The iPad measured at 6.2% lower reading speed than the printed book, whereas the Kindle measured at 10.7% slower than print. However, the difference between the two devices was not statistically significant because of the data’s fairly high variability.
Thus, the only fair conclusion is that we can’t say for sure which device offers the fastest reading speed. In any case, the difference would be so small that it wouldn’t be a reason to buy one over the other.
But we can say that tablets still haven’t beaten the printed book: the difference between Kindle and the book was significant at the p<.01 level, and the difference between iPad and the book was marginally significant at p=.06.
After using each device, we asked users to rate their satisfaction on a 1–7 scale, with 7 being the best score.
iPad, Kindle, and the printed book all scored fairly high at 5.8, 5.7, and 5.6, respectively. The PC, however, scored an abysmal 3.6.
Most of the users’ free-form comments were predictable. For example, they disliked that the iPad was so heavy and that the Kindle featured less-crisp gray-on-gray letters. People also disliked the lack of true pagination and preferred the way the iPad (actually, the iBook app) indicated the amount of text left in a chapter.
Less predictable comments: Users felt that reading the printed book was more relaxing than using electronic devices. And they felt uncomfortable with the PC because it reminded them of work.
This study is promising for the future of e-readers and tablet computers. We can expect higher-quality screens in the future, as indicated by the recent release of the iPhone 4 with a 326 dpi display. But even the current generation is almost as good as print in formal performance metrics — and actually scores slightly higher in user satisfaction.