April 11, 2012
Ars Technica has published a curious comparison pitting the new iPad's Retina display against the familiar e-ink panels offered by Amazon's Kindle lineup. Now, I won't come right out and say such an exercise is a complete waste of time, but it seems an awful lot like comparing a Prius to a new Sportsmobile: They'll both get you where you want to go, and while one's lightweight, ultra-efficient, and really good at what it does, the other's a heck of a lot more versatile if you're in it for the long haul. Puzzled over the "why" of all this? It seems the duel was prompted by several recent reviews claiming Apple's tablet-bound 264 PPI display is so good -- and has Amazon's own Kindle app making such excellent use of it -- that the LCD has finally dropped the hammer on e-ink once and for all. Nonsense, of course, but Ars went with it (if for no other reason than to highlight the futility of comparing apples and... e-readers). Here's their shocking conclusion:
If you love reading and are looking to invest a chunk of money into a device as a dedicated e-reader, then the iPad is not your best bet. The value you can get from devices like the Kindle (or several other competitors like the Sony Reader or Kobo), will allow you to save money to spend on what is presumably your main passion: books. The iPad's retina display is sharp and bright, but the display is unlikely to be the sole deciding factor for spending more time with the books you love. The trouble comes when you start to think of your e-reader as more than an e-reader. E-ink Kindles are abysmal at Web browsing, for example, and they don't run popular apps and games like the iPad and other tablets on the market today.You don't say! All sarcasm aside, the Ars report does a great job of explaining the technical differences between the two technologies and establishing smart parameters for what any new user should expect from their chosen reading platform. Basically, it all comes down to personal preference. Me? I use my iPad for everything, reading included. But if somebody bought me a new Kindle Touch, I'd probably use that, too.
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