Apple iPad vs Kindle DX: Which is better for education?

Both have shortcomings, but this side-by-side comparison reveals distinct opportunity for e-readers in the classroom

Apple's iPad vs Amazon's Kindle DX

Apple's iPad vs Amazon's Kindle DX

If the iPad doesn't succeed as a consumer electronics device--its initial target market--it may find a successful second career as an electronic textbook reader.

Yes, I realize it's far too early to write the iPad's eulogy in the consumer market, and I have no intention of doing so. The device hasn't even shipped yet and, besides, numerous bloggers have already pointed out the iPad's shortcomings. Still, the iPad does appear to be hard sell to consumers who already own a smartphone and a laptop, and its appeal as a household entertainment machine seems limited.

E-Textbooks

But what about education? The iPad, with its large, vibrant color touchscreen, slim and lightweight design, and integrated Wi-Fi (with a 3G option), could be natural e-textbook reader.

The fledgling e-textbook market looks promising, and there's little competition right now aside from the Kindle DX, which has undergone a few university trials in recent months, including one at Princeton University. However, with the e-reader market expanding rapidly--just look at all the new gadgets announced at CES 2010--the competition should get fierce.

Who Wants Them?

Educational institutions aren't exactly clamoring for e-textbook readers now, particularly with school budget cuts nationwide. And Princeton students who tested the Kindle DX griped about the device's slow performance and the challenge of annotating pages. These problems aren't insurmountable, however, and future e-readers will address them.

The e-reader, be it an iPad, Kindle DX, or another device, is particularly well-suited for education. It's an ergonomic and (likely) cheaper alternative to backbreaking, overpriced textbooks.

So how does the iPad compare to the Kindle DX? Here's a quick rundown:

Price: Both devices cost about $500, although the iPad scales all the way up to $829. Both Apple and Amazon would likely offer educational discounts, however, thereby knocking a few dollars off the price.

Features: The iPad wins here, no contest. Considering its origins as a multiuse consumer gadget, that's no surprise. But it does do too much? After all, its distraction factor is high: Gaming, browsing, video, images, and so on. Perhaps a scaled-down iPad for students is on the horizon. In its current incarnation, the iPad is a procrastinating student's dream--or worst nightmare.

Displays: The screens are the same size at 9.7 inches, but the iPad's color LED-backlit is obviously the aesthetic champ. The verdict is split, however. The iPad seems better suited for e-textbooks, particularly those with color images, diagrams, and charts. And its color screen allows textbook publishers to get creative by adding video and interactive features to e-books. Then again, the Kindle DX's E-Ink display is better for English majors who read numerous books a semester, and who often find themselves staring at an e-reader screen for hours at a time. E-Ink is easier on the eyes.

Size: Not a big difference here. Both are over a pound (Kindle DX: 18.9 ounces; iPad: 24 ounces) and very light.

Battery life: Kindle DX wins easily. Amazon says the DX will run up to a week with the 3D wireless on. Apple says the iPad will run up to ten hours between charges.

Storage: Advantage: Apple. Kindle DX has 4GB of internal storage (3.3GB for user content), which is enough for 3500 books, periodicals, and documents. The iPad has a 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive. At the $500 price point, the iPad has four times the storage (16GB) of the Kindle DX.

Connectivity: Kindle DX has 3G wireless. The iPad does too, but only if you shell out an extra $130, which raises the iPad price to $629. Advantage: Amazon.

Keyboard: I have to go with Amazon here. Kindle DX has a physical keyboard that's acceptable for note-taking. The iPad has an onscreen keyboard, but reviewers have pointed out that the device's curved back makes typing a challenge, as the iPad tends to rock as you type. Users could buy the optional physical keyboard and dock, but few students would want to carry extra peripherals in their backpacks.

Both Amazon and Apple will be players in the e-textbook market. Future versions of the iPad and Kindle will address the needs of students better than the models we see today.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags iPadAppleebookamazonkindleamazon kindleapple ipad

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?