iPad vs Kindle: an E-Reader Showdown

There has been much to do over Apple's newest product, the iPad. Everywhere we look it seems like it is all anyone can talk about, its potential, its beautiful screen, and the cool new apps. One of the big features that everyone is talking about is the ability of the iPad to function as an e-reader. How well though does the iPad measure up against tried and true e-readers like the Kindle?

In order to properly test and compare the e-reading abilities of the two devices we knew that we were going to have to venture out of the comfort of our apartment. Sure, they both worked well while sitting on the couch, but how well would they handle reading in the park (a favorite activity and a good trial for beach readability)? For the sake of being as scientific as possible, we opened up both devices to the same book and as close to the same location as possible (because of the larger screen size of the iPad, there is more content on a "page").

We read and photographed the devices in the following lighting conditions: bright sunlight outdoors, partial shade outdoors, shaded outdoors, and indoors indirect light. Both devices were left to the default font and brightness settings.

After several days of iPad and a year of Kindle usage, we arrived at the following conclusions.

What the iPad does well

  • Main Menu. We like the opening menu of the iBooks app. The bookshelf looks great with our titles all lined up and it's easy to read what titles we have on our shelf at a glance.
  • Larger screen. Larger screen means more screen real estate which means less page turning even after a font size increase.
  • Page turning. To turn the page on the iPad all you need to do is tap on the screen, there are no buttons to click and the page turning animation is quick and smooth.
  • Pretty pictures. If your book has images, they look much better (as long as you are not outdoors in direct or are only partially shaded sunlight) on the iPad. Images are in color and are sharp and bright. Book covers also look better on the iPad.
  • Night reading. The iPad is able to be read in the dark or low light conditions without the need for a light. This is great for catching up on a good read while in bed and not needing to turn on the reading light.

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Even at an angle, the Kindle is easy to read.

What the Kindle does well

  • Weight. The Kindle is easy to hold in one hand (great for the subway) and does not tax your arms after an extended reading period.
  • Size. Its super thin size means it easily fits in most of our bags making it fantastic to travel with. It's perfect for those unexpected long lines.
  • Bright light. The Kindle looks great outdoors. Whether at the beach or at the park, the e-Ink display, just like the printed page, does not mind the bright direct light. No matter how bright the light was outside, there was almost zero glare.
  • Viewable from multiple angles. No matter which way we angled our device, we were still able to read it. There was no need to have it directly in front of us unlike with the iPad.
  • E-Ink is akin to the printed page. The text actually looks like its from a book, not a computer. The e-Ink display is easy on the eyes and after a few minutes of reading we forgot that we were reading from an e-reader.

In conclusion, it looks like our Kindle is not going to be usurped as our e-reader of choice by our iPad. While we love that the iPad is more than an e-reader, we do not like how difficult it is to read outside, the incredible amount of glare (even indoors, all too often all we could see was our reflection instead of the text), and the weight (one handed reading on the train is a serious no-go). Reading on the iPad also does not provide the same book-like experience as it does on the Kindle. Thanks to the e-Ink display on the Kindle we really are able to forget that we are reading on an electronic device. The e-Ink display is also much easier on the eyes and does not give us the same eyestrain that extended reading from the iPad or laptop does.

What device would we prefer to use to read a picture book to a child? The iPad. What device would we use to read a magazine? The iPad. What device would we use to read a comic book? The iPad. What device would we want to use as our go-to e-reader? The Kindle.

Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf.

[Images: Aaron Walsman & Joelle Alcaidinho]

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Tech, iPad

Joelle loves technology and making things and is in an almost perpetual state of problem solving. She's quite fond of airplanes and coffee and is pretty sure she will eventually read all of the books in her library.

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