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I have a Hanvon ereader with a first generation Vizplex E-ink display. The device comes with a screensaver, which just loads some pictures after some time. Does this serve a purpose, such as to prevent burn-in, similar to the purpose of screensavers on CRT computer screens?

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Technically it isn't a screensaver since the images are static (unless of course the device cycles through images at regular intervals). Either way, e-ink doesn't suffer from burn-in, so it really isn't necessary.

What a screensaver (we'll call it that) does do is show that the device is sleeping, so it will not respond to commands (either via touchscreen or buttons, depending on the device).

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As you said, e-ink displays work differently from computer screens, this is not necessary and I think that the only reason to have a screensaver is for aesthetic purposes.
I have a Kobo ereader and when it is sleeping or powered-off it displays the cover of the ebook that I'm currently reading, I think that this is made to mimic the look of an actual paper book.

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