A New Kindle-Like Monitor Promises to Soothe Your Tired Eyes
In the remote work era, is it the (pricey) upgrade you need?
In Microprocessing, columnist Angela Lashbrook aims to improve your relationship with technology every week. Microprocessing goes deep on the little things that define your online life today to give you a better tomorrow.
In all likelihood, your familiarity with E Ink technology begins and ends with the Kindle. The grayscale screen has other uses, though: Digital signs, like those in grocery stores or bus stops, are the most common application besides e-books.
Recently, the computer hardware company Waveshare announced its own E Ink product: a $540 10.3-inch grayscale computer monitor. That’s not cheap for a computer monitor without touchscreen functionality or its own operating system, but the appeal is obvious. If you work at a computer for eight-plus hours a day and are blessed with multiple monitors, springing for a monitor that’s easier to look at for long periods of time and causes less eye strain — as Waveshare promises — seems like a reasonable course of action.
The science on how much better E Ink paper displays are for your eyes, however, isn’t clear-cut, meaning the question of whether you should spend more than $500 on a black-and-white computer monitor depends on how comfortable you are spending that much money on something with uncertain benefits. And while I don’t think it’s the absolute worst purchase in the world, there are several E Ink products that are more worth the heaps of dough required to obtain them.
Let’s get one thing out of the way, though: E Ink isn’t just the name of the technology—it’s the name of the brand. Developed by undergraduates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, E Ink was a sensation when it debuted on the cover of Nature magazine in 1998. In 2009, the generically named Prime View Int’l Co. Ltd purchased E Ink for $450 million. While the purchase made it possible for E Ink to massively increase production, its ironclad hold on the patented technology makes it difficult for other brands to innovate the product.
“E Ink has a significant patent moat, which is why they are the only company making…