Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kindle or iPad?

Several people have asked if they should purchase a Kindle or an iPad. The question really can’t be answered until I ascertain what they plan to do with the device. If you are a regular reader of this column you know that I think that the Kindle is one of the best electronic devices to come around in many years. You also know that I have praised the iPad as one of the most innovative and user friendly digital devices ever.

Unlike the iPad which is essentially an electronic Swiss army knife, the Kindle does one thing and only one thing extremely well. It is in my opinion the best eReader on the market. Priced about $150, the Kindle from is a serious reader’s dream device. It is light weight and it has awesome battery life measured in weeks not hours. The crisp black and white display uses “eInk” technology that is easily viewed in bright sunlight. It can hold thousands of full length books and most any book in the world can be downloaded in seconds into the device. The Kindle comes with software that allows you to mark and save your favorite passages and even has a dictionary to assist with words that may not be familiar. For reading text the Kindle is a near perfect device. If you want to surf the web, read magazines, play games or write the next great novel, the Kindle should not be your choice.

The iPad does most everything a desktop or lap top computer can do but it does it more elegantly and always with the user in mind. You can surf the web with ease. Watching your favorite TV show or movie can be done with a few screen touches. The number of apps, or programs for the iPad, grows almost exponentially each month. The iPad, perhaps even more than its older siblings, the iPhone and iPod, has revolutionized how we use a computer.

The iPad does indeed have several eReader apps but does not in my opinion come close to the Kindle. First of all the iPad is larger and heavier and the battery life is measured in hours. The screen, while bright and sharp, can not be viewed in bright sunlight and because it is back lighted, reading for long stretches of time can cause eye fatigue. The iPad does do a better job of displaying magazine content that uses lots of illustrations, graphs, photographs and intricate design elements. Also, if the reading material contains links to web sites and other content on the Internet, the iPad is a better choice.

The bottom line is that the devices are really very different. If you want a great eReader you can’t beat the Kindle for price and utility. If you want a mobile high end computer, the iPad should be your choice. For me having both is the best choice. You can use a Swiss army knife for occasionally tightening a loose screw. If you plan to build a deck, you may wish to have a power screw driver.

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