Category Archives: Reading

eReading: Kindle Paperwhite 2 vs. iPad mini retina

iPadminiretinaAndPaperwhite2

I bought the iPad mini with retina in late November 2013. I’m a long-time Kindle owner since the Kindle 2 and had the Kindle touch, Kindle 4 and the Kindle Keyboard. But swore I would just use the iPad mini and not get the Paperwhite. I broke down and got the Paperwhite for $139 — the price without ads.

Paperwhite Has the iPad mini Beat for Extended Reading

Size and Weight. And the size is perfect for ereading — I’m convinced. You don’t need the 8″ iPad mini screen unless you want to read oversized things like textbooks. Most of my reading is for fiction or other non-fiction that has very few illustrations so you don’t need a big screen.

E-Ink Screen. In exchange for not getting color, you get a screen that is probably best for your eyes compared to the typical computer or iPad screen. Lots of people who have iPads and iPhones still carry a Kindle to get this benefit.

Great Value.  I’m very impressed with what you get in the Paperwhite. The special side lighting works great to give you the perfect lighting in any situation. Touch responsiveness is much improved over the Kindle touch (I still wish they had page flip buttons like they used to on Kindle Keyboard and prior, but hey?).

But I Still Prefer the iPad mini with retina

Touch Responsiveness. I stopped using the Kindle touch because it was too slow and unresponsive. Responsiveness is now adequate on the Paperwhite 2 but I still find the touch experience far behind that effortless, immediate iPad touch responsiveness.

Color Highlights. I love and prefer the size of the Paperwhite for extended reading, but, for me,  the other advantages of the iPad mini with retina override that size preference. I like highlighting even in fiction and if I’m highlighting several things on a page I appreciate the ability to put those highlights in different colors. I’m sure I’m in the minority on this highlight thing though.

Better Screen. At $399 vs $139, the iPad mini better have a better screen than the Paperwhite. I love the crisp text on that screen. Even if it isn’t e-ink. My eye doctor may disagree.

Bottom Line

Advantages of the iPad mini retina for ereading:

  • Touch Responsiveness
  • Colored Highlights
  • Better Screen

Advantages of the Paperwhite 2 for ereading:

  • Size and weight is great for extended reading (over 30 minutes)
  • Special e-ink light is better for your eyes
  • Incredible value

Coffee Shop Computing circa Dec 2012

Let’s agree that computing extends to iPads and iPhones, tablets and smartphones and the iPod touch. I prefer to get my morning exercise and some caffeinated computing done while outside the house at a local coffee spot. My rule is that I can’t go play at the local coffee shop unless I walk there. Seems fair.

I have a near weightless REI backpack to carry my gear – the kind designed for carrying water while cycling. Here is my current configuration:

  • retina MacBook Pro 13″
  • iPad 3 and/or iPad mini
  • iPhone 5

With this lineup, there’s no need for an extra keyboard, I’ll use the rMBP if there’s much typing involved. And love every minute of it. Cost 3.5 lbs.

Favorite writing apps include Day One, Byword and iA Writer. I’ve grown to prefer apps that support markdown because rich text isn’t universally supported across apps and is especially weak on iOS. I also prefer doing my email (Mail), strenuous web research (Safari) , free form diagramming (Scapple) and other non-iOS work like FileMaker Pro development on Mac (I just finished release 12 of my Studio Manager product – yay!). I got a lot more enthused about Mac once I acquired this retina wonder in October.

Reading, which is probably the biggest chunk of my time on these outings, is done on iPad 3 with its awesome retina and better reading form factor. It’s almost a toss up between the 3 and my cute, svelte, nearly weightless iPad mini. I often take both of these so I have the choice between the sheer eye pleasure of retina or the feather-weight delight of the mini. If you take the iPad 3, what’s another .68 lbs? Both offers you the chance to switch away from the iPad 3 if it starts feeling heavy after a while. The already rumored retina mini may make this twosome obsolete next year. The only casualty in all this has been a Kindle – I haven’t popped for a nearly free ($119) Kindle Paperwhite due to lack of juggling capability. Even I have my limits.

Where does that leave the iPhone 5 then? This handheld of choice is still relevant my friends. The form factor is incredibly ahem handy especially when moving or in line. You still can’t beat the ease of use you get when in motion – walking to and from my coffee place of choice. If not in hand, it is in pocket and ready at a moment’s notice. I still prefer this little guy when reading in bed or on the couch in many cases. This preference will probably go away once the retina iPad mini is here. But the iPhone 5 awesome retina – better than ever due to blacker blacks, is a serious competitor for reading with the much less rewarding text of the iPad mini. Don’t forget all those lines we wait in. The omnipresent iPhone 5 is there by your side. No pack or purse required. It doesn’t hurt that it has cellular data either.

Considerations on Whether to Get an iPad mini

Oct 29: I see that all models of the iPad mini are now showing 2 weeks for their delivery time in the US Apple store. Brave souls have taken the plunge sight unseen. It would help to evaluate this new device to hold it in one’s hand and try it out though. I’ll report back to you on Friday when mine arrives.

Like most Apple products, the build of the smaller tablet is excellent, easily surpassing the competition on the market. By comparison, the Nexus 7 and Fire HD feel like toys. Other manufacturers are going to have to up their game with this product in town. It’s just a striking difference in materials and solidness.

Updated Oct 26: I  preordered a white, wifi-only 16gb iPad mini at midnight Thursday. Please note, I would get an LTE 32gb iPad mini if it was my only iPad but I’m keeping my iPad 3 LTE. I can create a personal wi-fi hotspot with my iPhone 5 for my mini if needed.

At $329, the iPad mini is a more costly than we expected. I had it pegged at $249 and some thought Apple might get crazy and hit $199. I already have the iPad 3 which is now old news with the new iPad 4 announced yesterday.

I thought I would pounce on the mini when I imagined it to be a cheap smaller iPad even if it wasn’t retina because I wanted a Nexus 7-sized tablet that could be a cross between a color kindle and an iPad. I could forget about Kindle and be iPad all the time using my iPad 3 at home mostly when a bigger screen seemed better and using the mini around town when I was travelling light.

Spoiled by the size and lightness of the Kindle 2, I’ve wanted a smaller, lighter iPad all along. I bought a Kindle Fire last December. Even though it is a bit of brick, I liked the size especially for reading. I bought a Nexus 7 in July and love its size, shape and weight. Both of these are gathering dust because I can’t get the apps I want on these devices. I’m not married to google, so that ecosystem doesn’t hold me. I strongly prefer iBooks as an ereader to the Kindle app and don’t appreciate the dumbed down interface on the Fire.

There is inherent loss in just reducing a product in size. We took the time to go back to the beginning and design a product that was a concentration of, not a reduction of, the original. – Jony Ive

These are my big considerations on whether to get this little iPad mini:

  1. The size, thinness and lightness. Everything I liked about the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 will be even better on the mini. It will be easier to hold while I’m using it. It won’t have to be propped up and accommodated to get into a comfortable position. It will be cute and lovable. It will be fun.
  2. It doesn’t have a retina display. I love my iPhone 5, iPad 3 and MacBook Pro retina displays. Firsthand observers who played with the iPad mini yesterday say it is noticeably not a retina display. The word disappointed was mentioned even though further comments emphasized that the screen is very good and better than the iPad 2 screen which is good. I hope the greatly reduced size and weight is more than a fair trade for losing retina. Even for someone spoiled by other retina devices. Retina is high priced in terms of size and weight (you need more batteries).
  3. It’s expensive especially when compared to the Kindle HD 7 and Nexus 7. The comparable Nexus 7 is $249. You have to pay an extra $79 to get the better hardware (but not better screen) and app ecosystem. That hurts. On the other hand, you know very well that $79 doesn’t go far and your time has value. If this tool works for you, do you want the best in class tool or one of the cheaper, economy tools?
  4. It’s a cheap iPad. I paid $359 for my Kindle 2, so this is an amazing bargain in a lot of ways. This is going to be great if you don’t have an iPad yet. It’s $170 cheaper than the iPad 4 retina.
  5. Should you have both a mini and a regular, though? That’s my question. How many devices can you use? This may just be a the right tool for the job situation. I know that my iPad 3 is great when I’m sitting up in bed with my knees up. It’s great on a table with my Logitech keyboard cover when typing. When I need room for whatever reason, that bigger canvas will still be preferable. But when those situations aren’t there and I want easy and light, like for reading which is my highest percentage use, the truly pad-sized, iPad mini will be great! The iPad mini will be a lighter adjunct to my laptop when I need to bring it along with me.

One thing I consider when indulging in more than one iPad or other tablet device like the Kindle or Nexus 7 is that we are moving away from paper. As we do so, we will need digital paper devices of different sizes just as paper pads and notebooks come in a variety of sizes. We don’t limit ourselves to one size of paper pad but use many sizes. The full-sized iPad may be your perfect size, especially if you are a fairly large-sized human. Women, normal to small-sized men and children will really love the iPad mini’s smaller, lighter, more portable form factor.

One last thought. The iPad mini will certainly get a retina display in a future update. Just as the Macbook Airs will get retina. But, the extra size, weight and processing requirements of the retina display are tradeoffs that these diminutive devices cannot yet abide.

Related post: Nexus 7 vs. Kindle Fire 2 vs. iPad mini updated Oct 23 2012.

Other good posts on iPad mini:
eReader Joy: New: iPad Mini.
Josh Topolsky, the Verge: Apple iPad mini Hands On
iPhone J.D.: Why Lawyers will love the 4th gen iPad and iPad mini
James Kendrick: iPad mini: Why I’m buying one as soon as possible

Writing Kit is the best Writing App for iPad Right Now

The New Writing Requires New Tools

Writing, INKNOP-style. This blog is all about tools for independent knowledge professionals. If you are an INKNOP, as my friend, Mike Van Horn, likes to call us, you are running your own business. Among other things you need to market yourself. I consider blogging and eBook writing the two best ways to do your marketing, so I blog and tweet a lot about writing tools.

The reason this makes so much sense for a knowledge professional is that you are in the know in your specialty and you can show off that knowledge, help people and gain fans, even sales by sharing some of that precious knowledge you have in your head.

Researching while Writing. Since I’m in the technology field, my knowledge is deep but the playing field, players and tools are constantly on the move. It is rare that I don’t need to do some research in order to write a decent blog post. Since the whole world seems to be changing out from under us, you too might need to do some research when you write.

Writing is Changing. That brings us to Writing Kit for iPad (and iPhone/iPod Touch). As I’ve mentioned previously, writing itself is changing. Paper is no longer the primary output. Email has been king and still dominates. PDFs get sent around. People blog, tweet and lately lots of people are writing eBooks. It’s pretty wild. Word Processors still sometimes apply and some may never give up their love affair with Microsoft Word. But we are moving on.

Online All the Time. We live in a net-connected world. We work online a lot now and Writing Kit is designed for the online writer.

Laptops in Coffee Shops. We have moved from sitting at a desk to do our writing to just sitting somewhere. First with laptops that allow you to move around the house or go down to your local coffee house to write and research online.

Now iPads and iPhones. Now there is this big surge towards even thinner, lighter, smaller devices that fit us even better. The iPad is the brand new writing tool that is starting to take hold – and replace laptops for writing and research.

Writing Kit is designed for this new world and explicitly designed for the iPad. The iPad is big compared to an iPhone but small compared to the typical laptop. You operate the iPad with your fingers which means controls need to be bigger so you don’t really have room for multiple windows like you do on a laptop.

One App, Many Apps. This lack of screen real estate on iPad gives the advantage to a single multipurpose app for writing and online research. In this single-tasking, smaller screen, apps need to have mini-apps within or temporarily handoff tasks to other apps which can politely work with them.

Writing Kit is Leading the Way. The maker of Writing Kit figured this out faster than many others and has built this awesome app for what we need in our new world. The feature set is truly killer.

Killer Features:

  • Built-in Web Browser which uses Readability
  • Built-in Search (DuckDuckGo)
  • Deep integration with Instapaper
  • A URL Queue for saving links
  • Markdown to write easy, non-distracting shorthand HTML in your documents.
  • A great Markdown cheat sheet built-in
  • A really nice scrolling extra keyboard row
  • Gesture control of the cursor and indenting.
  • Outline navigation
  • Great monospaced fonts like Anonymous Pro, Inconsolata and Droid Sans Mono.
  • Terminology integration (cool dictionary and more)
  • A giant list of Open in… Apps
  • Dropbox, Text Expander, etc. of course

True, you may not always be writing and researching. maybe you can get by with iA Writer or Byline or another less powerful tool. But I recommend you hang out in Writing Kit a lot when writing on your iPad. It is more fun to bring iPad with or without a Bluetooth keyboard when out and about. Compared to the alternative of a laptop. Writing Kit does very well with an external keyboard in case you doubted it.

One man show, Anh Quang Do. Be afraid! Be very afraid. He is an amazing developer! And he writes so you get good documentation othrow to use the app. Check out his blog here. Other larger text writing app firms will catch on – one would think. So I’m hoping some judicious hiring is in the works. I have no complaints at all with how fast the features are rolling out, though. A big new 3.0 release came out in February and I wouldn’t be surprised by a 4.0 release in May or June.

You can buy Writing Kit for iPad and iPhone/iPod touch for $4.99. A great, great deal. If you like this post, you may want to check out: Writing on the iPad: Top Dropbox Text Editors. I continue my thinking about writing in my next post: Writing on Mac, iPad, iPhone – Best Apps. There are a couple more nice writing apps to include in your toolkit.