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.