Kindle DX

Hot on the heels of the super-successful Kindle 2 launch, Amazon announced the Kindle DX ($489 direct), a larger, higher capacity, and more expensive version. I was able to get some hands-on time with the device and found it to be just as advertised: a larger version of the Kindle. That said, that extra screen size and the new partnerships with textbook vendors could help the Kindle DX open markets previously untapped by e-book readers.

The biggest difference between the Kindle DX and the Kindle 2 is the size of the screen, which is 2.5-times larger than the original. Moving from a 6-inch display to a 9.7-inch display makes the reading experience a lot more like reading a standard 8.5-by-11-inch piece of paper. Whereas reading the Kindle 2 is akin to reading a book, the Kindle DX feels more like reading a magazine. Indeed, Jeff Bezos said at today’s announcement that presenting structured, designed content is one of the key reasons for developing the Kindle DX.

The device measures 10.4 by 7.2 by 0.38 inches, and indeed, it feels incredibly thin when you hold it in your hand. It weighs 18.9 ounces and has about the same heft as a spiral bound paper notebook. Two small slits on the left side of the device will be used to attach a protective case, but none were on display today. The back of the Kindle DX features the same brushed metal back as the Kindle 2. Not much to see there.

One upgrade that won’t be immediately obvious is the increased memory. The Kindle DX comes with 4GB of memory and room to store about 3,500 books, compared to the 1,500-book capacity of the Kindle 2. I doubt many Kindle users ever max out their libraries, but since Amazon is increasingly pushing the Kindle as a tool for reading your own documents, the extra capacity could come in handy. There is still no removable memory slot adding memory.

The Kindle DX’s interface hasn’t changed much from Kindle 2. The Home button is still the best way to restart your navigation process and the five-way directional toggle lets you navigate the menus. I still think this process could be smoothed out some, but it isn’t too difficult to move around. Although the Page Forward and Page Back commands are still along the right side of the device, they’ve been removed from the left-hand side.

One key improvement is the addition of an accelerometer. Like the Apple iPhone, the Kindle DX can detect its orientation and rotates the screen accordingly. This lets you view documents, photos, and charts in landscape mode. In fact, the device can even be operated upside down, so that left handers can use the Page Forward/Page Back keys with their left hand if they want. (Typing on the QWERTY keyboard upside down is much, much more difficult.)

The Kindle DX also adds native PDF and RTF file support. Although previous Kindles have been able to display PDFs, this support was experimental and often achieved mixed results. The Kindle DX will ship with native PDF support that uses Adobe Reader Mobile technology. The demos I saw included nautical charts, maps, and legal documents, and the results were very impressive. Of course, I will have to load my own PDFs to really evaluate this feature.

Otherwise, the Kindle DX supports the same assortment of file formats, including Kindle, (AZW) TXT, Audible, HTML, Doc, JPEG, GIF, and PNG. Files can be sideloaded via the microUSB cable or sent through Amazon’s Whispernet service for $.15/MB.

As with the Kindle 2, the Kinlde DX comes with a built-in 1xRTT EVDO modem for wirelessly loading books and other digital content using the companies Whispernet service. Whispernet works seamlessly in the background, but it should be noted the company recently moved to per MB pricing for files that you upload to the service. If users do start uploading lots of their own files to the device, as Amazon seems to want them to, this could end up adding to the price of the device.

Other than the increased size, the biggest improvement in the Kindle ecosystem is the deal with textbook publishers. The textbook market will be key for the DX to succeed. Amazon has already signed up three of the top five textbook publishers (Cengage Learning, Pearson, and Wiley) as well as 27 University Press Publishers. The Kindle DX will be used in trials with at least five universities this fall.

There are lots of unanswered questions about the Kindle DX that I will answer when the device comes into PCMag Labs for testing. That said, given how closely the device builds on the Kindle 2 platform, it seems like a useful addition to the Kindle portfolio. This will be especially true if Amazon can succeed in evolving the device from a pure e-book reader into a device for reading all sorts of digital documents, including textbooks, magazines, blogs, word documents, PDFs, Excel spreadsheets, e-mails, or any other document people currently print out.

My romance with ebook readers got off to a bumpy start when I got my first eInk device -- the Cybook Bookeen. Firmware issues and awkward buttons made it rather disappointing.
Then I found true love with the Sony PRS-505. I loved the metal case. I loved the "Collections" (essentially folders features). I loved the looks and loved the display.
However, the Kindle 2 woo'ed me with the size of its content collection. However, for reading I still ultimately preferred my Sony.
Now, with the larger Kindle DX, I've set my Sony aside and there is a new love in my life. Let me count the ways:
1. SCREEN SIZE: Reading on the Kindle DX vs 6" readers is like the difference between sleeping in a King sized bed vs a Twin Bed or riding in the backseat of a 2-door 1981 Honda Accord vs bucket seats in a Honda Odyssey. You feel like you have room to breath. The larger screen allows you to maximize the use of the real estate -- taking advantage of larger fonts and more white space. This makes text much easier to read -- even if you are just reading regular books.
2. KEYBOARD: I also love that they have compacted the keyboard so that it doesn't dominate the overall appearance of the device. The smaller keyboard in no way compromises the ability to type. However, it improves the look by making the proportions more appealing and it means the device isn't horrifically larger than the 6" device.
3. PDF + BIG SCREEN = LOTS MORE USES: I can transfer my knitting patterns (complete with knitting graphs and diagrams) and cello music to my e-reader.
Using the Kindle for knitting -- I can highlight my place in the knitting pattern making it easier to work more complicated stitch patterns.


Kindle DX

You can search and shop the Kindle Store wirelessly right from your Kindle DX, allowing you to click, buy, and start reading your purchases within a minute. The Kindle Store offers the same great Amazon.com customer experience you're used to, including customer reviews, personalized recommendations, and low prices. We auto-deliver your selections wirelessly, so the next time you hear about a great book, just search, buy, and read.

If you are out of wireless coverage, such as traveling overseas, you can download books to your PC or Mac and transfer via USB to your Kindle DX.

More than 400,000 Books, Newspapers, Magazines, and Blogs

Our vision is every book ever printed, in every language, all available in less than 60 seconds. The Kindle Store currently has more than 400,000 books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs and we are adding more every day. Whether you prefer biographies, classics, investment guides, thrillers, or sci-fi, thousands of your favorite books are available. The Kindle Store offers more than 101 of 112 books currently found on the New York Times® Best Seller list. New York Times Best Sellers and most new releases are $9.99, and you'll find many books for less.

Free Book Samples

No need to judge a book by its cover. Kindle DX lets you download and read first chapters for free. Sample a new author or book--if you like what you read, simply buy and download the whole book with 1-Click, right from your Kindle DX, and continue reading.

Kindle DX has more than 5500 blogs for every interest. Unlike reading blogs on your PC, Kindle blogs are downloaded onto Kindle DX so you can read them even when you're not wirelessly connected. And unlike RSS readers which often only provide headlines, blogs on Kindle DX give you full-text content and images, and are updated wirelessly throughout the day. Get blogs wirelessly delivered to your Kindle DX for as little as $.99 per month. Some of our most popular blogs include


Kindle Wireless Reading Device

The Kindle Store: More Than 400,000 Books

At Amazon, we've always been obsessed with having every book ever printed, and we know that even the best book reader is useless without the books you want to read. We are fortunate that we have tens of millions of book customers at Amazon, and as a result, we know the books customers want to read and we prioritize getting those titles. Today, the Kindle Store has more than 400,000 books available, including 101 of 112 New York Times® Best Sellers, plus top newspapers, magazines, and blogs. Our vision for Kindle is to have every book ever printed, in any language, all available in under 60 seconds.
Whether you prefer biographies, classics, investment guides, thrillers, or sci-fi, thousands of your favorite books are available. New York Times Best Sellers and most new releases are $9.99, and you'll find many books for less. Content availability and pricing vary for customers living outside of the U.S.

I plan to use my new Kindle Wireless Reading Device to keep textbooks on hand for the college courses I teach. The availability of these textbooks was the reason I chose to try the Kindle, and I know I won't miss having to carry those books around all semester. However, when I ordered the Kindle I had no idea how valuable the opportunity to sample other books would be. It's wonderful to be able to read the first chapter of a book before deciding whether to order it, either on Kindle or in print. I've always appreciated being able to page through a printed book before buying it; now I can truly sample books electronically.