Jan 3, 2011

iPad vs. Kindle Round 1

We've had a Kindle for a couple of years but we just got an iPad. Even though the iPad is pretty new I thought I would write up a summary of how I found reading on both devices. Prior to using the iPad for the first time I assumed the reading experience would be similar to reading on a laptop, which I find fatiguing. However the 132 pixel per inch resolution really helps, and one can safely assume the  resolution density is only going to get better. The reading experience is so good it’s worth making the comparison.  Plus I wanted to try out Clipboard Live for LiveWriter to see if I could bring in a Word table with images and formatting.*





Reading in bright light


The eInk  on the Kindle is very easy on the eyes even in bright light. It’s been raining here so I haven’t tried the iPad outside in bright light but it does have a brightness adjustment (at the expense of battery life) so it’s probably OK. The brightest indoor light poses no problems.

Reading in low light


The iPad is backlit, you can use it in the dark. You can adjust the brightness in the iBook app and turn the pages Sepia to soften the reading experience. I found reading on the iPad to be much more pleasant that I thought.  The Kindle needs a book reading light in low light.

Reading for long periods of time


The Kindle feels like holding a paperback, the iPad without some type of supporting case can fatigue the arm. The fact that the iPad is a touchscreen means you’re going to want to clean it before a long reading session. The glossy screen hasn’t been bothering me, but the finger smudges do. The Kindles uses buttons so the screen stays pristine.

Page Turning


The iPad is very fast. The Kindle delay is annoying if you use larger fonts and are turning pages often. We have a first generation Kindle and I understand that page turn times are better in the more recent models. 

Page numbering


The iPad shows you page numbers and number of pages left in the current chapter. If you change font sizes the page numbering recalculates.  The Kindle bone-headedly  eschews the concept of page numbers. 

Book options


There is a Kindle app, Google app, iBook app, whatever you want thereĆ¢€™s an app for that.  Both the Kindle and the iPad support PDFs. Only the iPad supports ePub format and reading books from multiple sources. The Kindle reads book from Amazon, you can’t download from Borders say, or transfer over your Sony books.

Instant gratification


If you are always using both devices with WiFi then it’s a tie but the Kindle comes bundled with 3G access at no additional charge. I’ve found this to be a huge advantage.





On the Kindle you can read books, on the iPad there’s an app for that. That’s not quite fair, on the Kindle you have a limited MP3 player that can play audio books or background music while you read. It also has a web browser you can use with your free 3G access, but browsing the web in black and white on a non-rescalable display is of limited usefulness, whereas web browsing on the iPad is fun.

Battery Life


We’ve only had the iPad a week so it’s getting heavy use but we drain the battery every day. You have to read a LOT to drain the Kindle battery in a week. The Kindle does lose its charge if left off and unused for an extended period of time. Normally it needs recharged so infrequently it’s easy to forget to do it.

My Unscientific Conclusions

If you’re a heavy reader and you can only afford one device, you’re probably going to want a Kindle or other dedicated book reader. The longer lasting battery is going to be critical when you don’t want to be tethered to an electrical outlet. The lower cost, the 3g connectivity and the light weight make it a great vacation device, we no longer lug a suitcase of books with us. If you don’t mind being tethered to an electrical outlet and you read a lot in the middle of the night, get the iPad.  I didn’t review color because I don’t have any books that take advantage of it. However, I’m sure if you read newspapers and magazines (or even PDFs in color) the iPad will have a significant advantage. If you can afford it, we love having both, now when we get a new book we don’t have a knock-down drag-out over who gets to read it first. Our Kindle books are on the iPad, the Kindle and the iTouch (always handy while unexpectedly standing in line somewhere or while waiting for the movie to start).  

* Clipboard Live did so-so. It required some clean up. For instance any word with an apostrophe like “there’s” showed up as “thereĆ¢€™s”.  Easy enough to fix but annoying. Some things looked wrong in Edit mode but appear to be fine in Preview mode. The worst part was the images. They got turned into jaggy versions like this


When I tried to paste them in directly I ended up with a white background and a drop shadow as you see in the table.

About Me

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Tod Gentille (@todgentille) is now a Curriculum Director for Pluralsight. He's been programming professionally since well before you were born and was a software consultant for most of his career. He's also a father, husband, drummer, and windsurfer. He wants to be a guitar player but he just hasn't got the chops for it.