Thursday, April 15, 2010

Consumer Reports on Kindle vs iPad for E-book Reading

Consumer Reports Editor Paul Reynolds looks at how the Apple iPad compares "for e-book reading to the best dedicated e-book readers—notably, the top-selling Amazon Kindle"

Click at the left to watch the youtube video, of course.  Reynolds is joined by Web Editor Paul Eng as they 'take sides' to illustrate the pros and cons of each device.

  Their take, given near the top of the text article itself, is that "the standalone e-book reader isn't dead. The iPad is fine as an e-book device, but advantages in price, portability, and some performance attributes make the Kindle the better e-books choice for most people."

AdvantagePad - They cite:
  . Cooler navigation" of the iPad, and they like the book cover images of course.  They were "wow'd" by the iPad's virtual page turn feature (as is almost everyone) that emulates the look of paper-book page turns and lets you control the speed of the turn. Other pluses:

  . A bright color screen with beautiful rendering of color illustrations, and the backlit LCD screen allows you to read the device in the dark.

  . Easy access to multiple bookstores, including those of its main competitors.
  They add that "One possible reason Apple allowed the competition on: Because iBooks has far fewer titles than Kindle and B&N, at least for now, and they didn't want a limited library to irritate iPad owners."

  And it's been often pointed out that any iBook purchased can be read, at this point, only on the iPad, although the June upgrade to the iPhone will add the iBook app and store.  Kindle books are now readable on and can be synchronized between a number of devices these days, both mobile and desktop.

(An incorrect statement in the text article)
There is one incorrect statement in the text of the article, in that they had thought that "With a Kindle, getting an e-book from anywhere but the Kindle Store into your library involves connecting the device to a computer via USB cord and converting the title to the Kindle format."

  That's not true, as you can get books direct to the Kindle from other stores (at no added wireless cost) and you don't have to convert those to Kindle format, as they are already in the basic format used for the Kindle ('.mobi' or '.prc' formats).

  Details on how that is done can be read at the free-books article section covering direct downloads from other stores.  Direct downloads are available from sites such as Project Gutenberg with its 30,000 free classics,  Feedbooks,  Manybooks,  Fictionwise,  Baen, and other online bookstores.

 (I wrote about this to the Consumer Reports comments area but I don't know if the information will be approved for posting as it may be too detailed because I felt I should name the sites that allow direct downloads to Kindles.)

Advantage Kindle - They cite:
  . The most readable type, describing it as crisper than the iPad's.  Also, they describe the iPad background as having "a blue hue that's a bit harsher on the eyes than the brown-green tinge of the Kindle's."

  . Smaller size and weight.  The screen is described as equal to or approaching the size of pages on many paperbacks and is easily carried in a handbag while the iPad requires a briefcase or a sizeable bag.  that interested me, as it's women who generally carry handbags.

  . A lower price. The Kindle costs $259, "including unlimited 3G access to buy books wherever and whenever you want.  The iPad starts at $499, and a model with 3G access will cost you at least $629, plus monthly (though optional) 3G charges of $15 or $30 to take advantage of that capability."

The bottom line
In fairness to Consumer Reports, see this at their site.  (Let me know if you can't access it unless you're a member, but I think they do have this as a page open to non-members.
  This is a good online magazine subscription to have, as it's easily searchable  (I like it a lot better than trying to find articles in the physical magazine.) Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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  1. The article didn't even mention the battery life advantage of the Kindle (it's order of magnitude better). For me, at least, this is a big deal, since I travel a fair amount now and hate having to hunt down power outlets in airports, train stations, etc.

  2. Yes, it's a huge difference, at least for e-reading. The Kindle's battery could do better when the wireless is on and you're active with it.

    I'm still amazed to see it full after reading a lot or after a number of days.

  3. Advantage iPad--Spectacular PDF rendering via Good Reader or iAnnotate apps, access to online files/PDFs, ability to inventory and organize library, and the expectation that Apple will frequently update and improve functionality compared with Amazon---Folders ???, need I say more. As always the intended individualized use of the devices will determine your satisfaction, this cannot be seen as a simple apples to apples comparision.

  4. Not sure I know what they mean by 'brown-green tinge' of Kindle. Wonder what kind of light they were viewing it under? I find it pretty neutral under most lighting conditions.

    And the hue of the background using iBooks is just a software limitation. Other reader apps (e.g. Kindle for iPad) allow this to be adjusted, etc.

    I would like to see a tablet whose resolution is more like Kindle 2 (166DPI) or even Kindle DX (150DPI), vs 132DPT on iPad. That should improve text sharpness.

    As for iPad battery life, someone will make an external battery for it if they don't already (as they have for iPhone). Another thing to carry but at least it is an option.

  5. Tomster,
    I wondered too, but I guess that next to the blueishness (which I think is exaggerated in the photograph) it could look that way to some. Color perception is so dependent on surrounding colors.

    The screens on my two are mainly gray with a slight green tinge when the surrounding light is dimmer. A Mighty Bright clip-on at night makes the screen look like the ads, closer to a white without being a glaring white.


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