Are eReaders Robust Enough for Warfighters?

I have been enjoying learning about the iPad and will have more recommendations to come about apps that I absolutely love.  That said, I want to switch back to the discussion of iPad vs Kindle–not looking at features, and the like, but from the perspective of a “warfighter.”

Today’s soldier, airman and sailor (fine, and marine) carries around not only their weapon and ammunition, but provisions, body armor and all sorts of other sundries not dreamed of in past wars.  Much is designed to ensure both success and survivability on the battlefield.  But like soldiers through the ages, they like to have diversions and distractions through reading material during the “down” times.

Enter the eReader and digital books.  The beauty of these devices is they can hold hundreds of books at weight that at most tips the scale at 1.5 pounds.  This is quite attractive for the warfighter already hauling tens of pounds of gear.

An organization has formed to provide eReaders/eBooks to troops.  Their vision is:

to build the nation’s leading non-profit organization dedicated to providing e-books and e-book technology to military personnel who are deployed overseas defending our country.

and by doing this they hope to support the men and women who serve our country, putting their lives on the line daily.

I have used this then to spurred some discussion on Twitter about the survivability of these devices in the field.  Which would hold up better, an iPad or a Kindle?

Some of the considerations have included:

  • Susceptibility of the screen to cracking/breaking
  • Dust/Sand damage
  • Battery life
  • Ability to purchase/install books

One person on Twitter, @nutzareus, has commented on his experience in the field and noted that regardless what you use you must use an OtterBox to protect your device.  He commented that he used the OtterBox Defender Case for iPhone 3G, 3GS when he was in the field.

Other contributors to the discussion include:

@dpowensj, @obsidianspider, @iPeat

So what other things should be considered?  What do YOU recommend for our soldiers?  Please, share your thoughts.


2 thoughts on “Are eReaders Robust Enough for Warfighters?

  1. The otter-box may not really be enough for the warzone. Ruggedized military versions of these devices may be needed. Beyond downtime reading- don’t we see a use in this formfactor for manuals, maps, communications, instructions etc?

    Some of the same issues have faced Negroponte and his team. Based on what they have done, I feel that power is a big issue and the device should be able to power/recharge itself. (even though the OLPC team took the hand crank out.)

  2. Oh I agree that, if we want to have these devices used operationally they will most likely “need” to be ruggedized, but honestly, those devices already exist and are being used daily to kick taliban ass. This is simply a question of what can our grunts use personally.

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