Kindle vs Nook Color vs iPad

How does the Kindle 3 compare with the Nook Color and the iPad – Who wins Kindle vs Nook Color vs iPad?

The Kindle vs Nook Color vs iPad question was brought up by Vicki and here’s my answer -

  1. The Kindle is perfect for anyone who reads more than 1 book a month or wants a device dedicated to reading. It’s also great for anyone who wants to read more than they currently do.
  2. Nook Color seems to be perfect for someone who reads 1 or 2 books a month and wants a device that’s focused on reading and can also do other things. If the Kindle is a superstar slugger who’s a liability in the field the Nook Color is a pretty solid hitter who can also field quite well.
  3. The iPad is great for someone who wants a device specialized for TV and games and movies and that can also be used for reading. Basically, an above replacement level hitter who isn’t going to put up the numbers the solid hitter will (Nook Color) and definitely not the numbers the star slugger will (Kindle 3) – However, he’s a spectacular fielder and can play almost any position. Plus quite a few people think he looks like Cole Hamels and has Ken Griffey Junior’s personality.

Let’s flesh it out a bit and drop the baseball analogy.

Disclaimer: My experience with Nook Color is limited to reading reviews. Kindle and iPad, on the other hand, am very familiar with.

Kindle is a reading superstar device that does little else

The Kindle is basically a reading superstar – It sacrifices everything else for reading.

It has all the features you would want in a reading device -

  1. Crisp eInk Pearl screen that looks like print on paper.
  2. eInk screen that’s easy on the eyes. Since it has no back-light it doesn’t interfere with your sleep patterns like back-lit screens.
  3. Great battery life – up to a month with wireless off, 2 weeks with wireless on.
  4. It’s built from the ground-up for readers. Almost every decision was made keeping readers in mind.
  5. There’s free Internet access, a decentish browser, free Kindle store browsing, and an in-built dictionary. Note: Kindle WiFi doesn’t have 3G and thus no free Internet Access – you must have WiFi access to get store browsing and Internet browsing.
  6. There are free book downloads in 60 seconds using Amazon’s Whispernet Network.
  7. It’s light and compact and you can read while holding it in one hand.

The litmus test is whether you read 1 or more books a month. If you don’t the Kindle is a bad choice.

If you love to read or would like to read more you should get a Kindle. At $139 for the Kindle WiFi and $189 for the Kindle 3 it’s a great deal.

Kindle caveats

You might fall into the category of people who love LCDs and are completely unbothered by LCD screens – the LCD-compatibles. In that case the Kindle only offers freedom from distraction, lower weight, greater battery life, reading focused features, and other reading related benefits.

The biggest benefit of the Kindle is the eInk screen and if after trying it out you feel LCD is better or just as good then you might be better off with a Nook Color or an iPad.

Kindle also has some other flaws – no ePub support and thus no support for library books, the only DRMed books you can read are ones from Amazon, the Kindle App Store is just starting off so there are very few apps, PDF support isn’t great, and the 6″ screen size isn’t ideal for PDFs or newspapers.

If you don’t want a dedicated reading device then Kindle is not the right choice.

Nook Color is a reading tablet that doubles up as a semi-Android Tablet

Nook Color (and this is all based on Nook Color reviews) is basically an Android based Tablet that B&N is trying to mold into a reading tablet -

  1. It’s focused on reading but not dedicated to it. That means you can read and also stream music (Pandora) and even watch movies (some formats work better than others).  
  2. It has great screen resolution – better than iPad and a tiny bit better than Kindle. 
  3. It uses a special layer above the LCD screen to reduce glare – opinions on the effectiveness are mixed.
  4. It has color and touch so magazines, children’s books, and comics look great.  
  5. It will build its own App Store and limit apps to reading related apps and perhaps some of the more popular apps.

You basically get a focus on reading which iPad lacks. B&N will try and ensure the focus on reading is preserved by limiting what apps are available and by adding touches like the special layer over the screen that is suppoed to reduce glare and enhance readability.

You are free from distractions – to a certain extent. You also, and this is just a guess, probably get a pretty decent reading experience. Not as good as the Kindle but definitely better than the iPad.

The 7″ screen is also much better for reading than the iPad’s awkwardly large 10″ screen and the slightly smaller 6″ Kindle screen.

B&N’s Nook Color offers two very enticing possibilities to two very different groups of customers -

  • If you want a reading tablet then you can stick with B&N’s tightly reviewed app store which will supposedly only allow reading related apps. The device itself is build around reading which also helps a lot.  
  • If you want a cheap Android tablet then you can either hope a decent number of general apps make it in or you can root the Nook Color and get all the apps from the Android app store.

Basically, if you want a reading device that’s focused on reading and can also do other things then the Nook Color is perfect for you. It’s also a great choice if you want a cheap Android tablet.

At $249 the Nook Color appears to be (will confirm this over the next few days) an incredible value proposition. It’s as good a deal as Kindle WiFi and, arguably, delivers more value for money than Kindle and iPad.

Things to Know before you buy the Nook Color

If you are a reading purist or read more than 2 books a month the Kindle 3 is a much better choice.

It’s B&N’s first attempt to make a ‘reading tablet’. The foundation is an Android tablet so there are compromises – it’s not as easy on the eyes as eInk (unless you’re LCD-compatible), it isn’t readable in direct sunlight or in bright light settings, it doesn’t have great battery life (8 hours with wireless off).

The iPad is much better if you’d like one or more of the following – tens of thousands of non-reading related apps, the ability to watch TV and movies, a device specialized for playing games, the option to use your reading device as a status indicator.

If you read just one or two books a year or less, then the Nook Color is probably not the right choice – unless you are tech-savvy enough to root it and use it as a mini-Android Tablet.

iPad as the do-everything device that also lets you read

If reading is not a top 3 passion for you then the iPad probably trumps the Nook Color and Kindle as your ideal reading device.

Here’s what the iPad offers -

  1. A very well polished, good-looking tablet that extends the iOS to a 10″ tablet computer.
  2. A device optimized for games and movies and TV.
  3. A bright color screen with multi-touch support, decent screen resolution, and a powerful back-light. 
  4. Reading Apps from all the major companies – It’s the only device in the Kindle vs Nook Color vs iPad comparison that lets you access Kindle books and Nook books.
  5. Apps to add PDF support and ways to add support for library books.
  6. Lots and lots of apps and ways to pass the time. It’s the ultimate time-pass/consumption/entertainment device.
  7. A decent price for an Apple device – $499 for the lowest capacity WiFi version. It is an Apple product and you get some Steve Jobs RDF pixie dust sprinkled over it which works on nearly everyone.

The iPad is impressive. It does nearly everything you ask it to and it can be used as a reading device. If you’re LCD-compatible and not easily distracted you can even argue that it’s the best dedicated reading device on the planet capable of playing Angry Birds.

If you hardly read or if TV and games are more important to you than reading or if you think Steve Jobs walks on water (though in his case it’s purified, crystallized, triple-distilled, revolutionarily pure iWater) then the iPad is a no-brainer.

iPad is the only device in the Kindle vs Nook Color vs iPad comparison that is great at everything other than reading. Which brings us to the caveats.

iPad isn’t perfect – especially if you like to read and aren’t LCD-compatible

If you’re looking for a device you can read regularly on there are a few things to watch out for -

  1. If you’re not LCD-compatible you’re not going to like reading on an iPad very much. It hurts the eyes and can mess with sleep patterns and it’s not got the screen contrast that Kindle and Nook Color do.
  2. It’s heavy and large and awkward. One handed reading is out of the question and even two-handed reading gets tiring. 
  3. It’s relatively expensive at $499 and then you have add-ons like screen protectors and cases and docks and special cables.
  4. Battery life is good at 12 hours and better than Nook Color – However, it’s rather low compared to the Kindle’s healthy 2 to 4 weeks battery life.  
  5. You’ll probably read less than you think – there are lots of distractions and it’s better for TV and games than for reading. The path of least resistance will be Not Reading.
  6. It’s the opposite of open. You can only get software from the Apple App Store. There are no USB ports.
  7. It’s a very hit or miss device – For every 2 people who love it there’s 1 who can’t find any use for it.

Basically, the iPad is not a good option if you’re looking for a device primarily for reading – unless you’re LCD compatible. It’s probably a very good option if you’re looking for a device that you can read on once in a while. If you’re reading more than a few books a year it’s not a good choice.

Kindle vs Nook Color vs iPad – 3 very different devices

The Kindle is your best bet if you read a lot or would like to read more. Nook Color is your best bet if you want a reading device that can also do other things well.

iPad is your best bet if you don’t really read much or are LCD-compatible. Kindle and Nook Color are focused on reading while the iPad treats reading like one out of a dozen side-features – it isn’t really optimized for reading.

Kindle vs Nook Color vs iPad comes down to how much you read and how much you would like to read. The Kindle and Nook Color are both good choices if you love/like to read – Kindle if you read more than 2 books a month and Nook Color if you read more than a few books a year but less than 2 a month.

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