Review: Kindle DX

Another Kindle? It seems that it was only four months ago that we saw a new version of Amazon’s e-reader. In fact, it was only four months ago the Kindle 2 arrived on February 9. What’s the June release have that the February one doesn’t?

More real estate.

Size seems to matter to the folks at Amazon. While the Kindle 2 has a 6-inch (measured diagonally) e-ink screen — roughly the area of a mass-market paperback book — the DX’s 9.7-inch screen resembles a page from a typical hardback. Put another way, the DX flaunts 2.5 times more display space. More text on a page means more lines and, if you prefer, a bigger font, without having to turn the page as often. What does that mean for you? It’s easier to read via the DX.

Best of all, the DX was engineered not to feel big. Virtually the same thickness as the Kindle 2, the 19-ounce heft won’t tax your wrists. Its keyboard is actually a little smaller than the Kindle 2’s, so almost all of the DX’s front surface is covered by the screen. This feels less gadgety, more tablety. It’s very comfortable to hold, and as with the Kindle 2, the DX becomes invisible once you become entranced by an author’s spell.

The reader’s appearance is further streamlined by its absence of buttons on the left-hand side of the unit; the controls to turn pages have migrated exclusively to the right side. Even though I’m a righty, and do most of my page turning from that side, I do miss the Kindle 2’s Next page button on the left, which I use when reading in bed, head propped up by my right arm. With the DX, I find myself reaching across the page with my left hand to turn the screen, giving me a sense of the difficulties that southpaws may face with the DX. Amazon’s suggested fix is using the DX’s controls to invert the page image, and flipping the unit so the keyboard is on top. But that gives lefties an upside down QWERTY.

Battery life is similar to Kindle 2. In line with Amazon’s claims, my test unit went four days with the wireless on before a warning message appeared. I assume that, as with the other model, you can go almost two weeks if you turn off the wireless.

The most glaring hindrance of the DX is its price. It costs $490 — more than the original Kindle cost at its launch 19 months ago. Even Apple, which operates on a premium pricing philo

sophy, typically introduces its improved models at the cost of the previous one. You’d expect the DX to come in at $400, with the Kindle 2 tariff (which remains at $370) dropped to $300. That’s plenty for a device that sends you directly to the manufacturer to buy books.

By elegantly supersizing the Kindle — and ramping up its ability to read files — Amazon has improved the best all-around e-reader available. But the hefty price tag doesn’t fit Jeff Bezo’s stated philosophy of getting the best value for his customers.

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