eReaders vs. iPad – Compare Apples to Oranges?

eBook readers such as Amazon Kindle and the iPad have made a big impact on today’s gadget loving users for aesthetic as well as functional reasons. These devices have revolutionized the way books are read and have provided many more features as they evolved.

Beginning with basic book reading, eBook readers steadily started adding newer features that extended its functionality beyond just pure reading. Well before its formal launch date of April 3, 2010, the iPad has generated a lot of curiosity and hype with its promise to revolutionize eBook reading as well as mobile computing at large.

With complete mobile computing and Internet functionalities in iPad for a very low cost difference, you may wonder whether eBook readers as a product segment may be redundant.

As the first batch of iPad gets ready to be shipped off, we take you through a review of the functionalities of existing eBook readers and those promised in an iPad.

eBook Reader vs. Mobile Computing Tablet

The utility of an eBook reader is niche and targeted at e-bookworms, as compared to a tablet device like iPad that offers almost all the functionalities of a usual desktop or a laptop. The iPad goes a step further by even offering a phone functionality, which brings together the benefit of an iPhone and a Mac book.

In the wake of the new iPad, eBook readers will continue to thrive with a niche set of users who prefer an exclusive device for pure reading delight, and nothing more.

Screen Display

While the size of the screen may be the same, eBook readers and iPad use different technologies that exhibit totally different visual appeals. eBook readers use the patented e-ink display, which has high contrast that makes it closely resemble an actual printed book. They are even equipped with gesture commands that help you browse a book with a flip of a finger.

iPad, however, has a backlit LCD screen that may cause more strain to the eyes on prolonged reading, as compared to the e-ink display. On the positive side though, iPad brings more rich colors and crisper images that are not available in most conventional eBook readers that have a grayscale screen.

Wireless Connectivity

Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook are bundled with lifetime free 3G wireless connectivity from their respective telecom partner networks. However, in the case of iPad you may need to shell out an additional $15 per month as a recurring expense for connectivity. Access to 3G also requires an upgraded model of iPad priced at $625.

Pricing

Apple has priced iPad aggressively in the range of $499 onwards, which totally grabs the market of premium priced eBook readers with narrow functionality. For instance, the iPad appears to be a steal as compared to Que ProReader priced at $800.

Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook though are comfortably priced and positioned in the $250 range, which will continue to appeal to pure-play readers.

Summary

Comparing apples to oranges, or rather Apple iPad to eBook reader is rather unfair. However, focusing on the objective of e-reading, specialized devices such as Amazon Kindle will continue to attract eBook reading users, with its display appeal and lower price.

However, eBook readers that are priced higher with very limited functions will face tough times ahead with iPad grabbing their market share.