On CNet, Scott Stein writes about why a $79 Kindle has replaced his iPad as his e-book-reading device of choice. The reasons aren’t really new, and indeed have popped up any time anyone has ever compared e-ink devices to tablets for reading: eyestrain-reducing e-ink screens, less potential for distraction, longer battery life, and less potential for being stolen (and less of a loss if it is).

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens as screen display technology gets better and lets tablets steal some of the screen-readability and battery life benefits of e-readers. Will dedicated e-readers stay around? Will they get so cheap that people treat them as disposable? Will tablets get that cheap?

It’s amazing how much the prices on big-screen high-definition TVs have come down over just the last few years. I regularly talk to people in my “day job” who paid a thousand bucks for a TV that has an equivalent costing less than half that today. Electronics prices can drop fast if enough economy of scale is applied.

So far, we haven’t really gotten to that point with tablets yet (perhaps, aside from the display issue, because only two tablets have ever really taken off marketwise). But sooner or later, we will. If nothing else, Amazon has a pretty big incentive to make both e-ink and tablet devices as cheap as possible so it can sell more e-books and movie streaming.


  1. True, epaper Kindles are better for reading the sorts of books they can display, which are novels and simple biographies. That’s what I use my Kindle 3 for, and I enjoy it quite a bit.

    But for anything with more than the simplest layout and formatting, epaper Kindles are almost worthless. The fault isn’t in the epaper technology itself, which can do virtually anything b&w paper do. It’s in the gross inadequacies of the Kindle’s embedded software. That and the fact that Amazon has yet to create software like a iBooks Author to make complex formatting easy for those who aren’t HTML gurus.

    That’s why, for textbooks, for cookbooks, and for serious biographies and reference books, the iPad is better and, with the arrival of iBooks Author, much better.

    I’ve got about a dozen books I’d like to bring to both platforms, but right now the only platform I can do them on is an iPad.

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