The Christmas wishlist

On the weekend I was having a chat by the pool with a friend of mine who is an executive producer at Channel 9.

We see each other every week as the kids have swimming lessons at the same time. Last week she was thinking about Christmas presents for the kids, as well as specifically thinking about what she wanted. 

She had decided to give almost all the books away that she owns at the school fete, and instead get herself something to read electronic books with as she spends a bit of time on planes. The question was “does she go for a tablet computer like an iPad, or an eBook reader like a Kindle?” She wanted my advice, not on brands, but on which format would suit her best. Since others are likely to be making a similar decision this Christmas, I thought I’d share some thoughts.

The eBook Reader

The upside:

  • They are cheap (AUD$100-$300).
  • They are lightweight (300gm-600gm).
  • They use very little power (will run 10-14 days between charges).
  • You don’t care what the operating system is, only what eBook formats they can read.
  • The electronic ink format is still comfortable to read in bright sunlight.

The downside:

They are pretty much only useful for reading books and listening to music.

The Tablet Computer

The upside

  • You can read books, listen to music, watch movies, surf the internet, send email, update Facebook, make phone calls and run hundreds of thousands of applications. 

The downside:

  • They are more expensive (AUD$200-$1,000).
  • They are heavier (iPad with 3G weighs 750gm).
  • They need to be recharged everyday if you are using them heavily.
  • The operating system you choose (Apple iPad, Google Android, Windows, others) determines which applications you can use.
  • They are a waste of time in bright sunlight, especially when covered with fingerprints.

Her decision was that an eBbook reader was probably best. She based this on the fact that they are cheap, so if it’s a mistake its not a big deal. When she decides she wants more, she will then upgrade to a tablet. Within the next six months there will apparently be80 new tablet launches so there will be a lot more value around features available and a lot of price competition.

Since I don’t use the iPad for reading books (I like paper) the tablet makes sense for me. It gets mostly used for surfing the net, email and the kids watching movies on long car trips. However I have got my eye on the Notion Ink’s Adam tablet which is due out in the US by Christmas. It’s a highly spec’d Android based tablet which will utilise Pixel Qi’s screen technology which can be run in full colour mode or a low power electronic ink mode. Effectively the best of both worlds!

Brendan Lewis is a serial technology entrepreneur having founded: Ideas Lighting, Carradale Media, Edion, Verve IT, The Churchill ClubFlinders Pacific and L2i Technology Advisory. He has set up businesses for others in Romania, Indonesia and Vietnam. Qualified in IT and Accounting, he has also spent time running an Advertising agency and as a Cavalry Officer with the Australian Army Reserve.

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