Does your eReader need a screen protector?

Screen Onyx Boox Nova Air C

At present, there are a pleasing amount of e-readers in the wild. As we witness the rise of exciting new E Ink technologies such as e-paper color displays, there is a question that needs to be answered. Before you jump in, let me explain a bit how I got to this topic. As a tech writer and gadget nerd, I’m a huge fan of anything that has a touchscreen, classifies itself as a smart device, or somehow integrates into the Android ecosystem. Anything with an “electronic brain” is just fascinating to play and I like to push the limits of what can be done.

Having written numerous guides, collections, and various forms of editorial work relating to this technology, there are a few tips that are constantly on the tip of my tongue. These come from expertise in my field and, of course, from personal experience. When it comes to smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, or any other wearable device with a screen, my first recommendation is to grab a screen protector before getting any other accessories. Forget wireless headphones, straps or even cases. I believe that strengthening the protection of your device’s display is the number one priority.

Following this advice almost religiously has saved me countless times from major heartbreak. Naturally, when I got my first eReader a few years ago, I rushed to buy some high-end screen protector for my precious new E Ink device. And I’m not the only one in this regard. Head to Amazon or any other e-commerce website and you’ll find plenty of screen protectors readily available for popular e-readers like the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition or the Kobo Libra 2. Nor are these all unnamed Chinese brands. We’re talking trusted names like Supershieldz, Skinomi, and IQ Shield; companies that excel in making tempered glass and protective films for flagship Android phones.

Kobo Libra 2

For some reason, I didn’t stop and think about my actions for a moment, even though I should have. After all, e-readers don’t use the same display technology as traditional tablets and smartphones. They’re not built with pure glass LCD panels or AMOLED screens that crack, break, and nick so easily. More recently, however, this idea has really set my gears in motion and got me thinking. Do eReaders Really Need Screen Protectors?

According to E Ink Corporation, the organization that invented e-ink technology, all existing e-readers and e-paper tablets “use a traditional glass-based TFT or use our plastic-based E Ink Mobius TFTs”. the E Ink Corporation highlights the durability of its screens as one of the advantages of this technology, pointing out that these screens are flexible and unbreakable. By this logic, these E Ink devices are in a completely different class compared to “normal” electronic devices such as Android phones.

I reached out to E Ink for a more direct response to my riddle, wondering if an e-reader required a screen protector. In response, I received the following statement:

“To answer your question, no additional screen protectors are needed for e-Readers. E Ink (as well as almost all other display technologies!) has a front protective sheet as part of the full module. None additional protective foil should only be added after manufacture.

An Amazon spokesperson added:

“Amazon designs all Kindle devices to withstand everyday life. The Kindle Paperwhite has undergone rigorous testing. This includes drop and tumble testing, water immersion, and more to ensure durability in places where customers are likely to read.

For the most part, these quotes all add up to one fact: your eReader doesn’t really need a screen protector. It’s amazing to think that all these years I never thought to question my ingrained habit. There are probably hundreds of people like me, unaware of the fact that their trusty old eReader doesn’t usually need anything else.

Even now, after delving into it, I’m having trouble rocking a furry e-paper tablet. It’s good to know that my $10 investment isn’t exactly essential. I can give it up if I want. It’s just that years of conditioning won’t allow me to walk the naked path with my eReader. If you’re a braver soul than me, rest assured that you’ll be perfectly fine without a film or sheet of tempered glass on that e-paper display.

About Michelle T. Friesen

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