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Gadgets for Gadgeys – which e-reader is best?

Is that an iPad in your pocket or.. well yeah it clearly is an iPad in your pocket.

Urban Dictionary definitions for Gadgey:

Non specific person in Scotland; ‘joe bloggs’. Often used to refer to workman, or random person in street/crowd.

Another word for a ned in scotland.

Derogatory Scottish term for someone who’s not so well-off.

I’m obsessed with gadgets, and never more so than now, when I’m trying to stop myself from buying any (I have a wedding to save for you know). I’ve spent most of my evenings this week compulsively ‘researching’ various expensive items that I can’t really afford. But a little voice in my head has been telling me that I ‘deserve’ to treat myself. After all when was the last time I bought a cool gadget? It was 18 months ago that I bought my iPhone 3G.

Part of me realises that all I really want is a shiny new toy to play with, so trying to justify any new purchase as being in any way necessary would be to lie to myself, and you.

Now I knew I had an addictive personality, but I didn’t realise that shopping for gadgets could also become so all-consuming a hobby. According to the 99% however, I’m not the only one, and there’s even research to say why it’s so addictive.

But most of us gadgeys just don’t have a spare five hundred quid lying around to splash out on Apple’s latest gizmo so we have to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of any new purchase in detail.

E-Readers – the new Kindle (3G & Wifi) vs iPad

I like to think of myself as a writer, and therefore I love books, and am always reading several at once. I like their physical form, but I also believe that e-readers are the future (in fact they are already outselling hardback books in the US according to Amazon).  Also I live in a small flat and there just isn’t room for all the books we already have, never mind those I will want to get in the future.

Whilst the iPad clearly does a whole lot more besides being an e-reader, I see Amazon’s Kindle as having the following benefits:

  • E-ink is easier on the eyes. Everytime I go to the optician my eyes have deteriotated – this can’t be helped by the amount of time I spend staring at a computer screen at work and at home, or squinting at the lcd screen on my iPhone. Whilst iBooks on the iPad has a built-in dimmer switch, it is still a backlit lcd screen – e-ink is meant to be much easier to read with. (I haven’t actually tried a kindle so I’m just going by what I’ve heard)
  • It has free 3G. The wi-fi model is only £109, but for £149 you get free 3G which means you can download books wherever you are, and also use the ‘experimental’ web browser feature, without the costly monthly subscriptions necessary for the 3G iPad. I’m not expecting this to be very good compared to the iPad but if I can at least read my google reader feeds on it then I’d be happy.
  • Amazon is good value. Whilst Waterstones is peddling the Sony e-reader for the bargain price of £99, according to the Register buying 36 books from them will cost around £80 more than to buy the same books from Amazon.
  • Plus despite daft UK tax laws which means e-books have inflated prices here, Amazon has discounted many of their best-sellers in the new UK Kindle store – and from a cursory glance at Apple’s iBooks store, it seems that Amazon is (unsurprisingly) better value – and provides a far wider choice.

Of course there are downsides – the Kindle is only black and white, which already makes it look somewhat dated when compared to the gorgeous iPad screen, and doesn’t do any of the multitude of things the iPad can do. But as useful as having an all-purpose item is, sometimes it’s better to go for the dedicated device that does one thing but does it very well. I reckon the lure of all the other apps on the iPad would mean I never actually got round to reading any books on it. Of course I still want one…

Related reading:

Engadget: One Device to Rule Them All?

The Next Web: Kindle Outselling iBooks 60 -1?

By Milo

Freelance writer and content creator.

8 replies on “Gadgets for Gadgeys – which e-reader is best?”

According to some, the market is going to be saturated soon with a plethora of new ‘tablets’. The holy grail, as you hint at, is a mixture of reading (e-ink) and multimedia (back-lit lcd). As far as e-readers go the Nook is getting good reviews (from Barnes & Noble) but I’m no expert on its features/pricing.

For me, it would be things like the Flipboard app for the iPad that would swing my vote.

Christian, thanks for your comment – I agree that it’s tempting to wait for other tablets to come on the market – at least one using Android or another OS will be able to access flash.

My problem is a lack of patience! Despite intellectually knowing it’s better to wait I hate not being able to try these things out for myself, especially because, as you say, flipboard and also the ‘river of news’ app which syncs with google reader are making the iPad look increasingly attractive.

The iPad is a great computer that also happens to be an eBook Reader. I love mine, especially for news reading, but if all you want is an eReader, I think the Kindle is much better value, particularly if you already have an iPhone.

I am still left wondering why none of the enormous saving on eBook distribution vs paper book distribution has been passed onto the consumer.

Gary – cheers for commenting also – that’s what I thought. I actually think I’d get quite a lot of use out of both, but may wait and save up so I can get the next version of the iPad (again, if I can muster the patience!)

I agree that both the retailers and publishers do still seem to be intent on ripping early adopters of e-readers off.

The link to the Next Web article above is interesting in that regard – it seems self-publishers are taking advantage of this by pricing books at $2.99 or even 99 cents/free, which then seems to lead to sales of their other books on the kindle store. Maybe it’s time to finish that novel..

As a self-proclaimed book hoarder, I have to say, I love my Kindle. I was sketchy about them when they first came out. I wanted one, but only because it was a new gadget that involved reading (two of my favorite things). The initial price tag dissuaded me, though, as did my insistence that nothing could be better than holding a real book in one’s hands.

This all changed last year, however, when I was buying so many books the shelves couldn’t keep up. My husband and I decided that the new Kindle price and my book obsession justified plunking down the cash for it. I haven’t been disappointed. My only hope is that they release a color version one day.

Hi Katrina, For some reason I wasn’t notified of your comment so sorry for delay replying.

I’m the same, far too many books – it just frustrates me when some books still aren’t available in kindle format and I end up having to buy them anyway..

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