Why have a face off between a tablet and an e-reader you say? Since purchasing a iPad Mini my constant question has been, “Do I still need a dedicated e-reader?” Hopefully we can tackle that question and more in our showdown of these two devices.
Price: From $329
Specs: 16GB Wifi
I remember my reaction to the first iPad. I believed the world of computing was about to change significantly… and I was right. Just look at the recent products released by the major computer companies and you will see tablets galore. From Android tablets to Microsoft betting the farm on the touchscreen based Windows 8, tablets are the new PC for the average user.
So, why create a smaller iPad? I have owned every iPad since the first generation. When I bought the iPad mini I wasn’t expecting to be as taken by it as I have become. It is my single most favorite device I have ever owned. Holding a full size iPad after owning a mini feels like a laborious frivolous task. It has completely replaced my 3rd generation iPad, but can it replace my dedicated e-reader? That is the question.
Price: From $119
Specs: 2GB Wifi
With a screen that looks a good as any paperback novel the Kindle Paperwhite is the best e-reader I have ever owned. I have owned a total of three kindles and of the three this outshines the previous generations hands down. It is the Ferrari of e-readers, yet having a dedicated device just for books can feel antiquated in the midst of a world of smartphones and tablets.
The Face Off
The Kindle Paperwhite and the iPad Mini actually feel very similar in the hand. The significant differences in this comparison is the screens and battery life. The Kindle Paperwhite has a electronic ink display that looks much like real paper. The other benefit is that with electronic ink, the battery is only used in changing pages, not displaying them. This allows the Kindle Paperwhite to have battery life that lasts up to a month while a iPad mini is around 10-12 hours. Along with fantastic battery life and a paper like display, the Kindle Paperwhite includes a front lit display for night reading. Amazon is so confident in the light that they claim most will leave it on all day. I personally do just that, it makes the page look whiter and the text blacker. The electronic display is also perfect for outdoor reading. In fact the display actually looks better with the more light you shine on it.
The iPad Mini’s 12 hours of battery is actually huge for an average tablet. Even its big brother only has 10 hours of battery life. It is more than enough for a full days work and even time for entertainment. The screen however is a different story. Unlike its older sibling the iPad Mini does not have a retina display. A retina display is a screen with enough pixels that you can’t distinguish one pixel for another causing your eyes to see smooth text and clean lines rather than jagged text and blurry lines. It isn’t nearly as big of a deal as the tech world would have you believe but is still significant to mention. Personally I noticed the lack of a retina display a little at first but haven’t missed it since. The iPad Mini also incorporates a few other display enhancements that help make up the difference. The largest problem for any iPad display when comparing against a e-reader is sunlight. With their beautiful glossy displays they are no match for the flaming ball of fire otherwise known as the sun. If you live on the beach or even remotely hope to read outside get an e-reader and not a tablet. Sitting on the beach in cancun trying to squint and read Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter on an iPad wrapped in ziplocks while your wife is effortlessly enjoying a real book in the sunlight isn’t fun at all, trust me.
As an e-reader the Kindle Paperwhite is a best of class product. With amazon’s X-Ray feature you can quickly look up who a character is from within the book without leaving your page, great for those epic Game of Thrones type books. This device even has a feature that keeps track of how fast you read in order to provide you with the time left in the chapter and even the whole book. The “time left” feature is my favorite of the bunch. You can do the obvious things; annotate sections, highlight a sentence or paragraph, tap a word and see the definition and more all with the touch of a finger. Page refreshes are much faster than previous models but still noticeably slower than a tablet device or physical book page turn. With the amazon bookstore you are sure to always have great content to put on the device as well.
The iPad mini has the benefit of the App Store. You aren’t tied to one e-reader platform. You have iBooks, Barns and Noble (nook), Sony Reader, Kindle and countless others. Chances are you will find the content you want on one of those various stores. However unlike the Kindle Paperwhite you can’t actually browse and purchase books from the kindle app, you must open your safari browser and purchase the content directly from the content producers website due to the draconian laws of the apple App Store. Once you have your kindle book purchased and your kindle app downloaded you will find all the usuals; highlighting, annotation, word definition lookup. You’ll even find the ever helpful X-ray feature due to a recent update to the kindle app. What you won’t find however is my favorite feature of the Kindle Paperwhite, the “time left” feature. The lack of inclusion of this feature is probably not an oversight, amazon has simply saved its best feature for their own hardware. Overall the iPad Mini can offer a equal or better e-reading experience if you are counting diversity of content and platform agnosticism rather than screen quality or sunny reading excursions.
I still own both devices but the more I use the iPad Mini, the less that I remember I own a Kinde Paperwhite. The iPads lack of retina display and being useless in sunlight are major drawbacks. However, the ability to have multiple reading apps and the 200,000+ other applications make it one extremely useful device that has thus far replaced my standalone e-reader. I may change my mind when summer comes, but for now I’m using the iPad Mini and loving every minute of it.
Verdict: iPad Mini Wins