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Elgan: Why iPad owners need a Kindle, too

May 15, 2010 06:00 AM ET

7. Magazine availability. The iPad is a uniquely compelling platform for magazines. But for now, the Kindle platform has a far better selection. Kindle offers what I think are the three best magazines: The New Yorker, The Atlantic and The Economist. It also offers U.S. News & World Report, Foreign Affairs, The Nation, MIT's Technology Review, BusinessWeek, Forbes, The New England Journal of Medicine, Reason, The New Republic and a bunch more. Note that you can't get Kindle magazines in your Kindle iPad app. You must use a Kindle.

8. Weight. The iPad weighs about a pound and a half. That's a little on the heavy side for long reading sessions where you're holding up the device. The Kindle, on the other hand, weighs only 10.2 ounces.

9. Multiple users. I'll tell you what every iPad owner already knows: Everyone wants to "borrow" your iPad (especially kids). So forget about using it to do some reading when you have family or friends around. Nobody will leave you alone. If you have both devices, you can hand over your iPad and read on your Kindle.

10. Peace. The iPad is still a huge novelty. When I'm using it at Starbucks or some other public place, I'm constantly interrupted by people who want to check it out and hear what I think about it (I've calculated the average to be one interruption every 15 minutes). If you're just there to read, nobody will interrupt you if you're using a Kindle.

11. Multitasking. There are a surprising number of situations where two devices are better than one. If you're a writer of any kind, it's nice to have source material on the Kindle as you write on the iPad. If you're watching TV on the iPad, you can also skim a newspaper on the Kindle. If you're a fan (sports, movies -- whatever), it's great to watch something on TV (World Series, Oscars, etc.) and look up trivia and facts on Wikipedia or the Internet in general or in your own book collection with the Kindle -- without interrupting the show.

12. Auto-reader. The Kindle has a computer voice that reads books, magazines and newspapers to you. Some people find it annoying. But some of us find it quite usable. If I'm in the middle of a great book and have to do something around the house, I'll just plug my Kindle into the speaker system and let the computer voice read to me.

13. Free mobile broadband. If the only reason you want mobile broadband for your iPad is to buy and download books, magazines and newspapers, then you'll save a bundle by buying a Kindle. (Traveling executives, for example, don't need to download TV shows while on business trips, but they do need to grab reading material in the taxi on the way to the airport.) The mobile broadband version of the iPad, the iPad Wi-Fi + 3G, costs an extra $130, plus at least $15 per month for the connectivity. The Kindle costs $259, but comes with free mobile broadband. So you'll save a lot of money by buying the Wi-Fi-only iPad, plus a Kindle.

If I had to choose between an iPad and a Kindle, there is no question that I'd choose an iPad. But I don't have to choose. I can have it all. And I recommend that all serious readers who buy an iPad do the same.

Mike Elgan writes about technology and global tech culture. Contact Mike at mike.elgan@elgan.com or follow him on Twitter or his blog, The Raw Feed.

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