Readability Study: iPad Slower Than Printed Books; Offers Highest Reader Satisfaction
The iPad is a great device for users to read e-books. While we have often compared Apple's tablet with rival electronic book readers like Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook, there has not been much discussion into how the device actually compares with a traditional printed book.
This has now been studied by prominent web usability expert, Jakob Nielsen. In a recent publication, Nielsen elaborates on a comprehensive test performed by his team on a group of 32 people to look into the readability of the iPad vis-a-vis e-readers like Kindle 2, PC and a printed book.
For the study, Nielsen's team tested every user on all the four reading platforms. Users were asked to read a short story by Ernest Hemingway in a silent environment – simulating an at-home experience. Nielsen notes that all the participants were regular readers with at least a high-school literacy level.
The study draws some interesting conclusions. As one might have predicted, printed books were seen to offer the highest level of readability to users. The readability on the iPad and Kindle were respectively noted to be 6.2% and 10.7% slower than print. However, Nielsen downplays the significance of this measurement. He points out that the difference is marginal and hence shall not be a reason for people to choose one reading platform over another.
The participants were also asked to provide a satisfaction rating for each device. Not surprisingly, while the iPad marginally outscored both the Kindle and printed book, users were highly unsatisfied with the PC when it came to reading e-books. Users found the iPad heavy and was one of the things that they disliked about Apple's tablet.
Nevertheless, the study paints a positive picture for the future of eReaders and tablet devices:
"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."
How would you rate the iPad for reading e-books? Would you prefer the iPad over a printed book? Tell us in the comments.