Saturday, 19 June 2010

Back from Japan, Thoughts on the ipad & the kobo

So, we returned safe and sound from Japan on Thursday. I'd meant to post my thoughts on the ipad yesterday and start blogging about our trip but jet lag hit so I spent the day napping instead.

Of the two devices we brought on the trip, the ipad and the kobo, we definitely found the ipad more useful. My husband downloaded a mapping program, which we used to track our progress (and our walking side-trips), as well as help us in unfamiliar places to avoid getting lost. He amused himself on the airplane with various games. For the most part I used it, rather than the kobo, to read (explained below). When we could find a free connection, we used it to check email and download more games, etc. On the occasions when we encountered my friends, we'd uploaded photos and did slide shows with it. It was also a great conversation topic for my husband, as his Japanese (and often their English) wasn't good and he didn't know any of the people we were meeting.

The backlit screen was excellent for the airplane, as it meant it could be used without using the overhead light and thereby disturbing people (I tried to read the kobo on the plane and ran into this dilemma. Since the screen isn't backlit, you can't read it without an outside light source. In the past I'd always get window seats and crack the window a bit to read books, if necessary. This time I was in a middle seat, so couldn't do that).

We never found ourselves reading in direct sunlight so glare wasn't a major problem with the ipad, and you can dim the screen (in fact it's recommended to do so in order to save battery life), which makes it easier to read in sunny conditions.

Typing messages with it wasn't as hard as I'd expected. Switching between the letters and numbers takes some getting used to, but everything has a learning curve.

The ipad is fast. One very noticeable difference between reading on it and the kobo, was how long it took the kobo to refresh pages. As I said, I didn't end up doing much reading on the kobo. Part of that was because my husband was reading from it a lot of the time. But when he wasn't, I found it a pain to use. I chose Frankenstein as my plane read. I couldn't read the kobo on the plane for the above reasons (no backlight), so I started reading it on the kobo app for the ipad. What I didn't realize when I started was that Frankenstein is separated into letters, and the letters subdivided into chapters. The kobo has no way of jumping ahead to a specific page. You must either scroll between pages (and page refreshes, in this age of cable internet and instant gratification are SLOW) or you have to scroll through chapters. But the kobo didn't had the subchapters of Frankenstein listed, so once I started the 300+ page section, I was more or less stuck reading it on the ipad (or scrolling for hours, which I refused to do).

So, I'm not the best judge of the kobo's performance at the moment. I'm hoping to read a book off the kobo next week so as to give more accurate feedback about it.

In the meantime, the ipad is incredible. Reading on it was a joy. The weight wasn't a problem, the light wasn't a problem. When the screen's lighting is down it can last quite some time on a charge (we charged it every night and I think the most we drained it was to the 70% charge mark). Both the kobo and ireader apps are fun to read from. You can decide your page flip method, and they're practically instantaneous regardless of which one you choose. The option of font sizes is a plus (which the kobo has as well).

The biggest problem with the ipad was deciding who got to use it!


Kerry said...

Very interesting comments. Thank you.

Anrake said...

Thanks for the information. I recently borrowed and tried an iPad for a day to read on the subway to work, but I found it a little too heavy to hold in one hand while standing up in a crowded (Tokyo) train and holding on to the handle. I was thinking about getting a Kobo when I got back to the States next month but the slow page turning sounds painful. Maybe I'll stick to reading on the iPhone. Can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip !!

Jessica Strider said...

I can't imagine using the ipad one handed. It's lighter than a laptop, but I still either used both hands when reading off it, or propped it against something.

Stay tuned for my next kobo post. I'm planning on posting a video while using it, to show the refresh speed. From what I understand the Sony Reader (and other e-ink readers) have the same problem.