I admit up front this is an odd question, and it won't kill me if I never get an authoritative answer, but it's been bugging me. My car's stereo has an LCD display that gives the artist's name in fairly large letters and the track title below that in smaller letters. It can only display so many letters of course, and so it has to truncate most names and titles. But it truncates text differently in its daytime and nighttime modes. Why does it do that?
The car's daytime mode shows black letters against a white background. (It's not really white, it's just... blank I guess, but I'll use white for simplicity's sake). But when it's dark outside it flips to a nighttime display mode that reverses white letters out of a black background.
I noticed this mainly because I've been listening to Donald Fagen's most recent solo record, Sunken Condos (which is really good stuff by the way - song snippets here
) in my car a lot. And I noticed that in daytime mode the LCD display truncates him to "Donald Fag." And I thought, well that's inappropriate.
But here's the odd part. When I pull into a parking garage, or something switches the display into nighttime mode, his name now truncates as "Donald Fage." Which, of course, is a brand of yogurt. Donald Fagen can't catch a break from my car. But the point is that it's not just flipping all the pixels when it switches modes. It's actually displaying text differently, showing more letters in the same space.
Why can it do that? Why couldn't it show that extra "e" in daytime mode? Is there any research to suggest that we don't need as much stroke weight for letters when they're reversed out of a dark background, and so it can make the letters narrower while maintaining readability? Basically, why would designers make the display do anything more complicated than just flipping the pixels?