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Why I bought a Kindle 3 and why I stopped using my iPad to read ebooks

October 18, 2010

If you’ve read any of my previous columns, you know that I’ve always been a big fan of ebooks. I started out with a Kindle 2 and then proceeded to buy an iPad. I loved both of these devices for different reasons, but I finally decided to replace both of them for reading ebooks with something new: the Kindle 3.

Why I Bought A Kindle 3
I’ve had a Kindle 2 for quite a long time and I’ve enjoyed it. But there were things about it that I didn’t like and so, after doing a bit of research, I decided to buy a Kindle 3.

Here are the five reasons why I bought my Kindle 3:

5. Slightly Smaller Than the Kindle 2
The Kindle 2’s size was never a huge issue with me, but I still felt that Amazon could have chopped it down a little bit. I was quite pleased to notice that they had, in fact, done just that with the Kindle 3.

Amazon says they knocked about 17% off the weight of the Kindle 2 and you will notice the difference if you hold the Kindle 3 for any length of time. It’s so comfortable to hold it in one hand even while it’s in its case. You hardly notice you are holding it at all; it’s that small and light.

4. Longer Battery Life
The Kindle 3 has much better battery than the Kindle 2. It can now last up to an entire month if you turn off the wireless feature. Wow. Not bad at all.

I hate having to recharge my electronic devices; it’s aggravating and requires me to keep track of the charge in each of them. This is particularly noticeable with my iPhone and iPad. I wish both of them could last as long as the Kindle 3.

Even with the wireless connection turned on, the Kindle 3’s battery still seems to last significantly longer than the Kindle 2 with the wireless turned on.

3. Better Screen & Fonts
The Kindle 3 has an updated e-ink screen and the contrast is 50% better, according to Amazon. Trust me when I tell you, it’s noticeably better than the Kindle 2. Much, much better. The updated screen alone makes it worth buying a Kindle 3 even if you already own a previous Kindle.

If you combine the new screen with the better fonts in the Kindle 3, you come up with a truly winning combination. Text is sharper and looks darker (and thus easier to read). The readability factor on the Kindle 3 is just a lot better than previous Kindles.

Amazon Kindle 3

Amazon’s third generation Kindle.

2. Cheaper Price, Better Storage & Wi-Fi Only
Another big selling point for me with the Kindle 3 is its price. At $139 it’s a pretty sweet deal, especially since I could get it as wi-fi only and skip the 3G service (the 3G version costs $50 more). I’ve never found that I really needed the 3G service that came with my Kindle 2 since I used it mostly at home and I always had a ton of books on it.

So getting an updated version of the Kindle at a cheaper price, without the 3G service was a fantastic deal for me. As I noted above, I keep a lot of books on it and with the Kindle 3 I can now keep up to 3500 books with me even if I don’t have a wi-fi connection available to download more.

1. Faster Page Refreshes
The Kindle 2’s slow page refresh has always annoyed me. I read that the Kindle 3 had a faster page refresh and I wasn’t disappointed. Pages turn much quicker than on the Kindle 2, it’s hardly even noticeable at this point.

I can’t stress enough how much better this is than the Kindle 2. Amazon says page turns are now 20% faster than in previous Kindles. It feels a lot faster than that though and it has really improved the reading experience.

When I first got my iPad, I was very excited about using it for ebooks. I loved the idea of having a color screen and being able to see color images and even embedded video in my ebooks. But the bloom is off the rose, and I have mostly retired my iPad for reading ebooks. Instead I’ve been using the new Kindle 3 and I love it!

Here are the 5 reasons why I prefer my Kindle 3 to my iPad for reading ebooks:

5. iPad Ebook Apps Aren’t Good Enough
When I first got my iPad, I was excited to use the iBooks store. I thought initially that it would come to quickly replace Amazon’s Kindle store and that I’d never bother with the Kindle application on my iPad.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Even after 6 months or so, the iBooks store still lacks the huge range of books available for the Kindle and the ones that are there are often pricier than the Kindle version. The iBooks app itself is quite slick (still slicker than the Kindle app on the iPad), but what good is a slick app if you can’t find the books you want to read on it?

When I was using my iPad to read, I found myself almost invariably using the Kindle app instead of the iBooks app. After a while it occurred to me that I’d simply stopped bothering to even look in the iBooks app when I wanted a book. Most of the time I couldn’t find what I wanted there.

But even the Amazon Kindle app itself seemed to be lacking when I used it to read ebooks. Then it dawned on me that it wasn’t the ebook apps on the iPad, it was the iPad itself that was making me less than happy while reading.

Read on and you’ll find out why.

4. Weight, Size and Page Navigation
The Kindle 3, as I noted above, is smaller and lighter than the Kindle 2 and also the iPad. I find it very comfortable to hold for long periods of time. My iPad is a bit bulkier and heavier in that regard. It’s still quite usable, but if you are doing to read for any lengthy period of time then you will notice the difference of the size and weight of the two devices.

The Kindle 3 is so easy to hold and read with, even when I’m reclining in my comfy chair. I can navigate pages with one hand while holding it. The buttons on the Kindle 3 make page turning easier and more comfortable than the iPad’s touch screen. That probably sounds like heresy to some of you who might think that a touch screen is “cooler” or better than buttons, but it’s true.

I can hold the Kindle 3 with on hand and still easily turn a page with that same hand. I cannot do that well with the iPad. The iPad’s screen tends to get smudgy after a while and sometimes you flick to turn a page and the page doesn’t turn. It can be irritating after a while.

The Kindle 3’s size and weight really do make a difference for extended periods of reading.

Apple iPad

Apple iPad

3. Distractions

One of the best things about the iPad is that it can do so many different things. You can watch videos, play games, browse the web, read & write email, read ebooks and do a whole bunch of stuff. The iPad has an enormous amount of functionality right at your fingertips, and that’s really a huge problem in some ways.

When I was trying to read an ebook on my iPad, I often found myself hopping into Safari to see something on the web; or I’d check my email, run an application, update my apps, etc. The iPad makes it very easy for anybody’s innate ADD tendencies to manifest.

Thankfully, the Kindle 3 does not do all of those things (yes you can browse the web but it’s not what the Kindle 3 was designed to do). So when you open an ebook, you tend to stay focused on it for much longer than you would if you had all of that other stuff available. I’m sure that some of you might think that I’m blaming my own inadequate attention span on the iPad, and perhaps I am.

But I noticed that I stay immersed in an ebook much easier while reading on the Kindle 3 than I ever did on the iPad. I don’t hop around doing other things; I simply focus on my ebook and that helps relax my mind and makes me feel refreshed after a session of reading.

2. The Kindle 3’s Quiet Interface & Hardware
The issue of distractions is not just about iPad apps or other functionality. It’s also in the interface. Many people think that Kindle’s interface looks primitive compared to the iPad’s since it is not in color.

I completely disagree; the Kindle 3 has what I call a “quiet interface” that doesn’t contain a lot of flashy eye-candy. It helps you focus on the content of your books not on how neat or cool the software is that is letting you read the book.

This also extends to the hardware itself. The graphite coloring of the Kindle 3 is much better than the Kindle 2’s white color or the iPad’s flashy silver color. The Kindle 3 itself simply fades away into the background while you are reading a book.

1. LCD Screens Suck for Relaxed Reading
Bedtime Reading
I stare at a computer screen frequently during the day and, frankly, my eyes get tired by the end of the day. Since I like to read in bed before I go to sleep, I found myself becoming irritated by the iPad’s LCD screen. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine for short periods of reading (especially if you haven’t already been using a computer all day), but it sucks when you want to relax and let your eyes rest.

I found that reading on my iPad before bed didn’t relax me; I still had that annoying LCD refresh thing happening while I was reading. Before I had my iPad, I had a Kindle 2. The Kindle 2 did not irritate my eyes the way that the iPad’s screen did at the end of the day.

Turning down the brightness of the iPad’s screen didn’t help much. It took away some of the annoyance of a backlit screen but it also made it harder to read the text. I never could arrive at the precise comfort balance between easily seeing the text and keeping the backlit screen’s brightness down to a more comfortable level.

So I was quite happy to plop down in bed at the end of the day and read on my Kindle 3. I don’t feel any eyestrain and I’m very relaxed when I’m done reading. The annoying LCD refresh is gone and I’m not staring into a backlit screen right before I go to sleep.

I can also read easily in the dark, thanks to the Kindle 3′s cover. It comes with a built-in lamp that I can use whenever I read at night with the lights off.

Daytime Reading
Another thing I don’t like about the iPad’s LCD screen is trying to read on it during the day in a room with the shades up and the sun coming in the windows. You can turn up the brightness of the iPad, but you still have a bit of an annoying screen glare and it’s still less comfortable than reading on the Kindle 3.

Forget about taking the iPad outside to read on a bright day, it’s just not going to work well regardless of how you tilt the device to try and avoid the sun on it. The Kindle 3 works great for that though.

Final Thoughts
I don’t want people to walk away from this column thinking that I hate my iPad or that my Kindle 3 has replaced it in all respects. I regard them as apples and oranges; they offer different things and I enjoy using both of them.

The iPad is still a great multi-purpose device and I still use it for videos, browsing the web (the Kindle 3’s web browser is better than the Kindle 2 but still sucks compared to the iPad’s), reading comics and running applications.

But when it comes to actually sitting down and reading an ebook, I’ll take the Kindle 3 any day.

What’s your take on the Kindle 3? Is the iPad something you’d use to read ebooks? Tell me in the comments.


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21 Responses to Why I bought a Kindle 3 and why I stopped using my iPad to read ebooks

  1. Stephen Douglas on January 9, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    During the Black Sale I bought a Kindle DX for less than $300 from Amazon. I wish now that I had bought the Wi-Fi Kindle 3 as the Wi-Fi has one advantage of allowing free downloads from other sites. I use Calibre on my desktop as the main ebook, and eperiodicals organizer. However, with the Kindle DX you do have a large screen which is nice on the eyes, but there is no way you can overlook the weight of the Kindle DX. Something that heavy should come with back-stand and a remote Fob to flip the pages rather than reaching over to the kindle to flip the page. I bought an after market cover with back-stand which solved that problem. Now, all I need is a hand remote fob to flip the pages. With a Kindle DX you do not need to hold the screen up close. A bit of a different animal than the Kindle 3 in that you can set it up on a desk and read from it. I am near 70 yrs old now and I really appreciate the size of the DX. But, I wish Amazon had done a little more research on the DX and had designed it as a mini-desktop reader with enlarged capabilities for students and medical staff to use it in their work as a tablet. Especially the students could have benefited using e-textbooks, but the DX is not friendly for students as they can not make notes quickly enough or find sections of text quickly and that limitation probably cost Amazon thousands of DX sales. Still, the DX should not be orphaned, but re-engineered to fill that niche that so far no other product has. E-ink is still the only way to read ebooks without ruining your eyes.

  2. Derek on September 29, 2011 at 4:59 am

    I’ve tried out both the iPad and Kindle for reading; the Kindle wins “hands down” (… sorry). The news that Kindle can also be able to loan books from libraries ( http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000718231 ) adds to its appeal!

  3. nike on June 22, 2011 at 8:35 am

    I totally agree with you, e-ink make me able to read books for hours without feeling exhausted and I just fell in reading room when I use kindle for reading only purpose.

  4. Brian on May 28, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    Enjoyed the comparison a lot. I have been struggling to purchase either a ipad or the K3 for an e-reader purpose. I am going to stick with my original gut feeling and go with the K3. Thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts regarding the two units. BK

  5. Denise jeffery on January 3, 2011 at 11:59 am

    :unsure: Hi Jim,my children brought me an IPad for Xmas,I just screamed,I couldn’t believe how lucky I was,I am a Book lover,I really asked for a Ereader,that’s what they are called here(new zealand)they have just came out here.well I have my Ipad now for reading,I couldn’t agree with you more about the size and weight og the Ipad.but it may be years before the Kindle I gets here let a lone Kindle 3.can you buy them off the web?thank you so much for your time,it’s so good that I found your site,now maybe I can get some tips.have a nice day. :smile:

  6. Nhung from Vietnam on January 2, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Thank you for your reviewing. It’s convincing me a lot :)
    I’m gonna order a Kindle 3. For Ipad, I don’t see what I’ll do with it. But I know immediately what I need from a Kindle. I love book. But I can’t always afford the price of them. And I love forest too. E-book is definitely good for forest, don’t you think? :)
    (forgive me if my English is not clear/good)

  7. Pietro on November 25, 2010 at 1:27 am

    I agree completely with your review. Someone gave me a Kindle 3 as a gift, and I use it to read PDFs. It saves on printing them out, and saves my eyes too! It’s lightweight and looks great in bright light. It could handle PDFs better though, some of them are unreadably small without magnification and there’s not much that reflowing software or amazon’s online conversion service can do for them. Maybe in Kindle 4 or 5.

    For books, I still prefer paper, and $140 will buy a lot of used paper-based books. If I had to buy it for myself, I’d wait until a really decent ebook reader was produced.


  8. John on November 13, 2010 at 6:54 am


    The kindle wins.


  9. Jim on November 12, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Thanks, John. I’m very glad to know that it was useful to you. :smile:

    I hope you enjoy your Kindle (assuming that is what you decided on).

  10. John on November 12, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Thank you very much for this comparison,

    As an avid reader and someone who would only be able to afford one of these devices, you have answered exactly the questions I had concerning which one I should buy.



  11. Jan on October 19, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    If the feature were to be added to Kindle, Jim, I would definitely get one for JS as his next gift. My Sis in Law just loves her Kindle.

    BTW as I read the Nook in waiting rooms, people want to see my “Kindle” — is it going the way of Kleenex and Xeroxing? :-)

  12. Jim on October 19, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Good point, Jan. That feature on Nook is very cool, I hope they add it to Kindle at some point. I’d definitely use it.

  13. Jan on October 18, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    I have the Nook because I can download books from my public library. As far as I know, Kindle’s don’t have the feature. 21 day lend time is plenty for me. Download super easy. Love it and don’t have a single complaint.
    Great reviews BTW,
    Jan :cheerful:

  14. Jim on October 18, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Very glad that the column was of use to you, Derek. What an awesome gift for your kids! Getting them to read is one of the best things you can do as a parent.

    Kudos! :smile:

  15. Derek on October 18, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Good review Jim, I am picking up a Kindle 3 for my oldest as an Christmas present.

  16. Jim on October 18, 2010 at 4:03 pm


    I totally agree about the storage thing, that’s why I got into ereaders too. I used to have boxes of books until I ran out of space.

    These days I keep just a few print books on my dresser and the rest are all ebooks. It’s wonderful to have a book collection without worrying about how much space it will take up. Plus I bring my books with me wherever I go via my various devices.

  17. HouTx on October 18, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    I love my Kindle3 – now my Kindle2 is a backup. Although I have never experienced any sort of technical failure with either device, it lessens the potential stress of having to exist in a Kindle-less state.

    I am a serious reader – ~10-12 books a week so I eagerly jumped into ereaders 3 years ago. And – yes, I do have a full-time job; it’s a must with a literary habit like mine. This enables me to continue to engage in my own version of hoarding without any of the nasty side-effects (books taking over all my living spaces, other people realizing that I am completely off-balance & scheduling interventions, dusting dusting dusting, etc.)

  18. Jim on October 18, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    BTW, some of you might be wondering why I didn’t get a Kindle DX.

    I looked at the DX, it’s a great ereader. But the size didn’t appeal to me, nor did I like the lack of page navigation buttons on the left.

    Plus it costs a lot more than the Kindle 3.

    So that’s why I didn’t buy a Kindle DX. Amazon has some work to do to lower the price and it desperately needs page navigation on the left. I can’t imagine always having to use my right hand to turn a page. Ugh.

  19. Jim on October 18, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Heh, heh. No, I’m not swimming in money nor do I own an expensive pair of sunglasses. I love to read though, it’s one of my hobbies. So a great reading experience is definitely a part of my quality of life and worth spending a bit of money on.

    For the record, my sunglasses are prescription glasses. If you saw them you’d know that they aren’t exactly up to speed in terms of being fashionable. :wink:

  20. PeterW on October 18, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Nah, his Kindle 3 cost less than his sunglasses.

  21. Sun on October 18, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    I will give you the number one reason why you bought kindle 3 and stopped using ipad for reading- you have too much money to spend.

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