November 26, 2022

We live in a world populated by screens, from the computers we use at work to the phones we glue our faces to all day. If display manufacturers and tech companies are to be believed, things will only get better or worse in the future, depending on whose side you’re on. Displays, particularly touch-enabled screens, will litter our surroundings unless the metaverse becomes so prevalent that we’ll be seeing windows and popups everywhere through our AR glasses. Despite our dependence on display technologies, the screens that we rely on so much day in and day out can be harmful to our eyes in the long run. While we wait for the perfectly harmless screen technology, we can only try to minimize the damaging effects of these screens with other technologies, like this unconventional two-in-one monitor that attaches an eye-friendlier E-Ink screen on the side.

Designer: Philips

E-paper display or EPD technology, especially the kind sold by the E-Ink brand, has long been hailed for its less harmful effects on the eyes. That is why this kind of screen has been used on ebook readers that will often be used for hours on end. The technology does have critical drawbacks that make it unsuitable for “normal” uses, like displaying rich colors like photos, fast-changing content like videos, and more. That, of course, hasn’t stopped people from spending hours on end in front of computer monitors and phones, especially when their work depends on these displays.

E-Ink monitors do exist, but they can’t really be used for all kinds of content, as mentioned earlier. Rather than having to make people choose, Philips got the idea to provide both kinds of displays on the same monitor. Or, to be more precise, it has put two kinds of monitors side-by-side in one. The Philips 24B1D5600 has a 23.3-inch 2560×1440 LCD monitor that you can use for regular stuff, and attached to its right side is a 13.3-inch E INK Carta HD display. This design is based on an award-winning iF Design Award 2021 entry and is now making its way to the market to appeal to people who need to stare at screens for long stretches of time each day.

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While an E-Ink display is great for reading ebooks, its purpose here isn’t exactly for leisure, though it can certainly be used that way, too. The idea is that you can put longer pieces of text on this slow-changing screen that you need to read, like documents or articles, while constantly changing content like videos, real-time graphs, and the like will occupy the main LCD screen. That way, you will be giving your eyes a bit of a break whenever you need to view more static content while still having access to YouTube or more productive sites.

The attached E-Ink display can apparently be tilted 45 degrees towards the viewer, which is a more ergonomic angle considering how far to the right it is. Unfortunately, it isn’t clear whether it can be removed and placed on the opposite side, which may be more comfortable for some people. The E-Ink display and the LCD screen are powered separately with separate cables, but you seldom need to charge the E-Ink side anyway.