I recently purchased a new Kindle Touch, just to see what all the Hype is really about.
Simple No-Frills Interface
The simpler, the more specific, the better. Imagine giving an iPad to your non-technical Grandmother who's just use to reading books, you know, those things on paper. Paper, you remember, the stuff made out of dead trees? Well guess what, it's not nearly as intuitive as a book. A book you just open and start reading. An iPad, well you have to click on all these things, first of all hopefully you already pre-installed iBooks for her, and then you have to guide her through how to browse books and purchase them... and you can only purchase them on that device and read them on that device....
Then there's Kindle. Kindle not only looks and acts like a book when reading it, you also can purchase books on your computer, iPad, iPhone, Kindle, whatever, and just read them. Kindle isn't designed to be fancy, it's plain and simple. When you order one from Amazon, it's already activated to your account that you purchased it from. It starts up and guides you through everything. From the moment you turn it on, it's goal is to help you use it, not to confuse you with all the different features you can use on it. And guess what, if you forget to turn it off? Oh well, it's battery life is measured in months, not hours.
E-InkThe E-ink display literally exactly like you would expect normal paper to react. It's not backlit, there's no strain on your eyes, it's like reading a regular text book. The only negatives so far are that the current version doesn't do color (although that is rumored to be released in the next refresh of kindle in the middle of 2012), and it has a horrible refresh rate. While backlit displays measure in terms of single digit milliseconds, the E-Ink display measures refresh rates in the hundreds of milliseconds.
Even the Color E-Ink display that is coming out doesn't have very good stats. It only displays just over 4,000 different colors (compared to the millions/billions that a traditional display can do). So what makes the E-Ink displays so much better?
Battery Life, These things last for months longer because they soak up just a tiny fraction of the battery a traditional backlit display does. There's nothing else on the market that even comes close.
You can read it in direct sunlight, that's right, on the beach where you'd normally need a traditional book, you can use an e-ink display. What's even weirder, you actually can not view them without a light source. They don't provide their own light, so you need something like this if you want to read your kindle in the dark.
No Backlit display means less eye strain. How many times do you get headaches because of constantly staring at an LCD? Right now I'm typing this up on a traditional display, and already my eyes are hurting. It's not anything that any styling can do to fix it, it's the fundamental flaw of a backlit display.
Come out from the dungeon! Perhaps the most important aspect these e-ink displays will do is bring us out of our dungeons. Right now I'm sitting in a room that's mostly dark, because that's the only way I can see my screens. With the e-ink displays, they actually encourage you to get outside and see actual sunlight. Imagine the difference between "Work at home" to "Work outside wherever the hell you want".
It will get better. Remember when regular CRT monitors first came out? How many colors did they have? How bad was the refresh rate? For my money, within 10 years, I expect that we'll have e-ink displays that can compete with the best LCDs out there. Yes, there will still be some that hold out on the backlit displays, and I suspect the backlit displays will always be around in some manor, but E-Ink will start to creep into our lives more and more over the next decade, and it'll be a change for the better.