The iPad has a color display and a cool page turning effect, but some think the Kindle Paperwhite is easier on the eyes.

Has the iPad become the “Kindle killer” that some predicted? It’s hard to say. The iPad has significantly eaten into sales of both the Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s nook. Both Amazon and B&N have drastically cut prices in the wake of the iPad’s introduction.

Before going any further, let’s acknowledge that we’re comparing apples and oranges: The iPad is a multi-function device, and reading electronic books is only one of the many tasks it can do (similar to the Kindle Fire).  Dedicated eReaders were designed for only one function and appeal to a different kind of customer. People who buy the Kindle, the nook and similar wireless devices are readers, first and foremost. They’re looking for the feeling of reading a book combined with the conveniences bundled into eBook readers — the ability to order books and magazines through their machines and to store volumes in a device that weighs less than a pound.


At a Glance: Kindle Paperwhite vs. iPad


Amazon Paperwhite
Apple iPad
Paperwhite Built in light(with or without 3G) measures 6 inches diagonally. 9.7-inch Retina LED backlit display.
Touch Screen?
Yes Yes
Built in light, 7.5 ounces and is .36 inch thick. 2-point multi-touch 1.40 pounds, 0.37 inch thick, has volume controls, a screen
lock slide switch, and a 3.5mm headset jack.
Amazon Kindle Store. Books are in proprietary Kindle format. Apple iBooks store. Books are in the open ePub format.
Basic web browser, PDF reader, optional 3G connectivity. Multi-function media presentation. Wi-Fi, dual cameras, bluetooth and
optional LTE.
Battery Life
8 Weeks (Wireless Off) 10 Hours
Kindle: $119-$199 Wi-Fi only: $499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB, and $699 for 64GB. WiFi and
LTE: $629 for 16GB, $729 for 32GB, and $829 for 64GB. LTE data plan: $30/mo.
Buy Now


The biggest difference between these dedicated readers and the iPad is the display. The Kindle, nook and other eBook readers were created to give users a realistic experience. They use a technology known as E-Ink, which is designed to simulate printing on paper-like pages. The Paperwhite uses a new type of display which is easy on the eyes.  The iPad, on the other hand, uses a Retina display, close to the same kind of LED display as a regular computer. It provides a clear, backlit view of a page that is visible from different angles. Some users complain of eyestrain after viewing LED screens for long periods of time, while those who use the E-ink system tend to be able to read more without such complaints.

As the world’s largest bookseller, Amazon’s Kindle store offers Millions of electronic books, along with digital issues of newspapers and magazines. The average price of an Amazon eBook is around $10.

The Kindle, nook and iPad all have systems to browse and buy reading material from within the device. On the iPad, this requires downloading the iBooks app, which features graphical icons for ordering books online. Unlike the Kindle,  Apple does not offer desktop and smart phone versions of its reader… so an iBook can only be read on an iPad.

The Bottom Line

Adding up the pros and cons, the iPad appears to be on fairly equal footing with the major eBook readers and is a far better deal based on all of the additional functions it offers. Our guess is that a few people who want a device primarily for reading will continue to be partial to dedicated eReaders, while more casual readers will go for the iPad and the extra media it provides. The question is whether serious readers are willing to pony up another $250 or so for the multi-functionality of the iPad — and it seems like many are doing just that.



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