The Technology & Content
Like the Kindle 2, the DX is based on the excellent E Ink technology that is easy to read. The technology used to get books into the Kindle is spectacular. You can browse the offerings in the Kindle store right on your Kindle. Buying a book is as easy as clicking the 5-way controller. The book is downloaded to your Kindle immediately through Amazon’s Whispernet which employs Sprint’s EVDO cellular network. So you can download a book quickly and easily from almost anywhere. Whether you are sitting on the beach or in the backseat of a car, you can purchase a book and be reading within minutes. The Kindle Store now has over 300,000 books available. New York Times bestsellers are about USD 10 each and there are many books even cheaper. Our only gripe about the Kindle Store is that you cannot make the text in the store larger, which would be a nice feature for those who buy a Kindle to be able to read larger text.
The Whispernet technology works seamlessly and there are no monthly fees. You pay only for the books, newspapers, blogs, and periodicals that you purchase. If you have an iPhone you can download the free Kindle app and read your books on either the Kindle or the iPhone. Amazon even keeps track of how far you have read on each device, so your place in the book is always marked properly.
One of the big additions to the functionality of the DX is that it now natively supports PDF files. It also has an auto-rotate function so that you can read books or PDFs while holding the Kindle either vertically or horizontally. For the most part regular text is easier to read in the traditional vertical page layout. We have known for a long time that reading is more efficient when the columns are narrow which is why newspapers print their text in columns. However, reading PDFs and certain textbooks may be better in the horizontal position.
You can easily transfer PDFs from your computer to the Kindle with the USB cable and they immediately appear on the Kindle. Some PDFs work very well. Others that were created for computer viewing are more problematic. With many PDFs we found ourselves wishing for the ability to zoom in and out as you can on a computer. You can also have Amazon reformat documents for you and send them to your Kindle. While this originally cost 10 cents per document, Amazon is not charging 15 cents per megabyte, so the cost might be considerably higher.
Although a growing number of newspapers and magazines are available as subscriptions on the Kindle, they are not really formatted to take advantage of the Kindle’s capabilities. Each newspaper or magazine is different, but none seem to include the entire newspaper in the Kindle edition. Addition things like pictures, graphics, cartoons and crossword puzzles are missing. While some of the content is there, generally you are reading plain text that can be considerably more boring than reading the actual newspaper or magazine.
The increase in screen size of the Kindle makes it ideal for additional content. Amazon is aiming at the text book market but may have to compete with prices of used text books to make this workable. Amazon also has branched into selling sheet music for the Kindle. It is inexpensive and looks great. The only problem is in turning the pages while playing.
The auto-rotate on the Kindle DX is a nice feature that copies the iPhone and other smart phones. You can view the Kindle content in the vertical mode or you can turn the Kindle on its side and view the content in a wider horizontal window. Unfortunately, the auto-rotate built into the Kindle DX, needs some improvement. It is sluggish in its response. It will often rotate when turned only slightly to the side. So if you try to read while lounging in a chair or on a sofa and you turn the Kindle to one side or another, it often rotates when you don’t what it too. The joystick reorients itself when you rotate the device, which is a plus, but you are still left with a keyboard that will be sideways when reading horizontally.
There is another thing that we didn’t like about the Kindle DX. While it’s great to be able to see more on the larger screen and turn the page less frequently, we found it somewhat awkward to hold while reading. The added height and weight of this Kindle make it more difficult to handle. While the Kindle 2 can be held with one hand, the DX requires two hands to hold it. Also we found that the weight of the device can actually be tiring on the hands.
While you can surf the Web on the Kindle, doing so is not as easy as it is with most web browsers or smart phones. It’s good to look up an occasional fact, but you won’t want to use it as your main Internet browsing mechanism.
The DX comes with 4GB of internal memory with 3.3 GB usable for storage. According to Amazon that is enough memory to store 3,500 books.
Like its predecessors, the DX has a non-removable, rechargeable battery that will last a few weeks if you turn off the wireless when you don’t need it.