I have owned both Kindle 1 and Kindle 2, so I’m already committed to the basic idea: e-ink reading in a slim form factor with excellent connectivity to a large selection of books and subscriptions. I have come to rely on my Kindle experience, and it has seriously enhanced my reading.
The Kindle DX was not an obvious upgrade for me, but two features put me over the edge: the larger screen, and the native PDF reader. I now have the DX in my hands, and can report PROS, CONS, and NEUTRALS:
– the larger screen is a definite plus. I use the larger type size on my Kindle 2 (older eyes), and at this type size I get far more text per page on the Kindle DX. This makes the whole reading experience more book-like (and should be a boon to people who buy large-print books.)
– the screen is also sharper and crisper than my Kindle 2 in a side-by-side comparison: the text is darker, and the contrast is much better, making for better visibility overall.
– on a side note, the larger screen also makes it possible to read poetry on the kindle, even at large type sizes. On earlier Kindles, the smaller screen cut off lines, so that you would lose the sense of when the poet ended the line. On the Kindle DX, you can see the whole line exactly as the poet meant it, with the cut-off in the right spot.
– the PDF reader works as advertised, and is extremely convenient. PDF documents appear on the DX exactly as they do on a computer screen. Moreover, you can drag and drop your documents directly to the device using the USB cable (or use the for-a-fee email if you absolutely must.) The only downside: at least for the documents that I’ve used so far, I cannot adjust the type size as I can with native Kindle documents.
– screen rotation also works as advertised: it operates as a mild zoom on both graphics and text and offsets slightly the downside of not being able to adjust the typesize on PDF documents. One nice design touch: the four-way navigation stick introduced on the Kindle 2 is rotation-sensitive, and will move as expected relative to the screen rotation.
– more of the device space is devoted to the screen, while the white plastic border around the screen seems to have shrunk, both in general and compared to the proportion of screen to plastic on the Kindle 2. I like this (but see below about the keyboard).
– storage: I like the increase in storage space, and don’t mind the lack of an external storage card. I can see some people having trouble with this, but only those folks who either a) must regularly carry around PDF documents totalling more than 3.5 GB of space or b) must have nearly 3500 books regularly at their fingertips. I fall in neither category.
– price: it’s expensive, as you can tell pretty quickly. If you value the larger size, and the native PDF reader, these features may justify the roughly 30% premium you pay for the DX over the Kindle 2. In truth, the Kindle DX SHOULD cost more than the Kindle 2, and a 30% premium isn’t unreasonable. But, for my money, Amazon should drop the price on the Kindle 2 to $300 or so, and charge $400 or a little less for the DX. Still, I bought it, and will keep it at this price.
– one-sided navigation buttons: all of the buttons are now on the right side, and none are on the left. I’m a righty, so I shouldn’t complain, but I found myself using both sides on the Kindle 2. Lefties have reason to complain, I think.
– One-handed handling: I often read while I walk, with my Kindle in one hand, and something else in my other. Because of the button layout, this will be more difficult on the Kindle DX.
– metal backing: I miss the tacky rubberized backing on my Kindle 1. When I placed my Kindle 1 on an inclined surface, it stayed in place. Not so my Kindle 2 and now my DX. This is not a complaint specific to the Kindle DX, but it’s still there.
NEUTRALS (i.e. things worth noting):
– weight: the Kindle DX is heavier, noticeably so. This is only an issue if, like me, you regularly use the kindle with one hand . . . and even so, it’s still doable.
– keyboard: the keyboard has 4 rows, and not 5: the top row of numbers from the Kindle 1 and 2 has been merged into the top qwerty row, so that numbers are now only accessible with an alt-key combination. The keys are vertically thinner too, so that the whole keyboard is no more than 1″ tall (compared to over an 1.5″ on the Kindle 2). At the same time, the keys themselves are a bit easier to press, a bit more protruding than on the Kindle 2. For someone with big fingers (like me), this will be a slightly harder keyboard to use, but only slightly.
That’s all I can see. Overall, the pluses outweigh the minuses for me, and I’m satisfied with my purchase. I can now think of using my Kindle DX for work documents on a regular basis, because of the PDF reader. The screen size and screen rotation make the overall reading experience more immersive.
Overall, the Kindle DX feels more like text and less like device and comes closer to the stated goal of the Kindle: for the device to disappear, leaving only the joy of reading.
By Alexander Scherr