Kindle DX : Impressions from a Reader and Radiologist
Background:I used to be an avid reader, starting in grade school, through high school, and up through college. Once I began medical school, time for pleasure reading went out the window. That trend continued throughout residency, until I purchased the Kindle 1. Since I got that device in Mar 2008 (and continuing through the Kindle 2 I got in Feb 2009), I have read over 80 books, a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. The Kindle has definitely re-ignited my interest in reading and made it fun again.I am a radiologist. To keep up with my profession, I need to read journal articles monthly. I usually read these in a .pdf format on a computer screen. Occasionally, if it’s an important article I’ll print it, but usually I keep noteworthy articles on a directory on my desktop PC.
The Kindle DX seemed like the ideal solution for me when it was announced. I could still read books (with a larger screen), and keep and read my journal articles at my leisure on my Kindle. Thus, even though I had just purchased a Kindle 2, I pre-ordered a DX. I’ve had the Kindle DX for a couple of weeks now, with pretty steady daily use.
Overall Impression:I really like the Kindle DX, a lot. (In fact, Amazon should be compensating me for the amount of free advertising I’m giving them by showing the DX off to anyone who will listen.) In most situations, I prefer it to the Kindle 2, which I preferred over the Kindle 1. I read pretty fast, and it’s a real benefit to be able to have more words on the page, with a larger font, and still require fewer page turns than the Kindle 2. I don’t find the Kindle DX overly heavy. The DX cover is much heavier than the 2’s, not just because of its size but also because of the magnets. If you take the DX out of its cover during extended reading sessions, it’s very manageable - certainly easier to hold than the average hardcover, and easier than most paperbacks.
I have found that I can set the Kindle DX on my treadmill or elliptical trainer and read fairly comfortably. The DX’s size means I can set the font size larger and still require fewer page turns than the 2.The DX is a little more cumbersome to lug around, but it’s not completely unmanageable. I could fit the 2 in my back pocket, but rarely did for fear of sitting on it. The Kindle DX won’t fit into any pocket, but it’s certainly at least as portable as any hardcover, and some paperbacks.
PDF Journal Article Reading:The .pdf formatting for radiology journal articles has so far worked pretty well. The page formatting thus far has been identical to what I see on my computer screen. The text with the .pdf in portrait mode is usually too small to read comfortably, but it’s very readable while in landscape mode.
Image quality is surprisingly decent. It has usually garnered favorable impressions from the radiologists who’ve seen it. Cross-sectional images, in particular, are usually easily interpretable on the Kindle DX (particularly if arrows are added). Radiographs are harder, but frankly they’re not all that great on the printed page either.
One big complaint (already observed by others on Amazon’s boards), is that the pagination in landscape mode doesn’t work. As you page through a document in landscape mode, you quickly get off of a “top-half/bottom half” separation and start having part of the bottom of one page displayed with the top of the next. To reset this, you have to switch back to portrait mode, and then back to landscape mode (tedious). This should be fixed, and I can’t imagine it would be difficult to do.
Another complaint is the lack of folder architecture. This is a frequent complaint, so I won’t go into it too much here. It does seem a little silly to have a device with 4 GB of storage and no clear way to organize dozens (or hundreds) of documents beyond alphabetizing them. I end up copying and deleting articles using the USB cable, and will probably continue to do that until a better Kindle software solution presents itself.
The bottom line is that I can and do read radiology articles on my device. There are still a few quirks, but right now I think it’s better than any other e-reader out there. That may change in a year or so… (Yes, the printed journal itself or laser copies are probably still better quality, but that’s missing the point of this review, no need to point this out.)
Device Issues:Wireless connectivity is good - on par with the Kindle 2, which was decent. I get pretty good service in most metropolitan areas. Again, one of the main benefits of the Kindle DX is the ability to download any book you want when you want. Using the experimental web browsing feature, webpages come up pretty quickly, and if you use the mobile links to popular sites (which are mostly text) they’re really pretty useable.The gyroscope/auto rotation feature works OK, although I’ve found with theKindle DX it isn’t as useful as with an iPhone. Or maybe it doesn’t work quite as well….I tend to read with the device flat, and it can get confused and randomly rotate the screen if it’s slightly tilted off axis while flat.
Battery life is on par with the 2 - still excellent. I get about 2 weeks out of a full charge if I don’t have the wireless modem on (which I usually don’t). One big caveat - others have noted that having the auto rotation feature turned on will slowly drain battery life. Because of this, in addition to the fact that I don’t like having auto rotation on, means I simply manually rotate the page when I need to.
Keyboard is smaller than 2’s, which is fine since it gives more space for the screen, and I don’t use the keyboard much anyway. It is a little irritating to press function keys for the numbers, though.
The dictionary look up feature is still awesome. If you like to read books that challenge your vocabulary, it’s great to immediately get a definition without pulling out a dictionary and rifling through it.
The screen quality is on par with the 2. In general, the font seems bolder and darker than the 2, independent of text size. Picture quality is about the same.
I don’t use the text-to-speech or the mp3 features. They’re the same as the 2, except there’s a female text-to-speech voice on the Kindle DX.
Pros:Larger screen sizePDFs display wellImproved font qualityConvenience of book purchasing
Cons:Slightly heavier and less portablePagination of PDFs in landscape mode doesn’t work wellNeeds folders (or better file organization/searching)Price
Bottom line….as both an avid reader and a radiologist (and an early adopter, and a technophile), the Kindle DX has been a great device for me. I recommend any Kindle to anyone who enjoys reading (technophile or not), and the DX to those who want the option of reading .pdfs and having a larger screen, with the sacrifice of some portability and price.
BY Nicholas V. Stence