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What Is Easier On The Eyes? An iPad or a Book? The Answer May Surprise You

Image flickr usr Krossbow

As Boomers get older, the first thing in many that will signal ‘Geezerdom’ is bad eyesight. The experts have weighed in and have dispelled the myth that reading a computer screen all day is one of the worst things you can do. Sure it will tire your eyes out, but physically damage them? Bunk.

Now comes an interesting study from what is probably the heart and soul of the print world; The Research Unit Media Convergence at the Johannes Gutenberg-University in Mainz, Germany. Yeah, that place. Where they printed the first Bible.

The study, released on PLOS ONE, looked at our assumptions that reading a physical printed-word-on-paper book is easier than on a tablet, like a Kindle or iPad. The participants were 36 young adults aged 21-34 and, 21 older adults, mostly retired senior citizens, aged 60-77. Some had glasses, some not- however NONE had bi-focals. They were asked to read nine short lines of text segmented across three pages on three different media: A printed book page, an iPad (tablet computer) and a Kindle-type (E-reader) tablet.

The results showed, that for the younger readers the media made very little difference. However, for the older participants, a big difference was revealed between the three different media:

Reading on an iPad took just 24 seconds, 2.5 seconds faster than reading the printed paper, while the E-reader (Kindle) took 28 seconds.

Apparently, according to the researchers, the back-lighting on the iPad provided greater contrast and therefore faster symbol comprehension. All tablets use a type of backlighting, but e-readers use what’s called an “E-ink display” that allows the user to read in bright sunlight, but has a lower contrast display.

However, the real interesting part is, even when confronted with the evidence that they read and comprehended the material faster and easier on the iPad, both the older and younger participants perceived a greater satisfaction when reading the printed page. Even stranger, the younger subjects had a higher perceived ‘pleasantness’ when reading the paper material.

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