iPad races Kindle for readability

Usability guru Jakob Nielsen recently released some interesting results from a set of readability tests comparing the Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad, a PC and a good old printed book.

Nielsen’s company went to some lengths to try and balance out the experience, making sure user’s were up to speed on how to use the iPad and Kindle for example, and having test subjects read a short story by Ernest Hemingway that took, on average, 17 minutes and 20 seconds to read.

After a reading each user was given a brief questionnaire to test their understanding of the story. Nielsen reports that test subjects got almost all the questions right, regardless of device. “The exam’s main purpose was to ensure that people would take the reading task seriously because they knew they’d be tested on it,” he said in a blog post on the results.

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You can read more about the methodology and the results at [his blog](http://www.useit.com/alertbox/ipad-kindle-reading.html). What I found most interesting, given the intense interest in eReaders like the Kindle and the iPad, were the results.
After using each device, users were asked to rate their satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 7 with 7 being the top score.

The winner? The PC came in dead last at 3.6. After that it was pretty much a dead heat as to satisfaction; the iPad, Kindle, and the printed book all scored fairly high at 5.8, 5.7, and 5.6, respectively.

**The need for speed**

As far as reading speed, the printed book won the top spot. Nielsen reports the iPad users measured out to have a 6.2 percent lower reading speed than the printed book, while the Kindle came in at 10.7 percent slower than print. But Apple’s marketing folks shouldn’t quite be frothing at the mouth because Nielsen said the difference was not statistically significant enough because of variations in the data.

“… 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,” said Nielsen.

“But we can say that tablets still haven’t beaten the printed book.”

Nielsen will have more on its findings at its annual 2-day Writing for The Web seminar and Usability Week conference both of which, based on my past attendance, I can confirm are [jam-packed with useful information](/webcontent/article.php/3754506/Writing+for+the+Web++and+Getting+It+Read.htm).

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