The Kindle, iPad, and E-Reading

Unless you spent yesterday under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Apple’s new iProduct, the iPad. In fact, at least one of the resident cranks over at Slate thought that maybe Obama had made a bad decision to give the State of the Union on the same day as Steve Job’s product announcement. Even Obama couldn’t compete.

It had also been pretty clear that Apple either had to announce some kind of tablet, or it was going to let everyone down — similar to our collective dissatisfaction over the  flying cars and jet packs we were promised.

It’s clear that the iPad is being positioned as an e-reader, and Apple is even adding an online bookstore to iTunes. I don’t know much about the details yet, but my first reaction to this news was a slight twinge of buyer’s remorse. You see, I got a Kindle for my birthday last week, and I worried that maybe I’d bought too soon.

But then I thought better. As Engadget points out, there’s still a huge price difference between the two machines. I’ve learned better than to drop $499+ on an Apple product before they shake out the kinks. But more important, I really like the Kindle, and what I like about the Kindle is something that the iPad can’t do: the Kindle uses e-ink. That means that when you read on a Kindle, you’re not looking at light; you’re seeing particles arranged to produce a sharp, crisp text. Looking at a computer screen, on the other hand, is like staring into a lamp.

Why does this matter? Well, it’s partly because I already spend a lot of my time every day looking at screens. But it’s also that I tend to read for pleasure at night, before I go to sleep, and some research suggests that looking at a screen at night might throw off healthy sleep patterns. So, I think I’ll hold on to the Kindle.

That said, there may be an iPad in my (relatively distant) future. I’m already thinking about the potential for grading student essays on one, or having my entire PDF collection handy (yes, the Kindle will display PDFs, but not especially well on the 6″ version). And though it lacks a keyboard (which might be a deal-breaker) the iPad looks like a step in a good direction, and that’s toward computers that are more like appliances than, well, computers.


One thought on “The Kindle, iPad, and E-Reading

  1. Apparently I spent yesterday under a rock, so thanks for the revelation.

    And, as a probable someday Kindle-owner (hoping to hold out for a version that is kind to those who read in bathtubs, but will likely give up), am grateful for the happy review. My real holdout is for a version that I could read and respond to student papers on, but I don’t think they’re there yet. And yes, a little mini-computer could do that, but they don’t have that handy e-ink feature.

    Also, sleep is good. Kudos for considering it.


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