Monday, February 1, 2010

4 reasons why the Kindle is a better eReader than the iPad

We've all thought it: "Wow, this book sure is wonderful. I only wish I could turn it sideways and read it landscape style!" Thankfully, Apple unveiled the iPad last week. When the #1 reason to buy it is "It's undeniably cool," (proof) it's safe to say the device has issues:

The top-of-the-line model will run you more than $800, not to mention the $130 3G premium fee and the $30/month it will cost you to use the service. On top of that, we have the lack of multitasking, no camera, an intangible keyboard and mystery surrounding what the iPad will do to the already stretched AT&T 3G coverage. Smaller issues basically start and end with the lack of Flash. Big deal for some, not so much for others. But I digress.

What I really want to talk about is the notion that the iPad is a revolutionary eReader that will destroy Amazon's Kindle. As a Kindle owner, I find myself feeling like a parent whose child is being picked on. I need to defend the ones I love.

This is not a new feeling for me. I've long been on the outside, looking in when it comes to Apple products. I own an antiquated iPod (it plays video!) and I use a Mac at work (I hate it. It's slow on its best day and it downright crawls when I have multiple applications running, particularly iWork). That's the extent of my Appledom.

This lack of Apple fandom means some of you have already tuned me out, which is fine. You were going to get the iPad anyway, and nothing I could say will stop you. But for those of you on the fence, intrigued by the iPad's capabilities as an eReader, I have a list for you to take a gander at.

1. Battery Life

Word on the street is the iPad can give you 10 hours of life when fully charged. This sounds impressive until you consider the Kindle runs for two weeks when not connected to its (free) 3G coverage and one week if connected.

iPad: 10 hours max.
Kindle: 336 hours max.


2. Is color really worth it?

The iPad monitor looks fantastic, doesn't it? Take a look at iBooks, the app that will launch with the iPad. The virtual bookshelf is simply stunning! But then what? Words on the page will still be in black, jutting out against the white background. Nothing new there.

But wait, color and a bigger screen means a wider variety of reading material! Like cookbooks! Yes, but you know what's on every cookbook ever sold? Specks of food. Stains. Discolorations. Will you be willing to stain your beloved iPad like you would a normal cookbook? No. You'll clean your hands constantly, delaying the cooking process. This will cause you to prepare the meal ineffectively, and your already-angry spouse will divorce you for caring more about your iPad than nurturing your own loved ones. Divorce is imminent. Spouse will take half the iPad. Hope it was worth it.

3. Simplicity can be a good thing

Our attention spans are decreasing. I don't have any actual proof to link to, but I'm pretty sure that while bunnies are cute, their disregard for floral arrangements and a home's landscaping make them disposable.

See what I mean? I couldn't even hold my train of thought for an entire sentence. My point is that the Kindle does one thing, and it does it exceptionally well. Reading on it is much like reading an actual book. It's a quiet experience, free of distractions.

Mark my words: when reading books on the iPad you'll constantly encounter trigger words. For example, you might be reading Cujo. He's a big guy, huh? Then you'll wonder how big the average St. Bernard is. Ok, you're gonna head over to the Web real quick and check it out. Wow! They weigh over 200 pounds! Hey, remember Beethoven? Great movie! Boy, you sure loved that one as a kid. Know who's a completely underrated actor? Charles Grodin. Wonder what else he's been in? Go ahead and check on IMDB. It'll only take a second...

And before you know it, you've put Midnight Run in your Netflix queue and you've completely lost your reading flow.

4. iPad screen is undeniably slick, undeniably bad for reading

Ever done a day's reading on a computer monitor? Of course you have. Do you feel good afterwards? Of course you don't.

One of the greatest features of the Kindle is its e-ink. It's incredibly easy on the eyes. The lack of backlighting makes it easily readable in sunlight and outdoors, which is nice, but how gentle it is on the eyes is the real draw.

The iPad is backlit, just like the other Apple devices. It may give brain-melting migraines after prolonged exposure, but at least you can read a cookbook in total darkness! That won't be horribly depressing at ALL!

The last word:

In the end, Apple will likely win out, as it typically does. The iPad could possibly destroy Kindle and the rest of the eReaders as we know them. But this victory would be because of the strength of its brand, its loyal following and the public's love of new, undeniably cool all-in-one devices. It would not be because of its strength as an eReader.

If you're after an eReader above all else, consider the Kindle over the iPad. It's cheaper, the battery life is astounding, it has free 3G coverage and is a pure reading experience in an electronic form.

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  2. Just got a Kindle for my birthday & have read 2 books in about 5 days. It's very easy on the eyes (and it looks good, too!) and I can choose to enlarge the font size for my lame-o 54 year old eyes. I love it.