Kindle on iPad vs. Kindle on Kindle

After a couple of days comparing ebooks reading on the Kindle 2 and the iPad, I have come to a definitive verdict on which works better: It all depends.

First, let’s dismiss Apple’s iBook app. It looks really cook, but it isn’t all that good. The conceit of making e-books look like physical books grows old very fast, as does the page-turning effect. The in-app brightness control is nice, especially since the ambient light brightness auto-control doesn’t seem to work. And the store is thinly stocked.

The KIndle iPod app is outstanding. It basically has the same features as the Apple app, but just feels more responsive and natural, especially turning pages by swiping a finger.  It’s a very polished piece of software and there is little, if anything, I would change.

So comparing Kindles to Kindles, how does the iPad stack up against the Amazon device. It depends of what you are reading and where you are reading it. Reading straight text–a novel or a non-fiction books that doesn’t depend on illustrations, my preference is the Kindle as long as the light is good. The bigger page of the iPad is nice, but you pay for it with a device that is a lot heavier and harder to hold for long periods of time. Swiping to turn pages is natural, but the Kindle’s buttons let you move forward and back without moving your hands.

Reading on the iPad’s LCD screen isn’t bad, provided you adjust the brightness properly. In dim lighting, the iPad backlight is a tremendous advantage,  but in direct sunlight, the Kindle turns the tables; the brighter the ambient light, the better its screen looks, while the iPad’s LCD washes out. But the biggest issue with reading on the iPad is the awful glare off the polished glass. In dim light, you have to position the Kindle carefully to catch what light there is on the screen. But in anything but the dimmest light, you have to fuss with the iPad to try to minimize reflections on the screen.

Where the iPad came through as a clear winner was reading a technical book that depends heavily on illustrations, in my case, WordPress:The Visual Quick Start. This book is all but unusable on the Kindle because the screenshots that appear on nearly every page just don’t work. Furthermore, Web links in the text are live, though clicking them dumps you out of the Kindle reader to launch Safari.

The bottom line is that I really want to have both and be able to use the one best suited to the book and the situation. Fortunately, Amazon makes this simple to keep you Kindle library on both devices and even keep bookmarks and the last point read in sync. It’s not the most economical solution, but it sure does work.


20 Responses to “Kindle on iPad vs. Kindle on Kindle”

  1. Pamela Says:

    Thanks for a “real review” without any bias. I think I’ll be following your blog.

  2. Joe Pratt Says:

    I have both Kindle DX and an iPad. For me the iPad is the clear winner for $500.

    I never found the gray on gray Kindle easy to read and was no less “stressful” when reading for long periods. Also In low light have to use an auxiliary light always produced glare where I had to continually move the light to reduce glare.

    Steve is right about iBooks…..sparse at best plus if you are looking for newspapers or magazine you have to go to the Apps store to find them, not integrated like they are in the Kindle Store.

    The biggest advantage of the iPad is for newspapers (WSJ, USA Today…) are great on the iPad compared to the bori g black/white boring presentation on Kindle. The WSJ is stunning on the iPad and I will probably cancel my print edition and just use the iPad version (if only WSJ would offer customers a “package” price for print, and iPad editions that would be great but won ‘t hold my breath.

    For me iPad is clear winter compared to Kindle reading plus
    All the other features of the iPad make the Kindle a relic.

  3. richardmitnick Says:


    I have been missing you for months, did not know what happened.
    It is nice to see you here.

  4. Cheryl Snapp Conner Says:

    A very insightful review. So happy you’re still writing, and we’ll all continue to follow your columns wherever you go! 🙂

  5. diana Says:

    I’m excited to get my IPAD just for the reasons you mentioned. I LOVE my KINDLE…but I also have the KINDLE APP on my Itouch. I use that for waiting in line or when I am in the dark, but the screen is too small for me to read for very long. I will use the IPAD to read when I need the light and for magazine and newspapers, but my KINDLE will always be for my books. I read everyday on the treadmill and my KINDLE is great for that! I would worry about dropping the IPAD. Besides..there are so many more books to choose from on KINDLE.

  6. Hannah Says:

    Thank you for the comparison. I probably won’t be getting an Ipad because of the cost. I love my Kindle. I do wish it had a light feature to use, but I know that would use up the battery faster. That’s the only “con” I can think of. I love mine.

  7. Stacey Says:

    Thanks for the review. I have a kindle and love the fact that it reads like a book. My job requires me to look at a computer screen everyday, so I know the problems it can cause with your eyes, and I was afraid that the iPad would create those same problems. I think, for the time being, I’ll keep my Kindle.

  8. Steve Killips Says:

    Good to know.

  9. Chuck Clark Says:

    I’ve been a die hard Kindle user since the beginning and agree with Steve. I’ll use an iPad for the same reason Steve wrote above. Also, I can see great uses for it as a teaching aid with video, etc. I’m a bag freak and have a great bag that both Kindle and iPad will fit in when traveling.

  10. Jesper Says:

    Thanks for a great review. I mostly read novels and the Kindle is perfect for that need. I doubt I will buy an Ipad since I have my laptop and my Kindle…dont need anything else 🙂

  11. Michelle Says:

    Thank yo ufor the comparison. I didn’t even know there was an App for Kindle until last night. Which was bad, considering I went into the Apple store to see the iPad yesterday morning. When discussing it, I mentioned that I had a Kindle and my sister asked the Pod lady if I could transfer my Kindle books. She said no. So I told her I’d hate to lose my investment on over 300 Kindle books, and left.

    Wow, she missed a sale. When I got home I read my Kindle blog and found out about the app, and now I read this good comparison.

    I guess I’ll get one, but I’ll wait for a Pod lady who knows her stuff.

    • Kim Says:

      You have been totally missing out on things. I love my Kindle, but can read any book I have any time, because UNLIKE iBooks, the Kindle app works on my iphone. So I run to the grocery store and encounter a long line-no biggie because I can pull out my phone and just start reading at the place I left off.

      The only thing I wish for is the ability to clear Amazon’s Cache. Once you’ve finished a book, you are at the end. You can’t go back and re-read and use Whispersync.

  12. Pamela Thomas Says:

    Thanks for the insightful review. It is just as I would have thought. I’d love to have an ipad just because, but for my reading the Kindle DX is no doubt better. The lack of a light is a real advantage, so easy on the eyes. And for $15 I carry a mighty-brite Flex2 light for those dark occasional moments.

  13. Michael Bigger Says:

    Very believable review and well balanced. I like your comment about technical books. Thanks.

  14. Tom Madsen Says:

    Ipad seems it would be good on a couch or kicking back at home. But I like having buttons to turn pages with just my thumb. I’m reading enough standing and lugging around my breifcase that I would worry about dropping it when I’m holding and swiping on the ipad. (I have Kindle 1 and an itouch)

  15. Pat Haas Says:

    Two magazines I get in print can be had on the computer by subscription. On the computer the photograph and drawings are stunning. Better than in print because they can be enlarged.
    Would buying a computer magazine subscription work on the I-Pad? That is really the only reason I want one.
    Also, would you suggest just the WiFi or wait for the 3G version. If you get the 3G version, do you have to buy some more cell phone time.

  16. Emanuele Says:

    Amazon Kindle vs Apple iPad
    vote, comment and discover what the web thinks…

  17. Blythe Says:

    Have got an ipad with Kindle app and have a bunch of kindle files on my pc which I downloaded. Can anyone figure out how to transfer these to the ipad? from pc to kindle appears easy, as does kindle shop to ipad, but from pc to ipad I am stuck 😦 Thanks in advance

  18. kindle vs ipad Says:

    When it comes to a multimedia iPad is actually better tablet, but Kindle is definitely better for ebooks
    thanks for a great review!

  19. iphone Says:


    […]Kindle on iPad vs. Kindle on Kindle « Steve Wildstrom on Tech[…]…

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