Like usual, Apple’s iPad has created a great deal of speculation and curiosity. While the iPad takes its first steps, many questions remain about the capabilities of the device to compete with other e-book readers such as Kindle, Nook or the Sony Touch Edition.Can we really consider the iPad as a reading tool? Is it made for reading e-books, magazines, and newspapers?
Elements of response:
In terms of hardware, iPad uses an LCD touch screen of 9.7 inches with a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels. Although it is prone to glare, the screen offers sharp and quite incredible colors. Yet many people believe that LCDs are tiring for the eyes and prefer their screens to use the e-Ink technology. This impression is confirmed by our experience on computers. For some, a long time passed before an LCD will tend to cause sore eyes and headaches. One can nevertheless wonder whether this physical reaction is the result of a combination of factors, from our position, sitting staring at the screen or the LCD itself. Anyway, the iPad screen does not really pose problem. Instead, the high contrast and the backlight allow you to use the device in condition of weak luminosity without affecting the readability. In contrast, the screen tends to become less readable outdoors because of the glare. For their part, the e-Ink screens have opposite results. While it is entirely possible to read a book outside in the sun, it is imperative to use an efficient lighting indoors to read the text properly.
Weight is another criterion to consider. This is the first thing that surprises you when you take the iPad in hand. With 680 g (730 g for 3G), the iPad is much heavier than the 5 / 6 inches ( 250 g) readers. Some will see this unacceptable, considering the weight too high, especially since it is not always clear how to hold it. Others argue that reading is usually done in sitting or semi-recumbent positions. You can simply put the iPad on your knees or against your stomach, so the weight is no longer a problem. In fact, one gets used to it pretty easily.
Finally, responsiveness and touch interface of the device are undoubtedly the two most important elements. Navigating the iPad is done with disconcerting speed and fluidity, while the touch screen helps create a more intimate relationship with the reader, who can adjust, at will, the zoom level, size of characters and focus more on content. The reading experience is incomparable with the one that we could have on a computer. In a natural manner, you can touch, slip, and pinch the screen to directly interact with the text.
Reading applications & user’s experience:
Beyond the material aspect, the strength of the iPad lies in its ecosystem and the number of proposed applications. During the presentation of the product in January, Apple had made clear its intention to invest the segment of e-reading by opening its own store of electronic books: the iBookStore, integrated within the application iBooks. Apple has managed to impose its revenue model, the system of “agency”, with American publishers and stimulate the interest of newspaper editors to develop innovative applications (Wired, New York Times, Le Figaro). The iBooks application is visually very successful, and the interface choice made it close to a classic book in order not to destabilize the new readers. It adds, however, popular features like the ability to enlarge text, to change the font, to perform a search in the document or to go directly to a part of the book via the table of contents.
Overall, it is quite easy to dive into a book on the iPad. Furthermore, Apple wanted maximum ease of the process of finding / buying / downloading e-books so that users can enjoy the books purchased without having to worry about DRM or to install software. Users can also add ePub files freely without DRM. The situation is different for newspaper publishers, although here too the question of price and relevance of the economic model are questionable. If reading books on iPad may not be appreciated by everyone, magazines and newspapers have another consideration. They can indeed take advantage of the easier skills of the iPad (color, Internet) to provide innovative applications inaugurating new models / layouts that showcases the interactive elements while combining editorial and Internet content. Applications such as Wired show how it is possible to redesign a magazine from the web and focus the reader’s attention to the written content and multimedia.
Pros of using the iPad as an e-reader:
1) Apple’s iPad has a large memory capacity (16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB)
2) It is bigger than most e-readers, but stil very compact (dimensions: 24.28 cm x 18.97 cm x 1.34 cm; weight: 680g “Wi-Fi model” or 730g “WiFi 3G version”)
3) The iPad combines both text and multimedia by offering interactive and customizable magazine and news content. 4) You can buy e-books easily.
Cons of using the iPad as an e-reader:
1) The iPad’s battery life is very low compared to the 2-weeks battery life in other e-readers. If you move a lot, this will be a big problem.
2) The iPad has a high resolution glossy color screen, the same as in many laptops. So, it is not suitable for long periods of reading which is not a problem in E-ink devices.
3) The price is expensive in comparison to many e-readers
The iPad is primarily a consultancy unit particularly suitable for reading magazines and newspapers, browsing the web, reading RSS or working documents. It lends greater attention to the texts than on a computer because it creates a more direct relation to content with the user. The iPad has in any case the potential to change our relationship with books and therefore change our reading habits, but the transition may be slow and difficult, especially if it is not encouraged by attractive prices.