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What do you think about analog vs digital display in their purpose for providing information (time reading)?

I'll start first:

Analog:
1/ More legible at a distance (clocks at train station, hospitals, schools, etc) because of the simple picture format.
2/ For short or less than one minute timing purposes, i.e. counting pulses, sometimes using second hand is more preferable because of the readability.
3/ Gives you a sense of the current time.
4/ Generally it becomes more legible as it gets bigger.

Digital:
1/ Easier/faster to read correctly at a glance.
2/ Undoubtedly superior for timing purposes (linked to the 1st point and because of the format).
3/ Generally eats less space.
4/ Generally it doesn't get more legible as it gets bigger, maybe the effect is the reverse because of how it must be read (left to right).

I think the major problem with analog is that the reader could miss by one hour mark, that usually means +/- 5 minutes and/or 1 hour. Maybe if the day consists of 16 hours this would happen less often.


PS: I think this has been discussed before but I couldn't find a specific thread devoted to it so I just made one ;>
 

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For strictly telling time, I agree with you. Legibility can't be beat for the analog display, especially at a distance. I'll find myself squinting at a digital readout, but analog hands are easy to pick out.

On a watch, I prefer analog (old school, classier look), unless I am timing something for an extended period (ie jogging/exercise). Then the digital chrono display is much easier than an analog chronograph.
 

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I prefer analog. I get more information from the way the time is displayed. Analog display shows me how long it is before or after the hour, how much time is left before the target time etc. Analog represents more of an idea of what part of the day it is currently & isn't that what we want to know? It may be a matter of my having learning how to use the display over the years, but digital forces me to do the math & I think that I still visualize the time on a 12 hr dial in my head after I look at a digital clock. When you see someone look at their watch, quickly ask them what time it is. The digital owner will probably tell you, the analog owner will usually have to look again to give you a number.
Cheers,
kev
P.S. I love Ana-Digi watches, mainly because the day/date display is usually easier for me to see.
 

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... When you see someone look at their watch, quickly ask them what time it is. The digital owner will probably tell you, the analog owner will usually have to look again to give you a number.
Funny you mention this, it's something I do to with an analog watch to.

I regularly look at my watch but ask me a few seconds after which time it is and I have to look again to give you the correct details :-d.
 

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I generally stick to analog watches.

Comparing the two, digital is far easier to get a very accurate reading of the time. You look at the face and it tells you the time is exactly 15:43:38
Analog on the other hand has a much more graphical nature, so giving the time down to the second needs a bit more thought in finding exactly where the minute and second hands sit on the dial. What it does much better though (at least for me) is in giving rough times (within five minutes) very simply, and also being much easier to read in comparing multiple times. If I know I need to leave the house at quarter to the hour, with an analog display it is trivial to glance at it and compare the position of the hand to what I need and get an idea of how much time remains. With digital however I need to do a bit of quick mental arithmetic to figure out the data I want. While it is only a small difference, the analog just makes it that step easier to use.
The other bit is that I rarely ever need to know the time down to the second (however accurate I may keep my watches) - with analog I can glance at my watch and easily tell it is almost on the hour, which is all I really need - knowing the time is exactly 12:58:20 is excessive and pointless.

Reading it back it does sound quite petty in text, just in use for me an analog face makes much more sense and gives me what I want and need in a timepiece.

At the same time, something should be said for the fact I just find them more aesthetically pleasing - to look at a watch with a nice dial and the hands ticking round steadily is just nicer on the eyes than the somewhat more harsh display of a digital.
 

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I find analog to be more intuitive. To me, it's easier to see how much time remains before a certain target time with analog. Oddly though, when I glance at my analog watch, I think I'm really giving myself a rough idea of the time based on my eyes visually splitting the face up into quarters. I can glance at my watch, and all I really process is which quarter the minute hand is in. Someone can ask me what time it is, and I have to look at second time to tell them!
Digital provides a very accurate snapshot, but there is such a thing as digital watch tunnel vision. I like the "big picture" that an analog watch provides. The spacial relationship between the hands and markers just makes more sense to me at a glance.
Yikes, I should post this over in the boring thread.
 

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I find analog watches (and displays in general) much easier to read than digital, especially at a glance. The graphical representation seems to be much easer to read than something that's just a string of digits. Also, if you're off a bit when reading an analog display it's usually not that bad, but confuse the digits on a digital display and you could be way off. Seven segment display in particular can be a problem. There's only one segment difference between 8 and 0, 1 and 7, 5 and 6 etc.

Unless there's a good reason to have something digital, I almost always prefer an analog display.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Interesting that apparently the majority has a bias for analog, perhaps unsuprisingly for WISes:-d

caraptor said:
...a rough idea of the time based on my eyes visually splitting the face up into quarters. I can glance at my watch, and all I really process is which quarter the minute hand is in.
narcosynthesys said:
Analog.... What it does much better though (at least for me) is in giving rough times (within five minutes) very simply, and also being much easier to read in comparing multiple times.
narcosynthesys said:
If I know I need to leave the house at quarter to the hour, with an analog display it is trivial to glance at it and compare the position of the hand to what I need and get an idea of how much time remains. With digital however I need to do a bit of quick mental arithmetic to figure out the data I want. While it is only a small difference, the analog just makes it that step easier to use.
I agree on these points. For rough estimation on remaining time, analog is more readable|> (dive watches anyone?)

I find analog watches (and displays in general) much easier to read than digital, especially at a glance. The graphical representation seems to be much easer to read than something that's just a string of digits. Also, if you're off a bit when reading an analog display it's usually not that bad, but confuse the digits on a digital display and you could be way off.

Seven segment display in particular can be a problem. There's only one segment difference between 8 and 0, 1 and 7, 5 and 6 etc.
Your experience is a bit different than mine on reading the current time. But I agree that LED-like display of digital numerals have a deficiency in legibility. Maybe it's a good time for high resolution watch like the EPD protoype from Seiko:

 

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Analog all the way for me, for I suppose purely psychological reasons.

With a digital display I always feel rushed for some reason. There's never enough time to do something, I'm frequently late (or feel as if I'm going to be) and everything's over before it starts.

An analog display however makes me feel as if there's enough time in the world :p. I mean, that seconds hand moves at the same speed as those ever changing numbers on the digi, but it feels slower, and psychological time is often what matters most (unless you're a scientist or pilot or something).

Oh, and my 24hr analog is really helpful; I truly "run by my own clock" and don't sleep regular hours. I find that this visual representation of the entire day helps plan my hours, see how long until something must be done, how much sleep I might/should/must get etc.

I recommend a 24hr analog to any nightowl/cat, "24hr person" or frequent traveller :p
 

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I like traditional analog displays, especially vintage/retro styling.

But I also REALLY REALLY like particular modern digital displays ...especially the negative digital LCD display on my Suunto Core

 

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It's good to know I'm not the only one! I wonder if this is a right-brain vs left-brain thing. Deep down, I seem to think of time intervals as pie charts. Analog displays help me 'get it' immediately -- although I have to stop and think -- and look again at my watch -- if I need to verbalize the time to answer someone.

On the other hand, I've caught myself looking at a digital watch and interpreting a number like 12:56 as being 'about half way to 1.' Probably my first reaction is to think of 56/100 -- a decimal. So I have to think a moment, and I seem to convert the digital information into an analog sense of time. I can immediately verbalize it, though.

But I got my first digital watch when I was 18. I wonder: how many of you find digital displays more intuitive, and for those who do, is that what you grew up with?
 

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I like ana-digi watches for this reason, I love the classic look of the analog hands, but I also love the practical 'exactness' of a digital readout. Best of both worlds.....
 

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The reason you can read an analog display faster than a digital, is the human brain is an analog data processor.

Digital inputs have to be converted into analog signals before they can be processed. All of this signal processing is done below the level of your conscious, when you glance at your watch you do not instantly recognized it is 8:56:58 am at you have 3 minutes, 2 seconds until your meeting starts. What you do instantly recognize is you better hurry to get the conference room (or, why bother hurrying, the conference room is three floors up and the elevators broken.)

This is the reason all aircraft flight displays are analog (although, they may be displayed on a digitally controlled screen), and many of the other instruments have the information displayed in both analog and digital format.
 
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I've always found digital displays to be quicker to read for the current time. To me, when looking at the digital display, my eyes are looking at exactly what my brain is processing, which are the numbers. On an analog display, my brain needs to interpret the position of the hands to get at the numbers. I would love to own an A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk someday (if I win the lottery!).

Having said that, I vastly prefer analog watches. Well, I like ana-digials too (have an Airwolf incoming). The only digital watch I would wear are probably G-Shocks and only when I'm swimming or playing sports or something.
 

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The reason you can read an analog display faster than a digital, is the human brain is an analog data processor.

Digital inputs have to be converted into analog signals before they can be processed. All of this signal processing is done below the level of your conscious, when you glance at your watch you do not instantly recognized it is 8:56:58 am at you have 3 minutes, 2 seconds until your meeting starts. What you do instantly recognize is you better hurry to get the conference room (or, why bother hurrying, the conference room is three floors up and the elevators broken.)

This is the reason all aircraft flight displays are analog (although, they may be displayed on a digitally controlled screen), and many of the other instruments have the information displayed in both analog and digital format.
I would think the importance for aircraft information display to be analog is more along the lines of this..

got from web

http://lists.whatwg.org/pipermail/discuss-interactiondesigners.com/2005-September/007247.html

------------------------------------------------------------------
1. They show the possible normal limits of measurement.

2. They allow operators to read rough values from the position of a
needle (still, however, precise values if needed should be provided as a
readout). This is effective in the case of a single readout, but
increasingly effective when there are multiple readouts, because
operators can easily see the single indicator that is out of place.

3. They allow operators to perceive trend information - is the value
stable, is it fluctuating about some mean value, is it trending up
slowly or quickly.
--------------------------------------------------------------
 

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I like both.

I prefer analog froman old school aesthetic perspective.

But I find it quicker and easier to read the time on a digital, because the numbers are right there n front of my eyes. The added accuracy is a bonus.

I wear a digital most days, with a big clear dispay (Gulfman).

But I really like both, I don't play favourites. I just love watches, man!
 

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I like both.

I prefer analog froman old school aesthetic perspective.

But I find it quicker and easier to read the time on a digital, because the numbers are right there n front of my eyes. The added accuracy is a bonus.

I wear a digital most days, with a big clear dispay (Gulfman).

But I really like both, I don't play favourites. I just love watches, man!
you said it! If any of you have ever seen the old classic movie "The Time Machine" well, if I could have a den like that, with clocks wall to wall all ticking away...I would!!! And a custom closet with electric cycling watch cabinets that at a push of a button would revolve until I found the watch case that had the watch I wanted to wear that day.....hehehe
 

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What do you think about analog vs digital display in their purpose for providing information (time reading)?
For me, it depends on what kind of information I want. If I just want to know the current time (in order to write it down in a logbook, for example), digital display is ideal: I just read the numbers off the display and write them down as-is, without having to think about them.

But more often, what I really want to know is the time difference between now and some significant event in the future (or sometimes in the past). With a digital display, I have to do a mental subtraction to calculate the difference. With an analog watch, for time differences of 12 hours or less, I can "see" the time difference directly on the dial in my head - it's a movement of a certain size of the minute or hour hand. So an analog display is actually better (for me) most of the time.

To some extent, the same thing is true of measuring instruments. A digital meter is better at displaying a constant voltage or current with high precision (and sometimes accuracy), but if the measured quantity is changing rapidly the display may become unreadable. An analog meter needle is much easier to read an approximate average of a changing value, as well as being able to see the rate of change at a glance. (The oscilloscope is an even better analog display for changing quantities).

There's another issue, too, that I haven't seen mentioned: At the moment, most digital displays use a particular type of LCD that has lousy contrast, particularly in poor light or from a bad angle. A passively-lit LCD of the type used in watches reflects only about 30% of the incoming light in the "white" areas, and the "black" still passes a few percent of the light, so (at the optimum viewing angle) an LCD is really dark grey on light grey - but still much darker than (for example) white paper. As your eye moves away from the optimum position, the contrast gets even worse. In dim surroundings (but not dark, so the backlight is still too dim to be useful), the numbers displayed on the LCD may be completely unreadable.

Backlit LCDs generally have good contrast, but they achieve that by using a powerful backlight that is considerably brighter than the environment (colour LCDs transmit only about 10% of the light when displaying "white"), but that's too power-hungry for a watch. Watches have to suffer with a passive LCD and a weak backlight.

In comparison, mechanical watch dials can use real white paint that reflects >90% of the incoming light, and good black paint (or some other dark colour). The result is a dial that's readable in any light where you can still read a magazine or other printed document. That's a real advantage over the typical LCD watch - even if the LCD displays the time in analog form.

This is likely to change with time. Ebook readers like the Kindle have a display with really good white while still using little power, and I'd expect LCDs to go away in the long run. But for now, "digital" mostly means LCD, and that means "works well in bright environments only".

Dave
 

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To me; it's apples and oranges, I wear my g-shock doing sports and wear my analog watches for a little dressier look(even though they are mostly sports models)
 
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