There is a ton of confusion in the journalism and research industry on an e-reader actually is. The vast majority of people think that if you can can read an e-book on something, it makes it an e-reader.
Mainstream media such as the BBC and Thompson Reuters often release stories on how a tablet and an e-reader is the same thing. Their reports are crafted in such a way that it convinces people that an iPad or an Android tablet is an e-reader, just because you can read books on them. This is certainly not the case. e-Reader technology is quite different than a smartphone or tablet on a fundamental level.
e-Readers for the most part employ technology from e-Ink. This is as close as you can get to mirroring real paper. Power is not generated unless the screen is being refreshed in some capacity, whether its turning a page or accessing the settings menus. Unlike LCD tablets, e-readers do not have light emitting from behind the screens into your eyes. Instead, they have small LED lights on the bottom of the bezel, that project light evenly across the screen. e-Readers also have tremendous battery life, with the average unit lasting a month or two.
Tablets utilize LCD technology that have light emitting from behind the screens into your eyes. The display is basically being generated at around 60 HZ, and flashes so fast that it is not perceivable by your eyes. Have you ever watched the news or a television show where they are interviewing someone sitting in front of a computer and their monitor is flashing constantly? This is because the camera and the computer screen both are refreshing at different rates and this is what you are staring at all day.
Tablets do not really do a good job at reading in low-light conditions or at night. Some e-book apps have nighttime reading mode, which makes the background black and the text white. There has been many reports issued over the years on how reading at night causes the suppression of melatonin. This is why people who spend a lot of time staring at their tablets or computer monitors tend to be considered night owls.
In the video below, we demonstrate the main differences between an e-reader and a tablet. Hopefully this dispels any misconceptions that people may have regarding the two technologies.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.