I posted a picture of me reading an iPad nonchalantly, so you will assume I got one, and become jealous and upset, but then you'll see that fine print at the bottom of the picture, realize it's not mine, and then feel silly for getting your panties in a bunch. That's the kind of person I am.
That iPad I'm holding belongs to my cousin Andy and his wife Amber. They were in town for a conference awhile back, and they left their iPad at my house for me to babysit, along with their kids. So I thought I'd post some reviews, in case you were considering an iPad (vs. a Kindle), or thinking about babysitting Andy and Amber's kids.
First, my review of their kids, Evelyn and Preston.
1) They say all kinds of entertaining things.
2) They look and act like boy/girl twins, and who wouldn't want to sample twins for one day.
3) They equate a park with a slide to Disneyland, which is always good for a babysitter's ego.
4) They are two of the happiest kids I've ever met.
Bottom line, I give them 5 out of 5 stars and recommend you all babysit them.
Now, my review of the iPad (as compared to its nemesis, the Kindle):
It has never escaped my notice that the Kindle is slightly 1980s Atari-ish, what with its mouse-size joy-stick, and duel side flaps for old-school page turning. Seeing it next to the iPad, in the flesh, only confirms my suspicion that Amazon needs to fire the elderly gentleman in their design department.
Compared to the Kindle, the iPad is like a shiny new spaceship, but this futuristic technology is nothing we're not used to. The iPad is basically a ginorm iPhone, or, I should say, an iTouch, since it doesn't function as a phone. If you already have one of those, you would just be buying a huger one.
Excluding all the fun apps on the iPad (since you could do all that on a much-cheaper iPhone/iTouch), and speaking only from a book reader's POV, the iPad does do a lot of interesting things that the Kindle cannot do. For example, I sampled the children's book, Toy Story. It was in color! The iPad read the book to me in a very nice Woody-type voice. It was animated. There were small icons on the top corner of almost every page. Tap one, and the screen would switch to a little game of "get the floating army men safely to the ground." Tap another icon, and the screen would switch to a full-size video of "You Gotta Friend in Me" from the movie. So basically, only a few pages into the book, I had stopped "reading", and started watching a scene from the movie. Which made me think, "Why would any kid want to 'read' this, when they could just go watch the movie?"
Which made me think of THIS.
So, as far as children's books go, it was novel (ahem. pun.), but who's gonna hand this super expensive thing over to a kid so they can fake-read? Maybe right when you take it out of the box, you'd set them on your lap and let them have a gander, but after that, it'll be this never ending question: "Can I play on your iPad?" and this never ending answer: "Hells no." (The "hells" part won't be spoken out loud, cuz these are kids we're talking about, but you'll sure as hell be thinking it.)
Reading a grown-up novel on the iPad (without pictures and stuff) was cool. The pages turn with a slide of a finger across the screen, as expected. Some people may not like that it's back-lit, just like a computer screen, as it could cause eye-strain. That might bother me over time, but in the short term, it doesn't. The Kindle, if you recall, is not back-lit. The screen looks like paper. But you need a lamp.
Buying a book in Apple's bookstore, iBooks, cost more than buying the same book in Amazon's Kindle store. For example, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen sells in iBooks for $9.99, while it was only $6.27 in the Amazon Kindle store. The paperback price on Amazon is $10.04. You save a lot with Kindle, only pennies with Apple. Solution: simply download the Kindle app to your iPad and buy all your books through the Kindle store. So that's not really a mark against the iPad, but a big mark against Apple's iBooks store.
What surprised me the most about the iPad was its weight. It's a heavy mother-ship, where the Kindle is a paper airplane. It was the difference between holding a big ol' giant heavy dictionary, or holding a small, practically weightless paperback. Call me Mr. Burns, but the weight was actually a big deal to me. I read in bed every night, and I couldn't imagine holding up a dictionary-type book with my weak fragile arms.
Kindle costs $259.00 (that's after tax, free shipping).
The iPad starts at $499.00 for their lowest memory model (plus tax could add another $40, and you have to pay a recycling fee of $8 in some states, free shipping).
Bottom line: The Kindle could use a technological makeover as far as design, but it is brilliant at what it was intended for: downloading cheap books instantly to a wireless reading device. And the 1908s design doesn't interfere with that. You still have your instant gratification at a much cheaper price than you'd get with a glue-and-paper book. And since I already have that convenience, I have no reason to upgrade to a heavier, cooler-looking model. Now, if I won an iPad in a raffle, or if someone gave me one for my birthday on June 12th, I wouldn't throw it away or anything. I would be super happy and excited because it's pretty darn awesome. But when I got all tucked in bed at night, I would probably turn on my lamp and reach for my light-weight Kindle.