I recently bought an iPad2 and a Kindle. I want to try and go paperless (or as near to it as I can). From my pre-purchase research, I learned that an iPad can’t be used as a substitute laptop because it can’t handle spreadsheets, and typing on it is a pain. So I’ll compare these 2 gadgets only as e-book reading tools.

iPad2

I live in Japan. I bought my iPad2 on AmazonJapan. I got the Wifi version, not the Wifi + 3G one as I figured I didn’t need to be online all the time. Just updating from my PC, like syncing my iPod, would be fine, I reckoned, and so far I’ve not wished I’d bought the 3G.

  1. You sync it like an iPod/iPhone, so if you’ve got either one of those gizmos, getting used to the iPad will take you all of 5 seconds (that’s how long it took my son to login to my Wifi and connect to the Internet).
  2. You can download books onto your computer then sync them on your iPad. You can also download books directly from the Internet, e.g. from iTunes, if you’re logged into a Wifi network.
  3. You need to download the iBooks app (free: just go to the iTunes App Store).
  4. There are tons of great books available in ePub format, many of them free or very cheap.
  5. You can also download/sync PDF files and read them like ePub formatted books. They don’t look quite so great and there are a few things you can’t do with PDF files (see below).
  6. iBooks app allows you to add bookmarks – the digital equivalent of turning down the corner of a page to mark your place – although the page numbering gets changed if you alter the font and/or if you simply turn the iPad sidewise.
  7. iBooks app also has a built-in dictionary. Very useful.
  8. iBooks app also allows you to highlight text (choice of colours) and to add notes to highlighted text. VERY useful, tho typing on that digital keyboard is a bit of a chore. I’ve only typed one-fingered. The keyboard isn’t really suitable for fast touch-typing.
  9. There’s also a search function.
  10. When you close /shut down your iPad, it remembers where you were and opens up at that page (and that book) when you fire it up again.
  11. iBooks app stores “books” (i.e. ePub formatted publications) and PDFs separately.
  12. You can sort the PDFs and the books by author or by title. PDFs tend to have these weird, shorthand titles, but you can edit them in iTunes before syncing them onto your iPad.
  13. You can’t add highlights or notes to the PDFs on your iPad2.
  14. I briefly tried the Internet connection –  it is faster than my home computer. I also managed to set it up to read my Outlook email, but I don’t use it for email because the iPad email software doesn’t filter out the spam, and believe it or not I get tired of reading 400+ variations on “Get Your [email protected]@ Here”.
  15. iPad has a colour screen and also has backlighting so you can read in the dark. Useful.
  16. I bought this fake-leather case for it on Amazon.
  17. I bought this protective film for the screen.

Kindle3

  1. I bought it on Amazon Japan.
  2. I bought the Wifi version, not the Wifi+3G
  3. I bought this fake-leather case for it.
  4. In Japan, you can buy any colour of Kindle you like as long as it’s black (graphite).
  5. I assumed it would come setup for use in Japan.
  6. It doesn’t.
  7. There doesn’t seem to be a Japan-version Kindle. Yet. (This Japanese blogger tells me 日本語対応新型kindleとkindle DXはamazon.comに登録しないと購入できません
    (今のところamazon.co.jpからは購入できません)
    日本語対応新型キンドルとキンドルDXの購入はこちらから
  8. There are apparently very few Japanese-language books available for Kindle, as yet. I won’t hold my breath.
  9. It’s set up to connect to your Amazon.com account. If you don’t have one, you will be prompted to create one.
  10. Your Amazon Japan account won’t work with this Kindle: you can’t login using your Amazon Japan ID, and you can’t buy books from Amazon Japan via your Kindle.
  11. So buying books on Amazon is pretty much a washout for me, as I don’t have an Amazon.com account and don’t like being forced to create one.
  12. I have an Amazon UK account. I want to be able to buy the Kindle version by connecting from my PC, then download the book to my Kindle, like I do with my iPad. But will Kindle let me do that? I can’t figure this out, and that is annoying.
  13. But you can plug it into your PC just like the iPad and drag and drop your PDFs. PDFs, but not books.
  14. Kindle has a built-in keyboard, a tiny real one, not digital like on the iPad. Well, it’s not really a “real” keyboard, it’s more like an extended punch-keypad like on your cell-phone.
  15. You can use it to search within documents, to highlight text, and to add notes.
  16. Kindle is smaller than the iPad2: it’s about the size of a paperback book. And about the same weight, so it’s lighter than the iPad2.
  17. Kindle is in b/w only, no colour.
  18. Kindle has no backlighting so no reading after lights out.

Verdict

iPad2 wins. If you want to save on weight and size, maybe get an iPad (1) which is probably closer to the Kindle in size and weight. I still want to explore the Kindle’s functions more, but playing with the iPad2 has been much more fun, I haven’t got around to it yet.