E-readers that employ E Ink displays do a good job of reproducing the best aspects of paper. Crisp black text on a gray background, with high contrast and little reflection. One downside is that E Ink displays lack backlighting and so are subject to the same limitation as dead tree books when it comes to reading in the dark: a light is required. With a portable, battery powered reading light there is no cord, and ideally, the illumination is focused enough to be effective while minimizing disruption to other people -great for people with e-readers who like to read in bed.
Solid Fundamentals But Cover Required
The e-Luminator Touch Booklight from M-Edge is one of the best backlights I've tested to date. The light is designed to work closely with M-Edge's own e-reader covers (available for most popular e-readers, including Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Sony), but a 'paperclip' design allows it to also be used with traditional books and it can be slipped onto other e-reader covers. For example I was able to clip it on to my Sony e-reader cover. While the clip mechanism may not be the most attractive, it does a pretty good job and doesn't damage covers it's attached to. However, the 'paperclip' design (as opposed to a clamp) means that it can't really be used with a standalone e-reader -at least unless you're willing to duct tape it to the back.
The e-Luminator uses a single AAA battery and includes a timer that automatically shuts the light off after 60 minutes of inactivity. I ran it through a week of pretty heavy use at the medium setting (with an alkaline battery) and it's still going strong. M-Edge claims 20 hours of reading per battery. Instead of a mechanical switch, the e-Luminator sports a touch sensitive switch that cycles through low, medium and high intensity, plus on/off. It works quite well and it does require a finger to activate, so no worries about it accidentally being turned on while stuffed in a backpack. The metal goose neck actually stays where it's put (I've seen too many that slowly creep into a different position), the support arm pivots and I was able to easily find a position that illuminated the entire screen without the head intruding on my line of sight.
Super Bright LED Plus Optical Lens Provide Superior Illumination
The real star of the e-Luminator is the LED bulb combined with an optical lens for light dispersal. Many of the reading lights that I've used suffer from issues with light intensity, regardless of whether they use LED bulbs or incandescent. The light tends to brightly illuminate one section of the display, while outer edges fade to darkness. I've used models that employ multiple bulbs to combat this, but end up with a pattern of bright spots instead. The e-Luminator does a great job of dispersing the light so that the entire display is evenly illuminated. And it has plenty of power, even though it's only a single LED bulb. I found low setting was readable in the dark, while medium was most comfortable. Combine the excellent lighting capabilities with the competitive price ($19.99) and you have a winner. I tested the white model, but it's also available in a graphite gray that would probably be my first choice of color.
Available from M-Edge.
- highly effective lighting
- very adjustable
- auto power off feature
- not designed to be used standalone with an e-reader (requires a cover)
- plastic (on the clip especially) is a tad cheap looking