After Hours

iPad vs Kindle: 10 reasons why only one of these gadgets is for me

One is shiny and colourful, the other matte and monochrome - but which gadget gets my vote?

The Kindle might be matte and monochrome, but silicon.com's senior reporter Natasha Lomas says she'd never swap hers, even for a shiny, colourful iPad.

A few months ago I bought a Kindle and what a joy it's been. I've not been this attached to a gadget since I persuaded my mum to buy me a pair of battery-operated walkie-talkies way back in the 1980s.

And I'm not the only Kindle convert in town. Look around you: e-readers are everywhere.

Commuter trains, that most natural habitat of shiny gizmos, are awash with Kindles - yet I see far fewer tablets.

I don't own an iPad. I don't plan to buy a tablet of any stripe. So why did I buy a Kindle and not an iPad? Here are 10 reasons why an e-reader rocks my world while a tablet leaves me cold...

Amazon Kindle

Can e-readers such as Amazon's Kindle beat tablets?Photo: Natasha Lomas/silicon.com

1. The Kindle does one thing really well

The Kindle has one clear purpose: reading. Apple's Jobs has described e-readers as 'dedicated devices' as opposed to 'general purpose devices' such as tablets, implying that specialised devices are somehow a luxury when the opposite is true. My take: tablets are the gadgets without a sense of purpose.

The iPad struggles to sell itself to me because it does not have one clear function. Sure it can do many things, including acting as an e-reader - heck, there's even a Kindle iOS app - but as the saying goes, if you're a jack of all trades, you're a master of none. Or to put it another way, if you're a gadget without a clear purpose you're going to end up languishing unloved in a drawer.

Being a dedicated device works in the Kindle's favour. It's a really great reading device. It's been designed for this, from its e-ink screen to its slender form factor to its book-friendly features - built-in dictionary, bookmarks, note-taking. If you like reading it's truly a pleasure to use.

2. The Kindle's screen is easy on the eye

Reading a lot of text on the iPad is possible but it's never pleasurable. Staring at an LED screen always gets tiring and the last thing you want to do after a hard day's work is stare at yet another screen - no matter how bright or brilliant it is. By contrast, e-ink screens are designed to be easy on the eye, reducing glare and mimicking the restful nature of the printed page. Their screens are matte not shiny, unlit not bright, monochrome not colourful.

E-ink may seem to hark back to the LCD gadgets of yesteryear but when it comes to reading I don't need flashy graphics and a palette of thousands of colours. Actually I really don't want any of that stuff. Less is definitely more when it comes to immersing yourself in a good book, which brings me to point 3...

3. The Kindle's form is tailor-made for its function

Apple makes gadgets that people want to own just to own that Apple gadget. By which I mean they're shiny, great-looking aspirational items in and of themselves. As a company Apple cares about function, but when it comes to hardware its first love is form - and that aesthetic focus can sometimes take away from function. Just look at the design of some Apple mice and keyboards over the years.

So yes, the iPad is a great-looking tablet, easily the best-looking tablet there is. But, like all Apple products, it's been designed to be...

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