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Games

You Can Play Google Stadia on an E-Book Reader

Turns out that, with the right device, e-ink technology has improved enough that it can keep up with a laggy game-streaming service.

by Ernie Smith
Jan 9 2020, 8:16pm

Image: Sebastian Ørsted

You may not be playing Google Stadia at the moment, but inevitably, you’ve seen the reviews and the feedback from gamers has largely revolved around the significant latency issues the service can have.

But what if you were to throw another variable into the mix when you fire up Destiny 2? That’s what Sebastian Ørsted, a Danish PhD student of Aarhus University’s Department of Mathematics, recently did when he decided to test out Google Stadia on an e-ink based Android tablet, the Onyx Boox Max 3.

Considering the fact that e-ink is generally associated with slow-turn digital readers such as the Amazon Kindle and Kobo eReader, the results were shockingly impressive. Ørsted estimated that he had lag between 500 and 1000 milliseconds, a level that, while likely to get you killed in most modern games, seems completely out of the ordinary for a technology that isn’t designed to be refreshed all that often.

“So this setup would obviously be useless for any practical video game experience,” Ørsted explained in an email. “But as a tech demonstration, I think it’s really cool that it works at all.”

That’s in part because the Boox is no ordinary e-reader; as it runs a version of Android Pie, it supports a relatively high refresh rate in its “X-mode,” which is intended for doing things such as playing video. (In case you’re wondering, this feature got relatively high marks from Good e-Reader, a niche gadget review site.) While not exactly the best way to get your fix of Linus Tech Tips, this mode made all the difference for this demo, according to Ørsted. He said that “at first, the experience was quite bad” until he switched to the mode.

“I was surprised, myself, at how well it suddenly went,” he said.

At the end of the video, the game stops working, but not because of the screen—Ørsted blames his school’s wireless network for that. While e-ink has apparently come a long way in the face of moving images, there’s only so much it can do about flaky public Wi-Fi.

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google stadia