Best eReader? iPad vs. Kindle?

So, recently I was asked by a friend what would make the best e-reader – the Kindle or the iPad.  It’s a great question.  I think it boils down to five key issues.  I’ve listed them below (and made them all start with “P” – isn’t that cool?).

Before I start, let me throw out my disclaimer…  I own the latest Kindle.  And, I absolutely love it.  And, I don’t own an iPad.  So, while I think my thoughts about the two as e-readers are accurate, realize that I have some obvious bias.

Now, with that out of the way, here are the five issues I think anyone should consider when buying an e-reader:

iPad vs. Kindle - which e-reader is the best?

PURPOSE?

The first and most important question is “What is your purpose?”  Are you looking to read books?  read Magazines?  read a little bit and surf the web a little bit?  Your purpose matters a great deal.

In my opinion if you purpose is to read book, then without any doubt, I would recommend the Kindle.  It is simply a better format to read from.  The “e-ink” technology it uses on the screen is MUCH easier to read than the computer-like back-lit display that the iPad uses.  Simply put, I couldn’t imagine truly reading on the iPad for 20-30 minutes straight.  The eye strain would simply do me in.  However, if I want to be able to surf the web, watch a quick video while I read, etc., then the iPad is the only choice.

For true, simple reading, I think the Kindle is the platform of choice.

PLACE?

By place, I am thinking of the location and time you will be reading.  And, once again, this boils down to the way the two devices display the text.  If you are reading in a dark environment or at night in bed without lights turned on, then the iPad is the only choice (although eye strain is still a consideration – see above).  The Kindle simply cannot be seen with out the lights turned on.  Obviously, there are third party lights available, but the fact remains that without assistance the Kindle can’t be red when it is dark.

However, if you want to read outside, in bright light, by the pool or beach, etc.  Then the Kindle is the only choice.  Bright, direct light (especially sunlight) makes the iPad unreadable.  If you have a laptop, try taking it outside and working on it in bright sunlight.  You can’t read the screen.  The same is true for the iPad.  It simply can’t be red in bright sunlight.

So, your LOCATION and your LIGHTING will affect your choice.  No clear winner here – it simply depends on where you want to read.

POWER?

This relates to battery life.  While the iPad boasts an impressive battery lie of “up to ten hours”.  The Kindle can easily go for ten DAYS (yeah, days).  So, you could easily fly from New York to Los Angeles and not have to charge your iPad.  But, you could travel around the world and not have to charge your Kindle.

While Kindle is the clear winner on batter life, the question has to be asked: how important is it for a battery to last for days and days?  Is it a burden to have to recharge the ipad every day or so?

PORTABILITY?

For portability, I am thinking about size and weight.  And, while the iPad is small and light (9.56″ x 7.47″ x 0.5″ and weighing only 1.5 pounds), the Kindle is even smaller (7.5″ x 4.8″ x 0.335″ and weighing only 8.5 ounces).

If your desire is to get the smallest and lightest device possible, the Kindle is the solution.

But, once again, the question is how much does this matter.  And, more importantly, is the bigger iPad better.  Does the bigger screen make reading easier.  The answer is yes, but…

Yes, a bigger screen is typically easier to read.  But, the backlit led screen is just not that easy to read for an extended period of time when compared to the Kindle.

PRICE?

This issue is pretty simple.  The cheapest Kindle (wi-fi only) is $139.  The cheapest iPad  is $499.  That’s a $360 difference!

PICK?

For pick, I am thinking about the selection of books available to read.

While there is no doubt that Amazon has a huge selection of books available for the Kindle, all of these are also available for the iPad (via the Kindle app on the iPad).  Plus there are many other options for the iPad – Apple’s bookstore, other epub formats, etc.

If you what you want is the largest selection, then the iPad is the choice.  Thanks to the Kindle app, there is nothing you can read on the Kindle that you can’t read on the iPad.  And, there are many books available for the iPad that aren’t available for the Kindle.

    Anna says:
    03/25/2011 Reply

    Thanks Eric! So what you’re saying is that I want the ipad, but I really only need the Kindle. 🙂

    You don’t mention library books … which won’t play on the kindle.

    BTW … way to illiterate … going back to your roots!

    Jeffrey says:
    05/07/2012 Reply

    Thanks for writing this article covering the apple ipad. I just bought an i pad and I’m researching about the different things I can do with it. I will bookmark http://www.designedbyeh.com/productivity/best-ereader-ipad-vs-kindle/ after this read for my buddies will read this also!

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