Kindle DX vs iPad Review

This Kindle DX vs iPad review compares the Kindle DX and the iPad as reading devices. It focuses solely on the reading experience.

If you don’t read much or want a multi-purpose device then please pick an iPad.

Kindle DX vs iPad Review – Areas the iPad wins

The iPad clearly wins some areas -

  1. A very high quality screen with brilliant color – this makes the iPad much prettier. If visual and aesthetic appeal are crucial to you then get an iPad.
  2. The Touchscreen of the iPad makes it very convenient to use when browsing through ebook stores, when taking notes, and in certain other situations. For actual reading itself the convenience of the iPad is the same as that of the Kindle DX.
  3. Use any reading app and thus access Kindle Store, B&N store, and other stores all from one device.
  4. You can buy an app that reads PDFs well.
  5. It’s accessible. Everything (menu, interface) is read out.
  6. There is Text to Speech although it’s not really good text to speech. You can buy an app that reads free public domain books to you if Voiceover doesn’t work well enough for you.
  7. A markedly better browser. 
  8. Backlight and ability to vary screen brightness.

iPad holds some important advantages over the Kindle DX – color, touch, access to every ebook store, accessibility, backlight.

Additional iPad advantages

The iPad also beats the Kindle DX in certain other areas -

  1. It does more than just read. In fact, there are over 5,000 iPad apps and 200,000 iPhone apps that can be used although they don’t work that well on iPad.
  2. Since it does more than just read the iPad might represent more value for money if you want a device that does things in addition to reading.
  3. iPad is a status indicator – which may or may not hold significance for you.
  4. ePub access via iBooks.
  5. Apps like Stanza that provide a lot of customization.
  6. Wireless access is included in the data plan or in your WiFi access cost. WiFi is faster than 3G. You do pay for the plan.
  7. Larger memory – the cheapest iPad model has 16 GB which is much more than the Kindle DX’s 4 GB.
  8. Lots of reference apps like dictionary and thesaurus.
  9. Animated page turns on most apps.
  10. Quickly jump to any spot on the page.
  11. Some iPad reading apps have page numbers.

It’s amazing to see the proportion of iPad advantages that stem from the app store. It certainly shows the power of the app store model – power that the Kindle DX might be able to harness itself when Amazon releases the Kindle App Store (the program is currently in Beta – has been since February).

The role of Kindle for iPad

It would be remiss to neglect mentioning that Kindle for iPad provides a lot of benefits to the iPad -

  1. Kindle Store has the best selection of new books. Kindle for iPad means you can access these through the iPad.
  2. Kindle Store has 20 or more new free book offers every month. Kindle for iPad gets you these offers on the iPad.
  3. Kindle Store has the cheapest prices.
  4. Kindle for iPad has some of the best themes and arguably the best font.
  5. Kindle for iPad is very easy to use and designed to focus on reading – something most serious readers will love.

Getting Kindle for iPad is yet another benefit of the App Store model. Without it the iPad would not compare as well against the Kindle DX as it currently does.

Kindle DX vs iPad Review – Areas the Kindle DX wins

The Kindle DX holds some powerful advantages of its own –  

  1. eInk is great for reading. It has higher pixel density and is easier on the eyes. For a large section of people reading on LCD screens for longer than 20-30 minutes causes significant eye-strain – for them LCD screen eReaders are pretty much ruled out. This may or may not apply to you.
  2. You get a Focus on reading and a device that is optimized for reading.
  3. A lack of distractions – on the iPad it’s easy to get side-tracked by email and apps and games and surfing the Internet. With the Kindle DX reading is the only thing it does well.
  4. You get a good reading software and the best eBook Store on the device and you don’t have to keep switching between different apps.
  5. Readability in sunlight and next to no glare when there are bright lights or sunshine.
  6. Amazon promotes cheaper $9.99 prices while Apple promotes $14.99/$12.99 prices and the Agency Model.
  7. Free Internet access – although with a very basic browser. Free store browsing and downloads in over 100 countries (If your home country is US – free Internet too).
  8. Better International Availability and Service – Available in 150+ countries, Whispernet in 100+ countries, free downloads in all WhisperNet countries, and so forth.
  9. The Kindle platform and service – Apps for iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac, Blackberry, and soon Android. Sync last page read, highlights, and notes across all your devices.
  10. Ridiculously good battery life – 1 week with wireless on (more like 4-5 days) and 2 weeks with wireless off.

Kindle DX holds some strong advantages over iPad – eInk, focus on reading, readability in sunlight, free Internet and store access in 100+ countries (for US owners), the Kindle platform and service, and great battery life.

Additional Kindle DX advantages

These are also some Kindle DX advantages that you might find appealing –  

  1. Lower price for a device with 3G access ($489) as compared to the iPad 3G which retails for $629. Plus you might not have to pay sales tax on a Kindle DX purchase in your state.
  2. Lower weight than the iPad (18.9 ounces compared to 1.5 pounds) although one-handed reading is still uncomfortable.
  3. Physical keyboard although putting number keys on same row as qwerty messes it up.
  4. Less effort on page turns.
  5. Easier to understand.
  6. The Text to Speech works in a much more intuitive way than on the iPad. iPad is basically pretending its accessibility feature is a Text to Speech feature. If you need accessibility – go with the iPad. If you want a good Text to Speech service – Consider the Kindle DX first.

The Kindle DX is a very good reading device. If you want a device primarily for reading then this is the device for you. It, however, doesn’t make much sense if you read less than a book a month.

Kindle DX vs iPad Review – What makes a good eReader

This What makes a good eReader? post is the one my eReader reviews are usually based on. Looking at the criteria of this post (please do note that it only covers reading) we can compare the Kindle DX and the iPad more extensively. 

Indispensable eReader Functions

  1. Being able to get books – A tie. Kindle Store is the best store and it’s on the Kindle DX. iPad has various stores but your books are distributed between apps which is an inconvenience.
  2. Being able to read books – Kindle DX wins. It has a more readable screen, a better battery life, and it disappears and there are no distractions.  

Kindle DX holds the advantage.

Hugely Important eReader Functions 

  1. Screen Quality and Size – Since it’s ‘screen quality for reading’ the Kindle DX’s eInk screen wins. It has better readability and is not affected by bright light or sunshine.
  2. Ease of Use – This is a tough one. The iPad probably gets the edge because of the Touch Screen.
  3. Portability – The Kindle DX is lighter and has better battery life. Kindle DX wins.
  4. Reference – A tie as both have access to the Internet and Wikipedia.
  5. Search – A tie.
  6. Content Rights and Content Portability – iPad wins as it has apps from most major stores and supports ePub.
  7. Annotations – iPad has touch while Kindle has syncing across devices. Perhaps the iPad is a little better.
  8. Changeable Font sizes – With the newer font sizes promised in Kindle 2.5 this becomes a tie.
  9. AudioBooks – You can get pretty good apps for the iPad. Kindle audiobook support is pretty good. A tie.
  10. Easy to Use Store – A tie as both have the Kindle Store. Browsing Kindle Store in Safari on the iPad is probably a tiny bit better but the lack of tabs and having to leave and re-enter the app negates that advantage.
  11. One Handed Use – Kindle DX is slightly less worse.
  12. Time and Date – Tie.
  13. Language Support – iPad wins as it has lots of apps which add lots of features like support for hyphenation (Stanza).

The iPad wins in 4 areas while the Kindle DX wins in 3.

Nice to Have eReader functions

  1. Looks – iPad easily wins.
  2. General Internet Access – iPad has a much better browser. Kindle has free Internet Access in 100+ countries for American Kindle owners. A tie. 
  3. Text To Speech – Kindle has a much better TTS feature. iPad has apps that provide this to an extent and better accessibility. Perhaps Kindle DX is a bit ahead.
  4. Journal Feature – Kindle DX probably won’t get it till the Kindle App Store opens. iPad has more journals than you could fill up. iPad wins.
  5. Extensions and Utilities – iPad easily wins. Kindle App Store will help the Kindle DX catch up a bit – However, it’s doubtful iPad will ever lose its advantage here.
  6. Games & Diversions – iPad wins. It’s almost too good with games and diversions.
  7. Device Lock and Lost&Found feature – both devices are terrible at this. Just password protection (counting Kindle 2.5).
  8. Personalization and Customizability – iPad wins.

When it comes to ‘nice to have’ features the iPad really cleans up – It wins 5 areas while the Kindle DX only wins 1.

Kindle DX vs iPad – Review Summary + Recommendation

We arrive at a very interesting conclusion -

  1. The Kindle DX is clearly better for reading books – the reading experience is better, it’s readable in sunlight, the screen quality for reading is great, and it’s a dedicated eReader. If you want a device for reading then the Kindle DX is the one to go with.
  2. There’s a huge middle ground – At the very edge (reading is more important than any other function) the Kindle DX is the clear choice. However, very quickly the iPad becomes the #1 choice. The minute you say – Reading is one of the two main purposes of my device – the iPad becomes better. The reason this switch happens so quickly is that Kindle for iPad is an excellent reading app and that there are lots of reading apps from lots of companies on the iPad.
  3. Then we get people who say – Reading is not the main thing I want from my device. For them the iPad is absolutely the better choice.

The Kindle DX does not have the low price, portability, one-handed reading, etc. of the Kindle and therefore it has a narrower band where it’s the better choice than the iPad. Kindle DX vs iPad is a very tough review – If you love to read or are looking for a device that is primarily meant for reading then the Kindle DX wins over the iPad. The minute you start getting multiple priorities for your device the iPad beats the Kindle DX.

15 Responses

  1. Prescient:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121261272441346269.html?mod=mostpop (free link to entire article)
    WSJ.com – The Way We Read (2008 interview except reprinted June 7, 2010
    Jeffrey P. Bezos , chairman, president and chief executive of Amazon.com Inc., discussed e-books with Walt Mossberg.MR. BEZOS: Over some time horizon, books will be read on electronic devices. Physical books won’t completely go away, just as horses haven’t completely gone away.
    If you think about books, it’s astonishing. It’s very hard to find a technology that has remained in mostly the same form for 500 years. And anything that has stubbornly resisted improvement for 500 years is going to be hard to improve. That is what we’re trying to do with Kindle. To do that, you have to capture the essential element of a book, which is that it disappears when you get into the flow of the story. None of us when we’re reading a book think about the ink and the glue and the stitching. All that fades away, and you get into the author’s universe.
    But you also can’t ever out-book the book. You need to look for a series of things that you can do with an electronic device like Kindle that you could never do with a physical book.

  2. WSJ.com – The iPad: Past, Present, Future [The iPhone and iPad were birthed together - amazing. Interesting insight, but for "price it aggressively"] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704764404575286192766121172.html?mod=mostpop
    Excerpts:
    Jobs: I actually started on the tablet first in the early 2000s. I had this idea to get rid of the keyboard. I asked, “Could we come up with a multitouch display that we could type on?” About 6 months later, showed me this prototype display, and it was amazing. I gave it to one of our brilliant user interface folks. He called me back a few weeks later, and he had inertial scrolling working and a few other things. I thought, “My God, we can build a phone out of this.”
    I put the tablet project on the shelf, because the phone was more important.
    We’ve all moved to reading our news on the Web. we have to figure out how to get people to paying for this hard-earned content. I don’t know what’s going to work, but the biggest lesson Apple’s learned is: Price it aggressively and go for volume. I think people are willing to pay for content. I believed it in music, I believe it in media and I believe it in news content.

    wish I knew better where to post these article links.

    • thanks for the great links. It’s amazing to think iPad and iPhone were conceived around the same time. He did make a good call on going with the phone first.

  3. Storage capacity is really not very relevant for the purpose of reading books. Books are very small files and you can fit hundreds, probably thousands in the onboard memory on a Kindle 2 (2 GB), much less the DX’s 4 GB. There’s no need to ever have that many on at once, as far as I can tell.

    The DX and iPad are a better direct comparison than Kindle 2 and iPad, though, as they’re closer to the same price and size. I personally would get neither for day to day reading as that size is simply too large to be convenient.

  4. One more BIG advantage for I-Pad-

    Kindle’s wireless doesn’t work in many small town, especially in the northwest. I can’t download books anywhere in my county.

    I-Pad works with WIFI and can be used with ATT (for a price).

    I’m planning to stick with my Kindle 1 until we know if Kindle 3 has wifi. If ii doesn’t, Amazon will loose a customer.

    • The Kindle may not have Wi-Fi, but there are other e-ink readers that support Wi-Fi without the pricetag or the LCD screen of the iPad.

    • The iPad also wins because the Kindle, though it has free Whispernet is very slow when it comes to loading a page from the internet. CNN or Wikipedia. It’s dial up speed. For the record, I have both a Kindle 2 and an iPad.

  5. The Kindle reader on the iPad does an interesting thing when it gets dark locally. You’re familiar with the tableau, the kid sitting under the tree reading an e-Reader. When darkness falls, the entire tableau looks as it would in twilight, but the e-reader lights up, shining on the kid’s face.

    Clever.

  6. The Kindle was updated these days and has now free internet over whispersync for everybody us residential or not !

  7. [...] was a lot of fun reading on the Kindle DX after a few weeks spent mostly with the iPad. Kindle DX vs iPad is one of those comparisons where you know what’s better for you and what’s more fun to [...]

  8. [...] DX 2 differs from the earlier global Kindle DX  in just a few ways you might want to look at our Kindle DX vs iPad review post for a much more detailed comparison. Just factor in the lower price ($379) and the much better [...]

  9. [...] also worth looking at this detailed Kindle DX vs iPad review as the Kindle DX 2 is very similar to the Kindle DX 1. Simply factor in the much improved screen [...]

  10. I had a Kindle 2 for about a year and enjoyed it. When the iPad came out I was drawn to try it. My experience is that it sucks as a book reader, which is probably 75% of my use. I like to read while eating in restaurants. Almost without fail there are overhead lights and terrible glare on the screen. I decided to sell it at a big loss and get a DX2.

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