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The iPad is one of the most versatile devices available today! Not only can you use it as a powerful tablet to write, game, edit videos, draw, and more, but thanks to Apple’s improvements in both software and hardware, the iPad is closer than ever to becoming a total laptop replacement. Likewise, the iPad’s display so good; watching movies and browsing the web is snappy and beautiful. The same goes for reading, but the iPad might not be the most comfortable device for that.
Enter “e-readers,” iPad-like devices that are built to read digital books. They’re sleek, comfortable to use, and better for reading overall. However, they’re more expensive than you’d think.
So between the iPad and an e-reader, which one should you get? Here’s what you need to consider.
If you want to read, and nothing else, get an e-reader.
There’s a reason why e-readers still exist. And if you’re looking for something that will help you read for long periods or stay focused, an e-reader is the clear choice. E-readers don’t have notifications, apps, or reminders that might distract you from reading.
If you want to get yourself or your kids into the habit of reading, an e-reader is the way to go. Speaking of kids, these devices are tough enough for kids. Moreover, if you’re like me—far more careless than a kid—you’ll love how durable they can be. Some e-readers are even waterproof, so they’ll be able to survive spills or reading by the pool.
Another great thing about e-readers is their battery. Since e-readers’ displays aren’t that demanding and don’t require much power, the battery life of any e-reader will last a long time, even if you use it daily, which is something the iPad can’t do.
Last but not least, the display. Even though any e-reader’s display can’t compete against any iPad’s Retina display, e-readers’ screens are designed to help you read without eye strain. Further, recent studies show that Apple’s Night Shift might not help you sleep at all, so there’s really no benefit there. Overall, e-readers are generally more pleasing to use at night.
If you want to do anything other than reading, get an iPad.
Just because e-readers are better for reading books, that doesn’t mean you can’t read with an iPad. The iPad’s display is more than suitable for reading every book you have in your library. Likewise, the iPad is much better for reading other things that aren’t books. For example, if you need to read PDFs or Word files, the iPad is basically the best and only way to accomplish this.
Where the iPad really shines is in the productivity department. While an e-reader will only help you read, an iPad will help you read, take notes for school or work, or just browse through the web or binge-watch your favorite shows.
Additionally, thanks to Apple’s changes in the iPad’s software and hardware, the iPad is more of a laptop replacement than ever. You can literally connect your keyboard and mouse to your iPad and start working as if it’s just another computer. If you’re into reading, but you also want a device that will help you in your work hours and leisure time, the iPad is the best choice by a landslide.
What’s bad about both devices?
Neither of these devices is perfect, so before you buy one or the other, there are a few things you need to know. First, e-readers are very restricted. Taking Amazon Kindle models as an example, you won’t have many options other than reading, as we’ve mentioned. Also, many Kindles are “ad-supported,” meaning you’ll see ads on the device to allow a lower entry cost, which may or may not be worth it to you. Granted, these ads won’t affect your reading experience at all, but if you want to get rid of them, you can upgrade for only $20.
One more thing regarding Kindle, since it’s the most popular e-reader out there. Kindles only have outdated micro-USB ports, which now are harder to find than a Lightning cable. This means you’ll have to carry around your own cable or hope that someone has one to spare. But in 2021, that isn’t easy.
Last but not least, the price. The most expensive e-readers, Kindle or not, can cost hundreds of dollars. Now, I know what you’re thinking, so does every iPad. But with an iPad, you get more than just a reading machine. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some affordable options out there, but it’s something to keep in mind.
On the other hand, the iPad isn’t perfect either. The battery won’t last as long as an e-reader, and if you’re planning to read a lot with your iPad, it will be a bit more uncomfortable. Even the iPad mini has enough weight to be arduous to hold for an extended time.
The iPad’s display isn’t the best for reading at night either. You can lower the brightness and use Night Shift or True Tone, but there’ll be a moment at night when the iPad’s display might be too bright for your eyes or difficult to read in general.
Finally, compared to an e-reader, iPads aren’t as resilient to damage. You won’t want to toss around an iPad like an e-reader. In a durability test, my money is on most e-readers.
Help, I still can’t decide!
If you want a device that can help you read, work, study, game, and kill time, the iPad is the only way to go. Even if you go for the most affordable iPad, you’ll still have a machine with outstanding performance that’ll help you with virtually any task, and it’ll still allow you to read your favorite books.
Our top pick: iPad Air
On the other hand, if you need a device that’s simple, durable, and will keep you focused on reading, you need to get an ebook reader. Sure, you won’t have many features, but that’s what you have an iPhone for. Plus, you can toss it around, use it for days without thinking about battery, and enjoy your favorite books on a screen that won’t strain your eyes, even by the pool.
Our top pick: Kindle Oasis