This SiPix vs E Ink review compares the Kindle 3 and Kobo WiFi’s E Ink screens with the new Pandigital Novel’s SiPix screen.
The Kindle 3 uses the latest screen technology from E Ink called Pearl. E Ink’s other brand of ereader display is called Vizplex, used on the Kobo WiFi and many others. You can see a comparison between Vizplex and Pearl on this earlier Pearl vs Vizplex blog post. Basically, Pearl screens have better contrast with darker, sharper text.
E Ink and SiPix are two different companies that make the electronic paper—epaper—displays used in the majority of dedicated ebook readers today. The purpose of epaper is to mimic the look of ink on paper. This is achieved through a process called electrophoresis, and E Ink and SiPix each have a slightly different way of making their electrophoretic displays work.
In E Ink’s Vizplex and Pearl displays, there are millions of microcapsules about the width of a human hair that contain positively charged white particles and negatively charged black particles. These charged particles are suspended in a clear fluid within each microcapsule. When turning pages or making a selection, an electric field is applied to the screen to rearrange the white and black particles accordingly.
SiPix epaper displays are created by inserting electrically-charged white particles into a black dielectric fluid within Microcups. When an electric field is applied (when turning pages, making selections, etc), the charged white particles move either to the top or the bottom of the fluid, depending on the polarity of the electric field applied.
SiPix vs E Ink Pearl
This picture illustrates the difference between the Kindle 3‘s Pearl display from E Ink and the Pandigital Novel‘s SiPix screen. Click the image to see it in full size. The Kindle 3’s screen has a much lighter background and darker text. You can’t really tell from the picture but the text on the SiPix screen appears dark gray instead of black. The difference is considerably more noticeable in person.
SiPix vs E Ink Vizplex
This is the Kobo WiFi’s Vizplex screen next to the SiPix screen. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the Kobo’s text is a little darker, not much. It’s mostly the difference in background color that makes the Kobo’s text appear darker.
SiPix vs E Ink Conclusion
Seeing as how the Pandigital Novel is the first ereader in the US to get a SiPix screen and the first and only SiPix screen that I’ve seen in person, it’s unclear if all SiPix screens are exactly like this one. It certainly appears as if it could easily have darker text with an embolden setting, but that still doesn’t do anything about the darker background.
As it stands, the E Ink screens—both Vizplex and Pearl—are clearly superior. The background is lighter. The text is darker, sharper. More like ink on paper. Thus the reading experience is better. That’s not to say the SiPix screens are rubish—you can read on them just fine, not as well in low-light—but in a direct comparison E Ink wins.