This past Saturday, Apple started selling their WiFi version of the iPad, describe by others as being akin to a large iPhone minus the phone. Along with it came an astounding degree of vitriol, messages pronouncing an upcoming period of doom and gloom, all intermixed with declarations promoting Steve Jobs to sainthood. Then came the inevitable comparisons between it and Amazon’s Kindle, the pros, the cons, why you should buy one and not the other, and why you’re foolish if you don’t follow what they say.
Let me be blunt. Don’t listen to any of them.
But, come on, you want to know. Is the iPad going to change the world? The simple answer? Nobody knows, and don’t believe those who say they do. Because the only certainty involved with predicting the future is this: Eventually, you’re going to be wrong.
So which, if any, should you buy? If you have money to burn, the answer is easy: Both!
While there is overlap in functionality, such as the ability to read e-books from Amazon.com, each has strengths that simply aren’t met by the other. For example, the Kindle excels when it comes to reading in broad daylight, at the park, or outdoor seating at a coffee shop. There’s absolutely no glare from any angle, and unlike the iPad, reading improves with more ambient light. Not to mention, the Kindle also works well in dim lighting, but because it does not emit any light of it’s own, it will not operate in the dark.
The Kindle also comes with free 3G wireless access. Get that? FREE. Granted the browser it comes with is severely limited, but in a crunch, it can call up information from nearly anywhere on the planet, for free. To get wireless access in the iPad, you’ll either need a WiFi connection, or a paid 3G subscription.
And when it comes to reading, the Kindle does this job very well. It’s very light, as opposed to the 1.5 pound iPad, and it can be easily held with one hand for extended periods of time. Which makes it great for reading on the beach, lying down, you know, relaxing. And, it helps that the Kindle has access to more premium ebooks than any other ebook store on the planet. Which is important if you want to maximize your chances of getting the latest book from your favorite author.
For those who are traveling, these days it helps to pack light. The Kindle wins in this department – with the ability keep it’s charge for two weeks or longer with 3G turned off, one could read several novels over a vacation without worrying about bringing along the USB charging cable. Yes, the iPad’s 10 hour battery life is impressive, but most good reads take substantially longer!
Having said all that, the iPad is an extraordinary and beautiful machine. To deny that is to deny the obvious. It’s speedy and responsive, well featured, it has an excellent battery, there are many applications and games ready for it, and it’s a cinch to use. So much so it makes one wonder why computers in general aren’t as simple to utilize. The screen is gorgeous and the interface is very intuitive, it plays HD movies with a breeze, it makes full-page web browsing portable, and you can watch streaming Netflix movies from just about anywhere. Seriously – what’s not to like?
Oh, and have you checked out the games on the iPad? One word: WOW (and by that, I don’ t mean, World of Warcraft). Just do a search for “iPad games” on YouTube if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
Yes, the iPad does also work as an ebook reader, but that’s not it’s strength. Instead, it’s strength is in practically everything else. While it can double as an ebook reader, I wouldn’t use it as a primary one, just as I wouldn’t use my laptop or desktop computer as one. It’s simply not as light and easy to read in daylight. But that’s where the Kindle shines. It’s an awesome ebook reader, perhaps the best around today. But it doesn’t do much else.
Does this mean you should get one vs. the other? Well, I hope it’s obvious from this article that a comparison between the two is like comparing mangos to kiwis – the attempt makes no sense. You’ll have to figure how what your priorities are, how much extra money you have lying around, and spend appropriately. What I wouldn’t do is listen to those who openly mock one device or the other with arguments that don’t relate at all to what these devices can do for you, as only you know that answer to that.
After all, that’s what’s important, right?