Monday, December 13, 2010

Better Gift: iPad or Kindle?

Two of the hottest gifts this holiday season are the Amazon Kindle and Apple iPad. On one of them you can play the popular video game Angry Birds and subscribe to Netflix, and take your pick from thousands of movies, etc. On the other, you can simply read.

Dr. Nate Kornell in Psychology Today argues "the psychological differences may be just as important.""If you plop down on the couch and fire up your Kindle (or NOOK, etc), you have to make one decision: What should I read? You might choose a novel, a magazine, a newspaper, a textbook, a scholarly article, or what have you."

"If you plop down on the couch and fire up your iPad (or Galaxy Tab, etc.), you face a very different decision: Should I read? With the Kindle, you'll probably be reading within seconds. With the iPad you could be reading within seconds, but you could also jump on Angry Birds or Netflix. Or Hulu, Zappos, YouTube, Twitter, Farmville, or Gmail, ad infinitum."

"As a computer, the Kindle can't compete with the iPad. But from a psychological perspective, the Kindle makes actual reading much easier. Not because of the screen or the technology. Because reading's your only choice. We usually think of choice as good. But choice can be a problem when you're struggling with self control."

In our online world filled with infinite, diverse choices, isn't it comforting to know that one device focuses your options in a very specific direction?