iPad versus Kindle – a design debate

[poll id=”2″]

iPad versus Kindle

I asked seven digital design students to take a look at the iPad and Kindle, analyze the major points both good and bad and come to a decision about the product. The specific question is what’s going to happen a year from now. Will the Kindle be overshadowed by the iPad, or will it hold it’s own? Is there a market for both kinds of products, a dedicated e-reader and a new type of device?

Here are the key points they found about each product:

iPad Key qualities

  • a good company
  • more functions than advertised
  • Apps
  • sleek, slender
  • open door to touch screen
  • save money on books for college students
  • hi-def
  • Universal access (compared to iPhone)
  • crappy name
  • glorified iPhone
  • do we need this?
  • Kindle killer or iTouch killer?
  • expensive, fragile
  • uncomfortable to hold
  • why is it better than a laptop
  • great presentation tool
  • emailing device
  • can’t read in the sun
  • will screen get dirty
  • 10 hour battery life, really?

Kindle Key qualities

  • Good for reading
  • Specialized
  • Holds a lot of books
  • Slow flipping
  • Comfortable to hold, as a book
  • Free 3G internet
  • Good downloading store (with books)
  • Not that entertaining of a device
  • Slow
  • Hard navigating
  • Keep wanting to touch the screen
  • crappy browser for internet
  • Right handed people only
  • Retro menus (early 80’s)
  • Appeals to old people

One year from now:

Kindle will be a has-been: 3 votes
Kindle will still be growing in popularity: 2 votes
Kindle will still be in “the fight”: 2 votes

iPad will be an embarrassment for Apple: 2 votes
iPad will be slow-grower like the iPod: 4 votes
iPad will be a revolutionary device: 0 votes

6 Replies to “iPad versus Kindle – a design debate”

  1. The simple answer is: both. The Kindle and the iPad cater to very different crowds. The Kindle will trump the iPad to those looking for a dedicated e-book reader; the iPad will appeal to those looking for a gadget to do everything.

  2. I have to say I came down on the side of the Kindle. Part of it is that what I’m looking for is a replacement for paper. This week I took my 5 pound blue bag of Yellow Pages/Dex, whatever it was, directly to the recycling bin as did millions of other people. Last year I took the books out of the bag, replaced the previous year’s phone books that I had not touched since putting them there a year earlier. This year I decided to not even go through the motions, took the old phone books off the shelf and put the whole lot into recycling.

    As something that would allow me to stop consuming paper, I don’t think the iPad is it. I would challenge the main claim of the iPad (according to their ads) that is the best way possible to surf the web. I actually think it’s the worst way possible to surf the web, it is like surfing the web on a Mac Classic with it’s small screen. If you look in their video, the typography is tiny and practically unreadable. Oh, and no Flash.

    I think Apple should not try to implement their mobile browsers identically to a desktop/laptop browser. A good mobile version of a site is much better than a tiny browsing experience. Sure, it’s fun for a while to browse the full web on an iPhone, but it grows old quickly and I seek out sites or apps that are made just for the iPhone.

    As an e-reader, the iPad also appeared to be a desktop oriented app with tiny type. It feels like the iPad was rushed, and it’s just not clear what it is going to be good at. Personally, I was hoping for some kind of killer drawing app, or an intuitive video editing device, something to make a point as to why we would need this. Gaming seems promising, but again if I’m really into games I’ll probably want the real deal, not a small screen version of a real game. The iPhone wins in this regard in that I don’t expect a lot out of it, great for a casual game whenever. The iPad is not something I’ll just always have in my pocket, I’d have to want to sit down and play a game.

    Despite the Kindle’s flaws, and it’s quirkiness I think it was designed with a purpose – to read books. It also feels like it was designed by someone who likes to read books. While I still think Apple will evolve the iPad or come out with a great e-reader, I don’t think this is it just yet.

  3. The iPad is a Kindle killer. No question about it. For about
    $200 more you get a device that goes way, way beyond the capabilities of a Kindle. In addition, it does a better job as an e-book reader than the Kindle (way better). It is a better quality device with a *vastly* superior screen. Coupled with the Apple / iPod / iPhone / iTouch name recognition and the iPad is going to sell like crazy. Every kid in college is going to want
    an iPad. The iPad is going to put just about every e-book reader out of business. E-book readers will survive but will be limited to a fairly small market which consist of those people who can’t afford an iPad. And, with iPads being introduced at $499 the iPad is easily within range of most people in the U.S.; and the price will come down because Apple IS looking to kill the Kindle. In addition Apple will aggresively price these through educational institutions for students (many which already own an iPod / iPhone / iTouch).

    If I’m on vacation I want an iPad (not my notebook and a Kindle).

  4. Oh, I don’t have an iPad yet. It looks gorgeous, I love the VIV motion magazine that was created for it.

    Apple is known for restraint and subtlety in their designs. I remember how purposefully simple the original iPod was. It only had the dial for navigation and it didn’t do much other than play music in a really good format. That was the point, do something perfect and leave it at that.

    I think the Kindle has an appeal that is very much like a book and is very subtle. It is relaxing mentally, just like reading a book I have no distractions. Amazon has been terrible about not marketing the non-lit screen aspect of the Kindle. It really is just meant to be a paper substitute.

    The iPad raises the issue is reading in a paper-book fashion going away? Is there no appeal to being off-line and looking at a reflective surface? I think there is a subtle, relaxing quality to reading on the Kindle that I am surprised that Apple has chosen to ignore in favor of complexity. It seems very un-Apple in a way, or maybe they are seeing the future and people don’t want something like that anymore.

  5. Finally got my hands on an iPad and first impressions are that it is in fact gorgeous! Video looks awesome on it and the interface is one of the most intuitive I have seen.

    Is it a Kindle-killer? Personally, I really, really, like reading on the Kindle. It feels like reading a book and after working on a computer screen all day, mentally I need a break from a screen. I thought the iPad felt like reading on a screen, and it actually is a screen so that’s no surprise.

    I think I would like to see an Apple device that uses e-paper like the Kindle. To me, reading is the point of having yet another device in the house. I’ve eliminated newspapers, some books and some magazines, so the Kindle is making my life simpler in many ways. The Kindle interface is pretty clunky, and navigation needs some work but since it can’t do a whole lot I don’t need to navigate much more than flipping the page.

    I suppose if I’m the minority in wanting to mainly read with a device, then the iPad should do fine. But, I personally cannot figure out why I would need an iPad right now, so for me it’s not really competing.

    Best argument I have heard yet for the iPad is that it has potential as an Enterprise level device, which Apple has never really had. I could definitely see this being used in business, tracking, taking notes and doing fieldwork.

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