iPad vs. Kindle – Which makes the better cruising companion?

A friend was recently lamenting about the fact that she had published an ebook six or seven years ago and the book sold few copies and earned even less respect.  Today, things have certainly changed with debut authors like Mike choosing to publish directly to ebook and with a few traditionally published authors choosing to bypass New York and publish straight to ebooks on their own.

What has changed, what has made this ebook revolution build momentum, is the introduction of eReaders that make reading digital books a pleasure.  Let’s face it, we already spend hours writing on our computers, and it simply isn’t comfortable to read books on them.  Just a few years ago, a computer was our only choice for reading ebooks, but that has changed with so many eReaders like the Kindle, Nook, Kobo.

Another reason eReaders make great companions is the fact that they can hold thousands of titles.  For those of us coping with the tiny storage spaces on boats, this makes them a godsend.  So then the question arises, which eReader to buy?  Because I own both, I’ve decided to look at the Kindle (my version cost $199) and the iPad (my 3G/32 GB version cost  $729).  The Kindle now starts at $139 and the iPad at $499, however, I would not consider the iPad without the 3G functionality for a boat and that starts at $629.

First of all, reading is supposed to be pleasurable and for me, that is the first area in which I measure the difference between these two eReaders.  I find it much more pleasurable to read on the iPad than on the Kindle.  However, there are times when the iPad doesn’t work at all and the Kindle is better.  I love having the ability to choose between them.

Sometimes, when I am listening to an audio book that I fall in love with, I also buy the print book because I want to see what the language looks like on the page.  I don’t know how to explain this, but some prose just looks so beautiful.  However, a lousy font and layout can destroy that.  The iPad makes the print on the page look beautiful and crisp.  There is a larger area of text so I can read more before having to turn the page, and the swiping motion of turning the page feels far more like the experience of page turning than clicking a button does.  Also, the mini joystick used for navigation on the original Kindle is not easy to use.  I understand it has improved on the recently announced new Kindle.  However, the iPad is much heavier than the Kindle.  In this regard, I compare the iPad to a hardcover book.  It has a luxurious feel to it.  Some folks prefer hard covers and some hate the weight and size.

Just because it looks beautiful, however, does not mean that it is easy on the eyes.  The iPad has a back-lit screen that produces more eye strain when reading for long periods of time.  Most people cannot read for more than an hour and a half to two hours on the LCD back-lit screen.  The e-Ink technology used on the Kindle is easier on the eyes.  However, both eReaders vary significantly in different settings.  The Kindle works great outdoors in direct sunlight, while the iPad becomes a mirror and it unusable.  At night, in bed, the Kindle requires a light and the screen reflects that light requiring one to hold it at a certain angle to read under a bunk light.  The iPad is great for night reading — especially if you don’t want to leave a light on that might bother your spouse.  You can even change the text to white on a black screen and it will barely show any glow for your bunkmate.

The biggest difference between these two devices for the cruiser is the fact that the Kindle is a single purpose device – an eReader – and the iPad is a tablet computer.  Even when only considering their value as eReaders, the larger color screen means that color books like coffee table books, children‘s books, travel books, magazines, etc. all look gorgeous on the iPad.  If you include newspapers, magazines and blogs in your daily reading, the iPad is the much better eReader.

Among the apps I use for reading, I find I use the Kindle app most often for reading books.  This is due to the fact that I also have a Kindle and I am able to use the Kindle during the day when I’m outside and the iPad at night and the app does a great job of synching my location when I switch between devices.  In addition, though, I also have other reader apps like iBooks, Stanza, Classics, Borders ebooks, B&N Reader, Iceberg, and GoodReader (excellent for PDFs). Zinio is the app for most magazines and as soon as my paper magazine subscriptions expire, I will shift over to all digital through Zinio. There are some real bargains there like 12 issues of SAIL for $7.50.  I also have the Marvel comics app, the Wired Magazine app, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, BBC News, etc.  My most recent favorite is Blogshelf where I can see all my favorite blogs with the title of the most recent post displayed on a handsome bookshelf.  When I open the app, they all update and I just tap on the one I want to read.

Of course, by now you can see that if I had to choose, I would go for the iPad because it is also so much more than just a device for reading text.  On my iPad, I have lots of different apps for navigation and weather that have become must-haves for me.  I’m going to cover those apps in a bonus blog over the weekend.

Fair winds!


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About Christine Kling

I have spent more than thirty years living on and around boats and cruising the waters of the North and South Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Caribbean. I’ve written articles and stories for many boating publications including Sailing, Cruising World, Motor Boating & Sailing, and The Tiller and the Pen. When I was married, I helped my husband build a 55-foot custom sailing yacht. After launching her, we sailed through the Panama Canal to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands where we chartered for over two years. While in the islands, I received my 100-ton Auxiliary Sail Captains license. It was that sailing experience that led me to set my first nautical suspense novel, SURFACE TENSION (2002), on the waterfront in Fort Lauderdale. Featuring Florida female tug and salvage captain, Seychelle Sullivan, the first book was followed by CROSS CURRENT (2004) and BITTER END (2005). The fourth book in the series, WRECKERS’ KEY was released in February 2007. At the end of the 2010-11 academic year, I took the motto of this blog to heart. I quit my day job as an English professor at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale (just when they offered me tenure, I said no thanks and took early retirement). I was living the dream of full-time cruising on board my 33-foot Caliber Talespinner on my very tiny pension and whatever I made from my books having parted ways with the big publishing establishment. I self-published two books on my own: a small collection of four short stories entitled SEA BITCH: Four Tales of Nautical Noir and my first stand-alone sailing thriller set in the Caribbean, CIRCLE OF BONES. In 2012 I was offered a publishing deal with Amazon's mystery/thriller imprint Thomas&Mercer and they reissued CIRCLE OF BONES. The sequel to that book, DRAGON'S TRIANGLE came out in June 2014. And as for me, I'm no longer a singlehander on my little boat. I met Wayne Hodgins in 2013 and after a whirlwind Skype courtship, I flew to meet him in Fiji and we sailed a nearly 2000 mile passage to the Marshall Islands for our "first date." We now sail together aboard LEARNATIVITY, a 52-foot motor sailor with our family including Barney, the Yorkshire Terror and Ruby, the Wonder Dog.
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4 Responses to iPad vs. Kindle – Which makes the better cruising companion?

  1. Bard says:

    Have you tried Flipboard for magazines, newspapers and blogs? Everyone is raving about this app. http://www.flipboard.com/. And BTW, you know I love reading using the Kindle App on my Ipod touch and Android phone. 🙂

  2. Tom Tripp says:

    Wow, VERY helpful insights, Christine. Thanks for the comparison. As an aside, are you satisfied with the version of iPad you bought? Can’t wait to read about all the other cool stuff you do with it.

  3. John Urban says:

    Christine, that’s an excellent comparison. I’d also be interested in how the iPad is working out as a GPS.

    As far as e-books, the readers in our house are now hooked – we try to share my wife’s Kindle, but we will likely end up buying a new device soon. I recently surprised myself by reading an entire book, The Storm Killer, on my iPhone. While I prefer a larger screen, the experience was further evidence (for me, at least) that the market for e-books is going to grow at a very fast clip.

  4. Christine Kling says:

    Thanks for all the great comments, guys. First of all, I’ve tried Flipboard and I LOVE it. Talk about a killer app. Yes, it may do in many magazines, but I don’t really see any of my beloved boating magazines like Blue Water Sailing and Cruising World being on it.

    Tom, I worked all weekend on my post with my favorite iPad Boating apps (who knew there were so many to evaluate?), but I couldn’t get it done in time for a weekend bonus weekend post. I will run it on Friday and it is over 1000 words, so it has lots of specific info. on everything from nav programs to waterproof cases and mounts.

    And John, yes, I read my first book on the iPhone a year ago and I was surprised, too, that I would even enjoy doing it. I am certain the market will grow exponentially over the next few years and no one really knows where it will go. I find that exciting.
    Fair winds!

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