When Apple released the iPad in 2010, it entered the book publishing competition by introducing the iBooks app and pitching the new tablet as an e-reading device. Book publishers and authors alike wondered if the iPad would accelerate the sales of e-books and possibly even challenge Amazon's Kindle bookstore. Amazon presently maintains its crown as the largest retailer of e-books, but the company does not publicly release Kindle sales data. Meanwhile, the competitive landscape of e-readers has changed.
In the wake of the third-generation iPad release, most reviewers were transfixed by its high-resolution "retina" display, which delivers incredibly sharp text and images on the tablet. We decided that additional examination was warranted, and Amazon's recent Kindle App update brought support for the retina display that some say leaves e-ink blotchy with embarrassment. So we set out to answer the question: does the new retina display make the iPad the new must-have e-reader? Does the retina display trump e-ink when it comes to reading?
We compared a third-generation Kindle to the new iPad (using the iOS Kindle app) based on features that matter for reading, such as screen brightness, text rendering, and backlighting. This article is not a full-blown e-reader comparison, but instead an evaluation of the screens for people considering these devices to read books.