From Glare to Glow: What Makes Front Light Outperform Backlight

5 mins read

Half an hour before bedtime, you're engrossed in articles on a tablet. Yet, your eyes grow dry, and the words on the screen get blurred. You cannot but power down the tablet to soothe eye fatigue. One of the culprits for this discomfort is the backlight emitted from the device.

Backlight vs. Front Light

There are two types of light generated from electronic products—backlight and front light. While both are designed to enhance content visibility, they're different in the way they work and their influence on our eyes.

Backlight, in line with its name, is the light placed behind LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screens. To provide sufficient brightness for smartphones, computers, and TVs, a raft of LEDs are installed beneath the liquid crystal panel, emitting light that shoots right straight into your eyes. Prolonged exposure to such bright light always leads to eye discomfort.

a woman rubbing her eyes in front of a computer

In contrast, the front light is put under E Ink screens and along the side of the device's bezel. Its purpose is to shed light evenly onto the content you read. The light you perceive is reflected from the screen just like the ambient light is. Softer and milder, front lights make your reading and writing experience healthier and more enjoyable.

a man reading with a Note Air2 Plus

Why BOOX Chose Front Light?

Scientists with Harvard School of Public Health conducted a series of experiments on human retinal cells. As research reveals, with growing reactive oxygen species (ROS), a byproduct of cell metabolism, retinal cells will have more oxidative stress. The faster ROS accumulates, the more likely human eyes get inflammation and other damages. It's found that in the same mode (day or night), our retinal cells build up ROS two to three times more slowly on exposure to front-lit ePaper devices compared to back-lit LCD screens. In other words, front light is two to three times more eye-friendly. And that's the very motivation for BOOX to equip our devices with front lights.

taking notes on Tab Ultra C with front light

Some may worry adding front light might lead to writing latency, as the distance widens between the touch panel and the top screen. To balance the handwriting experience and eye protection, BOOX made a remarkable breakthrough by sliming down the industry-standard 0.47mm light guide layer to an ultra-thin 0.25mm for Tab Ultra, an impressive 50% optimization to assure screen response speed and handwriting sensation. With BOOX tablets, you can relish a paper-to-pen-like experience while enjoying the convenience of front light.

Enlightening Your Life: Front Light Benefits

Front light aims at protecting your eyes when you need to use ePaper devices in environments with poor lighting. BOOX offers cold and warm front lights for users. During the daytime, white cold light could make your notes and sketches sharp and clear; once evening descends, the warm amber light prevents overexposure to blue light, minimizing eye fatigue. In addition, the brightness of light could be adjusted in the control center. Every user could adjust the light to the level they feel most comfortable with.

adjust front light in the control center

An ePaper tablet with front light could be used in a wider range of places. The best ideas may hit you anytime, anywhere. It could be in a backyard garden at dusk, on a train through the tunnel, or at a candle-illuminated quaint cafe. How frustrating it would be if you failed to write them down immediately? For reading enthusiasts, the lack of lighting will no longer limit where you can read.

drawing pictures with Note Air 2 Plus at night

Another edge of front-lit devices is that they won't affect the quality of sleep. Large amounts of blue light are emitted from conventional mobile phones and tablets. It suppresses the production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone, making you toss and turn in bed. Front-lit screens, on the contrary, have less blue light. As you're wandering through the world of books, your head starts nodding off and then you'll sink into a sweet dream.

reading with Note Air2 Plus with amber front light


In today's digital world, we need e-products to assist us with work and study, and some of them infuse lots of fun into our lives. It's difficult for us to reduce screen time, but self-improvement and recreation should not come at the expense of health. E Ink devices with front light provide the best solution to break the dilemma. The reflective display is gentle for your eyes in a poorly lit space, while the adjustable light makes it possible for you to record the boldest thoughts anywhere you go. It accompanies you into the deepest slumber, night after night.

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