I’ve now had my iPad for just over 24 hours. One of the things I’m most curious about is how it functions as an eReader, especially in comparison to the Kindle. Since Amazon’s Kindle application is available for the iPad, I can access all of the e-books I’ve previously purchased on Amazon on the iPad. I have not yet purchased any books from Apple’s iBook store.
The iPad is noticeably heavier than the Kindle. The WiFi iPad weighs 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg) while the Kindle weighs 10.2 ounces (0.289 kg). That might seem insignificant but I can tell you that when lying in bed, holding the reader with one hand, my hand never gets tired with the Kindle but my wrist starts acting up after 10 minutes of holding the iPad. I should mention that at night, I use a clip-on light for reading with the Kindle; clearly this is not necessary with the iPad.
The Kindle’s e-Ink screen may seem dull by comparison but it’s easy on the eyes. I can read for an hour without my eyes feeling tired. I haven’t had a chance to read on the iPad for that long a period of time yet. The Kindle app on the iPad allows for 3 different color schemes – black text on a white background (which is very bright), white text on a black background (I can’t imagine anyone preferring this) and black text on a kind-of-sepia background (which is my preference so far). Like the Kindle itself, the Kindle app on iPad allows you to adjust text size – apparently one can also change the fonts using iBooks.
So here are some side by side comparisons. Right now I’m reading The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins, a business book.
(The above is a jpg from the Amazon site.)
Side by side viewing pure text, the differences are not that huge.
But this book has lots of graphs and charts and I found them almost impossible to clearly read them on the Kindle, so much so that I was thinking I might have to go out and buy the physical book despite having already spent $10 on the eBook.
I don’t know if it comes through in the photos above, but the resolution seems higher on the iPad. And reading on the iPad means you can take advantage of multi-touch and enlarge the charts or images as much as you’d like. On the Kindle, you can click on the image to “zoom” but the zoom is not adjustable and the result is usually no more legible than it was before the zoom.
This to me represents a big win for the iPad over the Kindle.
Another book I’m reading right now is Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.
This book is filled with cartoon-y graphics. They look better on the iPad.
The end result is more pleasing on the iPad although in this case, not that big a difference overall in terms of comprehensibility of the book itself.
Note that after using the iPad as a reader for awhile, when I went back to the Kindle, I forgot “where” I was and tried selecting menu items by touching the screen. Obviously reaching out and touching something is more intuitive than going through a series of button pushes. This is even more relevant when it comes to placing a bookmark by a relevant passage – with the Kindle, you can use control-B or select menu, scroll down to bookmark and then press enter; with the iPad just touch the screen once to have options appear and then touch the screen on the bookmark icon.
So overall, when it comes to pure text, the Kindle wins for me because I believe the screen is easier on the eyes and the weight is easier on the arms and wrists for long term reading. But for anything other than pure text, the Kindle app on the iPad wins hands down.
The differences are even larger when it comes to PDF files. Trying to read PDF files on the Kindle is a disaster. Reading them on the iPad is a joy, thanks to a $0.99 app called Good Reader. Unlike the PDF reader built into Dropbox, Good Reader handles massive PDF files with ease, including having the ability to search the text. The original iPhone version of this app required you to use a separate application to send PDF files to the iPhone. They’ve now updated it on both platforms and it’s a simple matter of drag and drop the files from Explorer into iTunes. And the result?
Again, you can use multi-touch to zoom the text. I didn’t even bother to load this file onto the Kindle, it would have been a waste of time – of course the graphic would have been grey instead of color and the text would have been so small as to be totally illegible and not re-sizable.
Last thing for now, a quirk with the Kindle store. Rework is $9.99 in the U.S. Kindle store and $11.99 in the international shop – a $2 surcharge is built into every title to cover the “cost” of downloading the book over 3G but this surcharge applies regardless of how you purchase the book. My Kindle is registered in the U.S. with a U.S. address and credit card, so I can access the U.S. store. But using the Kindle app over WiFi, signed into my U.S. account, Rework would have cost me $11.99. I went back to my PC, bought the book for $9.99, downloaded the file to my PC and transferred to the Kindle via USB. I then went to the iPad and the Kindle app, selected “archived items” and was able to download the book to the iPad over WiFi for free. I don’t understand why Amazon would charge that $2 surcharge for a WiFi download even if it detects via my IP address that I’m outside of the U.S.
I’ll be posting more reviews and thoughts on the iPad later on as I continue to test out other apps. I can say that last night, sitting in a bar, doing email and Twitter on the iPad was a pure joy, a seriously improved experience over doing the same tasks on the iPhone. I have encountered one minor bug so far – sometimes when I connect the iPad to my computer, iTunes thinks it’s an iPhone and tries to delete all of the iPad-specific apps from it. The first time this happened, I didn’t catch it in time (because I wasn’t expecting it). So then I had to reconnect, reinstall those apps and then go back into some of the apps and get them set up again. A minor inconvenience but an inconvenience nonetheless.