During the Gear Diary liveblog of the big Apple iPad announcement today, Joel and I both mentioned that while we love the idea of the iPad, it’s not exactly the eInk killer people are touting it to be–at least for us personally.
There is a very real possibility that people who might have once chosen the Kindle or Nook will choose the iPad for only a couple of hundred dollars more. However, we’ve got our reasons for sticking with our (now likely outdated and outclassed!) eInk devices for reading books. We also discussed how we aren’t likely to be giving up our netbooks any time soon either, no matter how junky and slow Steve Jobs thinks they are.
We decided to share our thoughts on the iPad vs. eInk and iPad vs. netbooks with our Gear Diary readers. Joel’s comments below are in normal typeface, and mine are in blue italics.
The iPad is a interesting device. I hear a lot of people saying it will replace the Kindle for them but I have to say, for me it will not. First, as nice as the iPad screen looks like it will be, it is still a backlit LCD. While the LCD display is nothing compared to the old CRT, there is still some eye strain. Bright screens can really affect you especially if you are afflicted with migraine headaches. The eInk display of the Kindle and Nook don’t have this problem. Where I need to take a break every 20-30 minutes with a LCD, I have been known to read all day on my Kindle. My eyes feel actually better than if I had tried to read paper all day. I love the eInk displays. Color ones are on the way and adding a touch screen to a color display probably isn’t far behind.
This is the number one reason why I won’t be replacing my Barnes & Noble Nook with an iPad. Ever since I started getting migraines a couple of years ago, I have extreme issues with reading for long periods on a backlit LCD device. I have been reading eBooks on devices since the freaking Handspring Visor, so it’s not my first time at the rodeo. I used to not have any problems, but now my eyes get strained very easily. The Nook has been the answer to all my prayers…I can finally read for insanely long stretches of time with absolutely no trouble with my eyes. I have read over 20 books since I got the Nook on December 8! I understand that having a backlit device is more convenient for reading–you don’t need a reading light, you can read in bed without bothering your partner, etc., but I guess unless you suffer from migraines or other eye-related issues, you don’t really understand how detrimental that backlighting can be on your vision and your head.
Finally, since eInk displays draw no current when the page is static, the battery life on these devices are not measured in hours, but in days. I am lucky if I have to plug my Kindle 2 in to charge once a week. If I turn off the 3G, I can last weeks. Try that with a iPad.
I have to admit, I was pretty impressed with the iPad claim of 10 hours of battery life. I am curious to see if the claim holds up in real-life usage, but even so it was way more than I expected. Does it beat the battery life of my Nook? No way. Plus my Nook has a removable battery, so if I really needed to get more of a charge, I could always swap out batteries. That’s not even an option on the iPad, or any other Apple device for that matter.
Don’t get me wrong. I want a iPad, but not as a eReader. I want it for the BEST portable media player experience on any device. The large screen will also make it easy to share videos with your seatmate on your next flight. I also see cases being made to attach to the headrests of your car so your kids can be entertained while you are on the way to grandmas. Plus the iPad is the PERFECT couch machine. Watching a movie and want to know who that actor is? Hit up imdb.com. Want to follow Twitter while watching a sporting event? Fire up your favorite Twitter app. The iPad is what I really want instead of a netbook in these cases.
I think the iPad will be a fabulous media device, especially if it incorporates Flash. Can you imagine watching Hulu or Netflix Instant Queue on a device like that? AWESOME. I would probably use the iPad to read books every now and again, but it definitely wouldn’t be my main reading device. What I could see myself using it for extensively is reading newspapers and magazines. I feel like they lend themselves better to the full-color, backlit form factor AND you consume them in much smaller quantities than you do books–therefore, less time spent reading on the iPad and less eyestrain. The NYT app really impressed me, even though it was a pretty simple reflow of their online articles. Wouldn’t it be cool if they even include the crossword for you to do on your iPad?
Can the iPad replace a netbook? For some, but there are those times where you need a Windows, Mac or Linux app. Those usually run just fine on my netbook.
I think that an iPad will probably suffice for just about any basic task you’d use a netbook or laptop for–surfing, writing, playing games, tweeting, chatting, etc. It is probably powerful enough under the hood to handle things like photo editing, light video editing, multi-tasking, etc. but it may be too hampered by the OS to really go there. I honestly feel like once the jailbreak community gets their hands on it, all bets are off. They could really extend the functionality of the device and make it more of a netbook replacement.
Also, where does Steve Jobs get off calling netbooks slow? Sure my Eee PC may not be a dual core laptop, but it runs just fine. I even produce podcasts with it. Sure I can get it done faster with a full-sized laptop, but I can have the smallest podcasting studio possible when using a netbook. Plus, Steve must have only tried netbooks running Vista on it. Ubuntu runs like a dream on my Eee PC. With that said, I do want for a little more power, but the Nvidia Ion-based and Pinetrail-based netbooks will all fix my needs just fine and at nearly the same price point or cheaper. So netbooks are here to stay.
I agree. I found it a little ironic that Jobs was bashing netbooks as slow and underpowered when I was streaming his keynote (thanks Leo Laporte!) and keeping track of multiple liveblogs on my netbook, which just happens to be hacked to run his Mac operating system!
As I have said before, the Dell Mini 9 is an great little netbook and runs OS X amazingly well. For me, it is just as good as anything I’ve gotten that was made in Cupertino. It may only be a single core Atom processor, but it runs anything I have thrown at it and then some. The only thing that hampers me with my netbook is screen space, and I have been known to get around that by just hooking it up to my 19 inch monitor!
I understand that making small, underpowered devices is not Apple’s MO and I appreciate that, but there is no need to rag on netbooks when the iPad is really a whole other kind of product altogether. I’m sorry Steve, but an iPhone is not a netbook, even though you keep wanting to do a direct comparison between them!
I’ll take an iPad, but I just want one because it’s got the best display of any iPod around. So I will use it more as a iPod than anything if I ever get a iPad.
I’ll take an iPad not only because it’s going to be an awesome media platform, but because it has a lot of possibility. Right now, it looks a little too much like an overgrown iPhone or iPod Touch–because that’s what it is. But it has the capability to be MORE, and I really think that we’re going to see that happen in the coming months as clever people get their hands on it (both for epic jailbreak apps and legitimate new iPad apps) and as Apple continues to develop the OS with the iPad in mind. I predict that OS 4.0 will come out before the iPad official launch and that it will make a lot of us even happier about the new device.
So what are your thoughts on the iPad? Are you putting your Kindle or Nook on eBay already? What about your netbook or your MacBook Air?