The vast majority of e-readers have white and amber LED lights that are positioned alongside the bezel and project light evenly across the screen. White LED lights provide the traditional front-lit display, which give you a nice bright, screen. The amber LED lights give a warm candlelight effect, which helps mute the screen, so it isn’t so bright. If you mix the white and amber LED lights together, you can blend the two together. The purpose of the warm lighting system is to read in the dark and not disturb your partner, while reading in bed. Since so many e-readers have this technology, are people actually using it regularly? Do you like warm light?
The first mainstream e-reader to use a front-lit display was the Barnes and Noble Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight that came in 2011 and was discontinued a couple of years later. The Kobo Aura HD limited edition was the first e-reader to utilize a color temperature system and this model debuted in 2013. Kobo ushered in a new arms race and eventually almost every single brand in the world uses both amber and white LED lights. Amazon first embraced this technology with the Kindle Oasis 3 and used the same system with the 11th generation Kindle Paperwhite and Paperwhite Signature Edition.
One of the best elements about the entire lighting system is versatility. There are thousands of different customization options to blend the two lights together, or just use one or the other. These two lights really shine, if your e-reader supports dark mode, which inverts the color. It turns the background black and the text white, combined with the white and amber LED lights, you can really optimize it for night reading.
Personally, I never use the amber LED lights. I find it looks too artificial. I grew up reading paperback and hardcover books, which typically have a white background with black text, so I like to keep my e-reading experience simple. The big questions is, do you prefer warm light on its own or blended together with the front-lit display? Or is the whole thing just a marketing gimmick?
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.