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Paperwhite, is the background basically the same cold grungy tint?


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Initial post: Jan 13, 2013 8:11:17 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 13, 2013 8:40:15 PM PST
I have a question, guys, about the Paperwhite.

For some time I've been planning on buying a Paperwhite. After all, it seemed to address my biggest complaint I had with my Kindle DX (a complaint leading to me stop usage of it altogether; it just sits in a corner now).

And that complaint was that aesthetically it was such a depressing experience looking at that DX screen. Unlike the claims which said it would feel like reading a real physical paper, reading on the DX screen was trying to read dark grey on dirty light grey. And it wasn't a "neutral" grey either, but seemed to be tinged a bit cyan/greenish. At first I thought I just got a defective unit, but I later learned that this was "normal" (and apparently accepted) with e-ink readers.

I wondered why they couldn't have had a background with whiter or warmer tones, like real paper books generally have. After all, the main reason for having an e-ink reader (vs. a tablet with an LCD screen) is for the aesthetics--supposedly mimicking the pleasant, organic experience of reading a book. For me, reading dingy greenish/cyan lettering against a background which was like a lighter version of that was the opposite of aesthetically pleasant.

So when I first looked at the marketing pics of the Paperwhite, I was practically already sold. It was like they were making this product just for me. The background--while not exactly warm--at least looked closer to a non-depressing white. It seemed a bit closer to the hue of real paper (as opposed to the fluorescent lighting in a dingy bus depot).

But then I began reading reviews and actually seeing non-Photoshopped pictures taken by consumers. In most of the consumer pictures (and video reviews) the background of the PW basically looked the same as my largely-unused DS. Yes, the screen appeared a bit brighter, but it was still tinged with that cold cyan/green grunginess.

I guess my question is--are the promotional pictures from Amazon accurate in that the Paperwhite background is actually fairly neutral? Or are the consumer pictures accurate, and the background is still oddly bluish cyan?

And I guess a larger question is, if the background is still the same-old-same-old, why can't they improve this aspect of the e-readers? Since this is supposed to mimic real-life books, and most real-life books do not in fact have that depressing grungy cyan tint to them (rather they trend toward cream/manilla/earth tones), surely I can't be the only person who has ever noticed this?

I read in some other threads (speculating on what was causing the color blotch problems on some Paperwhites) that LED lights actually use a combination of the 3 primary colors in order to achieve "white." If this is the case, why can't it be possible to alter the ratio of those colors to provide a warmer/cream cast to the screen?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2013 8:19:50 PM PST
Sure...with: more weight, more size, more electronics, more programming, and a price $100.00 higher

Do you still want it?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2013 8:20:21 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 13, 2013 8:20:40 PM PST
My screen on the PW is fine. It us slightly greyish, depending on the brightness that I set the lights to. It's great to read on. None of my ordinary paper books have white white pages. Many of my old ones have gone brownish. The colour of the pages does not worry me, not even on my K3 device or the Basic Kindle. I'm more concerned with the words on the screen.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2013 8:22:10 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 13, 2013 8:29:16 PM PST
Why would it require more electronics, size, additional cost and weight to have a more natural looking background? The LED lights are already there. And from what I gathered, the three elements of the primary colors are already built into each "white" light; they'd just be distributed in different ratios.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2013 8:24:25 PM PST
When you say you're more concerned with the words on the screen, what exactly do you mean? I would think that aesthetics would be the main concern with purchasing an e-ink reader. If you just cared about the words/story, then couldn't you just read from a tablet or cell phone with an LCD display?

I take your point about how none of your books have a pure white background, but that's not what I meant. I'll bet most of them trend toward the warmer tones, whereas very few of them have paper with a cyan bluish tint to them.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2013 8:41:35 PM PST
Loz says:
I think aesthetics is the wrong word as the kindle screen isn't especially "beautiful" or "artistic". I read on a kindle for ease of use as well as the ability to carry a number of books at once. "Aesthetically" I don't care if the screen is white, grey or otherwise as long as I can read comfortably without the need of a back-light. So it's not because it looks pretty, but the screen for me (I have a keyboard model) is better than reading on a back lit device which gives me a headache after a while.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2013 8:45:47 PM PST
WAM says:
Just Some Guy--
Maybe it's your eyes? Are you colorblind?

2 solutions: go to a store and "test drive" a PW; order from Ammy and return within 30 days if you don't like it.

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 12:15:14 AM PST
Regina says:
I have not noticed any greenish or bluish tint on my Basic Kindle screen. In dim light it's somewhat darker grey, and in daylight or beside my reading lamp (which has a 60W bulb) it's almost white. The letters seem black to me and the contrast is very good. I can't imagine that PW would be worse than Basic.
Perhaps your DX has a bad screen? Or you usually read in dimly lit places?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 12:17:32 AM PST
CBRetriever says:
you could always get a Fire - the white is white, though I prefer reading with the sepia background

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 12:19:25 AM PST
John D. says:
The PW's screen, with the lights disabled, is a Pearl screen much like that on the Basic. I believe it's a generation newer than the DX. However, with the internal lights on, the apparent contrast is increased. However some don't find the bluish tint of the LEDs to be as agreeable as I do.

I'd suggest looking at one in person. If you cannot examine one without purchasing, you could order and return if it's not acceptible. I will say, for myself, that the PW is the best of the four Kindles I've owned. I've read many books on it already and it's great in the daytime or night.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 12:36:18 AM PST
I think you're getting confused between the colour of the e-ink and the colour of the PW lighting. The e-ink is (IIRC) 16 shades of grey. The PW lighting is a totally different thing; it's the light that shines onto the screen.

It's like the difference between the colour of a book page and the colour of the lightglobe in your reading lamp.

I confess I initially (before I got my KK) worried about the fact that the pages weren't as white as book pages. But the reality is that there's a nice balance between not enough contrast and too much, and for most people the e-ink kindles sit beautifully in the middle. If that's not the case for you, then you'd need to suss out alternatives (be that other e-readers or other - maybe backlit - devices).

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 12:47:47 AM PST
Kribu says:
To my eyes, the background of eInk Kindles (both my K3 and the Paperwhite) looks generally warmish off-white, but it's dependent on ambient lighting.

I read either in sunlight (in which case the background on K3 looks almost completely white; I won't have a chance to test the Paperwhite outdoors for some months yet) or in tungsten lighting indoors (70-100 W bulbs), in which case the background looks a "warm" light grey to me, closer to cream than to ash.

When read indoors with no lights on, it looks a colder / "grungier" grey. I suspect that if I tried to read in the light of a "cold" CFL bulb / fluorescent lighting, it would gain a more bluish/cyan look.

The Paperwhite - indoors, tungsten lighting, with the light at level 4-8 - looks, to my eyes, a very pleasing creamy grey. When the light is on a level above 12 (and the higher it goes), the more "cold" it becomes, with the highest levels giving it a very lightly bluish tinge. I don't like to have the light on at above level 6 regardless of ambient light, as it's uncomfortable for my eyes, so it's not a problem for me.

Short version: as far as I can tell, and at least to my eyes, the look of the eInk Kindle's background depends a LOT on ambient lighting, both the strength and the nature of it.

Also, both my K3 and Paperwhite (Pearl screens) have a background that is noticeably lighter and "warmer" than the dingy grey of my older-generation Sony PRS-505 Vizplex screen. I gather there may be some variation in the lightness of the Pearl screens as well though, so some might be "colder" and some "warmer", but it shouldn't be as big a difference than e.g. between my Kindles and the old Sony 505.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 12:49:02 AM PST
Loz says:
I don't know about you, but I never found paper books particularly white. More of a beige colour.

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 12:52:57 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 14, 2013 12:53:16 AM PST
CBRetriever says:
also, my Touch and Paperwhite seem quite a bit lighter/whiter than my K2 (same technology/generation as the DXs)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 12:53:42 AM PST
John D. says:
For me, depends on the book. Books with coated paper often are quite white. Mass market paperbacks start out fairly white but darken with age. Paper has a lot of variety, but never so much I couldn't read the book... which I suppose is why the Kindle's dark grey on grey never struck me as defective.

I do love the increased contrast of the PW though. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 12:58:47 AM PST
Loz says:
I suppose I've never really noticed the colour of the paper too much! :)

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 1:06:33 AM PST
I have the light on my PW turned all the way up all of the time. In the evening, I really love being able to read in my easy chair with just the ambient lighting from a room lamp. My KK requires lighting directly overhead in the same situation. The screen of my PW is not flat white but the difference between the PW and the KK is literally night and day. I love the PW and especially love the cover which turns out the light when the cover is closed and turns it back on when the cover is open.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 1:51:49 AM PST
Jazzy_Jeff says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 2:03:11 AM PST
No, the aesthetics come second for me. I don't care if it looks good or not - it is not a status symbol for me. I want to be able to read without eye strain on a reader that is user-friendly and easy to hold, with a screen size that is easy to read. And the K3, Basic Kindle and the PW all meet those criteria for me. A tablet and my HTC smartphone do not meet those criteria - screen size on the phone and the glare from the backlit tablet screen.

None of them have a bluish tint that I can see.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 2:07:23 AM PST
Kribu says:
The K2 and original DX both used the Vizplex screens of the time, I think (same as my old Sony 505).

The difference between that screen and the newer Pearl screens (K3 and newer) is quite remarkable, as far as background lightness and contrast goes. Although I've gathered that not everyone can really tell the difference (and a lot of people are still extremely happy with their K2 and other similar generation devices as screen contrast goes).

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 3:13:50 AM PST
I think it depends on the age of the books, Loz. My older books, yes, beige. Newer books, generally whiter paper to begin with. And, of course, letters, printouts, etc. are mostly on bleached paper too.

But I have a strong suspicion that the less-harsh contrast is part of what makes the kindle easier on the eyes than paper books.

All that said, it is, to some extent, an individual thing. We all have varying numbers of colour receptors (for red, green and blue colour wavelengths) on our retinas, and the differing proportions of the three mean we don't all see the same item as being the same shade. That could well be a factor for the OP.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 6:05:04 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 14, 2013 6:16:05 AM PST
I'm not colorblind. When I first got my DX and was sad to see how dirty the background was (and consequently how little contrast there was between the grey background and darker grey text), I actually searched a number of other Amazon threads and found similar complaints. Those people were given suggestions that some Kindles were worse than others in this regard and that it might be worthwhile to exchange theirs in the hopes of getting one with a less dark background. When I eventually called Amazon myself, I was told that the grey background was "normal." I also later found acknowledgement on other sites that yes, e-readers tend to have drab, grey backgrounds.

To Loz: When I "aesthetics," I guess I'm talking about how appearance influences ease and pleasantness of use. I mean something nice to read for longer than short periods of time. Again, if I only cared about size and the convenience of carrying a lot of books around in one device, I could purchase an LCD-based tablet or smart phone.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 6:09:03 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 14, 2013 6:18:03 AM PST
John, when I talk of aesthetics and the drab grey background, I don't mean I'm concerned that I won't look cool in front of others. I mean that I compared the background of the DX with some old newspapers lying around the house, and it was much greyer than that. It was actually unpleasant and a bit difficult to read.

I assume that aesthetics (at least the definition of the word I intended) was why everyone chooses to purchase e-ink readers in the first place, because otherwise people could use a backlit LCD screen device which also tend to have much more bells and whitles.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 6:13:51 AM PST
Thanks for the specific response. I will say that I got my DX twoards the beginning of 2012 (so fairly recently) and they seemed to be touting new i-Pearl ink with higher contrasts than they had previously. So I wonder if my DX actually was one of the newer Pearl screens and it was still problematic visually.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 6:17:33 AM PST
"...much greyer than that..."

Then something's wrong.
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Discussion in:  Kindle forum
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Initial post:  Jan 13, 2013
Latest post:  Jul 22, 2013

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