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Old 07-13-2010, 02:18 PM   #1
M_Agnum
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Device: Kindle DX Graphite
Graphite Review From First Time E-Reader User

I just got my Graphite DX and field tested it a bit, and decided to share my experiences for all who are debating on whether to purchase one. The background story is a bit long so if you want to skip it then start on the paragraph starting with "Now onto the review..."

It was DOA when I got it in the mail. Not completely DOA, but unable to register, unable to use the internet, freezing, etc. I called up Amazon Customer Support and the rep walked me through different procedures of troubleshooting. I had already troubleshooted but was fine with doing again in case I missed something. Nothing worked, so he finally had me type 411 in the settings screen, which brought up technical information about the device. I read off to the rep the radio serial number, and that turned out to be the problem.

For some reason, when they processed my Kindle, they copied the wrong radio serial into their system. This number allows them to grant 3G access to specific devices, so that not just anybody with a 3G radio can tap into the service.

The Rep said he would call back when the problem was fixed. About an hour or two, he called back and said the technicians had put in the new number and that it should work. It did! I was so relieved that I didn't have to send it back. I really have to say that Amazon's tech support is awesome. I have never talk to a call center tech that has known to level he did about the device in question. It made me all the more confident that Amazon was the right company to deal with.

Enough digressing, back to the Kindle itself. I bought this to serve two main purposes. First, for pleasure reading. Secondly, I work in a research lab and have to read PDFs of papers and manuals constantly. It get's old reading them on a computer screen, especially when they can get to 300+ pages. I wanted a device that I could read these documents off of conveniently and without eye strain.

I first looked into the iPad for to fulfill this want. It seemed perfect: large screen, decent battery life, internet, PDF viewers, etc. I was actually very excited about the prospect of getting one. I had to try it extensively in stores, however, before I would make my final decision. So into the stores I went, and out I came disappointed. I really wish I could have loved the iPad, but I didn't, at least for what I was doing. The screen just didn't do it for me. It was great for browsing the web or Facebook or the occasional game, but reading, whether it was iBooks or PDfs, just did not cut it for me.

It's difficult for me to explain why, but I couldn't get into whatever I was reading. Maybe it was the backlight, maybe it was the resolution or maybe it was the glare. Oh, the glare, the worst part of it. I thought "Well, the store lighting is pretty glare-inducing, so maybe it will be better in my usual reading environments." Then I realized that one of my usual reading places is at work, which has much the same type of lighting.

So the iPad was out of the question, but where to go next? About a year ago, I was about to pull the trigger when the Kindle 2 came out, but I didn't. Partly because it plus the warranty were very expensive and partly because it didn't have an ounce of PDF support, minus OCR conversion. So I held off. However, both the Nook and the Kindle's price got cut right about the time I decided against the iPad.

I first checked out the Nook at Barnes & Noble. It was a decent device, but I didn't really jive with it. The design was a little better than the Kindle 2 in terms of aesthetics, but the touchscreen just seemed a little two slow for me. The navigation structure also bugged for some reason. Most of all, the demo PDFs on it looked absolutely horrible and there was no landscape mode.

All that was left to try was the Kindle 2. I knew every detail of it, from extensive research a year ago, but had never tried it in person. Target said they had one on display so I traveled about 40 miles to check it out. When I got there, the display model wasn't working, and it took the employee about 15 minutes to figure out what was wrong. When he finally got it working, the screened turned on, and it wasn't a functional model! It just looped through a slideshow of its features. I got to see the screen and hold the product in my hand, but the real features, such as navigation, refresh, etc. were still a mystery to me.

All this time, a DX would have been perfect, but I felt $500 was too expensive. Adding a warranty, tax and a decent case would have brought it to around $700, which was WAY more than I wanted to spend on a device.

But wait! The Graphite DX was announced with the large price cut! The minute I read about it on this forum, I knew it was the perfect solution. Without much hesitation, I made my decision and haven't looked back.

Now on to the review... I started off with PDFs. This is the PDF I loaded first, a document I had to read at work: http://www.xilinx.com/support/docume...ides/ug332.pdf In portrait mode, this PDF is fine for reading. The text is slightly small but my vision is good enough to read it. In landscape mode, the text is large and easy to read. For this particular document, the Kindle does perfectly without any alteration to the PDF.

I tried a different PDF, with large margins. Unfortunately I cannot post it here because of copyright regulations. In portrait mode, the text was pretty small but readable and in portrait mode the text was bigger but not large. I then popped the file into Acrobat, trimmed the margins, and loaded it back up. Perfection! Now it reads great in either landscape or portrait modes.

Finally, I tried a scanned PDF that wasn't the highest quality. After doing some margin trimming, I loaded it up not expecting much. However, it honestly looks better on the DX then on my computer. So far so good in the PDF department.

Now onto the books. I downloaded several of the free Kindle public domain books as well as Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide series. The books look great! I have read that some people think the DX is too big for novel reading, but I honestly think it is the perfect size. It fits a lot of words on the page at a good size, so I can both read efficiently and with ease. I finished the first book of the series a few hours later, getting more lost into the story than even after reading physical books. For some reason, I was having a mental block with books, always looking at them and thinking I didn't have time to read. This Kindle broke that block though, since I can either choose to work or read for pleasure in one device.

Now, this isn't my first time reading a book electronically, just the first with e-ink. I read Dracula on the iPhone and honestly didn't enjoy the experience at all. I was reading at half speed and the LCD was relatively close to my face. Since the screen is similar to the iPad, I knew the iPad was not for me. The text of the book just didn't pop. Since it is uniformly backlit, the contrast just seems funky to my brain. I know some people are fine with it, but even after extended use, I could not get used to it.

After trying my cousin's Kindle 2, I noticed that the Graphite was a little speedier in navigations and refreshes. The web browser also seemed a little faster. However, these are qualitative measurements as I did not time actual performance.

But most of all, the screen! The screen is amazing. It makes the last generation of e-ink look unhandleable. The screen isn't quite fully white, but it is almost there. The contrast is amazing. That is all I can say. None of the pictures do it justice whatsoever.

So, all in all, I feel this new DX is highly worth the money. If you don't have to read documents, then I would say wait for the next Kindle with the new generation of screens. It will be worth the wait.
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