While the Apple iPad has been panned by some as nothing more than an oversized iPod touch, the truth is that it has a faster processor and one killer feature: A larger display. At 1.6 pounds, it’s still thinner and lighter than most other tablets on the market, and with access to over 100,000 iPod touch apps plus new software that’s being developed specifically for the Kindle, the iPad could turn out to be a very versatile platform.

Or it could just be a new way to watch movies and read eBooks. Apple plans to launch an iBooks service that will let readers find, purchase, download, and read books on the iPad. Don’t like the selection or don’t feel like signing up for yet another online eBook store? Amazon and Barnes & Noble are both working on iPad apps. Both companies already offer iPhone/iPod touch applications and the new iPad versions will be optimized for the larger display.

According to the New York Times, the Amazon Kindle app for the iPad will have a book-like interface, letting readers “slowly turn pages with their fingers.” Thanks to the additional screen real estate, Amazon is also working on a new library view that makes it easy to see your collection of books.

Neither Amazon nor Barnes & Noble have pre-release iPads to work with, which means there’s a good chance that Apple’s iBooks software will have a bit more polish out of the gate. In fact, Amazon and Barnes & Noble say their eBook readers won’t be available on day one — they plan to wait until a little while after the iPad is released before making their software available so they have more time to test and optimize their eBook readers.

So what do you think? Are you interested in picking up an iPad to read eBooks? Would you rather spend a smaller sum of money on a device like the Kindle or Nook that just reads eBooks? Or do you think that $499 and up is a fair price for an eBook reader that also functions as a web browser, video player, gaming machine, etc?

One other interesting thing to note — Amazon isn’t just developing the new Kindle App for the iPad. The company says it will be available for “tablet computers including the iPad,” which seems to indicate that this will be a cross-platform app. Does that mean it will run on Android tablet? Windows 7 tablets? I don’t know. But it shows that Amazon is far more interested in selling digital books than digital book readers. Unlike the Kindle hardware, Amazon’s Kindle software is available for free — but most of the books cost money.

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18 replies on “Is the iPad an oversized iPod touch — or a souped up eBook reader?”

  1. I like just using my Ipod touch to read books. It’s more compact the the Ipad so I have it on more often. Sure, I have to turn the page more often, but when I’m reading a book I’m so absorbed into it that I barely notice turning the page.

  2. At risk of stating the obvious, the iPad is exactly what it is. I think that’s what some people are having a hard time coming to terms with, whether intentionally for the sake of writing articles or unintentionally because it is the first device of its general characteristics to become well known.

    It’s not just an over-sized iPod touch. That would be analogous to how a 50″ tv is a larger version of a 32″ one but essentially displays the same image. In this case, the extra space will lead to a different approach to how apps are designed (aside from the initial transition period with iphone/ipod apps running enlarged).

    It’s not just a souped up ebook reader. That would suggest the primary design decisions were all made based on what’s best for reading books, with everything else being extras.

    Instead, the iPad seems clearly to try to be something different. I have zero concern that consumers will figure it out what it is and whether it is useful to them if they can avoid being misled by headlines such as this article’s.

  3. I read on my iPhone (GoodReader) – I can read faster on my iPhone then in real life.

    William, theamazingipad.com

  4. what a condescending load of crap you are pushing, Corinn!

    There are millions of people currently reading very happily on their iPhones and touchs. “actual” books. I’ve read numerous novels on my touch in the last few months. What part of “reading on a touch/iphone/Storm2” don’t you get?? You e-ink lovers are simply out of touch with reality. There is no legitimate reason to thumb your nose at reading on a small backlit screen. Screens can be adjusted for brightness and having color (ala the coming tablets from apple and others) will be a great feature for books, magazines that have a lot of color content.

    I’ve viewed books on my touch that had beautiful color photos (they were photography books). try that on a lame monochrome e-ink reader like your beloved Kindle (or similar).

  5. It doesn’t have eInk or Pixel Qi, it’s not an e-reader.

    As for you two who prefer reading books on your iPod Touch to reading actual books, I’d hate to have your eyes. I’m sure you’ll end up blind by the time you’re 70.

    1. its not hard dont complain because apple is making their ipad and then all the ”wanna be ipad” will get released and u can buy one of those i to prefer to read from my iphone then pull out my macbook or paperback and the ipad will do everything the iphone can do:) which is everythingggg..

      1. Except have a SD/microSD slot or usb port. Without those the ipad will have a hard time with the competition which will be flooding the market by Christmas.

    2. I read actual books all the time. My personal library is probably over 6000 books in the house of real physical books. I also as I mentioned have the entire Baen Webscription library over nearly 1000 books in electronic format. I have often sat at my computer and read entire books on the screen sometimes two or three in a day.

      I typically take my PocketPC or IPod touch and go out to read and have a great time. Again often reading the entire book while out and in one sitting. Never had I had the slightest problem with the backlit screen in all of this.

      The problem with a real book that a backlit device doesn’t have is that you must have a decent light source behind you to light up the text or you strain to read the text. I frankly get tired of having to have the light on over my shoulder all the time. There are times it is actually kind of annoying and frankly an e-ink device must have that over the shoulder lighting for the best reading effect.

      While I am certain there is a small percentage of the population that does have problems with backlit screens the vast majority doesn’t seem to have that problem. Thus my comment that e-ink is mainly hype. It really is and if you have a problem with the backlighting on a device you can always adjust it. You do know that don’t you?

      Pixel Qi is interesting but it is still an alpha product. From what I can see they are still working on their first effective touch screen and frankly I would like to see it shipping on devices for a year or two before I get a device that uses it. So while it is pretty and all it needs to be solidly in the market before I would expect it to be here. You note that most of the tablet devices due out this year are not trying for it as the screen. 2011 is the year I would expect to see it in more common usage.

  6. I have the entire Baen webscription library purchased and have used various devices as ebook readers for years. From my original PocketPC back in 2000 through my IPod touch that I have had for the last couple of years.

    Given that my ebook readers have always been multifunction devices I have never seen the appeal of a dedicated ebook reader. If I am going to spend a few hundred dollars on a device I want it to do more than just let me read my ebooks.

    I have also had a tablet PC for the last 4 years and frankly don’t want another one. For what I need a tablet for a device that takes 2 – 4 minutes to fully wake up is just not what I need. Nor is 2 – 3 hour battery life. Frankly I don’t need something that powerful in the role of a tablet device.

    What I will use it for is reading my ebooks, reading my PDF gaming books that I own and having them conveniently available as reference material. Quickly browsing the web for something from the comfort of my chair if I need to look up something. Easy access to the TV guide without walking over to the computer. Playing games and my music while reading.

    I also will have some tools to help me with work. Network scanning and monitors apps, and a handy remote desktop app to take control of my servers. Something I’ve tested with my IPod touch and found worked perfectly. Maybe catching a quick video or two.

    What I won’t be using it for is watching movies, serious browsing of the internet, working at anything serious. For those things I’ll use my TV or computer. What it is for is casual convenient use, not as my main functioning computer.

    So yes one of the things I’ll be using it for is as an ebook reader something I’ll never buy a dedicated device for.

  7. I do not think that the iPad will make such a good eBook reader.

    – If you want a tablet that can also be used for surfing, games, playing video and music, then you will be able to purchase android based tablets such as the Archos that will do that for half the price of the iPad or less.

    – If you really want a top notch reading experience you are better to purchase a true e-Ink based eBook reader.

    For the price of one iPad you can probably buy an eInk based reader AND an Android tablet.

  8. It is not possible to comfortably read for any length of time on a backlit display.

    Try it for yourself. Browse over to google books, find a classic, and force yourself to read for 20 minutes non-stop. Then see how your eyes feel.

    There is a reason they invented eInk displays and why eInk displays are the standard used by all eReaders today.

    Reading a book is not like browsing the web. When you read a book your eyes are constantly focusing on the printed words for hours at a time. When browsing the web your looking at the screen for only short periods of time, interspersed with looking at the keyboard, clock, TV or what have you.

    Anyone purchasing the iPad as an eReader will be disappointed in the long run. Hopefully the mass consumer won’t judge all eReaders based upon the eyestrain they will have when “reading” on the iPad.

    1. Untrue. I regularly read on a computer screen for hours. My personal ebook reader has been my PocketPC and now my IPod touch. All are backlit and I regularly read entire novels on them with no headache or other problems.

      As far as I can tell eink is just hype since I’ve never seen any benefit from it. Now it may be that some people can not use a backlit screen but to declare that everyone has problems with them is simply untrue.

    2. not true. my wife and I REGULARLY read for extended periods on our touchs and prefer that to reading a “real” book. no ambient light needed, the touch is lighter than a paperback, and I read using the smallest font available, without difficulty. and I am 62 years old. LOL!!

      Furthermore, I DETEST e-ink displays. very low contrast and lack of color makes it a non-starter for me. I don’t know how anyone can tout the “advantage” of e-ink when one has to have lots of ambient light or a silly clip on lamp, to read e-ink displays. The contrast is ABYSMAL.

    3. That’s interesting, I’ve been reading ebooks comfortably on backlit displays for years. Didn’t know I was inadvertently doing the impossible. Perhaps I should listen to what other people say is comfortable instead of my own judgement.

      Also, I wouldn’t worry about the ‘mass consumer’ either. It turns out that there is actually a very large number of consumers that make individual choices based on their own preferences. They’ll work it out.

  9. I think you mistyped apple instead of amazon in the sentence.
    “Neither Apple nor Barnes & Noble have pre-release iPads to work with”

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