Saturday, November 17, 2012

The iPad and the Kindle

Like many people, I love to read, especially when traveling and going on vacation. Because travel space and carry-on weight are always at a premium, I am forced to get a small book that I can carry easily with me. The choice of book is a gamble: either it will be an enjoyable hit, or a disappointing miss. In the latter case all is not lost, since I can usually buy another book at the airport, or at a local bookstore where I am at.  I have always wondered how nice it would be to be able to carry my whole library with me, and read the book of my choosing and mood.

So when the Kindle came out, I was very excited, and bought one immediately. The promise of carrying my whole library in the digital device without incurring the weight was overwhelming. The Kindle did not disappoint: the screen was as easy on the eyes as the printed page, the battery life was fantastic, and the added bonus is that I could buy books all over the world and have them delivered wirelessly to the Kindle without incurring bandwidth charges.

The Kindle served me well for a long time, mostly for mainstream books--fiction and non-fiction. It was not good for technical books or PDF papers. The screen size was too small to be convenient for figures, charts, and programs. I searched for an alternative, and the Kindle application came to the rescue. I installed it on my laptop, and starting enjoying the technical books in electronic format.

As I read more technical books, I found my usage shifting to the Kindle application on my laptop. As an added bonus the fonts were better, and the application had more features than the stock Kindle device. However I missed the convenience of not having to carry my laptop with me everywhere.

So when the new iPad came out, I got one, and I believe I got the best of both worlds. The iPad is relatively light, and convenient to hold; the screen size is good; and the battery life is acceptable. Moreover, the text is easy to read in low light conditions, and in addition to reading,  I can surf the Internet, get my email, and stay connected to the world. At times I don't even need to bring my laptop with me.

Kudos to Amazon for building the Kindle application, and widening the distribution of their content beyond the hardware they design and sell.

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