My Mental Entanglement: Kindle vs iPad

(Kindle photo taken from

(The Apple iPad Photo: HO/REUTERS)

This past Christmas, I was thinking about buying a Kindle as a Christmas gift for a friend and also for myself. After spending a lot of effort to resist the tempting ad on the center of Amazon’s front page claiming the Kindle was the most popular gift, I finally decided to wait. Why? Because I just could not persuade myself to get such a single-function device in a multi-function world, and I believed there would be something incorporating more useful functions and at least, be more colorful.

Now comes the long-awaited iPad, yet somehow I still miss the days when it was still a mysterious “Apple iTablet”, a product of rumors and imagination. All sorts of great hopes were placed on this magic device; to some extent, these expectations have far exceeded any e-reader. I have to admit that, at that time, like many intrigued people, I did not actually have a clear idea what I was really looking for in an “iTablet”, but instead just had vague ideas that it would be a powerful entertainment center; a slick notebook that allows us 24/7 internet-access; a heaven-crafted device that would bring us into a totally new media-consuming era.
When the iPad finally arrived, there was no surprise why it disappointed so many people. According to Apple itself, it was something meant to fill the market gap between the iPhone and Notebook, and Apple believed there was a gap between the two. This original positioning explains why it only incorporates certain functions and disables other ones. But unfortunately, most electronics consumers do not quite feel there is a gap there, and this miscalculation of the market is the primary source for the product’s potential failure. At the same time, because most people do expect the iPad to be functional and replace their notebook, and to be mobile enough to beat the iPod Touch, much dissatisfaction is in the air. Yes, people want a keyboard, people want a camera, and people want more 3G carriers (or at least, anything but AT&T). Even though Apple tried to define the iPad as capable of being an e-reader and web browser, and tried to demonstrate its effectiveness at these tasks, many people’s requirements for the iPad have already exceeded the device’s actual designs.
At this point in time, like all the other unsatisfied iPad would-be-customers, I definitely would not buy an iPad, at least not this first generation model. But would I go back to the Kindle? I do not know either. The backlash against the iPad has helped me to appreciate Kindle’s simplicity as being an e-reader. At least people who buy the Kindle know what they want it for. But do I want a device to just read books? I have to admit, originally I just wanted an e-reader, but now the cat is out of the bag, and I can hardly go back now.

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