iPad vs Kindle: Which Should I Get?

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“iPad or Kindle?” seems like a tough question to ask yourself. Whether you are filling out your birthday wishlist, or deciding on an anniversary gift for that special someone, you may be asking that very same question: Should I go Kindle or iPad?

Before you ask yourself why we didn’t include the Nook, we weren’t big fans of the interface, and if you want to go with the Nook Color, you’d may as well just get a tablet. The iPad and the Kindle, though, are both great devices that each serves its purpose very well.

So let’s take a look at the current top contenders for great eReader devices. Keep in mind that we aren’t going to tell you which one to get. What we are going to do is tell you about some of the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Before we go too far, know that the iPad 2 is also a device said to be around the corner. Of course, you can always wait to see what that is like, but you may be waiting for a few months before it’s available. That said, this is about the original iPad and the KIndle 3.

Kindle or iPad?

Both are great devices, and both are built with the purpose of consuming media of some form or another. In the case of the iPad, it’s books, TV shows, games and the internet. The Kindle, on the other hand, is built with one thing in mind, and that’s reading. Be it newspaper, magazine or book. It does it very well, too.

The iPad

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The Good

It does a bit of everything – The iPad really does a bit of everything. It’s like having a simple laptop sans keyboard. It’s made for browsing the internet, checking email and consuming other forms of media. That means you can watch movies on Netflix, play games, rent stuff on iTunes, buy music and so much more. Makes a great device for reading in the bed.

Backlit Screen – This means you don’t need a reading light at night. You can read without disturbing your significant other late into the night. Just prop it up on your lap and check out the latest news from your website or publication of choice.

Pinch to Zoom – While browsing the web, you can use pinch to zoom. This may not be a big deal to a 26-year-old, but it makes a world of difference to someone who’s older and has a hard time seeing smaller print. You can zoom in on that text until it even granny can read it comfortably.

Makes a Great Computer for the Non-computer User – Speaking Granny (and I love my grandma) we all know that Granny is an awesome human being. She makes the best cookies and the most awesome food. She even offers great advice, because believe it or not, she’s “been there, done that.” Now, one thing she hasn’t experienced at her age is probably a computer. Grandma doesn’t have a great time getting the “internetz” to work or getting her “email address” to open. The iPad is a great place for her to check her email and play around on that “internetz” all she wants. This thanks to the simple touch interface of the iPad. Touch is one of the most basic ways human beings interact with objects. Granny will be getting the hang of her first iPad in no time.

The Bad

You Need a Computer – This is one of the biggest bummers of any iOS device. You need a computer to get it working. That’s right. You can’t just buy an iPad and fire it up the second you take it out of the box; you have to go home and sync it to your iTunes account. That’s true no matter which model you get and there’s no way around it. Of course, once it’s synced, you no longer have to worry about connecting it to a computer again. Unless a new firmware update comes around (which does happen pretty often) or you need to recover your device for some reason. Furthermore, it’s just good habit to sync your iOS device whenever you can. If anything should happen, you always have a backup of your data. Data can often be more valuable than the device or computer itself.

It’s Heavy – If you are getting the device simply for reading, this is actually one of the major disadvantages. At 1.5 pounds for the wifi model, and 1.6 pounds for the wifi+3G, you may not think it’s a lot of weight…try reading for an hour or two holding it in your hands or over your head while lying down. Turning pages in iBooks isn’t nearly as nice as turning a page on a Kindle, and you probably aren’t going to be reading with one hand on this device.

Price – Given the features, $500 for the base model and $830 for the top-of-the-line model isn’t horrible. It’s a great user experience, and it is relatively bug-free. However, this is iPad vs Kindle. You are deciding on one or the other (for yourself or for a family member), price is almost definitely a factor. This one isn’t for the budget shopper. If your primary use is an eReader, know that the book selection is more limited unless you download several eReader Apps (It does have a free Kindle App). Also know that most magazines cost a good deal more per issue on the iPad.

Amazon Kindle

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The Good

Light-weight – This wonderful device is extremely light-weight. It’s very easy to carry anywhere you go and adds almost no bulk to your bag (even with a protective cover, which we highly recommend). This, combined with the fact that the page turn button is very well-placed, means that the device is easy to enjoy while reading with one hand. The other can be used for sipping a hot cup of cocoa or some Earl Grey.

Easy on the Eyes – The E Ink screen is extremely easy on the eyes. You can read for hours without feeling the effects of eyestrain. It’s something you may not find on the iPad. Especially those of you whose day jobs consist of spending eight hours in front of a computer monitor. Furthermore, the E Ink is great for reading outside. The iPad’s backlit screen is very difficult to see in the sunlight. The Kindle can be read perfectly. This is handy information for those vacationers who may want to do some reading while riding in the car.

Price – The price of a Kindle is much, much lower than the price of an iPad, but it varies based on the model you get. The lowest-priced model runs $139, while the most expensive model will set you back $379 (that one has a 9.7-inch display). Our recommendation is to go for the $189 model with the 6-inch screen. It has both wifi and free 3G for downloading books anywhere.

Phenomenal Battery Life – The iPad’s 10-hour battery life is pretty cool. It also has a month of standby time (of course we don’t know how much use you would get out of it if you picked it up after 29 days of being on standby without a charge). The Kindle’s battery life is et at about a month with regular use. We’ve seen it go a good deal longer than that. Again, we’ve gone at least a month with daily use.

The Bad

Reading in the Dark? – You’re going to need a reading light. The  E Ink Screen is not made for reading in the dark. Then again, you’ve alway needed a light for reading paper books, so this isn’t a drastic change in that respect. Just know that you won’t be reading in the dark.

Limited Functionality – This is not necessarily a bad thing. Some may not want anything other than a dedicated eReader, and that’s what this is. However, don’t expect yourself to be watching Netflix or playing games that go beyond simple crossword puzzle-type games. The web browsing is very limited and slow, and everything is in black and white. Still, this device is built for reading, and that’s pretty much what it does.

Amazon Control – Some people rant about Apple’s control, but we think Amazon’s control can be one of the worst. Last year, Amazon erased both George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm from their online Kindle store as well as users’ reading devices. They were literally able to delete the book remotely from people’s Kindles. It’s not totally clear what editions of the books were deleted, but users did lose their books. It seems that they have worked to fix this, and knowing that they wouldn’t want another PR nightmare like they did last year, we likely won’t see this happen again. Still, knowing that they could very well remove any book you purchase from your device does make some consumers worry. In our opinion, it’s not a huge deal. As we said, they wouldn’t want another New York Times article reporting about people’s Kindle books mysteriously disappearing en masse.


Both devices are great, and both are awesome to own. If you are looking for a full, multimedia experience, the iPad may be the best choice for you. We love the device and we are sure anybody who receives it will as well.

As for the Kindle, it’s hands-down the best dedicated eReader reader you can get. It’s competitively priced, and the interface is very simple for the majority of users. If the only thing you are hoping to be doing is reading, this is probably your device, it’s easy on the eyes and has enough battery life to last you that entire weeklong vacation you’ve so eagerly looked forward to.

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