We briefly interrupt the on-flight entertainment for an update on e-ink monitors (see previous posts here and here). I am happy to report that during the summer my e-ink monitor worked extremely well. Writing as I am doing now with the sun shining through my window is fantastic. My entire summer production — including this survey on non-abelian combinatorics — was written exclusively on the e-ink monitor. I don’t think I ever felt so good about a piece of electronics since relentless market pressure forced me to abandon Amiga.
I was actually about to report more on my experience, and by another standard coincidence today a reader asks:
Some time have passed, is your evaluation the same? Did you come across any unexpected difficulties?
Well, I wrote a paper entirely in e-ink. But I regret to admit that towards the end of the semester I got really busy with the usual end-of-Spring matters at the university, and I switched back to my back-lit 30-inch Dell monitor. I had to interact with a number of computer systems where I could not easily change font size (the story of my life), and where color tended to matter, and I felt that the new monitor was slowing me down. I haven’t switched back to the e-ink monitor yet, partly because I am still recovering from the burst.
However I look forward to using the e-ink monitor more during this summer, especially outdoors. Here the fact that it’s usb powered will be essential. In the MBTA project they use solar power which I think is really cool and makes me think of bringing my monitor to the secluded off-the-grid cabin in Maine I don’t have.
Spending your life staring at a (traditional) computer screen may not be ideal for your eyes (and more); so since an early age I have been dreaming of a “purely mechanical” monitor that you could stare at more or less indefinitely, like at parchment.
This dream is now becoming reality, sort of. The Dasung E-ink monitor has no backlight and instead reportedly uses electric flows to move ink droplets.
After some consideration, spending yet more hours reading reviews online and watching youtube videos about it sealed the deal. I shelled out $1300 and bought the thing.
I have had it for a few days now and I am sort of happy. I went from using a giant 30-inch monitor far away (my theory for avoiding eye strain) to using a ~13-inch monitor at pretty much the same distance as reading a book. I had to avoid sunlight, now I seek it (see the picture).
The monitor makes your computer look like Windows 3.1 on a monochrome screen from the 80’s. The refresh is slow, and there is a ghosting effect, meaning there are shadows of previous images — which you can clear out. Also, it’s 4:3 instead of 16:9, which is a pain because it means I have to change resolution when I am forced to use my other monitor (for example if I have to check colors — the screen is gray-scale, did I mention that?). It makes browsing the internet quite painful, which is a nice side effect.
Contrary to advice, I am using it as my primary monitor. I am sort of happy with it and don’t regret buying it. I have started writing and reading papers with it and it’s working well enough.
I think as soon as the technology improves the market for these things will be huge. Already having a 17″ monitor in 16:9 ratio, ideally touch-screen, even if gray scale, would be a dream come true.