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Well, I’ve had my Kindle for about six months now and the use of an ipad for slightly less. So, time for a bit of reflection on how I’m using them, pros and cons and likes and dislikes, and whether it has changed my behaviour.
I’ve bought about a dozen books for the Kindle. I’m still buying print books, but actually I think I’m buying less print books from Amazon, although I still buy books in the high street, driven by the ubiquitous 3 for 2 or half price hardbacks. I do try to see which is cheapest as the Kindle version isn’t always the cheapest option. I like the fact that if you do buy books on the Kindle they appear really quickly, so maybe that is why I’m not ordering print books online and waiting for delivery?
Although I’ve got the 3G version of the Kindle I find I rarely use the browser. It’s OK if you’ve no option but not a great user experience as navigation is clumsy and speed slow. I’m tending to use the Kindle on the bus, or if I’m going somewhere out of reach of wifi. Then I might use the browser for something like www.kintweet.com But the keyboard is really too small and clumsy to use with having to use the SYM for anything that isn’t a letter of the alphabet. Now I’m using an ipad I find I’m rarely using the Kindle at home as I’m tending to use the ipad.
I’m glad I got the 3G version though as it does mean that books you are reading sync to the latest point if you’ve been reading them on another device. I’ve got the Kindle software loaded on the ipad and PC to sync all the books in my collection so I can read them wherever I am and whatever device is to hand. So I’ve settled down to largely use the ebook reader to read ebooks, hmm.. no great surprise then, but I think my use is affected by having access to an ipad.
I’m using an ipad provided through work. It’s the first Apple device I’ve used for any length of time and I’m pretty impressed with it as a day to day tool. Whereas I used to take my laptop around with me at work I now tend to take the ipad. There are some limitations and frustrations, mainly to do with not being able to get into our main document mangement system on the ipad (although theorectically it might be possible to browse the folders with one of the network apps you can get). Not being able to edit MS Office documents is a bit limiting. I find I generally end up putting documents into dropbox and taking notes in the notes feature and then emailing them.
I find that the ipad connects to wifi networks at both work and home fine. The speed the device starts up is impressive and the ease of setting up email account access make it an easier tool to access email. Much quicker then Outlook Web Access.
It’s obviously a good web browser platform although not sure why it seems to have a limit of 9 browser “tabs”. I don’t much like the itunes and apps store lists of apps tools they seem to have a really poor user interface which seems designed to make if difficult to find anything in a logical way. Typing on the device itself isn’t the best experience but is OK. Using the ipad for web browsing does point out quite how many sites either don’t work well on this type of tablet or force you to go to a mobile version of the site with limited functionality or rely heavily on flash.
Would I buy an ipad myself? Probably not at the current price. If I’d bought an original ipad I’m not sure I’d want to buy an ipad2. But a tablet that could edit MS Office documents without having to go through converting them with different packages, that was multiuser, multitasking and could access networks would be a pretty useful tool.
A comment from someone in a meeting last week that on one of the websites mobile traffic was now 10% of all traffic sent me off to Google Analytics to check the latest position with our main website. We’ve certainly seen a big year on year growth in mobile use, 2010 saw 8 times the number of visits from mobile devices that in 2009. This year it looks like doubling. But still mobile use is around 2% of visits rather than 10%.
Although we do have a mobile website version it hasn’t been promoted heavily and even though it automatically detects mobile devices and directs users automatically to a mobile interface it considers iphones and ipads to be suitably internet capable to be directed to the standard website interface rather than a cut down version.
Digging a bit deeper into the analytics shows that ipad usage is now 50% of what Google Analytics classes as ‘mobile’ use (up from 38% last year). Based on the first two months of this year ipad usage looks to be up by three times, while non-ipad moble use looks to be increasing by about 20%. Whilst we are working on a new mobile version of the drupal website we aren’t planning an ipad app version.
What intrigues me is whether ipads really are mobile devices for websites. The safari browser is perfectly functional (flash inabilities notwithstanding), and although some sites direct you to mobile versions (or like google docs give you the option) it’s a purpose built internet browsing machine. This year there are dozens of tablet-type devices being launched with a variety of different operating systems. iPads already seem to be coming up as the ‘mobile’ device most likely to be using our website, internal use plays a part in that. So it implies for me that we need to be a bit more selective in how we define mobile use (and maybe so should Google Analytics) and split the mobile category into tablet use of the full website and mobile use of the mobile version.
I’ve been using my Kindle for a few weeks now and am getting used to the pros and cons of the device. [I blogged some early thoughts here]. I’ve read a couple of books on it, used it for reading PDFs and articles, tweeted on it and even looked up what’s on at a cinema using the 3G capabilities. And I’m pretty pleased with it so far. I’ve had a few conversations with people about Kindles and iPads and what you can do with them, and what you might buy. But other than a brief play with an iPad I hadn’t had the chance to be able compare the two devices. Well, I’ve now been able to spend some time over the last couple of days using an iPad so have a better idea of the different devices and have a few thoughts.
iPad first impressions
My first impressions are that I’m actually more impressed with the iPad than I expected to be. The device is solid and is fairly easy to hold on to. I’d wondered before if it might be too heavy and big to easily hold, but it seems to be pretty easy to sit and use it. I haven’t really tried using it at a desk so will see how that goes.
The screen is really very sharp and clear and I’m really impressed with it. It does quickly get fingerprints all over it and needs regularly cleaning, but that’s something I was expecting from using RFID touch-screen systems. I’ve used an iPhone in the past so the touch screen is pretty familiar although I’ve had to look up a few things that I wasn’t sure how to do. And there’s quite a lot of information out there about how to do things on the device so it’s quite easy to find out how.
So I thought I’d look at comparing the two devices in a bit more detail. Looking at how easy they are to setup, how they compare for reading ebooks, web browsing and tweeting
Kindle and iPad setup
Having bought the Kindle online it came pre-registered with the account I’d used to buy it and setup has been really simple. Setting up wifi access was straightforward and quick and worked first time. With the iPad I was expecting a bit more complexity. But the get started guide says connect it to your PC with iTunes and follow the instructions. But it was pretty easy to setup a new iTunes account and get the device working. I skipped a lot of the synching options as it’s a work iPad. The only real problem I had was an odd screen with a load of questions in Finnish so swopped over to setting up things from the iPad and found it straightforward to setup wifi access. With a colleague pointing to some instructions about setting up Exchange email I quickly got that working. The email support is one of the big differences between the two devices. You can use Outlook Web Access on the Kindle but it’s functional rather than elegant. It’s much more integrated on the iPad but I still need to play with the email display on it as it’s not yet how I’d like. Overall I’ve been impressed with both devices in terms of the ease of setup. As pieces of computer technology they both display the ease of setup that you need with consumer devices.
Obviously the Kindle is primarily an ebook reader so reading books is pretty straightforward, if you bought them from Amazon. Tools such as Calibre can help you with managing your ebooks. On the Kindle it’s easy to page through your book and a pretty good reading experience, although there’s no backlight so you are reliant on it being light enough to see the screen. E-ink is sharp and clear although the page changing black screen effect is a bit odd at first. On the iPad you’ve got a book shelf app and you can download the Kindle for iPad app. Changing pages on the iPad needs a finger sweeping approach rather than clicking the buttons on the side of the Kindle. The iPad scores with colour but is more shiny. Trying the same book on the Kindle and the Kindle iPad app I think I slightly prefer the Kindle owing to it being easier to hold in one hand and page through it.
The iPad is a superb web-browsing device (as long as you’re not looking at flash movies). It’s natural element seems to be sitting on your lap on the sofa browsing the web. With the Kindle web browsing is better than expected but navigation is a bit clunky with the five way navigation tool. The keyboard experience is a lot better on the iPad, the touch screen keyboard is a lot easier to type on more quickly, although some of the symbol keys seem to be a bit hidden away. If you’re used to texting on a phone with your thumbs the Kindle keyboard is fine, but it’s a bit small for me.
On the Kindle you can use a tool like Kintweet. It’s a neat and functional tool and uses simple single letter codes to navigate around. On the iPad you can use the Twitter website or apps like HootSuite or Tweetdeck. So on the iPad it’s much more like a PC or Mac experience.
Now I’ve had the chance to try the two devices and I’m clearer now how different the two devices are. The Kindle is an ebook reader with a few extra useful features, especially the internet access. The iPad is an internet device really, reading ebooks on it is a compromise, just as browsing the web is a compromise on the Kindle. As a device to carry around for reading a book on the bus and occasional Internet access then the Kindle is fine, for browsing the web, accessing emails and reading the occasional ebook then the iPad is probably a better bet. But with a price at four times that of the Kindle and large numbers of new tablets likely to be flooding the market this year then other devices will soon be challenging the iPad. But now I’ve ended up trying a Kindle 3G and an iPad wifi and I can’t help thinking that maybe that is the wrong way round!