How Does an E-Reader Work?


Quick Answer

E-readers differ from tablet computers primarily in their display hardware, replacing LCD screens with low-power e-ink displays. These screens use tiny capsules filled with black-and-white particles that react to electrical charges. When a charge passes through the screen, it adjusts the number of particles that rise to the top of each capsule, creating a grayscale pixel. The display uses no power between screen changes.

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Full Answer

E-ink displays offer some advantages over LCD screens. The fact that there is no backlight and no liquid crystal matrix to maintain means that the screens are incredibly energy-efficient. If the reader displays a page of a book, the user can set it down and pick it up days or weeks later with no appreciable reduction in battery power. Most e-readers can go for weeks on a single charge, instead of hours. However, most e-ink technology is limited to black and white text or images, and the refresh rate of an e-ink screen is much slower than a comparable LCD display.

E-ink displays are also much cheaper than LCD screens, reducing the price of the unit. E-readers also generally require less memory and processing power than tablets, since their primary use is displaying text. Deluxe models include features such as touch screen capabilities and edge lighting systems for use in the dark.

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