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View Full Version : Are Shrinking PDA Screens Causing Eye Strain?

Ekkie Tepsupornchai
05-08-2006, 06:30 PM
<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://www.baltimoresun.com/technology/bal-eyestrain0501,0,6131631.story?track=rss' target='_blank'>http://www.baltimoresun.com/technol...story?track=rss</a><br /><br /></div><i>"Chris Kwak, a 31-year-old financial analyst, spends hours a day glued to the tiny screen of his Palm Treo hand-held computer. He fires off e-mails, checks stock prices and recently plowed through the novel 'The Da Vinci Code.' But staring at the 2-inch screen is taking its toll on Kwak's eyes: He regularly pops Tylenol to dull the headaches he gets from focusing on the tiny font he has chosen for his device."</i><br /><br />While I can confidently state that I haven't experienced any pains from my use of PDAs, SmartPhones, GPS Devices, and Digital Music Players, I did wonder exactly how I'd be able to continue using these devices when I'm much older and my near-sighted vision starts going out on me. I mean, c'mon, how often have you heard an elderly person ask you, "how can you see that thing?" or complain that the fonts are too small. I can't imagine life without my gadgets, but I can see where I might force myself into squinting for a while before finally giving in to bi-focals. What do you guys think? Any concerns? What's the solution?

05-08-2006, 06:43 PM
I hate to admit it, but as I approach 50 this summer, my reading vision continues to deteriorate. It really sucks. This is one of the primary reasons I switched from the 2125 the 8125. The 2125 screen, as beautiful as it is, made some viewing near impossible for me to read without reading glasses. Now with the 8125 I can read more without needing my reading glasses, but there is some stuff that I still need the glasses to be able to read on my 8125. Luckily I don't need bi-focals as my distance viewing is still pretty good.

05-08-2006, 06:45 PM
If you are having a hard time seeing the tiny screen, just do like George Costanza, and squint your way to 20/20 vision :D


Shaun Stuart
05-08-2006, 06:52 PM

I have used PPC's for 6 years and Psions before that but didnt really have a problem until I started using the smaller converged devices (Imate Jam and now the 02 Atom).

I think the 02 Atom was one step too far for my eyes - so much so that I have decided to go back to two devices a VGA large screen PDA for my regular business needs and a reasonable sized screen phone. The only problem is that I am so used to being connected I want both to have telephone and data functions.

The upside is that I get to order new stuff :devilboy: I have just ordered an MDA PRO and intend on getting a Nokia N80 (small screen but I checked this out and it has a superb resolution for a phone).

05-08-2006, 06:55 PM
Well, I can either blame getting older or the fact that I stare at computer screens of all types and sizes for some 10 hours a day for the fact that my days of glass-free vision are coming to an end.

I don't suffer from headaches but there is no question that forcing my eyes to read tiny print through the day will have an effect sooner or later.

05-08-2006, 07:02 PM
No problems with my iPaq 4700 4" screen. :P

05-08-2006, 07:05 PM
I agree. There is no way i can read ebooks or long documents on 2.5'' screen, especially excel spread sheets. Thats why im still using my hx4700 with 4'' screen.

Ekkie Tepsupornchai
05-08-2006, 07:07 PM
No problems with my iPaq 4700 4" screen. :P
I agree. There is no way i can read ebooks or long documents on 2.5'' screen, especially excel spread sheets. Thats why im still using my hx4700 with 4'' screen.
No joke... that 4" screen on my 4700 is one of the primary reasons I have NO plans of upgrading anytime soon!!

05-08-2006, 07:10 PM
I am not worried about it because by the time my eyesight starts to go they will have ultra cool eye implants that allow you to have 20/20, microscopic, night vision, telescopic views. Just don't be the one to buy version 1.0 wait for the 1.1 firmware update at LEAST! :devilboy:

05-08-2006, 07:12 PM
I'm with the 4" screen crowd. I love the 4" VGA screen on my e830. Actually I'd love to see a 4.3 to 4.5" VGA screen come out - that would be even better (although hardly pocket-able).

05-08-2006, 07:25 PM
I was drooling over a 700W but decided to keep my Axim x51v because I need the larger screen. The xv6700 is highly thought of, has a bigger screen.....but is so squarish and clutzy looking. The upcoming (sometime this decade) Motorola Q looks nice but still the screen won't be all that big. I'll stick to two devices - my Axim and my Motorola Razr.

05-08-2006, 08:10 PM
i don't mind the slightly smaller screens, however i would like to see better screens, especially for daylight viewing. i used to have a treo 650 and that screen was awesome, i could read it anywhere (i used to have a toshiba e755 before that). i now have a ppc6700 and it is almost completely unusable in daylight, which is sad. so i don't mind screens getting a little bit smaller to fit a good form factor, but i would just like to see them getting better overall.

05-08-2006, 08:19 PM
I'm 44. I've been looking at computer screens for my job and home life for, coming up on 21 years in August.

I started with glasses for farsightedness at the age of 8, contact lenses at 17, and monovision contacts at 42. For those who can see well naturally, monovision contact lenses is one lense for distance and one lense for closeup. You either adapt to it pretty much right away or it bugs the bejeezus out of you and you try something else. :)

Anyway, I work with computers, PDAs and phones pretty much all day every day. I like a lot of info on the screen and so use a fairly small font. I'm so used to the 4" in screen on the Toshiba e805 that I'm not willing to give it up and go to a converged device. I've recently ordered an Axim x51v (it's supposed to be here today!!!! :D ) and will also be upgrading to a Razr next month.

I pretty much figure there's got to be some perfect distance from my eyes for me to be able to see the screen -- it might keep changing -- and I might need longer arms :wink: , but I'm gonna figure it out until I go blind.

Seriously, for those of us with presbyopia, my eye doc says it pays to conciously spend time focusing on distance. If you have a window, stop and look out into the distance for a few minutes every couple of hours. Presbyopia doesn't have anything to do with farsightedness or nearsightedness or the shape of your eyeball or cornea; it is a decreased ability of your eye muscles to change focus, so changing focus deliberately exercises these muscles. Now if I could just find some tiny dumbells...... :lol:

05-08-2006, 08:22 PM
Over 60, wearing progressive bifocals, and very happy with the 4" screen on my 4700.

My biggest worry is that by the time the manufacturers figure out that some of us are actually no longer in our twenties they will already have phased out all screens larger than two point something inches. I've already had the 4700 for longer than I've ever had any other PPC, but there's nothing to replace it with.

I just bought a new Sprint EVDO phone and signed up for what they assure me is an unlimited phone-as-modem plan (I formerly used the 'unofficial free tethering' with a 1xrtt phone). With Sprint you can never really be sure what you've signed up for until you've gotten at least three or four correct bills.

I'm ok with two devices, and I'd also be fine with a converged device if I didn't have to give up any of the 4700 screen size or functionality; I'm not much of a phone person, so the large size wouldn't bother me.

Ironically, at the same time the industry is shrinking all the PPCs into phones, they're also coming out with new, larger, dedicated ereaders so that people will have two devices again, but most of the apps that could use the larger screen will be in the smaller device. :roll:

05-08-2006, 08:51 PM
I'll be 40 next birthday. I've worn glasses since my late teens (not vain enough for contacts). I'm short-sighted, so my near vision, although deteriorating, is not causing me problems using my E830 set to true VGA with the smallest font sizes possible for things like MS Reader and Internet Explorer. Usually if I am reading for a lengthy time I am lyijng on the couch or in bed, or sitting in an airplane, and I get no eyestrain with or without glasses.

I can see that changing over the next couple of decade, and it worries my - more because I hate the idea that my body is going to fall apart around me, like an old Ford Anglia. I live with the expectation, though, that devices and medicine will keep ahead of my needs ;-)

Brad Adrian
05-08-2006, 10:00 PM
My first bifocals arrived at the optomotrist back on my 40th birthday (I won't tell you how long ago that was). The problem is, I can never FIND them. ;)

Although I DO need them for reading some printed text, I can still read the screen of my X51v just fine (albeit at a different DISTANCE than before).

05-08-2006, 10:10 PM
Hold on, let me get my glasses and fresnel lens - I cant see the - ohh never mind I can see now.

This is the exact reason I remain perplexed on why there is not more VGA devices being developed. All these new devices are QVGA - UGH! As if the HX4700 or 51V actually support VGA in more than 4-5 applications naively and cleanly. (note I said APPLICATIONS not GAMES).

At something over 40 years old I do wear bifocals (Ekkie the line is invisible and they are the same size/weight of regular glasses -I think Ekkie thinks they have a big fat line and look like coke bottle bottoms ;) )

Even when forcing VGA MSReader and PIE are lousy at supporting VGA. NF3.3 does a nie job as a browser though. Even if clarity for vision isn't a good enough reason for VGA devices, who doesn't like more real estate, high clarity of screen, sharper images, etc. Is the price of a 3-4" VGA that much more than a QVGA screen?


Brad Adrian
05-09-2006, 02:37 AM
I think Ekkie thinks they have a big fat line and look like coke bottle bottoms...
Never mind Ekkie! I've got PDAs older than Ekkie!

05-09-2006, 04:32 AM
Go Celtics!

(Oh wait, wrong decade for that rivalry.)

05-09-2006, 05:10 AM
I've had poor eyesight eversince when I was young so it really doesn't help to stay glued on my ppc's [or even the notebook's screen] screen. But I just can't help it :roll:

As for the Lakers, Phil Jackson did a good job bringing them to the playoffs but I guess the team lacks more maturity to really go for it. I suspect another 'boring' finals between the Spurs and Pistons. I'm rooting for PHX but I'm sure they'll have a hard time in the 2nd round.

Ekkie Tepsupornchai
05-09-2006, 05:15 AM
At something over 40 years old I do wear bifocals (Ekkie the line is invisible and they are the same size/weight of regular glasses -I think Ekkie thinks they have a big fat line and look like coke bottle bottoms ;) )
Ha! Not quite. ;) It's more the denial-effect of bi-focals. I'm not quite the spring chicken that you might think (I'm almost 34)... I've been nearsighted since 13 (coincidently one year after getting my first computer) and have always taken solace in my ability to at least see things up close (I only wear my glasses when I have to see far)! So I dread the day that I'll have to wear my glasses at almost all moments that I want to see anything near or far!

05-09-2006, 08:10 AM
I resisted the bi-focals for a long time. It's no biggie, just get the ones without the "line" ;)

Probably anyone you know with glasses over 45 has them, and you don't know it (assuming you know anyone over 45).

No problems with seeing the Axim x30. I'd like a PPC phone in the future about the same size as the Axim, but they seem to be getting smaller. Not a huge problem, but I like a bit of extra screen real estate and use some icons on my Today screen that are designed more for touch screen use without the stylus, and a smaller screen does make that more challenging.

05-09-2006, 03:51 PM
Same is the case with me. I am 18 years old. Just a normal college going guy. But, I read a lot on the PDA(C coding references). I used to have HTC magician(O2 mini). I upgraded to Blue Angel(O2 S) just because I wanted bigger screen. I could have upgraded to more 'fancy' Atom, but, I didnt(has 2.7' screen as compared to 3.5' of BA). Now, I read a lot and I actually use it for productive work(as compared to magician, this is not a toy for me).

05-09-2006, 07:53 PM
I'll be 40 next birthday. I've worn glasses since my late teens (not vain enough for contacts).

"Not vain enough for contacts???" Awww, come on. :lol:

In my case, it's not so much vanity as the fact that my glasses are so thick on the edges (1/2 inch) that they really start to hurt the bridge of my nose after I wear them awhile.

But maybe vanity is a guy thing? :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

Just kidding folks.

Sounds like what we're saying is tiny converged devices for the young, big screen &amp; multiple devices for us old folks. Sort of like large print books? :) Man, I'd better quit before I go too far. (If I haven't already)

05-12-2006, 05:16 PM
This is exactly why I prefer the PPC to a smartphone or smaller converged device. When I do finally make the switch to a PPC phone, I will certainly want a large screen. I also tweak my font sizes up as well to reduce eye strain.

Steve Jordan
05-13-2006, 01:36 PM
I started wearing glasses about 15 years ago, due to too much computer screen staring... never had a vision problem before age 30. I've slowed the damage by switching to LCD screens on my PC, but today I still wear glasses, just recently switched to bifocals, and my wife taunts me for having to change my prescription roughly every 2 years. sigh...

Although I don't have problems reading anything on my PPC, I don't plan on getting anything smaller (like a smartphone) to replace it, EVER. I did switch the PPC to ClearType, and it does seem to help readability. So, if my eyes don't get much worse, I'm good right here.

But yeah, I'm holding out for the eventual release of $20 LASIK treatments at the Eye Center once a year to maintain perfect vision in perpetuity... 8O