From the Kindle to the iPad?

various e-book readers. From right to left iPa...

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I have a first-generation Kindle and have written about it here before. I bought it when I was about to travel overseas and wanted the convenience of carrying lots of interesting reading without packing any books.

Things have changed pretty dramatically since then. The $400 Kindle of that day has been superseded by the $139 basic Kindle of today. And now there are other models to choose from, featuring 3G and a choice of screen sizes. For details, click here.

Kindle stills rules the world of e-Book technology. But it’s met with vigorous competition. Its greatest competition is the Apple iPad. And the main reason for that is that the iPad is so much more than an e-Book reader.

So I’ve come to the point where I’m tempted to upgrade my Kindle, or else switch over to the iPad. Now’s a good time since Kindle has improved its device, lowered the price point, and garnered my support based on a happy experience. On the other hand, Apple is about to release its iPad 2, and there are rumors of a September release of an iPad 3. (I’ve learned to wait for 2nd-generation products from Apple.) One way or the other, I feel ready to retire my original Kindle—though there’s nothing wrong with it.

If I’ve settled the question of whether to upgrade, I’m not yet settled about which upgrade to go with. I truly like the Kindle and I know I’d like the new versions even better. But what about the iPad? I’m an Apple fan who uses a Powerbook Pro, an iMac, and an iPhone. Why not an iPad, then? It’s far more versatile than a Kindle, and is nearly as compact.

Here’s the best case I can make for sticking with the Kindle and simply upgrading to its latest model:

  1. It has a more attractive price point.
  2. For reading books and documents, the Kindle is still a superior experience. It uses electronic ink technology that is easy on the eyes under all reading conditions.
  3. The iPad is no use for outdoors. The bright natural light washes out the screen. Not so for the Kindle.
  4. The Kindle is very light-weight and compact.
  5. The Kindle battery will hold a charge for an impressive length of time. Not so for the iPad.

Here’s the case for an iPad instead:

  1. For a few more dollars than it costs for the 9-inch Kindle, you get the full versatility of the iPad, with all of its countless apps.
  2. The iPad is good for reading at night, since it’s backlit.
  3. E-books on the iPad can be marked more quickly and conveniently.

Here are the reasons why I lean toward getting both, a new Kindle and the iPad (when it’s been refreshed):

  1. For most reading, I would prefer the Kindle. I do a lot of reading, and I like the convenience of being able to read while on the go. For regular reading that doesn’t require extensive note-taking and highlighting, the kindle is my first choice.
  2. For reading that requires mark-ups, the iPad seems the obvious choice.
  3. While I don’t actually need all the features of an iPad, it would be an improvement over my iPhone for on-the-go email, internet look-ups, working on presentations, etc. I might be able to leave my laptop at home when I travel.
  4. I could justify the added cost of an iPad if Dianne would be interested in using it, too.

The outlay of cash would be greater, of course. So the advantages of a dual approach have to be weighed against the combined price of a new Kindle and an iPad.

But which iPad? If iPad 2 is about to come out in the next few weeks, but an iPad 3 is slated for release as early as September, should I wait it out?

Here are some reasons to jump into the iPad with version 2:

  1. There’s really no telling for sure whether an iPad 3 will come out so soon.
  2. There’s no telling what an iPad 3 will cost if and when it’s released. The iPad 2 is supposed to be priced about like the current iPad.
  3. iPad 2 features may be perfectly adequate for my purposes.
  4. Technology becomes obsolete so quickly that waiting for the iPad 3 probably wouldn’t mean that I would be using a device with a longer shelf life if I waited and got the 3.

Maybe you can help me with this decision. Have you decided between a Kindle and an iPad? How did you make up your mind? Are you happy with your decision? Do you have both? If so, do you use both?

About Doug Geivett
University Professor; PhD in philosophy; author; conference speaker. Hobbies include motorcycling, travel, kayaking, sailing.

11 Responses to From the Kindle to the iPad?

  1. Doug Geivett says:

    Mike, how has “borrowing” your wife’s iPad worked out for you?


  2. Dan Geivett says:

    It’s a good question as to whether I woud use a Kindle in addition to my iPad. Since I don’t have any experience with a Kindle, I’m inclined to say that I probably would stick with an iPad.


  3. Mike Austin says:

    I have a Kindle, and my wife an iPad.
    I wouldn’t want to use the iPad instead of the Kindle, but I like using it in addition to the Kindle.


  4. Doug Geivett says:

    Hi Matt,

    I haven’t used my Kindle for PDFs so far, and there’s another comment here that the PDF functionality has actually improved with recent upgrades of the Kindle. It sounds like the iPad is a great device for PDF use. I use my laptop, which allows me to watch games and such while I’m doing all that other important work, like writing and editing, grading, etc.! But the laptop is heavy and heats up. The iPad would be more pleasing to use.

    Wow! These are our problems?


  5. Doug Geivett says:

    This is helpful advice, David. I didn’t know about the improvement for reading PDF files on Kindle!


  6. Doug Geivett says:

    Hi Daniel,

    I’m not surprised that you’re happy with your iPad. Suppose cash wasn’t an issue and you also had a Kindle? Do you think you would use it?

    The Macbook Air is getting a refresher about now, too.


  7. Doug Geivett says:

    Hi Annette,

    You make a great case for owning and using both. Just knowing that Tim, of all people, was begging to use your Kindle (do I exaggerate?) says a lot.

    I heard a few days ago that Amazon plans to make permanent page numbers visible in the Kindle soon. That would solve Lindsay’s problem. I’ve had the same issue. You just don’t know how to site a Kindle book in research and writing, either. But it looks like that’s about to change. That still leaves the awkwardness of marking books in Kindle, comparison with the iPad.

    I like what you said about iPad 3G. Since I have it on my iPhone, which is really where it counts the most for me, I probably could manage just fine without having it on the iPad.

    I’m just about sold on having both a Kindle and an iPad. Next question: When will the iPad 2 actually be available?


  8. Annette White says:

    I am embarrassed to say our family has TWO Kindles and TWO iPads. So obviously I have to make the case for you to get BOTH. It started out just 1 1/2 years ago when I purchased a refurbished Gen 1 Kindle for about the price of a new one today. In the meantime, Lindsay got a Gen 2 Kindle as a gift, and Tim bought an iPad and got another iPad from his employer (Apple). So, you may ask, how has all of this worked for us? When Tim and I were on a three week trip with just my Kindle, we found ourselves “fighting” over the Kindle. At one point late in trip, we had both run out of paper books to read and would wait on each other to finish reading books on the Kindle. After Tim got the iPad (which he loves), we were on a 3 day getaway and I forgot the charger for my Kindle. When the battery ran out of juice, Tim handed me his iPad. I pulled up the Kindle App, found my library, found the book I was reading, tapped on the book, and voila, it opened right to the part where I left off reading in the Kindle. I was taken aback, like “how did it know that?” But then I thought it was a great feature.

    A major downside I have found for the iPad, which you mentioned, is that it is fairly useless outdoors. Both Tim and I were reading outside, I with my Kindle, he with his iPad, and suddenly he got a warning window on his iPad that it was overheating. He had to go inside while I could continue reading outside with my Kindle. I love to read outdoors, so Kindle is better for me. Tim loves his iPad for all the other things it does as well as the ereader, and CAN take a short trip without his computer. And now we don’t have to wait on each other to read something.

    I do not the like the fact that I cannot share a book with someone else after I have read it on the Kindle. I hear you can give ebooks to others, but I haven’t done that yet. But can you give ebooks to others from your own library? Lindsay was hoping to use her Kindle more as an upper division English major, considering the countless novels and literature she has to read. But after the first semester, she found it was unworkable. When the teacher was discussing a work in class (which they do often in English classes) they would refer to page numbers and she was fumbling around looking for the “location” on her Kindle. But she loves the fact she can have all the Harry Potter books on her Kindle. Also, before she gave up on the Kindle for school, she loved having her classwork books electronically because when she had some downtime in between classes or at work, she could simply pull up the book on the Kindle App on her iPhone and read for a few minutes.

    I am not sure if our experiences have made a good case for you to get both, but if Dianne does not have an ereader and would like to start using one, it would be great to have both. I do not know anything about what features will be on the new versions of the iPads. I suppose you would have to consider if you would use the new features before deciding which to purchase. Neither of Tim’s iPads are 3G, they have to be within a wireless network, which he is in a lot of the time anyway, so that has not been an issue for him.

    Good luck, and keep us posted on what you decide!


  9. Dan Geivett says:

    Hi Doug,
    Let me start by saying that I love all of these technological gadgets and I would buy both if finances were not a consideration. Now that you know that I’m a sucker for a pretty gadget, I have to tell you that I bought an iPad. I originally wanted a Kindle for all of the conveniences that you described. After much deliberation and some incorrect information, I requested a Sony eReader for my birthday in December. However, once I began to use it, I quickly determined that it was not going to do what I had been lead to believe, which was load and read variously formatted texts. So, after a couple of trips to the Apple store, I bought an iPad and I couldn’t be happier. I, too, have some Apple products and have found the customer service to be nothing short of world class. Since buying the iPad, I have been pleasantly surprised at its versatility and usability. I know that it isn’t good outdoors, but I have never found that to be an impediment. I still use my Macbook Pro, but not nearly as much as before. The iPad is a lightweight and I find is useful for meetings, reading, music, and Internet. I was going to get one for my wife, but then I saw that the new version is due out in March or April. So, I’m going to wait to get the next one.
    In the meantime, I am contemplating my next target, an iMac, Mackbook Pro, or Macbook Air!


  10. David Parker says:

    I upgraded my original Kindle a few months ago, and have been impressed at how much faster the pages turn. The electronic ink display looks more crisp and sharp. The ability to organize your books into Collections is very useful for organization.

    One note about PDF documents if you’re accustomed to the original model: you will no longer need to convert them to a Kindle format (the conversion happened when you emailed the document to your Kindle email address). Instead, there is a buit-in PDF viewer. Generally speaking, this is a great feature; however, sometimes the font size is very small because of the margins in the PDF document.

    Also, since the files aren’t converted to text, you can’t do text-searches on your PDF documents. For most people, this wouldn’t be much of a setback. I suppose it depends on how often you read PDF documents on your Kindle.

    That’s all that comes to mind now. I would definitely recommend upgrading. I sold my original Kindle on Ebay for 35$.



  11. Matt Jordan says:

    Hi Doug,

    Back in September, I received some technology funds from my employer. I used some of the money to buy a Kindle, but after a few days decided to return the Kindle and wipe out my account by buying an iPad instead. I’ve loved it and have never regretted my decision.

    The most important consideration for me is one you didn’t mention: I read a lot of pdfs, and wanted to be able to access them without printing them out or sitting down in front of a computer. I was surprised to discover what a poor pdf reader the Kindle is. The iPad, however, is fantastic for this purpose.

    The other work-related task that the iPad has made easier is grading online discussion forums. I use these a lot in my teaching, and it’s so nice to be able to sit in a chair in the living room (usually with a football game or something on TV) and skim through them instead of retiring to my office and logging onto the computer.

    A last thought: I don’t know how, precisely, to craft this point into an argument in the iPad’s favor, but it seems worth noting that my wife–who is not a “gadget person” in the slightest–loves the iPad too. It’s just a wonderful machine.

    Besides, you can keep your old Kindle, right? I say, hang onto that (it’s much more lightweight, which is nice, and as you note it works well outside) and add an iPad 2 to your arsenal.


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