iPad vs Kindle – no contest

The quintessential question – buy an iPad or a Kindle? – is rather glibly answered by Mark Jaquith here: buy both.

Well, that’s what you’d expect an iPad owner to say, because they are the sort that can afford to blow $500 on an oversized iPod (the new 4th generation version of which is, as even Jobs himself conceded, basically iPhone 4 without the flawed phone or exorbitant monthly expenses).

But Jaquith also makes a pretty solid case on the philosophical merits for one of the devices over the other. It’s implicit, but pretty much impossible to deny which device is superior, from this:

With the Kindle, you’re becoming absorbed in a story for an hour or more at a time. You can read in bed, right before you go to sleep, without worrying that it will rile you up. To the contrary, the Kindle relaxes you. You might even take it outside to the pool or to the hammock. Flight attendants will chastise the iPhone-using passenger next to you as the plane descends for landing; but you, the gentle Kindle user, she’ll merely touch on the shoulder and tell you with a smile to make sure your seatbelt is securely fastened.

The iPad wakes you up. BAM! Here’s the news, with pictures and video. TWEET! Here’s the torrential banality of Twitter to distract you from something (or everything) important. TWEET! Here’s the same exclamation used again because you’re paying the insanely addictive Angry Birds game. ZAP! Here’s you firing off an e-mail over your morning coffee.

I’ve never found myself struggling which to pick, much in the same way that nobody is ever torn between having tea and going sky diving. They are different devices, for different purposes. And that’s a good thing in the case of the Kindle. There is something almost drug-like about having a device that can do anything. It’s hard to turn off that ability. With the Kindle, you won’t be thinking about increasing your Fruit Ninja high score, or frantically checking and re-checking your e-mail. You’ll be in the only state that is appropriate when reading a book: completely lost in it.

And the iPad? It lets you live your soul crushing, hyper connected, vanity searching, e-mail enslaved life in any room of the house, instead of being planted in a desk chair in a darkened basement. And it has two other things going for it: it’s easy to set it down and rejoin the world, and sometimes you’ll lose it in a stack of mail for a day and be forced to do something edifying instead.

I just bought an iPod Touch 4th Gen because my kids took my 3rd Gen away from me. I intend to use it entirely for two things: Skype and Facetime with my iPhone-4-totin’ wife. For everything else, I have my blackberry – and if I really want to play Angry Birds, I can ask my kids’ permission.

6 thoughts on “iPad vs Kindle – no contest”

  1. Friend of mine just bought a Kindle. His decision between the Kindle and the iPad came down to money; he figured it’d cost about $1000 plus the recurring phone service charge for the iPad he wanted whereas he could just walk into his local Best Buy and plunk down a couple of hundred for a Kindle.

    He says he loves the Kindle; says it’s just like looking at a piece of paper.

    I haven’t fiddled with a Kindle yet. All I can say is that the wife’s iPad hasn’t yet convinced me that I need one; I think the iPad’s a bit large. I would find something between the iPhone and iPad to be much more tempting.

  2. Broke down and bought a Kindle, one of the new, small ones.

    The screen is, in fact, amazing. My wife wasn’t clear on it, though. When I handed it to her, she said “is that as bright as it goes”? Then she tried to poke it like it was a touch screen.

    Put a couple of personally-created PDFs on it. If you do them on a 3×4 page, they don’t get zoomed on the screen. However, if you tell OpenOffice to make a 3×4 page, it’ll make a 3.01×4.01 page and if you go “actual size” there’ll be a little bit of scrolling. I used Bean for one of the ones I made, and it created actual 3×4 pages, so there is no scrolling. Just another reason I’ll probably be using Bean for most of my personal text editing…

    Oh, yeah. I also tried spitting an RTF through Amazon.com’s converter. It lost my combining Unicode accents, so it’ll be PDFs for me when I need to do that sort of thing.

    I have a bunch of e-books that I bought from fictionwise.com a few years ago. Re-downloaded them in their Kindle-compatible format and shipped them over through Amazon.com’s converter. Seem to have worked find.

    I’ve also loaded up a bunch of their freebie books; stuff that’s so old it’s out of copyright. Big thing that I’ve noticed is that whoever did their Sherlock Holmes conversion botched the pound signs.

  3. Yeah, well, now it’s decision time. Poking about Amazon.com, I see a couple of Terry Pratchett novels that snuck out when I wasn’t looking. They’re available on both paper and kindle. Am I sufficiently enamoured of the Kindle that I plunk down money for the Kindle version? The wife’s going to want to read them (assuming I let her know about them); she doesn’t have a Kindle. Do I get the paper version so I can loan it to her? Or make her download the Kindle app for the iPad and have her tie it to my account so she can share my library?

    The e-books I bought from fictionwise.com were a favorite childhood SF series that is no longer available in paper, so I didn’t have to face this choice for them. Furthermore, in paper I had only managed to find some of the middle of the series; I had never found the beginning or end. Snapping them up as e-books was a no-brainer.

    I find the Kindle is *very* easy to read. Easy on the eyes, easy to grab and take with you, and easy to use. I also have about four (paper) books I’m in the middle of reading, because I keep misplacing them; make a bit of progress in one, can’t find it, but here’s another one lying around. Don’t have that problem with the Kindle because I’ve got them all right there; if I know where my Kindle is, I know where the book I’m reading is. Haven’t misplaced the Kindle (yet).

    Along with the Kindle, I ordered a leather case with a booklight. Gives it a nice feel; the texture and heft of a nice leather-bound book. The cover was definitely worth the extra expense.

  4. Been reading the snot out of the thing. It’s so convenient and easy to read, that it has me reading like a teenager again.

    Still haven’t bought any eBooks from Amazon for it, though. I’ve been crunching my way through the 44-book series I bought from fictionwise a few years ago and never got around to reading.

    It’s the Dray Prescot series. Round about 1975 or so, I stumbled across volume 8 and read through volume 16. From fictionwise, I bought volumes 1 through 44; I understand the series continued to 50something, but after 44 it was only available in German.

    I’ve read volumes 1 through 17 on the Kindle now. Just starting into volume 18.

    I still think the Kindle screen is fantastic.

    I will be buying eBooks for it from Amazon once I get throught this series.

    I’m not entirely happy with the PDF support, though. When reading a PDF file, the Kindle zooms it so it fits horizontally. In doing so, it can lose a line or two off the bottom of the page without A) telling you it’s done so or B) giving you a way to get there. You can get to those lines by going to an alternate PDF-reading mode in which you control a zoomed-in window that you can scroll around, but it’s A) annoying and B) the Kindle doesn’t remember that’s the mode you were reading in, so if you leave the document and come back in you have to once again go through the menus and put it in that mode.

    I’ve been fiddling about with PDF files for it. I’ve been amusing myself by taking evening Russian classes at the local community college. To support that, I’ve been snagging children’s stories from lib.ru and marking them up with accents (which required me to make custom keyboard layouts for both MacOS and Windows, but that’s another story). I’ve had the best luck formatting them on a 3×4 page, but I still occasionally run into the above mentioned zooming problem; Russian words tend to get long, and I’ve not found a word processor that knows how to hyphenate them.

    Of course, I’ve also not found a word processor that doesn’t occasionally get confused by combining Unicode diacritics. Open Office seems to be the worst of the lot on that score, although even Word doesn’t handle them properly.

    Seems like if I’m going to be serious about marking up Russian text with accents, I’ll have to write my own Unicode RUNOFF or something…

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