Kindle DX Review

The Kindle DX was Amazon's attempt to corner the PDF reading (textbook reading/technical documents) market. How does it perform and how does it stack up against all the other ebook readers in the year 2011? Find out with ebookreader.org's comprehensive Kindle DX Graphite review.

This review covers the newest version of the Kindle DX, which is called (by some) the Kindle DX 2 or Kindle DX Graphite.

 

kindle dx review

Technical Specifications.

  • Size – 10.4 x 7.2 x 0.4 inches ; 1.2 pounds, as seen from the Kindle DX dimensions, this model is much larger than has been seen before in the Kindle2, Kindle DX has still been kept fairly light.
  • Screen Display - 9.7" Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology, the size of the actual screen on the Kindle DX is much larger than seen in other readers by manufacturers such as Sony and Barnes and Nobel, averaging around 6" usually, the DX has increased this size by half. Due to the inclusion of the eInk pearl technology, the DX display reads just like paper, with no glare, even in direct sunlight.
  • Free 3G connectivity – The Amazon Kindle DX offers a completely free 3G connection, allowing the user to download a book anywhere in the world at any time.
  • Battery Life – Amazon quote 1 week off a single charge if wireless connectivity is kept enabled and when disabled quote around 2 – 3 weeks.
  • Multiple Devices – Up to six devices can be linked to one account, allowing you to share your books amongst several devices.
    System Requirements – As the Kindle DX can download books wirelessly and also comes with a mains adaptor there are no necessary requirements as the device does not need a computer to function.
  • Storage/Memory – The Kindle DX has 4GB internal memory, however only 3.3GB is available to the user for storing eBooks and other various files.
  • Charge Time – The Kindle DX can be filly charged in 4.5 hours as long as it is charge from the mains, this is estimated to take longer on a computer.
  • USB Port – The Kindle DX has a micro USB connection on the bottom of the device, this is to be used to connect the Kindle to a power adaptor or a computer.
  • Audio – As the Kindle DX can support mp3 files the device is fitted with a 3.5mm stereo audio jack in order to enable users to listen to music if they wish, The Kindle also offers the option to play music aloud with built in stereo speakers.
    Supported Formats - Kindle (AZW), PDF, TXT, Audible (formats 4, Audible Enhanced (AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, RTF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.

 

Kindle DX Models

There have been roughly 3 different Kindle DX models since 2009.

  • Kindle DX (first)
  • Kindle DX International (small upgraded to allow 3G worldwide)
  • Kindle DX Graphite (upgraded screen and black case option)

The DX Graphite is the newest DX. The International model offered 3G international over just the US. The Graphite offered the same + a black graphite cover which helps screen contrast and some minor screen contrast adjusments to make the text more clear. Those are the only changes.

What's in the Box?

kindle dx what's in the box

The Kindle DX comes packaged in a compact brown box. The packaging appears to be made completely of recyclable materials, going along with the 'Green' image many companies are trying to maintain recently. There is a black band around the bottom of the box with Amazon emblazoned and looks as much the same as any other Kindle packaging. Once you pull the tab and tear the end of the box you open it to see the Kindle DX presented. Once this is removed you will find the Kindle DX user manual located on the top and the USB lead and adaptor located in the bottom. These are both packaged / designed from a recyclable cardboard and there is a very basic typography graphic included on the user manual to add a bit of decoration to the box.

 

Software for PC

The software associated with the Kindle DX is called 'Kindle for PC' and is freeware and has been designed so that the programme can be used with all Kindle readers, along with the release of the DX Amazon altered the software in order for it to be compatible on new devices other than the Kindle DX for example, Blackberry and Windows 7 phones. The Kindle DX does not come with a hard copy of the software however it can be downloaded easily. The software is fairly basic, however it does its job. As the Kindle DX does have a 3G connection the reader is not dependent on the software, making it slightly less of an issue. Still, the Kindle for PC software is easy to use and has a user friendly interface which, in comparison to Sony is a godsend. The software allows the user to add and remove books and files from the reader at ease and to also link several devices up to one Amazon account, making it possible to view all the Amazon downloads on a variety of devices, from phones and tablets to the actual reader. Kindle have, overall done a good job on the software as it has not had many user complaints due to its ease of use, and at the end of the day, as long as the reader can operate without the use of software it is not detrimental to the product.

Supported Formats

The Kindle DX hosts a wider range of supported formats in comparison to the Kindle2 that was released before. Kindle (AZW), this is Kindles own format and is basically an actual eBook that has been purchased for the Kindle, therefore will be a common type of file to be supported on the reader, therefore nothing to fancy. PDF, stands for 'Portable Document Format', this allows documents that have been produced in a variety of programmes to be read on the reader. For example it can now display a brochure that has been designed in Adobe InDesign, or a Website Design that was produced in Adobe Photoshop. This is one of the main selling points of the Kindle DX over previous versions of the Kindle, as the incorporation of PDF support has opened the Kindle DX up to new possibilities such as use in education when displaying textbook pages, or certain professions. Audible (formats 4, Audible Enhanced (AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, RTF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion. As we can see from the remaining list of supported formats, the Kindle DX can also play music, as is suggested with the inclusion of a headphone jack and built in speakers. As with other Kindles, the Kindle DX can also display imagery.

Memory

The Kindle DX has 4GB internal memory, with only 3.3GB of this being user accessible. This is an improvement in the terms of internal memory, almost doubling some of the earlier Kindle models. Not only this but other readers on the market such as the Sony PRS650 only have around half of this as their internal memory. However, Amazon has not included the Kindle DX with the feature of expandable memory, something I believe to be a bit of a problem. Specifically with the inclusion of supporting PDF files. Although 3.3GB may seem like a lot, after storing all of the users books and music on there, this will probably consumed, PDF files, are a different matter altogether, they tend to be very large, which can leave users running out of space on the reader, and not being able to do everything that they had planned on the reader, a real let down by Amazon, especially when other readers such as the PRS650 do include expandable memory, which can be as large as up to 32GB. This is a big let-down for the Kindle DX, especially when its slightly higher price is now much closer to the more expensive of e-reader devices which do allow expandable memory. Sort it out Amazon.

Battery Life

The technical specifications for the Kindle DX claim 1 week off a single charge if wireless connectivity is kept enabled and when disabled quote around 2 – 3 weeks (A single charge being 4.5 hours when charged from the mains). I feel this is one of the Kindles biggest advantages, as other readers that offer connectivity wireless via 3G have a much lower battery life. For example the Nook only holds charge for around 10 days, with the wireless connection disabled. The Kindle DX doubles this, which is a great advantage as it makes the reader much more reliable. One problem with this however is the way that the battery life has been measured. When connectivity is turned off, the reader only consumes battery when a page is turned, therefore, this estimate will only work for some people, if the user is reading all day every day. The battery life of the Kindle DX will be much lower, this goes for other readers such as the Nook also. The only reading devices I have come across that measure their battery life in terms of page turns is the Sony PRS range, and this may be because they do not include connectivity in most of their devices, allowing them to make a much more accurate measurement depending on the actual reading of eBooks.

Screen Display

The Kindle DX offers a 9.7" Display, this is one of the biggest changes seen from the previous model, the Kindle 2. One reason for this could be that the inclusion of PDF support has meant that some of the documents that are going to be viewed on the Kindle DX need a much larger screen size in order to be seen well and read properly. The larger screen therefore provides the Kindle DX with an advantage over its competitors; however it has affected the portability of the device, which can be a downside. As with most other readers in the market at the moment, and at the time the reader was released, the Kindle DX uses eInk technology, this gives a great quality display which is perfect for reading eBooks as it reads just like paper, with no glare, therefore the reader can still be used, even in direct sunlight. A great feature, which keeps the Kindle DX in running with its competitors such as the Nook, Kobo and Sony PRS range.

Design and Build

kindle dx horizontalkindle dx side

The design of the Kindle DX has changed slightly to the Kindle 2. The Kindle DX is now constructed with a metal back, a feature that makes the Kindle DX feel more expensive, better built and a lot sturdier. Not only this, but the metal back looks quite sleek and not quite as tacky as the Kindle 2. In terms of design, I feel the QWERTY keyboard fits much better on this device than on the previous Kindle models, the keys look slightly more spaced out and the space key is much wider. Not only will this make it much easier for the reader to use, but it also looks much better as the device does not seem as crowded. However, within this design, Amazon have only included page turning buttons on the right hand side of the machine, which could cause a problem or inconvenience for left handed users.

 

Kindle DX versus...

 

Kindle DX vs. Kindle 3

kindle dx vs kindle 3

This is going to be the most common comparison out there. Keep in mind that the Kindle 3 is a newer generation of ebook reading device.

Kindle 3 Advantages

  • Wi-Fi
  • Page Turn Buttons on both sides
  • Kindle 3's nav controller more easier to use than DX nave wheel
  • Battery Life is longer
  • Supports Non-Latin characters
  • Better, more functional keyboard
  • more than 10 ounces less weight
  • Advanced PDF features more functional
    -can look words up in dictionary
    -can adjust contrast
    -can add notes
    -can add highlights

Kindle DX Advantages

  • Almost 4 inches more screen real estate
  • Way easier for reading PDFs (no need to adjust anything)
  • Sensor rotates the screen automatically

Basically, the Kindle 3 wins in almost every regard other than the screen (read our Kindle 3 review). The Kindle DX is designed for PDF reading (reading textbooks on the device, for example) and the 3.7 inch larger screen trumps the Kindle 3's puny screen for PDF reading. You can read PDF's like you would any normal book without the need to readjust the PDF on the fly to see the hidden sections. However, the Kindle 3 has some advanced PDF functions like the ability to add highlights, notes, and look up words in the dictionary that the DX is missing -- and this doesn't make a lot of sense since the DX is made for PDF viewing. Amazon needs to update the DX to a newer model with new features to handle this.

Here's a look at the screen size difference between the DX and the Kindle 3. The DX can pretty much fit double the text onto the screen as the Kindle 3 can (not these images are not exactly a 1-1 scale of the device size!).

 

kindle dx screen shot

 

Still, if reading PDF is your primary purpose, the DX is better than the Kindle 3. For anything else, the Kindle 3 is superior.

Kindle DX vs. Kindle 2

kindle dx vs kindle 2

A question that needs to be asked in order to determine which reader is for you. Firstly, how have Amazon differed the Kindle DX to the Kindle 2? Amazon really seem to have taken a whole different route for the Kindle DX compared to the earlier Kindles they have released. The one difference between the Kindle 2 and the Kindle DX is the price difference, the Kindle DX is slightly more expensive than the Kindle 2, however this is fairly understandable when looking at the size differences. The screen size difference between the Kindle 2 and the Kindle DX really is immense, with the Kindle DX increasing screen size by 2.5 times. (Kindle 2 being 6" and the Kindle DX being 9.7"). One major improvement on the Kindle DX compared to the Kindle 2 is the ability to download and convert PDF files, an important factor when targeting the market of professionals and students. Not only this but the larger screen size also makes it more pleasant in viewing PDF files. This can be a problem however as along with the larger screen comes the problem of the Kindle DX being transported, the device is now fairly large meaning it may be a struggle to fit it in a bag of some sort, so in this aspect, the Kindle2 prevails.

The target audience of the two devices is slightly different as the Kindle 2 is directed specifically towards people who just read books however the Kindle DX is also aimed at people who may want to view PDF's, therefore this could be justifying the slightly higher price as it may be used by certain professions and also students. Another area that Amazon have worked on and developed for the Kindle DX is the web browser, the Kindle 2 has a very basic and primitive web browser unlike the DX which is now slightly more advanced making it easier for users to browse the web. One problem with the DX is that it does not incorporate a full QWERTY keyboard like the Kindle 2, meaning that the shift function has to be used to obtain numbers, this can be fiddly and time consuming, fairly annoying when on the Kindle 2 you just press a button to obtain a number. Overall I think the main difference between the Kindle 2 and the Kindle DX completely depends on what the user plans on doing with the device, if you do not need the PDF reader then the Kindle 2 will be efficient, however, if you feel you might, or just want the option to be there then the Kindle DX is not much more to pay for this pleasure.

Kindle DX vs Sony PRS 950

This is probably the most valid comparison since both ebook readers are sized to read PDF's on the fly without having to resize them.

Things Sony can do that Kindle DX Can't

  • You can highlight and make notes in a PDF (the Kindle DX can't, while the Kindle 3 can)
  • Look up a word in the dictionary directly from the PDF
  • Use the PDF's Table of Contents directly
  • Click on hyperlinks in the PDF to jump between pages/sections
  • Custom Zoom (One the Kindle DX you can only fit to screen, 150%, 200%, 300%, and full size)
  • View Landscape Mode (two pages)
  • Modify PDF brightness and contrast settings
  • Open PDF's with DRM protection (Kindle DX can't though Kindle 3 can)
  • Export annotations/notes to PC


Things Kindle DX can do that Sony Can't

  • Play Games and Applications
  • Download books directly via wi-fi or 3G
  • Surf the web with built in web-browser
  • Lend ebooks (some restrictions apply here though)
  • Listen to audible.com audiobooks on the device

To make things a bit clearer here, the Kindle DX is slightly bigger and it's easier to read full blown PDF's on the device. So for a pure PDF reader, the Kindle DX may be a better choice than the Sony PRS 950. However, PDF's are way more functional on the Sony -- you can add notes to them, look words up on the built-in-dictionary, click on links, etc. So for reading PDF's, the DX is better for pure reading, but if you want to edit the PDF or interact with it in any way, the Sony is better. Keep in mind that the Sony is also a slimmer device, so it's more portable than the DX. For a pure "ebook reader" that for both non-PDF's and PDF's, we feel the Sony is probably a better choice. For pure PDF reading (say for textbooks), the DX might be a better choice. Both devices will let you view PDF's on the fly without needing to move around the screen.

Kindle DX vs Sony PRS 650

Yet another competitor of the Kindle DX is the Sony PRS650 (read our Sony PRS 650 review). These readers are both black and white unlike the Nook color, however the Kindle DX does not have a touch screen function, and the SonyPRS650 is completely touch interactive. The display on these readers is pretty much the same. Both use eInk technology, this is the screen that uses contrast between shades to create an image rather than a backlight, as a result of this both readers can be seen in direct sunlight . One difference between the two readers is the design and build of the devices. The Kindle DX is obviously much larger and also includes a QWERTY keyboard, immediately altering the design between the two devices. The Kindle DX comes in both black and white, however the SonyPRS650 comes in a much wider range of colors in order to allow the user to pick a color suited to their personality, a nice touch to add for a reader as it does become a very personal device, with users growing fairly attached. Therefore it is nice to offer a choice of style, which Sony have picked up on and accomplished.

Kindle DX vs Nook Color

Another competitor of the Kindle is the Barnes and Noble Nook Color (read our Nook Color review). The Nook Color includes a 7" VividView Color touchscreen. In comparison, the Kindle DX uses an eInk display, the properties of this being that it reads just like paper, has no glare and as a result can be seen clearly, even in direct sunlight, not so easy to do this with the Nook Color This I feel matters, because if you are reading, you do not need color, what you really need is to be able to actually see the words and read them easily, which the Kindle DX happily does, very well. The inclusion of color seems to only matter if you are browsing a web page which makes the Nook Color more of a wannabe tablet, they should really be focusing on the ease of read for the user and not the attractiveness, after all if you are reading a book, as in a novel, as some people may call it a grown up book, which the likeliness is you are going to be. Color is not going to be important, however clarity and ease of read is, and users are not going to invest a lot of money in such a device if they are not heavy readers.

The Nook Color has counter acted this however with the argument that magazines and children's books can be read on their reader. This is a fair point, however I do not feel that this will gain much use, after all are parents really going to want to give a very young child such of an expensive piece of equipment to play around with. The answer to that is no, therefore the only way children's books will be used on the Nook Color is when a child is being monitored, and in some way this is not fair, it's all part of a child's development being able to pick up a page and turn it, figuring out how to read, and I think using an electronic reader to do this is somewhat taking away from the child's learning experience, a factor that I think most mothers will agree with me on. The magazines is a fair argument, however I am sure users would not sacrifice the opportunity to read normal novels with extreme ease in the preference to look at magazines, as they would not be buying the device if this was the case.

The one issue that the Nook Color is going to have to deal with in later generations is the fact that with connectivity turned off, its battery life is only eight hours, this is appalling, especially in comparison to the Kindle DX, having around 2-3 weeks with the connectivity turned off. This is definitely a deal breaker for the Nook Color, making it unreliable as a reader, and probably useless to take on journeys.

The Good

The Kindle DX has a lot going for it. The support of PDF files has raised the status of Kindle readers slightly and the design has certainly made the Kindle DX much more attractive than the previous Kindle models. Which is definitely needed to match the design that is now being seen in other readers on the market, the art of the hardware has been mastered now, and Amazon are starting to realize that soon, design will be the only major variation between readers, and that this may be the final factor effecting choice. The battery on the Kindle DX is definitely a positive as it lasts much longer than its competitors, making it a much more reliable choice as a reader. Lastly, I think that one of the good things about the Kindle DX is the larger screen, I think users will appreciate this as it will be much clearer and easier to read from, which after all will be the main use for the Kindle DX.

The Bad

There are some downsides to the Kindle DX, firstly, although the larger screen size is nice, maybe Amazon have made it slightly too large, and as a result stopped the Kindle DX from being easily portable, unless the user is carrying a fairly large bag, the DX is probably going to have to be carried. This can cause an array of problems, the main one being that it is a pain, however it can also cause issues with security, as even in a case, it will be fairly obvious that you are carrying around about $379 device in your hand, although it may seem unlikely, it is an issue to consider. This aside, I think the biggest downfall to the Kindle DX is the lack of advanced PDF features such as adding notes and highlighting. This is really a killer -- especially for a device that's designed to read PDF's. The lack of expandable memory also limits the device and as such, Amazon have limited the performance of the Kindle DX which is a shame.

In summary, I feel that Amazon have done well with the Kindle DX, it is a good solid device. The software to support it is good, and in general I think its fit for purpose and will do well in the market as primary a textbook/PDF reader. It's too bad the DX does not offer any interaction with PDF's like the ability to add notes to the PDF, highlight the text, and look up words with the dictionary. A terrible oversight on the part of Amazon, especially since the Kindle 3 offers this. However, if reading PDF's is something you'll do often, the DX's large display makes this the best PDF viewing device on the market. If you want to read non-PDF books often in addition to text books, you may be better off served with the Sony PRS 950 though. |

 

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Kindle DX Review

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