woman reading(Photo: John Lund; Marc Romanelli; Getty Images)

People were asked to read the same passage on an iPad 2, an original Kindle with no backlight, and a regular book. Then, researchers assessed the readers on how long it took them to finish. The results? People read the book at about 187 words per minute, the Kindle at 196 words per minute, and the iPad 2 at 224 words per minute. Nearsighted people saw the largest boost in their reading speed by using the iPad.  (Having trouble seeing lately? Snack on the food that will Improve Your Eyesight Instantly.)

The high degree of contrast between the tablet's text and illuminated background makes it easier for people with poor eyesight to read, says lead researcher Daniel Roth, M.D., an associate clinical professor at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. For low-vision patients, the more brightness, the better. Why? Because it's sharp, clear, and distinct, coming from a direct source (the tablet) instead of an indirect one like an overhead lamp.

Your move: Even if your vision is solid, try it out. (The iPad 2 is just one of the items on our brand-new list of the The Coolest Gifts for Men.) Roth says that people with strong eyesight read faster on the back-illuminated device, too--especially for longer periods of time. In the study, the backlight on the iPad 2 was at the maximum, but he recommends toying with the brightness setting to find something comfortable.

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