Dear #Mastomind: Any guidelines on E-Ink / B&W/grayscale / low-refresh rate app design / UI/UX?

I've recently come into possession of an e-ink book reader, and am discovering the joys (seriously) and limitations (dittos) of e-ink displays and software designed for them.

I've just begun looking for any information concerning design guidance for e-ink devices, and am coming up very short. If you're aware of any such resources please respond to thread.

Boosts welcomed.

#eink #uiux #AppDesign #SoftwareDesign #Interfaces #BlackAndWhite #LowRefresh

Reboost on my E-Ink / Electronic Paper app design / UI/UX guidelines request.

Very few responses. I'm coming to suspect this is an under-served field.

@dredmorbius I'd love such a resource too!

I'm curious how I'd design a web browser for it! Currently I suspect the output constraints would yield a similar design as smart TVs' input constraints do...

@alcinnz For browsers:

Scrolling vs. paging is my biggest gripe.
Sites that fuck with foreground / background colours is a major PITA.
Animations ... really suck.
Anything that's based on gradients or colour differentiation is a total fail.
Small fonts are actually readable and render (Hacker News, I'm looking at you), but are a PITA to read. The effective resolution is 300+ DPI, far higher than even Retina (which suffers as well from a 3x reduction due to 3-colour output), and comparable to laserprint, though without the ink/toner bleed printing often experiences.

If Fennec's Reader Mode works, I use it. That would benefit from definable margins (there are some settings, but they're limited).

The Pocket extension / app's dialogs are exceedingly ugly, and often unreadable.

Fennec's Private Mode controls are similarly unreadable.

PocketBook (an alternate reader) suffers some weird glitches on menus and other elements. I've been reasonably happy with it on an emissive Android device. It does quite poorly on the e-ink device.

There are several other eBook readers (Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Wattpad, Scribd, Libby, Flipboard), most of which I've not yet tried. I suspect they'll have usability issues given other tools used.

The Wikipedia app seems reasonably low-frustration.

I was hoping for a device that would be a relatively poor Android tablet, if only to keep distractions to a minimum. It's delivering on that desire. I can fetch books from Gutenberg / / Standard eBooks / LibGen / Sci-Hub / ZLibrary, but tend to not want to spend too much time browsing.

Listening to podcasts works pretty well, though somewhat better sleep / shutdown settings would be preferred. Auto sleep intervals are 3, 5, 10, and 30 minutes, or "never".

Power-off is 15m, 30m, 1h, 12h, 1 day, 2 days, or never.

That's ... oddly grained.

A 2h standby and 2/4/8h power-off would be better IMO.

(Much of the batter life is attained by aggressively sleeping / powering off when not in use, though with the backlight disabled, power draw is very minimal whilst showing a static display.)

@dredmorbius This all makes sense!

And I was planning on using paging with enforced colour contrast for TVs...

@alcinnz One control I really wish I had was GIMP's thresholds tool.

That lets you map an input range to an output range. For relatively low-contrast content, say, a book scanned in colour or grayscale (see, e.g.,, what I'd like to do is be able to set floors and ceilings such that anything darker than a certain threshold is simply "black" and anything lighter "white".

You can monkey with that further to allow some tolerance within that for image (or define image fields within the work where contrast regimes differ). But if you're looking for straight readable text, that helps a hell of a lot.

The Onyx BOOX has some control over this, but I find myself fighting it a lot, and/or wanting to be able to set defaults for a specific application or website.


@dredmorbius @alcinnz The -threshold option of pgmtopbm (1) can be handy.

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@geert Is that documented anywhere? The pgmtopbm(1) manpage (on Debian) only briefly mentions "-threshold" as an option, but not its use. There's the additional note:

The only reference you need for this stuff is "Digital Halftoning" by Robert Ulichney, MIT Press, ISBN o-262-21009-6.

Though that is on LibGen.


@dredmorbius @alcinnz Isn't that sufficient?
On Ubuntu (should be identical to Debian):
"The default quantization method is [...]. Also available are simple thresholding (-threshold) [...]"
"The -value flag alters the thresholding value for Floyd-Steinberg and simple thresholding. It should be a real number between 0 and 1. Above 0.5 means darker images; below 0.5 means lighter."

@geert @dredmorbius @alcinnz Of course imagemagick's 'convert' has a million thresholding options.

@penguin42 @dredmorbius @alcinnz I prefer to do it the UNIX way, using the 1000 small tools from netpbm, each with its own 1000 options.

@geert@society.oftrolls Imagemagick is pretty much the UNIX way. It's a set of commandline tools each with its own specific functions and options. Tremendously powerful.

Similar in concept to, variously, ffmpeg (for audio/video), sox (audio), the poppler PDF library, the PBM tools which you're using, mh, etc. @alcinnz

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