In this Kindle vs Nook vs iPad comparison, we answer the burning question foremost in the minds of many book enthusiasts who are gadget geeks as well: Which is the best ebook reader?
It can be recalled that the release of the Apple iPad in April 2010 had many predicting the early demise of dedicated ebook readers led by the industry leader, Amazon Kindle. But almost a year later, it’s interesting to note that ebook readers are still holding their own, with the companies behind them coming up with updated versions such as the latest-generation Kindle and a color version of the Nook.
But just how different are these ebook readers when compared with tablets like the iPad? Let’s find out.
Kindle vs Nook vs iPad Comparison – Basic Specs:
|Display Size||6-inch diagonal||6-inch diagonal||9.7-inch diagonal|
|Display Type||Pearl E-Ink||Dual E-Ink/LCD||LED-backlit IPS LCD|
|Weight||0.54 lbs||0.75 lbs||1.5 lbs|
|Screen Resolution||600 x 800||600 x 800||1024 x 768|
|Storage Capacity||4GB||2GB – Expandable up to 16GB via microSD||16GB, 32GB, 64GB|
|Wireless Connectivity||Wi-Fi/Wi-Fi + 3G||Wi-Fi/Wi-Fi + 3G||Wi-Fi/Wi-Fi + 3G|
|Battery Life||1 Month||10 Days||10 – 12 Hours|
PDF, MOBI, AZW, DOC
|PDF, PDB, ePUB, eReader||DOC, ePUB, PDF|
|*Prices shown are for the entry-level, Wi-Fi only versions of each model.|
Size and Weight
Reading comfort is one of the first things that come to mind when choosing an ebook reader. After all, the fact that you’re studying your options says a lot about how serious a book lover you are. That said, the size and weight of the device are major factors that contribute to that comfort when reading for long periods. Looking at the specs above, it’s pretty obvious which the best choice in this category is.
Sporting a smaller and thinner frame (7.5” x 4.8” x 0.335”) than the other two, the latest generation Kindle is also the lightest at just 8.7 ounces. The Nook is a tad bigger and heavier, and the iPad, while surprisingly thin, still has the largest frame and tips the scales at 1.5 lbs – almost three times the weight of the Kindle. If you have plans of taking out your ereader every now and then wherever you may be for a quick read, or doing a 5-hour marathon reading session, then you might want to put the iPad at the bottom of your short list right now.
The iPad does have a lot of awesome features though, depending on exactly what you need and what your choice of reading content is. I’m talking here about the iPad’s 9.7-inch LED-backlit full color high resolution IPS display. Ok, that was actually quite a mouthful there just to describe a screen, but the bottom line is, the display of the iPad is simply a delight to behold. For all other functions such as web browsing, video playbacks, Facebook, Twitter, games, and other apps, the iPad’s multi-touch color LCD does the job to a T.
However, if you evaluate it based on how well this type of display works for dedicated reading, you’d be hard pressed to say it’s perfect too, unless of course, we’re talking glossy magazines and picture- and color-filled children’s books. Simply put, the 6-inch e-ink screen sported by both the Kindle and the Nook, while a bit dull put side by side by the brightness of the iPad, still is the consumers’ choice for long form reading because it causes no eye strain and is glare free even under direct sunlight.
Although both utilize e-ink technology, the Amazon ebook reader still pulls ahead of Barnes & Noble’s Nook because the Kindle now uses the latest-generation Pearl E-ink which boasts 50% better contrast compared to the previous models.
On the other hand, there is of course a Nook Color edition, released only late 2010, which sports a 7-inch touchscreen color LCD. Barnes & Noble touts it as being a “reader’s tablet” because it’s got more functionality in it than the usual ereader but not quite to the level of tablet PCs.
Navigating through the Kindle requires the use of buttons, a 5-way controller, and a physical keyboard. While not as seamless an experience as that of a touch device like the iPad, it does serve its purpose quite well. Of course, iPad’s animation effect when “physically” turning pages ups the cool factor but other than that, having touch technology doesn’t really do much to improve its ebook reader capabilities.
The Nook is in another league all its own with its unique dual screen combo – the 6-inch e-ink screen for reading and below it, a 3.5-inch LCD touch screen for navigating. Next and Previous buttons are also found the along the sides of the frame. While the smaller color display does add a dash of brightness to the device, it does take some time getting used to navigating on the lower screen only especially if you own touch gadgets like an iPhone. The color edition of the Nook, like the iPad, is equipped with full touch technology so arranging content across the whole screen and turning pages with easy flicks of the finger is quite easy.
File Formats and Books
All three devices can read across a number of text file formats, among the most widely used of which is PDF. Kindle also has its proprietary file format, AZW, which means you can’t read books from Amazon unless you use a device that’s been installed with the Kindle app. But with regard to file formats, what separates the Kindle from the other two, though not exactly in a positive way, is its non-support for EPUB, the standard file format for open e-books. This has become a major issue for some since EPUB compatibility means being able to loan some books from local online libraries or downloading free content from Google books.
Content for all three ebook readers is extensive although the Nook has the most massive selection with over 2 million titles in its NookBooks. The Kindle Store has about 800,000 titles, while Apple’s iBookStore trails behind with just over 150,000 books. Still, it’s almost a certainty that whichever ebook reader you decide on, you’ll be able to find the latest best sellers and most popular books from any of these ebook stores.
While this Kindle vs Nook vs iPad comparison is primarily a battle of the ebook readers, it’s worth making mention the other features that each of these devices offer. After all, some consumers may be interested in getting an ereader that can pretty much do everything else, as opposed to having a gadget that’s devoted purely for reading.
In this aspect, the iPad jumps up to the top of the line, primarily because it was designed to be a jack-of-all-trades. If you’re not that much of a bookworm, you can keep yourself entertained for hours on end with an iPad, surfing the net, watching movies and videos, playing games, using Facebook and/or Twitter, and many more applications. While the Kindle and Nook both have built-in web browsers and a few games, these are largely experimental features for these devices and the grayscale e-ink displays pose several limitations. The Nook Color fares better for such activities but still lags far behind the iPad.
Finally, we compare the Kindle vs Nook vs iPad in terms of how much you would have to spend for these devices. With only a $10-difference between them, the Nook and the Kindle are the more affordable devices. The Wi-Fi only versions cost $149 for the Nook and $139 for the Kindle, while the Wi-Fi + 3G models are priced $199 and $189 respectively. Prices for the iPad start at $499 for the Wi-Fi only version, and $629 for the Wi-Fi and 3G model.
Kindle vs Nook vs iPad – Which Should You Choose?
In the previous paragraphs, we’ve highlighted the pros and cons of each device in this three-way comparison between the Kindle vs Nook vs iPad. The Kindle is the lightest and most compact, the iPad is the snazziest and with the most functions packed in, and the Nook is well, something of an in-between especially if you take the Nook Color into consideration.
So the question that it all comes down to is – should you go with a dedicated ebook reader or a multitasking tablet that can also serve as an ebook reader? The heftier price tag of the iPad may make consumers automatically dismiss it as an option but it’s worth noting that for the added functionality you get, it is still a value-for-money device. At the same time, spending about $150 for a gadget that is built mainly for ebook reading such as the Nook or Kindle may seem excessive for others. For voracious readers though, the price is well worth it, and more.
The choice is yours to make!