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Apple iPad; "the Kindle is rooted" ha! ha! ha!

Michael Brown   January 29 2010 01:15:35 AM
Isn't the new Apple iPad a complete abortion?

You probably know the limitations by now:
  • No USB
  • No HDMI
  • No card reader
  • No Flash support
  • No multi-tasking (except for Apple's own apps)
  • No xVid or DivX videos
  • Generally DRMed up to the eyeballs
  • 4:3 format screen

and so on.

I mean, what on earth is the damned thing for?  According to some, it's an eBook reader, amongst other things.  One over-excited Australian blog even went as far as to say that the release of the iPad means the death of eBook readers, and that the Kindle is rooted, which is a polite(ish) Australian way of saying "it's fucked".

I think not.   And whoever writes tosh like this has obviously never tried reading a book on a dedicated eBook reader screen or an "ordinary" computer screen (or both).

I'm no lover of the Kindle, by the way.  It has its own DRM nightmares and I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole.  But reading on an eInk screen really is something else.  You've got to see it for yourself to appreciate it; and far too few people have, I think.  It's really so close to reading actual paper that after a while you forget the difference.

The iPad may have the swankiest LCD screen in history - I confess that I haven't seen one; who has?!!! -  but it's still an LCD screen, and that brings with it certain things:
  1. It has a refresh rate.  And that is noticeable to the human eye.  After a while reading on it, your eyes will start to hurt and you'll need to take a screen break.  Has anybody ever told you to take a "book break" or a "newspaper break"?  No, me neither.  The refresh rate also means that the screen uses power all the time. An eInk screen, on the other hand, uses no power to display a page.  It only takes power when turning a page.  It has no refresh rate either: the page is just there.  You can think of it as very advanced etch-a-sketch, if anybody still remembers those!  It won't hurt your eyes like a computer screen does.
  2. It's back lit.  Whoopee!  You can read it indoors.  You can't read it outdoors though; not if it's a bright day.  And I think you'll find that it's a lot easier to turn a light on when you're inside than it is to turn the sun down when you're outside.  EInk screens can be read in bright sunlight.  The more ambient light, the better, in fact.
  3. It draws a lot of power (see also 1 and 2).  Mr Jobs claims that the iPad will last for 10 hours, which is actually an impressive figure.  Meanwhile, I've yet to charge my eBook reader since I got it for Christmas, which is just over a month ago as I write this.

So on the hardware front alone, I simply can't see that the iPad is going to kill off dedicated eBook readers.  Throw in the awful DRM limitations, and anybody with anybody sense will run a mile from this device.

Not that DRM has hurt sales of the Kindle, of course.  So, what do I know?
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