.

Ability to annotate

University of California Libraries UC Libraries Academic e-Book Usage Survey. Springer eBook Pilot Project. May 2011

Annotation and Highlighting
Annotating,bookmarking, highlighting and making notes within the e-book environment is perceived as very or somewhat important to 68% of those respondents who utilize academic e-books. For those indicating a preference for print books, dissatisfaction with e-book annotation tools is frequentlymentioned as a stumbling block to e-book adoption.

Devices can change behaviours

University of California Libraries UC Libraries Academic e-Book Usage Survey. Springer eBook Pilot Project. May 2011

[page 5]
The dedicated e-book reader, such as the Kindle, and mobile devices, such as the
iPhone, offer significant advantage over the personal computer as well as the print bookfor a noteworthy number of respondents.