OK, maybe that title is a little harsh.
Perhaps a better title would be “When someone tells you they love their iPad because it functions as an eBook reader, you should be a little suspect of their claims, because they’re starting to sound like a fan-boy, simply parroting the ad-copy dreamed up in Cupertino, and have probably never actually tried to read a book on the device.”
Somehow, that seemed a bit wordy.
I’ve read a lot of iPad reviews that herald the iPad as the greatest thing since the invention of the internet. “OMG, it can play movies, it can check email, it can be a book reader, it even changes the oil in my car and picks my kids up from school! I kid you not!”
The iPad is certainly a fun little toy, but lets be honest here – it’s a device for casual internet surfing and watching movies. For that, it beats the Kindle hands-down. No contest. The iPad may have an “eBook reader” built-in, but so does the computer you’re sitting in front of right now. It’s called “displaying text on the screen,” and it’s nothing new. For actually reading books, the iPad sucks.
- First, the screen is a backlit LCD, which causes eyestrain in most people. Sure, you can read a few pages of a book no problem, but read more than a dozen pages and you’ll start feeling a little bit queasy. Contrast this with a dedicated eBook reader like the Amazon Kindle or Nook – each of those uses an “e-Ink” display screen that is pretty much just like reading off of paper.
- Glare – The iPad comes with a sleek glass screen that is highly reflective. So unless you like staring at your own reflection more than you enjoy comprehending the content of your book, the iPad isn’t ideal.
- Weight – I like reading in bed, and the iPad is just too heavy.
- Ergonomics – How are people who claim that they read books on their iPad holding this thing? Please tell me, because I can’t figure it out.
- Battery life – Maybe not a big deal if you don’t mind plugging the thing in every 6 hours or so, but if you’re doing any extended reading, the Kindle’s week or two long battery life is nice.
For these reasons, I seriously doubt the veracity of any report that holds the iPad up as an excellent eBook reader. When someone says that the iPad is great because it contains a book reader, it’s like saying that you prefer not to have a home stereo system because your car already has one built-in.
To paraphrase Jeff Bezos, “Reading is important. It deserves a dedicated device.”
I’m not saying that the iPad sucks. On the contrary, I think it’s pretty cool. I can see where it’d be useful for travel, as long as you don’t have to type too much. And I can see how it’d be useful for sitting on the couch and browsing Facebook, or even watching a movie on a plane. But it’s no replacement for a dedicated eBook reader, and anyone who says that it is probably doesn’t read all that much.