Why iPad owners need a Kindle, too

Mike Elgan
18 May, 2010
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When I first opened Winnie-the-Pooh on my iPad’s iBooks app, my first thought was: “Oh, man. The Amazon Kindle is in trouble.” My second thought was to sell my Kindle. This impulse was strengthened after I installed the Kindle app on my iPad, which gave me access to all of my Kindle books.

But now that I’ve used an iPad for a month and a half, I’ve come to realise that I still want, need and love my Kindle.

In a nutshell, the e-book reading on the iPad is generally great. But the list of things the iPad does badly is identical to the list of things the Kindle does well. And vice versa.

Here are 10 reasons why I think every reader who owns an iPad also needs a Kindle:

1. Reading in the sun

Most active readers enjoy reading in bright light or even direct sunlight. The iPad is unreadable in direct sunlight, but the Kindle works best in the sun.

2. Overheating

For a tablet computer, one of the iPad’s many charms is that it’s totally silent. It has no fan. However, in direct sunlight, in a hot car or in hot weather, an iPad can overheat and shut down. The Kindle is more heat-friendly.

3. Security

The iPad is a tempting target for thieves. If you’re going to do some reading at, say, the beach, the Kindle is vastly superior, not only because of the way it performs in sunlight and heat, but also because it’s less likely to be stolen. If you intend to tuck your reading device under a towel and take a dip in the water, well, you’re just not going to do that with your shiny new iPad, are you?

4. Reading before sleep

It turns out that reading on or using any device with a back-lit screen can interfere with the quality of your sleep. The iPad has a very bright screen (Apple wisely built a screen dimmer slider bar right into the iBook interface). But the Kindle screen is passive, meaning that it merely reflects light. So if you’re like a lot of people who read in bed before sleep, reading on a Kindle will probably help you sleep better.

5. Battery life

The iPad is famous for long battery life. I personally get about 12 hours of active use. But the Kindle battery lasts two weeks! If you’re travelling, camping or flying long distances, or if you find yourself in any situation where you’re going to be away from an electrical outlet for more than 12 hours, you can do your reading on a Kindle and save your iPad’s battery for other things.

6. Book availability

If you’re a serious reader, you’re going to need an Amazon Kindle account anyway. This isn’t a strong argument in favour of owning Kindle hardware, since you can read Kindle books on the iPad app. But you can’t get by with the iBooks store alone. Since I bought my iPad, none of the non-classic books I’ve tried to purchase have been available on iBooks — but they have been available on Amazon.

7. Weight

The iPad weighs about a pound and a half. That’s a little on the heavy side for long reading sessions where you’re holding up the device. The Kindle, on the other hand, weighs only 10.2 ounces.

8. Multiple users

I’ll tell you what every iPad owner already knows: Everyone wants to “borrow” your iPad (especially kids). So forget about using it to do some reading when you have family or friends around. Nobody will leave you alone. If you have both devices, you can hand over your iPad and read on your Kindle.

9. Peace

The iPad is still a huge novelty. When I’m using it at Starbucks or some other public place, I’m constantly interrupted by people who want to check it out and hear what I think about it (I’ve calculated the average to be one interruption every 15 minutes). If you’re just there to read, nobody will interrupt you if you’re using a Kindle.

10. Auto-reader

The Kindle has a computer voice that reads books, magazines and newspapers to you. Some people find it annoying. But some of us find it quite usable. If I’m in the middle of a great book and have to do something around the house, I’ll just plug my Kindle into the speaker system and let the computer voice read to me.

If I had to choose between an iPad and a Kindle, there is no question that I’d choose an iPad. But I don’t have to choose. I can have it all. And I recommend that all serious readers who buy an iPad do the same.

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