Sony Reader WiFi: Sloppy Screen Redraw

I noticed this in the initial videos from a trade show months ago but thought it was a matter of pre-release software.

Now it’s been confirmed in more than one video that Sony is doing something bizarre in its handling of eInk screen refresh that neither the Amazon Kindle nor Barnes & Noble Nook do.

The following are screensnaps from a video posted by The eBook Reader blog:

Look at how poorly the menu renders in this screensnap:

Is Sony trying to be fancy and have it dissolve in? Seriously, with eInk?

You think it might be a dissolve, but it’s not. Look at this other menu rendering:

What is going on there that only part of the menu appears at a time?

And now this:

And this:

That is really, really sloppy.

And these aren’t things that you have to freeze-frame to see. They’re evident in everyday use. Here’s the video to see for yourself:

What do I think is going on here? The answer might be in a second video showing the Reader WiFi — which is based on Android — rooted and running a different reading program:

Notice how this page builds.

It looks to me as if Sony has divided screen redraw into regions — and it becomes evident when using that program.

Here’s the video to see for yourself:

When rooted and running Android apps, the Sony Reader WiFi does a hell of a lot more flashing than a rooted Android-based Nook Touch does when running identical apps. The Reader flashes a lot when using a launcher, something the Nook Touch does not do. It looks to me as if some strange screen buffering based on regions is happening and the multiple flashes are redrawing each region.

Although the Sony Reader is superior to a Nook Touch in several ways — hardware buttons and multitouch screen — as a rooted Android device, it’s currently far inferior due to this screen refresh issue.

I’m a bit flabbergasted that Sony — which used to pride itself on small details — released such sloppy algorithms in its new Reader.

I know there’s an update due to add some features. I hope that update will also address this screen refresh issue.

If it doesn’t, those looking for an eInk Android device would be better served by going with a Nook Touch instead of a Sony Reader WiFi.

Here’s a video comparison between the two:

2 Comments

Filed under eInk Devices, Sony Reader, Video

2 responses to “Sony Reader WiFi: Sloppy Screen Redraw

  1. Keishon

    I think that the kind of reader Sony wants to make isn’t something many people are willing to pay for, unfortunately. Sony just doesn’t do cheap. Everything is a rush to market or lose out kind of deal these days. Still, I’d rather have a Sony (more open) than a Kindle (closed among other things)

  2. Hello Mike! I’m the guy who uploaded the second video showing the performance of the app Vudroid on this device. I want to point out that the screen redraw divided by regions is exclusively due to this app (Vudroid), which is not designed/optimized for e-Ink displays.

    Anyway I agree with you, the whole screen experience is sloppy. Sony could have done a better work by adapting the default Android screen refresh/draw algorithms for e-Ink displays. Luckily this is a software issue and the door is open for new hacks and improvements by the community.

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