iPad Reviews – Part I: You can read books on it

manreadingbookIs this the end of paper-based publishing and reading? Perhaps. The debate is still open, but the iPad, along with the Kindle and Sony Readers, have certainly made a case for consuming books on hand-held devices. In particular, the iPad seems to be best positioned to deliver the goods, with a decent reading experience, and a little help from Amazon Kindle.

For the techies…here are the display specs:

  • 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology
  • 1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi)

The focus here is on the overall reading experience, and a big part of that falls on the incredible display screen. The instant you set your eyes upon it (BTW, online videos and images do it little justice), the hype surrounding the device begins to make sense. When people say dismissively, “It’s just a big iPod Touch,” they’re absolutely right — and that’s a GOOD thing. The overall viewing experience feels completely natural — while reading, watching videos, or surfing the web.

Having briefly tested “E Ink“, which is found on the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader, my opinion is that E Ink is only a slightly superior technology for reading. E Ink does not reproduce color (yet) and reducing the iPads display brightness will lessen the eye strain. Once your eyes adjust, you’ll not be distracted by the device and focus on the content.

My wife read Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” on the iPad, and while she still prefers traditional ink on paper, she found the overall experience acceptable.

Content is where the iPad shines

The “iBooks” app, which is Apple’s version of the Kindle Bookstore, comes pre-loaded. Be sure to get the Amazon Kindle iPad app as well.

Both the iBooks and Kindle apps provide a simple interface for reading your e-books. The iBooks app has a neat ‘swipe’ feature to turn pages, but it’s actually more simple to just ‘tap’ the screen to turn the page forwards or backwards, and both apps support that method. They each also allow you to increase and decrease font-size, while iBooks allows you to select from a few different font-types, serif or sans-serif. Both also provide suitable bookmarking options.

Title Selection

  • Amazon seems to have a larger selection of e-books, and appears cheaper.
  • iBooks uses the ePub format, not an Apple proprietary format. This should make it easier to use their books on different platforms.

Between both the Kindle and iBooks, you’ll find an enormous selection of relatively inexpensive, and free, titles.

Bottom line

The Apple iPad delivers a good, if not great, reading experience. Between the title selections of the iBooks and Kindle store, you should be busy reading for a long time.

Since the iPad has so many areas of interest, I’ll be reviewing aspects and features in a series of articles.

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Author:Craig Berry

Craig Berry is a Catholic web developer and musician.
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