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Old 06-13-2009, 08:46 PM   #1
Gideon
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The Kindle DX - A Review a Few Days In

After a few days

Well, I've spent a few days with the Kindle DX now and feel like I've given it a good run through. Since I've had a Kindle since the first one, I'm familiar with the tech so I can give this a bit of a better shake than we've been seeing on most tech blogs, etc.

On Reading:
This is, after all, its primary purpose. It does this very well. The screen is clear, the text is very readable. I was a bit worried about reading on a bigger screen but it is actually a better experience than the earlier Kindles.
Books:
Books work the same way as previous Kindles and most ebooks. It does a great job.
Periodicals:
Despite the new, bigger screen, we're still getting the old Kindle media screen - we're not seeing the actual cover of the NY Times or anything else like that. It works the same way, but bigger.
PDFs:
It gets a bit dodgy here. For the most part, it does a great job. 90% of what I threw at it, it handled admirably. It cuts off the white edges pretty well (fails at this sometimes in landscape mode), and as long as the text you're looking at isn't too small you're generally in good shape.
There are some drawbacks:
  • No table of contents. This is an enormous, enormous pain in the butt. I don't have the foggiest idea why the Kindle does not have this very rudimentary and necessary feature for PDF viewing.
  • It can be slow. Not always, but often it is.
  • Metadata is... who knows? Sometimes it is right, sometimes it is wrong. Mostly it's some variation of wrong.
  • Dictionary support doesn't seem to work in PDF texts - again - stupid and a problem. You also can't highlight, annotate, etc.

Ergonomics:
It is lighter than I thought it'd be and not at all difficult to manage from that standpoint. The leather case does add some weight, but this is offset by also adding some protection.

I really, really dislike the absence of buttons on the left side and would strongly advocate for buttons on the top and maybe even bottom. There is no good way to handle the device in landscape mode. It is an intensely unpleasant way to read.

The keyboard is... well, quite frankly, it is the single worst keyboard I've ever used on a device and this includes the abomination that was my Treo 600. The buttons are incredibly small, and because of the size of the device, actually using them is very difficult (as you are trying to hold the device and push buttons on the very edge of it). It is also spaced badly, so that you can't really use your thumbs and have to hen-peck the keys. This has, single handedly, pretty much removed any usefulness involving annotation. I also don't want to have to search (which combined with the lack of table of contents in PDFs this is even worse!)
Extras:
I never use the music function, so I can't speak to that.

The voice function is a bit... I found that the controls were often not very fast and usually somewhat unresponsive. Once it gets going it is what you'd expect.

Websites look much better than they did on the K2, and it seems to load a BIT faster but generally it is still so slow that you'd not want to do much with it except look up the occasional thing.
Conclusion:
I really like the device as a whole but some of the design was very bad. If I really didn't need a PDF viewer (and didn't hate reading on an LCD) I would probably return it and wait it out for a better product.
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Old 06-13-2009, 08:58 PM   #2
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You pretty much summed up how I feel. If you really need PDF and/or a large screen, it's great, but for regular reading, the ergonomic and useability limitations make the K2 much preferable.
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Old 06-13-2009, 09:21 PM   #3
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Best thing Sony could do now is release some big screen PDF viewing device for about 300 bucks.. or announce one in the next thirty days!

I'll send my Kindle DX back in a heart beat and just keep my Kindle 2.
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Old 06-13-2009, 09:24 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gideon View Post
Best thing Sony could do now is release some big screen PDF viewing device for about 300 bucks.. or announce one in the next thirty days!

I'll send my Kindle DX back in a heart beat and just keep my Kindle 2.
You can always send it back now and if you don't hear that announcement, reorder the DX.

Last edited by daffy4u; 06-13-2009 at 09:56 PM. Reason: here does not equal hear, typo
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Old 06-13-2009, 09:54 PM   #5
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Yeah, I might do that. I'll decide tomorrow.
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Old 06-13-2009, 10:10 PM   #6
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yeah, big kindle is BIG.

i think (because it's easy), i might even be slipping it out the cover more, for extended reading.

ditto the PDF. it can handle PDFs that do *not* convert properly in mobipocket (even with mobipocket reader). they look like they should. so far it's fantastic for schematics and other diagrams; manga will probably be fantastic. i'm guess several other things i have are going to be lovely...

text reading is ... lots of text. wow. i like it.

summary: big kindle is BIG.

and while i've played with a K2, i still have a K1 and now the DX... i ALMOST wish i had a K2, due to the easy of navigation... but well, i payed, and payed well, for my K1, and will use it until it ... dies. then maybe Amazon will fix me up with a new *portable* reader.

its' going to rock having/using two e-ink devices at the same time (reference works) - two screens are better than one.


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Old 06-13-2009, 10:12 PM   #7
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Good review, that's pretty much what I figured about the device. I'm still waiting on a good 10" eink reader. Plastic Logic where art thou
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Old 06-13-2009, 10:17 PM   #8
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oh, yeah, since Kdx uses the same engine as plastic logic... i haven't checked to see if .epub files are supported (quietly)... they COULD be, it's just a bit flip. i'm sure someone out there is going to figure out where the config file lives

pdf: yes
epub: no
rtf: no
txt: yes
azw: yes
.mobi: yes
.prc: yes

or something like that. yessssssss...

also, Kdx is here NOW, plastic logic, well, beta units and programs are "starting soon"... by jan-feb 2010, they'll have been over 6 months behind. woops. if they can produce a LIGHTER unit, win. if they can produce a better unit, win. the touch screen might reduce contrast... still, i'll give it a look

actually, i'd give amazon, right now, $$$ for a Kindle one-half... just a simple screen, pda sized, but with enough area to read shit. i do have an iPhone/iTouch, and that's cool (esp with the network for syncs)... but a slim e-ink pocket kindle? doesn't even NEED wireless... hotness.


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Old 06-14-2009, 12:19 AM   #9
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I bought mine to read PDFs and, for me, it does that splendidly. It's great not to have to go through a stack of printouts or read a book on my monitor for very long.

Would I like to have highlight and notes in PDF? You bet. But until they offer them, I'm fine with treating the PDFs the same way I treat library books and make handwritten notes. It does help that I can bookmark a page in a PDF.

And, yes, it would be nice to have buttons on the left, but my guess is that the weight of DX is such that resting the device in your left hand without pressing a key would be problematic. I'm not a designer, so that's a guess, but I've noticed that I do grip the DX right where the Next Page button would be.

I'm keeping my K1 for casual reading - it's light, the screen is crisp and clear, and I enjoy reading on it for long periods of time.

I'm definitely keeping my DX, too, because it does what no other ereader out there below $500 does - it lets me read my large PDF library with ease.
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Old 06-14-2009, 01:01 AM   #10
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For the 500-bones...if it's not up to exactly what you need. Much as it might be disappointing for a person, I would return it. I think it's the smart play. And I would do it before too many people start doing the same thing.

I was set to return our K1 when it was co-opt'd by the better half.

Wonderful review of the device. Good points and not so good, it really does sound as if Amazon just supersized the K2 in order to get it out the door before anyone else beat them too it.

From the pictures, it sure looks like the keypad (can't call that thing a keyboard anymore, I just can't... ) is the same size as that found on the K1 & K2...it looks kinda like a Speedo on Homer J.

You know, I just looked at the kypad on my Clie and it's even a QWERTY layout fer goodness sakes! I will say, it is about on par with the K1's utility wise...small keys for big fingers just does not work.

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Old 06-14-2009, 01:08 AM   #11
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Pretty much sums up my feelings too. Overall reading experience on the K2 is better. I miss the left hand buttons. Wish that the TOC worked.

But, getting a decent pdf viewer is glorious. Something else will surely come along before long that will be better - it always does. But there will be a market to resell the DX.
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Old 06-14-2009, 01:08 AM   #12
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What I don't understand is why they released it without PDF functionality that most students and professionals would want or need. Like the ability to highlight, annotate and zoom (real zoom, not rotating the unit) PDFs without having to convert them, which doesn't work right on many PDFs anyway. Students could replace a lot of their textbooks if available in ebook format, as well as binders full of PDF printouts, if they could just highlight and make notes on the DX directly. Now all it's good for is reading them, which will make studying later on a pain. Also PDFs with tiny font sizes and pictures will be hard to read even if you rotate it.

It seems like the DX really wasn't ready to be released yet but they did anyway. Yes they can fix these things later on in updates but I wouldn't buy one now on the hope that they might do that if I was in the market for a large screen PDF device. I'm one of those old fashioned people that believe a product should deliver on what it's being marketed for upon release, not someday in the future, maybe, if they feel like it.

I wonder what was Amazon's rush to get it out in June anyway? Why not August or September and get it right?
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Old 06-14-2009, 01:42 AM   #13
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Best thing Sony could do now is release some big screen PDF viewing device for about 300 bucks.. or announce one in the next thirty days!

I'll send my Kindle DX back in a heart beat and just keep my Kindle 2.
That's why I did not order the DX. Since I have a kindle 2, I'm waiting to see what Sony comes up with. Since I have the K2, I will still have access to the Amazon bookstore!
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Old 06-14-2009, 02:46 AM   #14
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I'll send my Kindle DX back in a heart beat and just keep my Kindle 2.
Be careful not to get to Amazon Blacklist. You return ome too many things and BAM! you will not be able to purchase books for your Kindle.

Perhaps selling it on ebay to somebody that can not purchase Kindle officially might be solution.
You Load it up with the books you have purchased for your K2 and then deregister it to make the deal more interesting ;-)
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Old 06-14-2009, 04:13 AM   #15
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That is actually a concern of mine. I sent back a $150 air filter a couple of weeks ago as well as a text book and after that debacle that one individual had I'm nervous!

Still, I dunno. The advantages to having a great PDF viewer, even with terrible functionality, is pretty nice. I've got reading for the next ten billion years (gotta get all those journal articles before my access goes away!) that way and can scan the occasional book when it suits me.

But I'll decide tomorrow. Hopefully someone will buy my stuff in the flea market and my decision will be much easier!
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