Monday, July 05, 2010

Digital Reading Tests Prove Little?

So which would win the ultimate reading test out of the iPad, the Kindle, the PC and the physical book? Take 24 readers give them a short story by Hemingway on each of the four options, time them and then test their comprehension understand .

Jakob Nielson, a leading experts on usability ran such tests and has posted his results his Alert box website.

Based on this data, the study concludes that Books are still better for reading than ebook readers.

However the numbers are very small and the time taken was very similar. Nielson says that based on the tests, reading on the iPad is more difficult then a normal book, as the story took 6.2 percent longer to read, with the Kindle being even slower. Some suggest that the new or unfamiliar interface of the ereaders would easily account for the variance in results and that over time this would be obviated. Some would suggest that the tests ignored the benefits of the technology platforms and merely focused on one aspect reading. Some would also question whether speed actually matters?

So as eInk strives to play catch up to the iPad and the world gets addicted to tablets what can we draw from this small piece of research? Some would say very little, others that the book still wins, others that the tablet with its higher resolution and touchscreen interface wins over keys and poorer resolution. We think its all academic really but if it makes Mr Nielson happy and keeps him off the streets so be it.

There again its getting close to August and news is getting harder to find!

1 comment:

Liz Castro said...

Thanks for posting this. Those tweets flying around saying "ebooks found to be slower to read than print" based on Nielsen's study of 24 people are driving me crazy.

Nielsen says they had people read Hemingway for about 20 minutes, but did they have the same person read the same text in two different media? (in which case the results would be obviously skewed) Or did they compare different (human) readers? (in which case the results would be obviously skewed)

It's just hogwash.