I read *a lot* so I just had to try the kindle despite already having an ipad. I thought I'd do a brief review of it for anyone thinking of getting one. This refers to the latest 2010 version which is substantially smaller than previous versions and other devices.
I've really enjoyed reading on the ipad and recently I've been using it far more for reading than for apps! There's a lot of fuss made about the ipad being an eye straining experience and the kindle being more relaxing on the eyes as well as a much better size. So I got one.
Firstly one hand reading is really easy. The kindle weighs in at about 8.7 ounces. The iPhone 4 weighs 4.8 ounces and the iPad, at 1.5 pounds. So whereas holding the ipad for a length of time does feel tiring, the same is not true of the kindle! If anything, the kindle is better than a paperback and orders of magnitude better than a hardback. The twilight sags's Breaking Dawn hardback is truly a shoulder wrenching read and is a much easier read on the kindle. So definitely round one to the kindle as a book replacement.
Downloading books is easy on both the iPad and the Kindle. The Apple ibooks app is of course the nicer of the systems with its virtual bookshelf and integrated ordering. As long as one click ordering is setup on your amazon account, buying a book on the kindle itself is just as easy if not quite as swish. It does present a problem to someone with both devices since if I buy from the kindle store, I can read the books on the kindle, pc, mac, iphone, ipad and everywhere which makes more sense than buying from ibooks and not being able to read it everywhere. Another point to the kindle!
Apps? well forget it on the kindle. If you want apps, it's the ipad. In fairness the kindle was always meant to be an e-reader not a multipurpose device. However, they have got a web browser in there and a few games.
The reading experience is a bit of a mixed bag for me. I don't find the ipad to be tiring on my eyes. The ipad display is bright when needed, clear and sharp. The backlight means that it can be read in darkness with no problem which is more my style than reading on a beach in bright sunlight. In the interests of a proper trial though I did try both outside and the kindle was more readable in bright sunlight with the ipad being nearly unviewable. To address the reading in the dark problem, I bought the kindle case with a little light attached which works a lot better than it looks but does add to the bulk of the device somewhat. I wish they'd thought to build in the light!
Reading books is a good experience on both but some noticeable differences. The e-ink of the kindle certainly does have a paper-ink feel to it rather more than reading on the ipad which feels more like a computer monitor. Page turning is surprisingly slow on the kindle :/ as you press the page turn button the whole display inverses with a flash before the new page is displayed. I actually find it really distracting and all the techies I've showed it to were horrified. Having talked to people who haave used the kindle for months, they tell me they don't notice it anymore. All the e-ink devices have this "flash" and the kindle is apparently the fastest of the lot. Still, perhaps because I'm a techie at heart, it makes me cringe every time I see it and interrupts the flow of my reading. By comparison, the ipad page turns are instant with a swipe and faster than turning the page in a paperback.
Let me say a bit about page numbers. One thing I really miss with any e-reader is the lack of that natural feeling of being part way through a book. It's an odd thing which I hadn't previously considered but even when I lost my page in a paperback I could find it pretty quickly because I just intuitively knew approximately how far through I was. Likewise, in a reference text I wouldn't know the page for an reference but I'd think well it's a third of the way in and then a few pages. That's all gone in e-readers and it's a weird feeling! Perhaps I'll adapt but I feel the same at the final page as I did on the first page when reading a book on the kindle. It's weird! Even worse is that on the kindle, they dont have page numbers, so what you get is "you're at 2323 of reference 5644333" which means nothing to anyone! Apparently they're working on proper page numbers and it can't come too soon.
For black and white paperbacks/hardbacks, the kindle experience is very similar to real life, page turning and page numbers aside. However, newspapers and magazines are a bit disappointing. On the ipad, magazines are starting to really take on a new life with videos, animations and of course colour. On the kindle, it's a bit the reverse. For example the new york times has less content, tables are missing, illustrations are gone and of course it's all in black and white. It's a shame because at the moment, the ipad subscriptions are in their infancy whereas the kindle works exactly as you'd expect, sometime over night the new edition just appears.
Battery life has been a non-issue on both devices! so nothing much to say there. Navigation feels more intuitive on the ipad with its touch screen but to be honest, for a strict ereader that shouldnt matter after all, how many times do you need to prod at a paperback. The menu's and selections are much nicer on the ipad though.
I've come to the conclusion that right now, for black and white publications, paperbacks and the like, the kindle is a great little device. Easier to take with you, lighter, easier to hold and can store hundreds of books with no extra weight. Better than the ipad for that very specific use.
For everything else, and I'm including reading magazines, newspapers and anything where colour helps, the ipad has to score more highly even with the weight/size/cost issues.
I think things will change when the kindle goes colour although amazon have said publicly it won't be for a while! With colour and faster updating, magazines would start to look better on the kindle . At that point unless the ipad slims down considerably in cost as well as weight, the kindle will finally be the undeniable winner for e-reading.