Apple's iPad vs. e-readers

Apple's iPad tablet may rival e-book readers, but these six e-readers have life in them yet

More than 40 e-readers are expected to launch globally in 2010, and many rely on electronic ink (E Ink) or related technology that today is grayscale, not color.

Many analysts expect tablet computers with color LCD displays such as the new iPad to offer e-readers a challenge, although e-reader purists balk at that concept, noting that light-emitting displays are hard on the eyes of heavy readers, sap battery life and make the devices heavier.

We pit Apple's new iPad tablet against e-readers already on the market, such as Amazon's Kindle DX and others to come, such as Plastic Logic's Que and Skiff LLC' Skiff. The smaller Kindle, Sony Reader and Barnes & Noble Nook also weigh in.

Apple's iPad

Apple's iPad is a multi-function device that focuses on multimedia and some productivity apps, but also functions as an e-reader with a new iBook store of EPub format books. Five major book publishers, plus The New York Times, have all signed on to give users views of their content from the iPad's 9.7-inch color, multi-touch screen.

It might seem inappropriate to compare this 1.5-pound device with some much lighter-weight e-readers that have far superior battery life than the 10 hours Apple claims for iPad (and probably only when not connected to Wi-Fi or 3G wireless). A big question is whether iPad's LCD screen, with its LED backlight, will only work for casual readers who also browse, play music and videos and write documents, and not for heavy readers.

Those who like to read several hours at a time might find they need one of many reflective screen e-readers devices that are easier on the eyes and use E Ink or similar technology that is now just in grayscale. Apple's iPad goes on sale in March and April, and will be available in six versions ranging from $499 to $829.

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Republished with permission from Computerworld (view original version)

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