With both e-ink and LCD e-book readers in the news, the New York Times’s “Bits” blog has investigated which type of display causes more eyestrain (which I also addressed here). Not surprisingly, the answer is “it depends.”

Michael Bove, director of the Consumer Electronics Laboratory at the M.I.T. Media Lab, says different screens make sense for different purposes.

“It depends on the viewing circumstances, including the software and typography on the screen,” said Mr. Bove. “Right now E Ink is great in sunlight, but in certain situations, a piece of paper can be a better display than E Ink, and in dim light, an LCD display can be better than all of these technologies.”

The article also goes into detail about what causes eyestrain. According to Professor Alan Hedge, director of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory at Cornell University, it is caused by the movement of muscles in our eyes as we read. He recommends taking a break every 20 minutes.

The article also notes that LCDs are much better for reading than older types of backlit displays, because LCDs refresh faster than the human eye moves.

It is nice to see the article confirming what I have always known: either display technology can be good for reading as long as you use it in the right lighting conditions.