Elgan: Why iPad owners need a Kindle, too

Got an iPad? Don't sell your Kindle. Each does what the other doesn't. Together, they're a total e-book solution.

When I first opened Winnie-the-Pooh on my iPad's iBooks app, my first thought was: "Oh, man. The Amazon Kindle is in trouble." My second thought was to sell my Kindle. This impulse was strengthened after I installed the Kindle app on my iPad, which gave me access to all of my Kindle books.

But now that I've used an iPad for a month and a half, I've come to realize that I still want, need and love my Kindle.

In a nutshell, the e-book reading on the iPad is generally great. But the list of things the iPad does badly is identical to the list of things the Kindle does well. And vice versa.

Here are 13 reasons why I think every reader who owns an iPad also needs a Kindle:

1. Reading in the sun. Most active readers enjoy reading in bright light or even direct sunlight. The iPad is unreadable in direct sunlight, but the Kindle works best in the sun.

2. Overheating. For a tablet computer, one of the iPad's many charms is that it's totally silent. It has no fan. However, in direct sunlight, in a hot car or in hot weather, an iPad can overheat and shut down. The Kindle is more heat-friendly.

3. Security. The iPad is a tempting target for thieves. If you're going to do some reading at, say, the beach, the Kindle is vastly superior, not only because of the way it performs in sunlight and heat, but also because it's less likely to be stolen. If you intend to tuck your reading device under a towel and take a dip in the water, well, you're just not going to do that with your shiny new iPad, are you?

4. Reading before sleep. It turns out that reading on or using any device with a back-lit screen can interfere with the quality of your sleep. The iPad has a very bright screen (Apple wisely built a screen dimmer slider bar right into the iBook interface). But the Kindle screen is passive, meaning that it merely reflects light. So if you're like a lot of people who read in bed before sleep, reading on a Kindle will probably help you sleep better.

5. Battery life. The iPad is famous for long battery life. I personally get about 12 hours of active use. But the Kindle battery lasts two weeks! If you're traveling, camping or flying from Idaho to India, or if you find yourself in any situation where you're going to be away from an electrical outlet for more than 12 hours, you can do your reading on a Kindle and save your iPad's battery for other things.

6. Book availability. If you're a serious reader, you're going to need an Amazon Kindle account anyway. This isn't a strong argument in favor of owning Kindle hardware, since you can read Kindle books on the iPad app. But you can't get by with the iBooks store alone. Since I bought my iPad, none of the non-classic books I've tried to purchase have been available on iBooks -- but they have been available on Amazon.

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