So it is not lightly that I say I might just have to find a new hobby. We bought an iPad and I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed reading on it. The ability to have several books with me at all times, and the much lower price of the books was very attractive. There was also the fact that I could keep copies of those books on my iPhone, meaning I’d have them with me whenever I had 5 minutes to read.

Over time, though, I’ve found some limitations that had me back in the bookstore. The iPad was heavy, it�s very hard to read in bright light, and its high price means you have to be very careful with it.

But then we bought a Kindle. When Amazon introduced a wi-fi version with a $139 price tag I was intrigued. Though I found the iPad difficult to read for long stretches, the convenience of having all your books with me at all times almost outweighed the drawbacks.

Having used the Kindle, I’m now completely sold on dedicated e-book readers. They have all the advantages of the iPad, and address many of its limitations:

  1. Almost perfect screen. The Kindle’s electronic paper display (EPD) looks strikingly like reading a printed page. It is remarkably easy to read and very easy on the eyes, even for long stretches – especially with the ability to adjust fonts to suit the reader.
  2. Non-reflective screen. Anyone who has ever tried to read an iPad outside in bright light knows it is very hard, and almost impossible for long stretches. The Kindle’s screen, however, isn’t reflective and is very easy to read in these settings.
  3. Very lightweight. One of the real knocks against reading the iPad for a long time is that at over a pound and a half it is heavier than even the longest hardcover books. The Kindle, however, comes in at just over 8 ounces, or less than the weight of most magazines.
  4. Ridiculous battery life. The Kindle’s battery life is reported to be over three weeks (!) without needing a charge. The iPad’s 12 hours seems almost embarrassingly paltry next to that.
  5. VERY cheap. At just $139, it will pay for itself fairly quickly just in the amount we save in lower ebook prices as compared to traditional books. Plus that puts it into the realm of devices I’d take with me to the beach, for example, where it might get broken or stolen. Not so for the iPad.

Apple bought Beats, but are they going to pay for it down the road too?

Will rumoured proprietary headphones spell the end of the road for the love affair between consumers and Apple?

Apple’s purchase of headphone maker and music streamer Beats has been widely reported recently, with a tremendous amount of speculation onwhy Apple made the purchase. Some of the early betting was on Apple taking Beats’ streaming music service and using the technology to improve lackluster Apple’s iTunes radio.

The sale struck me as odd, but only slightly so. The two companies seem very similar in the sense that they both do a tremendous job of focusing on style, design, and image. And I don’t mean that as an insult as some people do. Apple’s products are some of the best designed on the market, so people justifiably like to show them off – and making them part of their own personal style in the process. People can relate with a company that focuses so much on creating such beautifully built products.

But there’s a new rumour out that would mean the end of the road for me and Apple products. Now pundits are suggesting Beats wasn’t just bought for their streaming music service, and that Apple intends to build headphones with Beats, which also sounded like a good thing at first since Apple’s stock headphones are notoriously bad.

But then new rumours started to swirl saying the new headphones would use Apple’s proprietary lightning connector instead of a standard headphone connector. The stated reason is to improve audio quality – but let’s be honest. Apple isn’t going to fool anyone with that: if they go this route, the sole reason is to build another, very steep wall to keep people in the Apple ecosystem.

For a lot of consumers I believe if they go this route it will be the last straw. There is only so much you can do to consumers to lock them in to your products before they revolt, and this will be it for me. I think consumers will put up with a lot to be able to enjoy good products, but this is too much. Asking me to pay for new headphones when I have great ones already, or making me pay a lot for a big bulky adapter just to be able to use an Apple phone or tablet is just too much. There’s a point where you can push consumers too far and ask too much of them, and I believe this would be it.