Glider – open-source eInk monitor with an emphasis on low latency

756 points by mistercheph on 2024-05-14 | 148 comments

Automated Summary

The article introduces Glider, an open-source eInk monitor project focused on low latency. Glider aims to provide a more responsive and smoother experience compared to existing eInk devices. It utilizes a Raspberry Pi for processing and an eInk display for the interface. Glider's creator emphasizes the importance of low latency for eInk devices and has implemented various techniques to improve responsiveness. These techniques include scrollback buffering, double-buffering, and better frame pacing, resulting in a more fluid user experience.


snvzz on 2024-05-15

Every eINK controller sucks. This person took upon themselves to fix that, and released the result, which is now the state of the art, as open source hardware.

I love people and projects like this.

exceptione on 2024-05-14

Impressive breadth and depth of information in just the README alone.

When this kind of stuff gets in the open like it does here, I expect rapid innovation and disruption from the crowd.

abdullahkhalids on 2024-05-14

I would hope that the Pine Note people look at it. Progress for them has been quite slow (I follow the discord), and they are struggling with a lot of basic stuff.

tadfisher on 2024-05-15

Because someone needs to be paid to land Rockchip drivers in mainline, and Rockchip aren't going to do it.

dheera on 2024-05-14

At least this is real ePaper and not that previous bull that was trying to pass off monochrome LCD as low-latency ePaper.

3abiton on 2024-05-15

You were not kidding, it's much more detailed than I anticipated down to the physics theory of they work.

tonymet on 2024-05-14

I've been using a Kindle for 10+ years now , but the poor responsiveness has always irked me. I can't tell if it's a hardware or software issue. I'm glad to see this project is focused on reducing latency on the hardware side.

Does anyone know why the Kindle is such a bad product? I use it because I like e-ink and the e-book market is comprehensive, but I don't think it's actually a good device.

stronglikedan on 2024-05-14

It's responsive enough to do what it was purpose built for - read a book. It can do other things, but it's not made or marketed to do them, so they keep the cost low by not innovating on responsiveness. Instead, they make it more comfortable to use in other ways, such as how it's held and navigated, and the backlight.

braunboffel on 2024-05-16

> so they keep the cost low by not innovating on responsiveness

Could you clarify who the "they" is? The way you write "not innovating on responsiveness" sounds very confident. Do you have a background in electrophoretic particle physics or industry expertise which is why you're saying that? Just want to make sure this isn't like some case where a commentor is saying "the only reason we haven't established a homeland on Mars is because rocket companies are not innovating".

tonymet on 2024-05-14

There are many high-quality products at a competitive cost. That's a pathetic excuse.

A lot of time was spent integrating social features that no one uses. That time could have been spent on quality & latency.

I understand their business goals and objectives. It's still a low-quality product.

A profitable product can also be terrible.

hex4def6 on 2024-05-14

As someone who worked on them a decade ago:

To be clear, the displays are not created by Amazon / Lab126. Instead, they're a product of Eink Holdings, Inc.

From what I remember, most of the screen refresh algorithms etc are Eink IP. And by the way, the cost of the display module alone was eye-watering, especially when compared with LCD displays...

With e-ink, you can drive it faster, at the expense of massive power consumption or terrible ghosting / artifacting. You're not going to get the 6 weeks of use out of a battery doing that.

For reading a book, smudges / ghosting sucks, so they optimize for full screen refreshes just often enough to clear that up (that's when the screen goes black then white, followed by the update).

It's kind of a physics based fundamental limitation -- the display is closer to a mechanical display of old than an LCD.

The kindle is a product that does one thing well: display static text in any lighting condition with a similar quality to the printed page.

klabb3 on 2024-05-15

> Instead, they're a product of Eink Holdings, Inc. From what I remember, most of the screen refresh algorithms etc are Eink IP. And by the way, the cost of the display module alone was eye-watering

Layman here, but what you describe sounds very much like innovation held back by patents:

At the core, it’s really promising tech with actual major advantages over LCDs with applications already in many domains and possibly many more in the future; all you’d need really is incremental improvements, similar to the journey of LCD. Remember the shitty TFT(?) monitors from 20 years ago? Ghosting, low resolution, delay, low contrast, backlight bleeding, etc.

If we hypothetically had 20 companies competing the traditional way, throwing international manufacturing and material science know-how on these bad boys, I’d bet $100 that we’d see massive gains in ability at a fraction of marginal cost – from incrementalism alone – way before you reach physical limitations. And with a bit of luck, there might be a breakthrough in the core tech as well.

> It's kind of a physics based fundamental limitation -- the display is closer to a mechanical display of old than an LCD.

I hear you. But brilliant people have been wrong about these statements in all kinds of areas before. Could you share more detailed what those hard limitations might be?

Qwertious on 2024-05-15

>Layman here, but what you describe sounds very much like innovation held back by patents

It's not patents, it's economy of scale: LCDs ship billions per quarter and are used in phones/watches/laptops/PC monitors/TVs/car-dashes/coffee-machines/fridges/kiosks/etc etc etc, whereas e-ink screens are used in e-readers, supermarket tags, e-notes (stylus tablets), and basically nothing else.

When LCDs ship orders of magnitude more SKUs, they inevitably have lower costs. That's just economics.

Besides which, Amazon ships Kindles at-cost, there's no way they'd be price-gouged - if E-Ink tried to screw them then they'd buy E-Ink Corp. It wouldn't even be the first passive display company they bought. See: LiquaVista.

>Could you share more detailed what those hard limitations might be?

The ink in the e-ink needs to be shuffled up and down with each refresh, but if they're pushed too quickly then they pound the capsule they're in and damage it, or get permanently stuck. Either will break the display. And it's powder not a solid object, so the display needs to move all the ink, down, or you'll have ghosting.

amadeuspagel on 2024-05-15

> Besides which, Amazon ships Kindles at-cost, there's no way they'd be price-gouged - if E-Ink tried to screw them then they'd buy E-Ink Corp. It wouldn't even be the first passive display company they bought. See: LiquaVista.

Imagine you own E-Ink Corp. You know Amazon needs your screens. You can sell them the screens or you can sell them the company but you can price-gouge them either way. (Of course E-Ink Corp is a stock corporation. The ability to price-gouge amazon is priced in. There's no reason to assume Amazon would save money by buying the company.)

Qwertious on 2024-05-16

E-Ink has patents specifically on Microencapsulated Electrophoretic Displays, not on passive displays in general. Amazon doesn't need E-Ink, it's just their first preference. I phrased it poorly.

treflop on 2024-05-15

The core patents have already expired.

AFAIK manufacturing e-ink displays is still difficult.

I also have worked with e-ink displays for hobby projects and you’re flipping tiny balls of ink. Unfortunately e-ink displays are extremely slow and it only gets worse if you want colors or anything you might want in a display. E-ink displays look cool and sound cool but really suck to work with.

carlosjobim on 2024-05-15

There are high tech eInk devices that can refresh much faster than a Kindle and that you can buy right now, but any eInk discussion on Hacker News lives in a parallel universe where those devices should never be mentioned and we should pretend that the technology is where it was 10 years ago.

With the rapid rate of development recently, I would expect eInk displays to break the "magic" 24 fps barrier in 2025 and hit the mainstream in a major way. Considering that offices worldwide have been constructed to block out sunlight to accommodate display use, this tech has the potential to change everything.

bobmcnamara on 2024-05-15

Sharp MIP! I drove over locked a small one at 120FPS once. Wouldn't do 240fps though.

Qwertious on 2024-05-16

IIRC that's not the e-ink screen itself refreshing faster, it's a different display driver (hardware! not a driver like radeonsi) configuration. Having the extra chip is expensive, which is a cardinal sin in a loss-leader device that basically everyone just looks for the cheapest model of anyway.

Unless you mean stylus-drawing is higher refresh, which is completely different tech as it's driven by the stylus and can't refresh that fast without the stylus at that specific point.

Anyone seriously claiming e-ink screens can hit 24FPS (the whole screen, not refreshing individual pixels separately for an interlaced illusion of higher framerate) is simply ignorant. You're talking about a whole order of magnitude difference, when the core problem is a straightforward fight against physics.

carlosjobim on 2024-05-16

Look into if you have some kind of problem if you cannot even talk about something such as eink displays without calling other people names. What's up with that?

The special chips enable the eink display to have a better refresh rate, but it is still the eink displaying with the faster refresh rate.

Current cutting edge is at 14fps meaning 24fps is not impossible.

People almost never use the whole screen at once. Not when typing, not when moving a cursor. And not even when watching video, because modern compression formats update the parts that are moving.

And the laws of physics do not stop anything from moving more than 14 times per second, as you might know from your car engine or smoothie blender.

braunboffel on 2024-05-17

> the laws of physics do not stop anything from moving more than 14 times per second,

Sorry, but this is like saying the laws of physics do not stop you from moving from Mars to Earth 14 times per second. In fact, they do. The same is true of moving ink particles within a high density high viscosity physical medium and getting them to stay at a specific location once you're done moving them.

Also "almost never use the whole screen at once" makes no difference since the rate of movement of ink is the same even if you were only trying to change 1 pixel.

carlosjobim on 2024-05-17

> Sorry, but this is like saying the laws of physics do not stop you from moving from Mars to Earth 14 times per second. In fact, they do.

First of all, you can't tell me what I can and cannot do.

Secondly, if they can do 14RPM with current eink displays, then 24RPM is not very far fetched.

Qwertious on 2024-05-23

>Secondly, if they can do 14RPM with current eink displays

They can't. Anyone claiming otherwise is misrepresenting tricks as actual refresh rate. You can convincingly fake higher refreshes by e.g. refreshing pixels independently, but any given pixel can't be refreshed at 14RPM, not even close.

braunboffel on 2024-05-21

RPM? You think the ink rotates?

klabb3 on 2024-05-15

Very cool! Do you have a link to a demo to see what it would look like?

carlosjobim on 2024-05-15

Check out the Boox devices, there's a YouTuber called "mydeepguide" who makes extensive reviews.

faeriechangling on 2024-05-15

I've tried to read manga and graphic novels on e-readers which makes EVERY page turn take longer, and it's very clear to me that e-ink latency is a huge problem. Boox is notable for having faster page turns since they're essentially just customised android tablets with an e-ink screen.

braunboffel on 2024-05-16

> most of the screen refresh algorithms etc are Eink IP

Please help the rest of us understand what you mean. What specific algorithms are you referring to?

Tagbert on 2024-05-14

from what I've read, responsive screen refresh is inversely related to battery life. A more responsive screen results in less battery life. Amazon, and pretty much all other eink readers have prioritized battery life over absolute responsiveness.

They have made significant improvements in responsiveness over the years. Do you remember how slow screen refreshes were on the original Kindle? It's just that that is not a high priority for their main use case of linear reading.

If you want to use it for reading PDF reference books, you probably should look to one of the eink Android tablets that are more general purpose devices and may have a faster refresh rate.

jsheard on 2024-05-14

There's also an inverse relationship between response time and image quality with e-ink, speeding up the display comes at the cost of more smearing/ghosting. There's often a software option to tweak that balance one way or the other depending on your preference.

andrewmutz on 2024-05-15

> A lot of time was spent integrating social features that no one uses. That time could have been spent on quality & latency.

Goodreads integration is the best! I track books I want to read with it and then when I’m ready for a new book use the integration to download a sample on the spot

tonymet on 2024-05-15

that's good maybe I should give it another review. It seemed like a neglected part of the OS

seanp2k2 on 2024-05-14

What are you trying to do with it that you’re concluding it’s a “bad product” due to the slow refresh times? Kindles have always been the benchmark ebook reader and the most common piece of e-ink technology that you can actually buy. Hardly a “bad product” in any dimension that matters in business terms.

tonymet on 2024-05-14

Successful doesn't necessarily mean good. the UI is slow. It crashes with large books. The hardware is seemingly under-powered. The OS degrades in usability over time. Search indexing is poor. The lack of responsiveness makes the keyboard unusable.

I've heard similar pitfalls about Kindle Scribe, the write-able Kindle.

pnw on 2024-05-14

I use a Kindle Scribe almost every day, have read dozens and dozens of books and documents on it. Maybe we have different expectations but I love mine and take it everywhere. It's never crashed.

When I am trying to focus on reading a book, I appreciate that the Kindle doesn't have too many bells and whistles. I don't want notifications popping off and the distraction of fast Internet access.

Qwertious on 2024-05-15

The Kindle Scribe is way more expensive than normal kindles (and has to handle the more computationally demanding task of vector graphics), so it would have a faster processor, and would be able to handle ebooks way easier than a cheap Kindle.

Not saying you're wrong, just that your anecdote doesn't mean much about $100/$50 Kindles.

tonymet on 2024-05-15

I looked into Scribe and it sounds like they upgraded the hardware to making writing more responsive. that's good news.

boobsbr on 2024-05-16

Sounds like my Kobo Glo from 2013.

darby_eight on 2024-05-14

They've been the benchmark for amazon kindle books. They suck for pdfs or anything with graphics.

tonymet on 2024-05-14

Again, you're confusing market success with quality. Many beautiful products fail and many awful products succeed.

I'm talking about aesthetics. In this case, elegance, utility, responsiveness, durability, efficiency .

Tagbert on 2024-05-14

you are confusing your needs with the use case of the Kindle which is heavily focused on linear reading of text, mostly fiction. Graphics and PDFs are much lower on the priority scale.

t-3 on 2024-05-14

PDFs and comics are not a small use case at all - the push to larger screens is mostly driven by people who want to read scientific papers, business documents, etc which come in pdf form, or manga and other graphical works (the drive for color ereaders seems to come almost entirely from this segment). The smaller "ebook only" readers are much cheaper and marketed less aggressively.

Tagbert on 2024-05-15

Even optimized e-ink devices are not particularly suitable for those kinds of materials and most of the e-ink reader manufacturers have not tried to address that market. It is generally better served by LCD tablets.

t-3 on 2024-05-16

How so? My Kobo works great with anything, my Pocketbook and Onyx Boox also worked great with pdfs. Only Kindle sucks at non-ebook formats.

darby_eight on 2024-05-14

> Graphics and PDFs are much lower on the priority scale.

Unless of course you read books that have graphics or come in pdf form.

Tagbert on 2024-05-15

Which is not the business that Amazon and Kobo are in.

kimixa on 2024-05-15

I think e-readers are pretty much a solved problem for books that consist of solely text - it's got to the point where they only differentiate themselves on things more related to personal taste than any technical merit. And price, of course.

I consider myself a heavy user of ereaders, probably averaging over an hour a day, and have had a few in my time (Kindle paperwhite, Kindle Voyage, Kobo Aura H2O, latest the Kindle Oasis - which I got in Jan 2019). The only real time I felt like I got an "upgrade" was the slightly denser screen on the voyage, then the slightly larger screen on the Aura. The Oasis feels functionally the same for my use case (again, 99.9% text, no images or diagrams or animations, so can't compare them). But really the only reason I "upgraded" after the voyage is leaving it on a train or got damaged in my luggage one time.

And what can they really improve on it? There are denser screens - but they don't make the font size I use actually look any better. There are larger screens, but it's already about the limit of what I want for portability, and much larger would be harder to read not easier. There are faster refreshing screens, but I've never even noticed the page refresh speed, as it's lost in the time it takes to realign my eyes to the top of the page anyway.

So what's left? Looks? "Premium" materials? Thinness? The oasis is already at the point where any thinner or bezels any smaller and you couldn't hold it. I don't read comics on it, so don't really need a higher resolution, or colour panel (though can see the advantage if you did). Same with flash size - every book I've ever read on it (nearly 3000) is still on my 8gb model, and it's not even at 50% capacity.

And now my Oasis battery is starting to fade - it doesn't more than a few days anymore - and somehow it feels weird considering buying the same thing again - or pry open the back off and try to replace it - though who knows what that would do to it's water resistance. I guess the newer models have an amber backlight option, which would be nice, but still doesn't feel like an upgrade to something I purchased over 5 years ago now? Or even more as I only got that because the (functionally equivalent) predecessor got crushed on a plane.

So I think my point is that for the "Reading Books" use case, a kindle has already reached the maxima. Any "improvement" would almost be a waste - why improve refresh times when it won't actually affect the user experience one bit?

Is there something I'm missing? Is this just a local maxima where you'd look back on and feel stupid for not seeing the "obvious" improvement path? Or is ereader "development" just a waste now as it's now just a commodity?

Qwertious on 2024-05-15

>Is there something I'm missing? Is this just a local maxima where you'd look back on and feel stupid for not seeing the "obvious" improvement path?

A handle. My hand is not L-shaped. Make it hand-mirror shaped and shift as much weight as possible into the handle. Preferably a fold-down handle.

A folding screen. Or rather, two screens with a hinge, no need for fancy flexible screen tech. It doesn't matter if there's a visible bezel between the screens, you're only displaying text. Ideally, you'd cram it just small enough that it can fit in your pocket when folded.

Also, once you have a handle you don't need bezels.

kimixa on 2024-05-15

A handle is an interesting one - I'd be a bit worried by having that you'd make it so you can't hold it any other way. As I read I naturally reposition my hands, sometimes both on the device on each side, sometimes one gripping the side. Sometimes my thumbs supporting it from the bottom, sometimes the thumb over the top corner. It's light enough you don't really need that much "grip". Sometimes not really gripped at all, but leant against sometime, like my hand or the back of a seat tray table on a train. I do the same thing with paperbacks.

I can't imagine holding a hand mirror for any length of time comfortably - especially if there's only a single orientation you can grip it with the screen upright - but that may be the weight distribution as you mentioned.

Folding would be useful for putting it in a bag or fitting it somewhere, which hasn't really been a big issue for me. A flat profile is already fine when putting it in a laptop bag - it's thin enough it just slides down the side of the pocket. I wouldn't be surprised if decreasing the total volume is pretty much at it's limit already with being able to be held - but maybe putting that is a more square package when stored would be easier in some cases?

mariusor on 2024-05-15

Probably you've seen already, but Kobo is now experimenting with colour screens, plus note taking. People on the internet seem enthusiastic about the colour screens at least.

So maybe zines and comics is where ebook readers are heading.

tonymet on 2024-05-15

i'm compelling people that it's not solved given how critical reading is. It should be better than reading a book in every way. Right now the library sync features are better but the reading experience is worse.

green-salt on 2024-05-14

It becomes a much more stable device when you jailbreak it and put something like KOReader. You can put books on it with Calibre or just SFTP afterwards.

tonymet on 2024-05-15

thanks for the recommendation I've started on the jailbreak for my old kindle. I'd like to turn it into an offline wikipedia & public domain books reader.

vbezhenar on 2024-05-14

I used few ebooks and Kindle is the only one that actually works as expected. Some ebooks I used drained battery in few days, not delivering promise of long life. Some ebooks were just crap and broke after few months. Kindle works few weeks from one charge for my use (1-2 hours of reading per day), it's water-proof so I can read my books while taking a bath (priceless). I never had any particular issues with it.

Its UI seems oriented to promote Amazon Store and I never used it, sending books over e-mail and deleting after read, that's OK with me. I'd prefer for its library to have folders and I'd prefer for it to work as USB stick like other ebooks do, so I can connect it to PC and organize things inside as I want, but those are not necessary.

So may be Kindle is bad, but rest are worse, I don't know a single ebook brand of Amazon scale. They all seem to be Chinese no-names which come and go without investments to quality and reputation.

tonymet on 2024-05-14

I agree with all of this, and I've noticed as much with the other readers. Some users promote Kobo reader as a quality alternative, but I haven't tried it.

lidavidm on 2024-05-14

Kobo works quite well: you can set it up without an account (needs a bit of manual fiddling) if you really want, and either way after that you can just plug it in and drag-and-drop epubs to the device. Battery life, responsiveness, etc. are all fine to me (the older devices actually did a bit better IMO and it mostly only gets bogged down for comics, regular books are fine)

ericjmorey on 2024-05-16

I'm not sure from your post if you're aware of the collections feature of a Kindle library. It can be accessed under the menu on the library view. Chose the collections view and add books to collections you create and it works a bit like folders.

callalex on 2024-05-15

>I'd prefer for it to work as USB stick like other ebooks do

Have you tried Calibre?

abdullahkhalids on 2024-05-14

After registration, I have never connected my Kindle to the internet - 6-7 years now. This has prevented updates that degrade performance, and Amazon getting my usage data. I just copy over ebooks using usb, optionally after converting to mobi using Calibre.

Works perfectly.

hex4def6 on 2024-05-14


I like tools that do one thing well. The Kindle has hit that spot for a long time. There were incremental improvements (faster processor, 3G/4G, front light, higher DPI / contrast, etc), but it's surprising how similar a 2010 kindle is to a 2024 one.

ByThyGrace on 2024-05-14

E-ink devices have improved a lot over the last 10 years, across the board: refresh rate, latency, computing power, responsiveness, you name it.

tonymet on 2024-05-14

Indeed, and though Kindle has improved, it hasn't improved by much. I've owned 4 generations and they are all a bit better, especially when new.

It's the same complaint people make about iOS devices degrading to force upgrades.

I don't think it's deliberate but I do think it's deliberately neglected.

t0bia_s on 2024-05-15

I recently bough Onyx Boox tablet. After degoogling device I'm really enjoy possibilities of android system more then closed one like Kindle or Kobo or Pocketbook.

Main purpose is reading a lot of sheet music documents, making annotations and share with choir/orchestra. I discovered that Calibre is excellent tool for organisation of large database of sheet music documents.

What surprised me most is how responsive drawing/writing by stylus is. Weird part is that apps need optimalisaton for fast responsivness which some apps have and some don't. Which mean eink technology capabilities are limited by SW quite significantly.

pquki4 on 2024-05-14

I don't know which kindle you have, but my Scribe is noticably faster than the Oasis 2nd gen from 2017. Almost makes me want to replace the Oasis with the latest Paperwhite.

tonymet on 2024-05-14

my paperwhite 2022(ish) seemed faster than the previous one (2017?) but now it's nearly as bad

dools on 2024-05-14

> Does anyone know why the Kindle is such a bad product?

Because it’s made by Amazon

danielscrubs on 2024-05-15

Isn’t it funny how the CEO is always saying that user experience is their primary focus, and you get such a mediocre experience?

mcast on 2024-05-14

To be fair, the Kindle is primarily used for reading books and doesn't require a fast refresh rate. It also lasts for weeks (months?) without charging.

tonymet on 2024-05-14

It's not about refresh rate it's about responsiveness. As close to 0ms as possible. On kindle there's a frustrating amount of input lag

TillE on 2024-05-14

The response you're waiting for is a refresh of the screen.

The Kindle excels at being a low-cost device for reading novels, or linear non-fiction with no graphics etc. For anything fancier, it's simply not built for that.

graypegg on 2024-05-14

I use a pocketbook right now, and was using quite a few kobos over the years prior. At least with those, I've noticed that we've kinda reached some ceiling for responsiveness, and I think it's the software/computing hardware not the screen hardware causing it. Stuff like page turns can be quite fast, but closing out of a book and opening another really feels like you're straining the poor thing.

Pocketbook particularly takes ages to reflow text if you rotate it. I think it's reflowing the entire ebook to get page numbers + chapter positions? Very annoying if you forget to turn off the accelerometer.

Liskni_si on 2024-05-15

Try using KOReader instead of the built-in reader software. It's a bit faster (doesn't wait to reflow the entire book if you change fonts, margins, orientation, whatever), and also it's easier to achieve consistent rendering of books (fonts, spacing, etc.) as it supports overriding the stylesheet, and just generally handles HTML/CSS better.

Oh, and speaking of responsiveness, I found that it depends on temperature a lot. E-ink apparently has a sweet spot at room temperature, but when I use the device outdoors, in either sub 10 ˚C temperatures or over 30 ˚C the screen changes noticeably slower.

poulpy123 on 2024-05-15

> I can't tell if it's a hardware or software issue.

it's neither, it's a physics issue. Moving electrically charged particles isn't going as fast as making current flow flow through semi conductors

karunamurti on 2024-05-15

I think it's always e-ink, their patents, their evergreening patents, and their lawyers.

kjkjadksj on 2024-05-14

Kindle is now the kleenex of ebook readers, certainly not a bad product by any stretch.

tonymet on 2024-05-14

what qualities are good? I admit they have a good ebook selection , networking features are good, and the price point is good when on discount.

But the software is awful and the application of the eink hardware is terrible too.

sokoloff on 2024-05-14

It’s a better book than actual books for 98+% of books I’ve read on it.

Taking as many books as I want onto an airplane for a business trip is great. My kids and wife read theirs literally daily. I’d have to look up how old they are, but the newest one is 2 years old and I think mine is around 10 (it’s a first gen paper white).

The e-ink display updates fast enough to not distract me from reading. The battery lasts multiple business trips, even on my very old unit.

I’m surprised how negatively you feel about it, given my and my family’s very good experiences.

amenhotep on 2024-05-14

You really threw me for a second with talking about your kids reading and then saying "I'd have to look up how old they are, but the newest one is two years old"!

tonymet on 2024-05-14

The ability to take a library with me is great, obviously. I also primarily read on kindle.

The complaints I have are all qualities within their control that seem to be lagging due to neglect (responsiveness, UI, stability, degrading performance over time, keyboard, search)

Now ignore the library aspect and compare reading a single book to reading a single e-book and the gaps will be more visible.

sokoloff on 2024-05-14

I was recently given a physical book as part of a work-related book club and took it along with my Kindle on a family vacation in April, so I ended up doing a direct comparison. The physical book was not better than a Kindle version would have been. It was bigger, heavier, was only one book, was harder to read in the evening, harder to highlight passages and find them later. I think the only thing is the around double resolution of the print version, where the Kindle's ~300dpi is entirely passable, and the fact that the book's "battery life" is >100 years while the Kindle needs charging once per month. Still a big Kindle win.

kjkjadksj on 2024-05-14

Depends on your perspective. If you sell kindles you probably are pretty pleased with almost 100 million units sold. Not a lot of products get those numbers. It sold quite successfully I'd say.

paulcole on 2024-05-15

Incredible book selection. Ease of buying books. Great battery life. Great screen and light. Great reading experience.

I read 100+ books a year on my Kindles.

tonymet on 2024-05-15

Yes the cloud sync and the marketplace are great , with some reservations on licensing and ownership.

The device itself is neglected, underpowered, unresponsive, unreliable , sluggish with a terrible UI.

Decompose the concept.

paulcole on 2024-05-15

> The device itself is neglected, underpowered, unresponsive, unreliable , sluggish with a terrible UI.

UI is great! I can easily read on the thing. What is “terrible”? Who cares if the device is underpowered or whatever? I tap on the screen and things happen. I’ve owned nearly every kindle ever released and never had any of the complaints you do.

It’s great for reading, I’m not mining bitcoin on the thing.

It’s an excellent single-use device.

What exactly do you want the Kindle to be?

tonymet on 2024-05-16

UI controls are not responsive. Search is slow . Keyboard latency is frustrating. Large books overwhelm the device (try reading a study bible ) . Switching books is slow . Seeking pages is slow . The UI is clumsy and inconsistent – some appearance adjustments are on the top menu and some are in settings. Settings and menu design model is inconsistent .

Despite being a mature device it has the design and performance of a beta product

paulcole on 2024-05-16

Yeah dang didn’t realize I’ve been so underwhelmed by my Kindles over the years.

birdlogic on 2024-05-15

It’s a fun coincidence that this is named “Glider”, since a fair number of glider (sailplane) pilots use e-ink displays (rooted kobo/kindle readers usually) due to great sunlight readability, commonly running something like XCSoar:

4ggr0 on 2024-05-15

So submarines are controlled with logitech controllers, gliders use e-ink readers as displays. Wonder what other tech is being reused inside of niche transportation methods :)

lionkor on 2024-05-15

code I wrote as a 12 year old beginner in python is running all of the Deutsche Bahn, I think. I suspect it anyways, it has the same performance characteristics.

Alex-Programs on 2024-05-15

You can't just say that without context! What does the code do? How did it end up in DB? I'm really curious now.

bemmu on 2024-05-15

One of my tasks at my first job at 17 was writing some visual basic involving train track tilt formulas for a national railway. I dearly hope no-one is actually using it anywhere, and has never used it anywhere.

4ggr0 on 2024-05-15

I think python would be too usable for DB :D Probably still on COBOL.

Beginning of this year, they were apparently looking for a Windows 3.11 Administrator [0]


b3orn on 2024-05-15

Interestingly they're also looking from Smalltalk developers, didn't expect that.

boobsbr on 2024-05-16

Perhaps you wrote the trip routing algo as well?

bestouff on 2024-05-15

Paraglider pilots also use the exact same combo.

beacon294 on 2024-05-15

I was interested in e-ink solutions for a long time due to eye fatigue and dry eye.

It turns out I had a very minor stigmatism. My eye doctor did not recommend correcting it, but upon correction my dry eye and eye fatigue completely went away.

So, get your minor astigmatism corrected via computer glasses, regardless of the eye doctor, best practice for minimum prescription strength.

Baeocystin on 2024-05-15

Seconding this. I have a very minor astigmatism in my right eye. Getting it corrected with custom reading glasses instead of just using regular readers, even though perceptually it's fine with the cheap ones, is night and day in terms of eye strain and headache. I was genuinely surprised when I figured out how much of a difference it makes.

isoprophlex on 2024-05-15

Whoa. So, on a whim, I got my eyes measured when my wife was picking up her glasses. Very slight astigmatism in my right eye.

And like you say, even though it's a minor abberation, the difference it makes in fatigue is incredible, especially after a day of coding work behind a screen..!

Straight up the best 200 bucks I spent in terms of QOL improvement. Well that and a very nice thick blanket to sleep under.

rthnbgrredf on 2024-05-15

I'm glad that you have found a solution. Dry eye and eye fatigue often go hand in hand. Theres a whole forum dedicated to the topic of eye strain from LED based screens. Might be worth a visit for some with similar issues:

snvzz on 2024-05-15

>computer glasses

What is this?

bloopernova on 2024-05-15

I sat at my home desk and measured the max and min distance between my eyes and all parts of the screen. I then presented those measurements in my next eye appointment, and the optician (not sure of American terms) was very appreciative that he had specific values to work from. He then simulated text at the different distances, and adjusted my prescription to work correctly over that distance. I think it was 18 inches minimum, 30 inches maximum.

I got computer glasses from that, no special blue filtering or whatever, just set to give me the best view.

jdietrich on 2024-05-15

Glasses dispensed for reading often don't work well for computer use. Historically "reading" meant looking at a book held in your hands, but computer monitors are further away and at a higher angle than a book. If you spend a lot of time using a computer, you need to discuss this with your dispensing optician when you buy glasses to make sure you get the right lenses for your needs. You may benefit from a dedicated pair of glasses for computer use, or a properly designed varifocal lens. This is especially important if you're over 35 and are likely to have some degree of presbyopia (look for an "add" value on your prescription, or different prescriptions for near and distance).

There are a lot of special lens technologies and coatings that are advertised as being able to reduce eye strain when using digital devices. Most of these have little or no evidence to support their efficacy, so be wary if they try to upsell you on expensive extras.

idle76 on 2024-05-15

Glasses for working at a computer. The same as reading glasses. The word is directly translated from the common name for it in my native language.

snvzz on 2024-05-15

Oh. So the glasses correct the astigmatism. Understood.

HumblyTossed on 2024-05-15

Basically intermediate distance glasses.

ElijahLynn on 2024-05-14

So so grateful for the open sourcing of all the knowledge about Eink in your brain zephray!!!

So much great information in your readme about Eink. I've already read a decent bit of it, and am going to reference it for the years to come!

sotix on 2024-05-15

This is a really cool resource! I have been wanting to make a device that uses an sink display for learning purposes for a long time, but I don’t know where to even start with that since I’ve only ever worked on software. This looks like it will help quite a bit with some of that learning.

sotix on 2024-05-15

The linked GitHub is a mirror of the original Gitlab repo:

amelius on 2024-05-15

Did anyone ever investigate the idea of adding feedback control to e-ink displays?

I get the feeling that all this flashing and latency of e-ink displays is entirely due to the open-loop nature of the controller.

LeoPanthera on 2024-05-14

I want to make a Compact Mac clone with an eink display like this. How wonderful would that look.

JKCalhoun on 2024-05-14

It can look good [1] but I haven't yet seen the refresh rate of eInk that I thought could handle a moving cursor. Maybe with the right driver you can these days.


jwells89 on 2024-05-15

A machine with the 12” Macbook form factor and an e-ink display with optional orange glowlight for night running something akin to Classic Mac OS would make for a very zen, highly portable writing machine. Would probably get battery life measured in weeks, too.

afandian on 2024-05-14

I’d settle for an eink Newton.

WillAdams on 2024-05-14

I'd be glad of a contemporary device w/ a b/w LED --- still saddened that there wasn't a replacement for the Asus Eee Note EA800 --- and I'm still annoyed that Apple has yet to make a device to replace my Newton (at a minimum, I'd want Apple Pencil support on an iPhone (or iPod Touch if they'd bring that back) or Mini iPad), but using something other than an LCD for daylight viewability would be something I'd be glad of (trying to out-bright the sun on a battery-powered device is just as stupid as it sounds to my mind).

tonymet on 2024-05-14

or reboot Palm pilot

jollyjerry on 2024-05-15

I wish I could find my Palm V. That device felt like quality in your hand. Metal back with satin finish, leather cover, the stylus was a snug fit.

localfirst on 2024-05-14

im not familiar with this industry but

how far are we from magazine quality look and feel using eInk?

like there is a scene from an old 80s sci-fi movie dude whips out a game magazine and the screenshot of games are fully animated videos...

ive been waiting 30 years now for this tech

PaulStatezny on 2024-05-14

Given the couple years I spent using a Dasung Paperlike e-ink monitor, I think we're pretty far off from that.

There seems to be a direct tradeoff between contrast/image-brilliance and latency/frames-per-second. Many monitors can be switched along that spectrum, but the current tech doesn't seem to be able to deliver both simultaneously at a reasonable price.

ant6n on 2024-05-15

As a not so proud owner of a Dasung color I have to agree. The product is absolutely atrocious. It has like 8 colors, not thousands. The contrast is shit, „white“ is brown, black is … some darker brown. It’s reflective. It heavily relies on unstable dithering (so moving the mouse will jitter around a large area of nearby pixels), which also makes everything unreadable. The color processing is shit, it won’t even try to approximate displayed colors with the ones it can display.

You have to fight with the settings to just get something that is vaguely usable, and set up the OS with custom colors and an accessible theme. But even then it’s so much more straining to use than a normal monitor, because of the reflections and shit contrast.

I think you could probably get something more useful by building a 28“ wall paper of game boy colors.

Worst purchase ever.

card_zero on 2024-05-15

What we need is a structural color display, using octopus proteins.

Rebelgecko on 2024-05-14

A lot of the components you'd need for that sorta kinda exist:

Flexible e-ink displays

Color eink displays

High-ish refresh rate eink displays

The problem is AFAICT there's no device that covers all 3. Color displays have pretty big tradeoffs in terms of resolution/contrast/latency. However they're still way ahead of where they were 5-10 years ago.

sedatk on 2024-05-14

I believe we need to wait for e-ink patents to expire.

Qwertious on 2024-05-15

The core patents already have expired. They have competition, it's called Reinkstone (and their DES/cofferdam tech).

The reason e-inks are so expensive and progressing so slowly is that it's a niche product which doesn't drive much R&D spending (compared to LCDs, which sell billions per quarter and you're reading this comment on).

sedatk on 2024-05-15

Didn’t know that they expired. That’s good news. We just need exciting products now.

Qwertious on 2024-05-16

It's not exciting, because the patents were never a barrier to innovation in the first place. LCDs have patents up the wazoo, it doesn't stop innovation there. The core problem with e-ink - the lack of market to justify R&D spending - hasn't really changed.

braunboffel on 2024-05-17

> We just need exciting products now.

Will you be working on such a product? :-D

kjkjadksj on 2024-05-14

I'm surprised the eink patent holders are seemingly content to lose their patent in time instead of licensing it and making real money

braunboffel on 2024-05-17

> I'm surprised the eink patent holders are seemingly content to lose their patent in time instead of licensing it and making real money

and I'm surprised I keep reading such claims on HN and everytime anyone ask which patent you're referring to, you get no concrete answer. It is like saying "microsoft holds lots of patents on operating systems" and that's why operating systems are so terrible and everyone is still using windows.

Max-q on 2024-05-14

This is an amazing piece of work and the documentation is a great introduction to EPD.

elevation on 2024-05-15

Any idea what tool was used to create this diagram?

yboris on 2024-05-15

Related: eYd -

It lets you auto "re-flow" diagrams using different algorithms (e.g. fewest intersections between arrows, center-out, etc).

ansgri on 2024-05-15

Looks like /

megous on 2024-05-14

On the other end of the spectrum, there are production devices driving eInk displays using a regular LCD controllers. :)))

Anyway, I appretiate the waveform format documentation and tools. Might kick me back to working on my Pocketbook display driver.

MaximilianEmel on 2024-05-15

Of course it's Wenting. Hopefully that means a video about it, too.

ploek on 2024-05-15

They have a video where they have an eInk display show video at 60 Hz. In contrast to a previous video, where the display was running at 2.4 Hz and the video then sped up by 10x, this is not sped up. What kind of black magic is this?

karmakaze on 2024-05-15

[I know nothing for real in this area.]

The Limitations section was interesting to read about. As I was thinking about it, I began to wonder if 1 memory cell per pixel could be used in an analog fashion (if it could mimic the panel response) with a high speed ADC. Seems more complicated and less accurate that what's described, and perhaps not cheaper if possible at all.

niek_pas on 2024-05-15

I'm sure I'm missing it, but is there a video showing the 'low latency'?

mistercheph on 2024-05-15
feverzsj on 2024-05-15

For 'low latency' in eInk, it's about the same time to turn over a page.

rkagerer on 2024-05-14

What a great primer in the readme!

feverzsj on 2024-05-15

Yes, you can make eInk refresh faster, but with ghosting and limited grayscale level. eInk hasn't advanced much since its advent, and no sign it will, as it's controlled by one company.

girvo on 2024-05-15

> eInk hasn't advanced much since its advent

Yes, it has. Even purely from the consumer facing side: the latest panels are far better in grayscale depth, sharpness and refresh rate (and their controller still kind of suck). Not to mention colour e-ink panels in consumer products seeing rapid improvements gen over gen.

> and no sign it will, as it's controlled by one company.

That's less true today, and there are multiple implementations of this idea that are being commercialised.

Though, sadly, e-ink the company bought one of them...

grawp on 2024-05-16

There does not seem to be any release tag or branch nor production gerber files.

I was hoping to get my hands on some functional DVI/HDMI controller. Well never mind, I'll wait.

OptCohTomo on 2024-05-14

"Optical teardown of a Kindle Paperwhite display by OCT": OCT = Optical Coherence Tomography This paper shows what is going on inside the display.

sneak on 2024-05-15

What’s the fastest cpu/highest ram COTS device that has an eInk display?

carterschonwald on 2024-05-14

This is great!

thetinymite on 2024-05-14
SushiHippie on 2024-05-14

The GitHub repository description also says:

> Open-source E-ink monitor. Mirror of

ta988 on 2024-05-15