Three Temporary Advantages of Dedicated e-Readers Like The Kindle

by Randy Murray on March 24, 2010

The iPad approacheth. Is it complete doom for dedicated e-readers like the Amazon Kindle?

Yes, but not quite yet.

There are MANY advantages of a flexible solution like the iPad, but the Kindle retains three distinct advantages. These may not be enough, and they certainly won’t remain distinctive for long, but they are still very important.

  1. Battery Life.  The Kindle will provide up to a week of reading - far beyond the iPad’s reported 10 hours.  Admittedly, the iPad is full color, a fully functioning computer in most aspects, but for reading, the Kindle has a distinct advantage. Until battery technology improves. For many, 10 hours between charges will never be a problem, but usable up time is a significant issue for all portable devices.
  2. Display. It’s unclear at the moment, but it appears that the Kindle’s use of E Ink makes for a very readable display as well as improves its power usage (see point #1). For pure reading, this may be a clear advantage. I won’t know until I’ve had extended time with the iPad. But this advantage is only one for reading long form materials. For all other uses, like watching movies, surfing the web, playing games, etc., it’s a big disadvantage.
  3. No fee 3G connectivity. Although there’s limited functionality and poor display of the web, there’s no charge for wireless connectivity for Kindle users. This is terrific for purchasing books anywhere and controlling the cost of ownership. But in a larger scope, it’s meaningless. The Kindle is designed as a “reader”, not a online device. It needs very little connectivity. Most Kindle users never use the online features, beyond accessing Wikipedia. The iPad requires either access to an open wireless network (then it’s free), or a paid 3G subscription, but it provides full online access for the web, games, and applications.

Are these reasons enough to purchase a Kindle over an iPad? Probably not. But they remain clear advantages and for some who are only interested in reading, they may be enough.

There are some distinct disadvantages that the Kindle has as well. I’ll cover them tomorrow.

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