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New iPad vs Kindle – Which is the Best eBook Reader?

Page Turning: Fancy a Bout of RSI?
New iPad – touchscreen only
Kindle – physical page buttons

The iPad is a convergence device. The Kindle isn’t. It can do a few things, but most revolve around reading, whether it’s a novel, a text book or an email. As such, its design is completely geared towards that.

A pair of page turn buttons sits at either side of the screen, resting under your thumb in a way that’s comfortable enough to provoke a deep, satisfied sigh. Only the slightest movement is needed to turn pages, forward or back. There’s no touchscreen – like the Kindle Fire, the touch-enabled model is only available in the US.
Kindle buttons
The page turn buttons of the Kindle 3 and 2011 Kindle

As a much more generalist device, the iPad has no physical page turn controls, relying entirely on the touchscreen. It’s a great screen, but demands more movement to get those pages a-turning. The exact gesture – tap or swipe – needed will depend on which app you use, but most opt for swiping and a swish book-apeing animation. Fancy pants indeed.

Software: How many book stores do you want?
New iPad – iOS – loads of book stores
Kindle – Kindle book store, easier file transfer

The Kindle book store is the best ebook shop we’ve used. It’s not simply the selection that matters, it’s the neat way you can fling books over to your Kindle using Whispernet – Amazon’s wireless ebook transferral system.

Or course, Amazon isn’t silly enough to freeze out the tens of million of iOS users, and a Kindle store app has been available on the platform since 2009. iPad owners can also use reams of other book stores too, including Apple’s nifty iBooks, Kobo and others. The App Store makes the iPad far more versatile in this regard.

For those who already have an ebook library, though, the Kindle has an ace to play. You can drag and drop files to its internal memory, where with an iPad you have to transfer them as documents related to a specific app through iTunes. It’s the Apple way, and is no worry if you’re planning on downloading books direct, but is sure to irk some.

The new iPad will make a much better ebook reader than the iPad 2. Such smooth text is worth that 50g pay-off in weight. However, if you want something to read on that you can comfortably hold in one hand on the way to work every day, it’s not a patch on the Kindle. The benefits of its lightweight frame and fab page turn buttons are just too good to forget.

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