Kindle vs. iPad thoughts

This article is written from the perspective of someone looking for a portable device to read long form books. I own both a Kindle 2 and a 16GB iPad Wifi-only.  I purchased the Kindle in April 2009 and the iPad in April 2010.  In the 4 months that I’ve owned the iPad I can say with confidence that I have no intention of giving up the Kindle.  I believe any articles that are written with the idea of the iPad being a Kindle killer are written from the perspective of somebody that either (a) has never seen the Kindle e-Ink screen or (b) does not read books, at least not regularly.  If you read long form books and like the idea of carrying around a small, light-weight device the Kindle is really hard to beat.  The fact that it doesn’t do all what the iPad can do is not a negative, but rather a big plus.  If you read long form books, you are not concerned with web browsing, email or anything else while you are reading the book.  In fact, the most important thing you probably would be concerned with regarding the technology itself would be the clarity of the text and the ability to read outside in daylight.  If you’ve never seen an e-Ink display then it’s very hard to understand HOW much better it is for long reading sessions compared to a backlit LCD display, like on the iPad or your computer monitor.  Reading on the Kindle is very natural and feels very much like reading from a book with regard to the appearance of the text on the screen compared to printed text on paper.  This is something no backlit LCD display could ever duplicate.  This single point alone is justification for owning a Kindle if you want a device that allows you to carry all your books with you in a small, light-weight package.

There’s no question which device is sexier.  But I can say from experience that trying to read long form on the iPad will be difficult for many people.  The first reason has already been mentioned, the backlit LCD and therefore the increased eye fatigue.  Another reason is due specifically to the fact that the iPad is a multi-function device.  It’s very difficult to get any serious reading done when you have access to email, internet, games and whatever other apps that are waiting for you in the background.  Even worse, if you have the email notification sound turned on you will feel tempted to stop reading and check your email.  But even without notifications you still will feel the urge to take a break from reading just to browse a website.  I think the problem is that your mind can wander more when trying to read a book on the iPad due to the all that the iPad can do.  The Kindle has no such distractions and also provides for a much more pleasing display for long form reading and that’s why I recommend the Kindle for anybody looking for a portable device for reading.

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