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On e-Reader Tech News we track down the latest e-Reader news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great e-reader tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest devices and accessories.

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What Happened To The Kindle DX?

With the emphasis on portable electronics always tending toward smaller and/or thinner it isn’t surprising that the Kindle DX was never quite as popular as its smaller counterparts.  The extent of its failure is a little strange, though.  The 9.7” version of Amazon’s Kindle eReader now seems to have been quietly pulled from the virtual shelves and left without a successor.  Why did it fail to catch on and is there even a market for a device like this?

As has been demonstrated in both tablets and eReaders, bigger doesn’t always mean better.  There have been many eReaders attempted with larger screens and the variety of Android tablets is quite a bit more impressive.  The iPad is still going to be the bestselling tablet in the world for years to come, however, and it is quite a bit larger than many options.  One would think that screen size would be a valuable enough asset in the reading experience to make something similar possible for the Kindle DX.

There are plenty of reasons why that comparison is lacking.  Mostly it comes down to the fact that Apple put out a well-designed product and Amazon screwed up a bit.  What did they need to do better to keep the DX a viable option for customers?

Price

When it was released, the Kindle DX cost just about 30% more than the Kindle 2.  That made it $489.  While I remember spending $300+ on an eReader and being satisfied with each one, whether it was the Sony PRS-500, the Nook, or the Kindle 2, that wasn’t a sustainable sales strategy.  The Kindle is now under $70 per unit.  The Kindle DX at its lowest never got below $299 new.

Function

The fact that the Kindle DX only had navigation buttons on one side was a major shortcoming.  It hampered one-handed reading and landscape-orientation reading in general.  The keyboard, while nice to have, was also less usable than it needed to be.  The larger screen would have benefitted more from a touchscreen than any current Kindle does by far.

Durability

E Ink screens aren’t known for being the most durable things in the world.  The Kindle DX, however, used the only one that I have ever had break on its first fall.  Twice.  I understand that a combination of the larger size and higher device weight make it more likely to have problems, but this is a big issue in light of the tendency for people to read one-handed.

Software

The Kindle DX never really saw much attention in terms of software updates.  It needed to.  Many of the issues that users reported, especially with regard to PDF viewing, could have been addressed.  Amazon gave the impression of having given up on the device within months of its release.

All told, it’s safe to say that this doesn’t really prove anything about the niche.  Yes, the Kindle DX is gone.  That could be because customers just don’t like large eReaders, sure.  It could also be because customers aren’t interested in incredibly expensive eReaders with design flaws and a lack of software updates.

Don’t misunderstand, I love the Kindle DX.  Until giving mine away to a friend, it was used on a regular basis.  It just happened to give the impression of being a product that still needed work.  A larger version of the Kindle Paperwhite priced at $179 would fly off shelves, in my opinion.  As much as I wish that would happen it seems to be time to give up on the idea.  The Kindle DX is no longer relevant.

Updating Kindle DX or Kindle 2 to Kindle 3.x Firmware

Having discovered an already functional jailbreak for the Kindle Touch recently thanks to independent developer Yifan Lu, I was also pleased to note that there is a way to get your older Kindle devices somewhat more up to date.  It turns out that the hardware improvements in the Kindle 3 as compared to the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX, particularly the processors, were not significant enough to make it impossible to run the newer version.

To get this update installed, you will need a few things.  The most important, and possibly the hardest to get in some cases, is a working Kindle 3 (Kindle Keyboard) that has been jailbroken.  Assuming you have a spare Kindle 3 laying around, the same site linked in the instructions to follow contains detailed instructions on the jailbreaking process under the “Projects” tab.  You will also need a minimum of 900mb free on your Kindle 2/Kindle DX and 720mb free on your Kindle 3.  Naturally a USB transfer cable will be important as well.

Assuming you have all of these things, check out this page on Yifan Lu’s site.  The included instructions are simple to follow and while it will probably take you anywhere from one to three hours to complete the entire process, there is little room for error if you follow the order of operations correctly.

There are several things that you must be aware of before starting in on this:

  • Should you allow either of your Kindles to lose power while they are in use, it is likely to cause some major problems.  Charge them before you begin.
  • Once completed, you will have to repeat the process for any future firmware updates.  The Kindle 2 or Kindle DX will not be able to automatically access the files released for the Kindle 3.
  • While the hardware difference between these Kindles is not large enough to make the process inadvisable, as it would be if going from the Kindle 4 to the Kindle 3, there is a difference.  You will experience slight lag as the downside of your improved functionality.
  • Active content such as Kindle games will not work as a result of the update.  The developer of this update process doesn’t know exactly why, nor does there seem to be any major fix for this.  Be aware.
  • Sound/Music playback on the newly updated device will be flawed.  Since it will have been jailbroken it is possible to install an alternate music player to fix this, but it is an additional step for people who make much use of the eReader’s audio playback abilities.
  • There have been some unconfirmed reports that extremely large PDF files have issues on devices updated in this fashion.  This is likely the result of slightly inferior hardware and will probably not be an issue compared to the greatly improved PDF handling, but it is worth noting.

We can’t quite say why Amazon chose not to update these older Kindles, although it has been speculated that they were consciously abandoned to drum up business for the Kindle 3.  Also possible is the idea that faster processing simply opens more doors to new features that couldn’t be productively implemented otherwise.  Either way, at least now it is possible for owners of older Kindles to get the most out of their devices.

While the newer Kindle 4 and Kindle Touch are great, eReaders are made to last and there is no reason for a satisfied owner to throw away their perfectly good Kindle 2.  With the Kindle DX it’s an even more obvious choice, since there is yet to be a hardware update to the larger form and it looks increasingly like there never will be.  This update makes it even more desirable for those who need the 9.7″ screen.

Kindle DX Black Friday Price is $259 ($120 off)

It looks like Amazon Black Friday Deal for Kindle devices is going to be Kindle DX 3G for $259 ($120 or 32% off).
Hurry while it lasts! It is a great price for e-reader with 9.7 inch screen.
Get Kindle DX for $259

Kindle 4 vs Kindle DX: Where To Find The Most Value

Ok, I’ll come right out and admit that I’m a big fan of the Kindle DX.  I know it is a bit expensive compared to the other Kindles, especially after the price drops that we have just experienced, but it does a specific task very well and shouldn’t be overlooked entirely by prospective purchasers.  Unfortunately, Amazon seems to have virtually abandoned the only good large form eReader on the market at the moment, at least as far as their advertising is concerned.

Since I do feel rather strongly that there are uses for this Kindle yet, and that many people would find it worth the money, let’s take a look at the factors that weigh your choices when looking into a new purchase.  Here are some of the more important specs that differentiate the Kindle DX against its newer siblings:

Kindle 4 Kindle Touch Kindle DX
Display 6″ E INK Pearl 6″ E INK Pearl Touchscreen 9.7″ E INK Pearl
Connectivity WiFi WiFi + Optional 3G 3G
Battery Life 1 Month 2 Months 3 Weeks
Weight 5.98 Ounces 7.5 – 7.8 Ounces 18.9 Ounces
Storage 2GB (1,400 Books) 4GB (3,000 Books) 4GB (3,500 Books)
Price $79 $99 – $149 $379

Kindle 4

Pros:

This new Kindle is the least expensive and most portable ever to hit the shelves.  It weighs less than most paperback books, for example, and will technically fit in your pocket.  Please note that for the safety of your Kindle it is not recommended that you carry your Kindle around in a pocket. The battery life, while not quite as impressive as the more expensive Kindle Touch, is still an impressive month of reading.  You can even change the language of the Kindle interface now, should you have a non-English preference.

Cons:

The Kindle 4’s inability to be purchased with 3G connectivity makes it a potentially poor choice for people without access to a reliable wireless network.  Storage is also substantially reduced, which might be an issue for people with large libraries.  This may not matter to many, however, because this Kindle also lacks the ability to play audiobooks, or indeed any form of audio.  If you like to listen to music while you read or have plans to make use of the Kindle line’s popular Text to Speech feature, this is not the right device.

Kindle Touch

Pros:

The first ever Kindle with a touchscreen, the Kindle Touch eliminates the uncomfortable keyboard that many people have often complained was simply wasted space on their eReader.  This manages to reduce the weight, allows for an easily usable localized interface, and generally speeds up navigation.  This particular Kindle also has access to the X-Ray feature, which will allow readers to highlight connected passages throughout a given book, find term repetitions, locate external references, and pull up detailed articles via Wikipedia.  So far, no other member of the product line has access to that.  You will also get the device with the highest battery life in this comparison as well as the opportunity to choose 3G coverage in addition to the included WiFi capabilities.  Unlike the Kindle 4, this eReader has audio capabilities and will be able to both play audio files or audiobooks and read texts aloud for you using the Text to Speech feature.

Cons:

While Amazon has made the Kindle Touch’s interface quite simple to use while reading, it is still completely lacking in physical page turn buttons.  This will make a small difference in how you hold the device and how often the screen needs to be cleaned.  It is also slightly more expensive than the Kindle 4, though still coming in just under the $100 mark if you make use of the cheapest options.  Aside from that, the only real downside is the highly restricted nature of the optional 3G coverage.  Unlike previous Kindles, this one will only allow users to browse the Kindle Store and Wikipedia via 3G.  Everything else is blocked off, rendering that option far less appealing.

Kindle DX

Pros:

The clearest advantage here is going to be screen size.  Having a 9.7″ screen to work with will come in very handy for just about any book.  This is especially important for people who prefer or require larger print sizes, or for the display of standard size PDF files that might be difficult to view on smaller devices.  The Kindle DX has slightly more available storage space than either of the other options, which is also useful for PDF viewing as those files tend to be far larger than Amazon’s proprietary format.  Also, this is the only device listed here that allows unrestricted 3G connectivity.  Of all products in the Kindle line, the DX is probably the best suited for internet browsing.

Cons:

The biggest downside here is weight.  The Kindle DX is clearly far too heavy for comfortable long-term reading if you prefer to hold your book in one hand.  It is better compared to a hardcover book, which has a bit more heft.  Perhaps owing to the assumption that people would not want to be reading with just one hand anyway, there are no left-side navigation controls.  This can make the device hard to use, especially for lefties.  The firmware for the DX is also lagging a bit behind and shows no signs of pending improvements, so what you have now is probably all you’re going to get.  Finally, obviously, is the price.  At nearly four times the cost of the Kindle Touch, the DX will only be worthwhile if its larger screen provides you with something you find truly valuable.

Recommendations

Kindle 4: Perfect as a paperback replacement for the regular reader.  The stripped down model provides a cheap enjoyable reading experience.

Kindle Touch: Great for active readers.  By far the best option if you like to highlight, annotate, and examine your reading material closely.

Kindle DX: The larger screen makes this desirable for people preferring large print, anybody carrying around loads of PDF files, students, and those with a strong preference for the hardcover feel of a book.

Extra Special Kindle Mother’s Day Offer

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) just announced a pretty sweet deal on the Kindle 3G and Kindle DX for Mother’s Day coming up in a couple of weeks.

When you buy either the 3G or DX, you can get a $25 Amazon Gift Card along with it.  What a great start for Mom’s new Kindle e-book collection.  If you go to the product page for either item, Amazon includes details on how to include the $25 Gift Card.

There doesn’t appear to be an actual offer end date, but Amazon said that the promotion will run while supplies last.  So, the sooner the better, and before Mother’s Day of course.

 

One Day Sale on Kindle DX: $299

This morning provided us with a neat deal for anybody interested in a slightly more expansive screen than that available on the usual Kindle.  Today, April 15th, anybody who’s interested can snag themselves a Kindle DX for $80 less than the usual asking price of $379.  Size isn’t everything, as the saying goes, but it’s a decent consideration for this purchase if you’re in a position to take advantage of it.

The advantages are fairly obvious and stem mainly from the larger screen.  It gives you a lot more real estate to work with.  This means the potential for better PDF presentation, which I find essential for any serious academic or technical reading.  It also makes for more convenient reading of books on larger font sizes, since even if the screen refresh rate has gotten to the point of not being an issue it’s still obnoxious to have to flip after every hundred words or so.

The sacrifices that are required for the improved screen are minimal.  Some people will find the weight a little bit much for single handed reading.  It does weight slightly more than twice as much as my Kindle 3, it’s true.  This emphasizes what I consider to be the only major flaw of the device: No buttons on the left side.  You are required to handle all the controls on the right.  Combine those two issues and you get a fair amount of inconvenience.  From personal experience I would say that it goes largely unnoticed pretty fast in the face of the expanded screen, though I notice that some reviews on the site are a bit more vehement about the issue.

Keep in mind when you consider buying this that the current model of the Kindle DX came out slightly before the Kindle 3. As holdovers from an earlier generation of the product line, it still has a 5 direction navigation stick instead of the pad and it lacks WiFi capabilities.  This last is especially a concern if you or the person you are buying for happens to live outside of the US, as the coverage internationally is less than ideal, by all accounts.

Overall, however, it’s a great product for reading.  I’ve been using mine since a few weeks after it was released and have absolutely no complaints.  Due to the size, it tends to get brought out mainly when reading a brand new book, for that fresh hardcover feeling, or when I need to look at something larger like a textbook or diagram.  The DX handles pretty much everything I’ve thrown at it without a problem.  The overall 4-star review status would tend to confirm my personal assessment, with the majority of negative reviews seemingly concentrating on problems with Amazon’s customer service or a now-resolved hardware problem when using the leather case being sold as an accessory.

As always, let me emphasize:  This is not a tablet PC.  I know it’s the same size as one, and it has a big screen, but this is a device for reading.  It may be significantly more expensive than the Kindle 3, but it’s still a Kindle.  Do not buy the Kindle DX expecting anything but a great way to read your books.

‘Kindelized’ Christmas

Kindle AdvertisementWith Christmas coming up, I noticed the news about Kindle is focused on predicting the number of Kindle sales during pre-Christmas shopping time. I also see some Christmas anticipation from the Kindle community – some folks cannot wait until the X day to give Kindle as a gift to someone special, others hope to find Kindle in their Christmas stocking, and a couple of people indulge in bragging about getting Kindle as an early Christmas present (most likely they were also the givers).

Does the fact that Kindle is the best selling item on Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), magnify the urge to buy Kindle even more? Would it be the “herd-instinct” (kudos to Nietzsche for coining the term), i.e. everybody has Kindle, therefore I want one; or it would be due to the belief – if so many people purchase Kindle then it must be good? Well, as for me – clearly, it makes me wonder. Who would we attribute the predicted numbers for Kindle sales – to the agile marketing strategy, or to Kindle’s superiority among the e-book readers? Mind you, the 8 million of future Kindle sales is a mere prognosis for now. Personally, I cannot wait to see if this prognosis will be supported by the facts after Christmas. In any case, I am applauding to Amazon marketing team: the Kindle advertisement’s slogan is solid, strong, and concise.

Where to Buy Kindle this Holiday Season

This holiday season, you have a ton of options on where you can purchase a Kindle or Kindle DX.  For those of you who prefer shopping in stores instead of online, you are in luck because major retail stores such as Target (NYSE: TGT), Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) and Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS) carry the e-reader.  So, let’s take a look at the details and perks on what each store offers.

Amazon – The Kindle 3G and Wi-Fi are available for $189 and $139 respectively.  Amazon makes it easy by providing links on the main page.  Open up an Amazon Prime account and you can get unlimited free two day shipping on all of your orders.

If you are a student and join Amazon Student, Amazon Prime is free!  Ahhh the perks of being a student are endless.

Best Buy – Kindles are not available to purchase on Bestbuy.com, however, you can find a variety of Kindle accessories such as covers and screen protectors.  They have a free shipping deal going on now for the holidays as well.

Target – Same deal here.  Kindles are only available in the store, but you can find a wide variety of covers and screen protectors.  The prices are about the same as they are on Amazon.

Staples – You have variety of Kindle accessories to choose from, and they offer free shipping for orders over $50.

Ebay – I was surprised to find that the Kindle 3 Wi-Fi is actually more expensive on Ebay (NASDAQ: EBAY) than Amazon.  The prices I saw were $159.99, $169.99 and $172.  I did find a Kindle DX for $295, but it was a previous generation.  You can find great deals on accessories though.  Covers were less than $10.

So, you have a good set of choices here.  For the first time, you have a choice of trying a Kindle before you buy one, and prices are quite reasonable.  I’ve seen a lot of great deals so far this holiday season.  Keep an eye on Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN).  Last year I got free two day shipping on my Kindle a week before Christmas.

Kindle Screen Size Review – is there a market for Kindle 3/DX with Medium Sized Screen

In this post I’d like to elaborate on a question: Is there a market for a Kindle with larger screen size (I think next logical Kindle screen size would be somewhere in between 7 and 8 inches)?

At the moment of this review there are two available screen sizes for Kindle. Small version has 6 inch screen and DX version has 9.7 inch screen. Kindle DX screen is quite large and great for reading text books, magazines, newspapers and books with illustrations. But for other books it could be way too large.

Kindle 3G and Kindle WiFi have screen sizes very similar to small paperback books. Kindle 3G/WiFi screen measures to 3.6 in (91 mm) × 4.8 in (122 mm) which is similar to “sixteenmo” page size (the page size of a book made up of printer’s sheets folded into sixteen leaves, each leaf being approximately 4 by 6 inches). It is great format since it is very compact but at the same time it is limited to how much information will fit to one page. Especially this starts to affect your reading experience when you use font scaling.

Even though page turn times significantly improved from first generation of e-Ink – this operation is still time consuming and besides pressing next page button also requires moving your sight from right bottom corner of the screen back to left top corner on each page turn. And flash of the screen doesn’t add to comfort either. Thus by using e-reader with slightly bigger screen may lead to less tired eyes.

E-readers with small screens may be quite useful for people who read very fast since they can scan through entire lines without moving their sight left and right – since on a small screen you can see entire line in focus. But I think number of folks who can read page diagonally in several seconds is quite limited so I won’t consider this as a significant part of this analysis.

Then there is weight and size issue. I highly doubt that increasing screen size by one inch would significantly impact weight. But many people take Kindle with them while travelling and since current Kindle is very compact it could fit in most of the bags – even small ones (on my travels I usually have 17 inch laptop with me so Kindle weight and size is not an issue in my case). So for those who like to carry Kindle in their handbags increasing size of the kindle even by an inch could cause issues. That’s why having two different models may be helpful.

I personally prefer to read books in slightly larger format than what Kindle currently provides. So if Amazon would offer version of Kindle with 7 or 8 inch screen then I would definitely purchase it. What about you – do you think that Kindle with larger screen would make any difference for you?

Kindle in Education

Kindle 3

Amazon Kindle 3

When I was in high school about 10 years ago, the only solution to avoid lugging around super heavy books was to make extra trips to your locker, or use a rolling book bag.  Rolling book bags should have been more adequately named “rolling hazards.”

Clearwater High School students just got their own personalized Kindles Thursday that are set to replace their textbooks.  It is amazing how quickly the Kindle can solve that problem, huh?  Each student got a Kindle that was programmed with their own class schedule.  They can take notes, look up words in the device’s built in dictionary and use the text to speech feature.

As far as cost goes, the Kindles have saved the school money because it has cut the cost of books.  A Kindle is a natural fit for high school students because they are already so technology savvy with texting, Facebook and other technologies.  The Kindle makes reading and education so much more engaging and exciting.

My question is, how well will these students take care of their Kindles?  Regular textbooks are cheaper to replace and often suffer a great deal of wear and tear.  Having a Kindle might just teach the students how to be more responsible because electronics can’t take the amount of wear and tear that regular books can.

I’m surprised that the Kindle DX has not had as much success on college and university campuses so far.  I guess it is because are just not that many textbooks available yet.  There are ways to digitize textbooks, but they can require destroying the book.  It would also not be very cost effective in the end to digitize the book on your own.

It does look promising though that textbooks will soon be available digitally.  For science majors especially, who have to lug around really big, expensive books, that would be a lifesaver.