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Displays Education Media

Is the Kindle DX Worth the Money? 263

Posted by timothy
from the wouldn't-turn-it-down-in-a-gift-basket dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Now that some little time has passed, and the hype has died down a bit, I'm wondering if anyone has taken the $500 plunge and gotten a Kindle DX. From the academic-paper-reading-geek perspective, is it worth the money? How well does it work with PDFs, and is it easy to get them on and off? I haven't been able to find any good reviews on the interweb that address its usability as I would like to use it."
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Is the Kindle DX Worth the Money?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 03, 2009 @12:25PM (#28572643)

    Not really - the screen is only a bit bigger than the regular Kindle, doesn't handle PDF's very well (i.e. keeps all of the white space around the edge of docs) and offers no ability to annotate. I am waiting for ePaper products to get considerably cheaper and get something with specs similar to the iRex Digital Reader 1000S. I also find that for just fiction reading, I tend to do better with a smaller, narrower screen rather than a large screen with small font.

    • Yes, for academic papers, the iRex Digital Reader 1000S seems to be the best, but 699 EUR is quite a bit of money, and I'm not sure the size of the screen is good enough for two column texts, as you find it in many scientific journals.

      I never had the chance to check a 1000S myself, but a friend of mine has a iRex iLiad and it's really a nice piece of technology but clearly no good, when it comes to pdfs.

  • Have you seen the videos on oplc.tv [www.oplc.tv] of the new screen technology coming? Much cheaper and better... no special materials or new manufacturing facilities needed.
  • Maybe (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 03, 2009 @12:29PM (#28572691)

    I got a kindle DX as a gift, and i absolutely love it. PDFs can be transferred to/from it extremely easy, just plug it in via usb and drag and drop. My biggest gripe about the PDF support is that you have no control over the font size, as you do with the books you purchase through Amazon, nor can you use the search function or the inline dictionary. But PDFs are still easy to read on the device, and I much prefer it to reading them on my computer screen.

    I am a poor college student though, so if it weren't a gift I probably would have bought a netbook and saved myself some money.

  • Why not a laptop? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by yog (19073) *

    Seriously, a wifi-equipped laptop can be had for less than $400, and with a 15" screen and decent storage, why would someone want a limited, single-purpose crippled laptop such as a Kindle?

    The Kindle would make sense if it were under $100; it would fall into the nice Christmas gift or Father's Day gadget category for someone who has everything. But for $500? That's a lot of books.

    You could buy a laptop and download thousands of free books from Gutenberg.org or wherever, and spend the rest on used books a

    • Re:Why not a laptop? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 03, 2009 @12:41PM (#28572837)

      Laptops don't have e-ink displays and are cumbersome. Laptop batteries are measured in hours, the average being 2-3 hours for a brand new battery, whereas ebook readers have a battery life measured in weeks or even months (try reading a 500 or even 300 page book in 2 hours). Breaking out a small ebook reader while cozied up in a chair is much easier than breaking out the laptop and trying to hold it in one hand.

      Books take a lot of physical space and the contents are not quickly accessible. You can fit the contents of an entire bookstore on an ebook reader and you can perform text searches upon those ebooks with results returned in seconds. If I want to lend someone an ebook I simply email it to them. This means I can lend any book to anyone I know, anywhere in the world within seconds.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Tuidjy (321055)

        For years now I have been reading Gutenberg/Baen Library/what-have-you books
        on my Samsung I730 (PPC/phone), and while the screen is small, landscape mode
        is perfectly usable. Now this requires both a tiny bit of technical knowledge
        (converting files, installing Cyrilics) and it may be a strain for some people's
        eyes, but on the other hand, the phone's with me everywhere, and the battery has
        easily lasted through a dozen of trans-Atlantic flights. And when I fail to
        properly prepare for a trip, I can still seek

      • by Idiomatick (976696) on Friday July 03, 2009 @01:32PM (#28573319)
        The RIAA do not approve your use of the word lend in that sentence. Clearly you meant aiding and abetting first degree piracy against the crown in an act of sedition.

        Seriously though. Is 'lending' as easy as you say while using legit sources? I'm sure with torrented books it will be wonderful. However, it does sound like a great way to store all books ever written in your living room.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          it does sound like a great way to store all books ever written in your living room.

          How many books have you written in your living room?

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by iocat (572367)
            Read the sentence again, please. They could have been written by *anyone* in his living room, not just him!

            My issue with the DX is that you can download newspapers, but not as an image of the front page -- just as a list of files. If I wanted to do that, I'd use a web browser. When I can d/l a paper and read it like a paper -- lots of stories per page, ability to scan quickly over it all -- I'll buy one in a heartbeat. I woudl guess that's a few years away though.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Books are quickly accessible - you can flick to any page instantly and browse through at speed. You can't do that on a Kindle because a page turn takes 2 seconds.

        You can't just email books to your friends if you buy them from Amazon, thanks to DRM.

        The Kindle is pretty good for reading novels. It's almost useless for technical books and PDFs due to the slow screen update.

      • Re:Why not a laptop? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by SetupWeasel (54062) on Friday July 03, 2009 @02:11PM (#28573673) Homepage

        If the Kindle were actually like that, it would be wonderful, but I'm pretty sure you can't email your books around. E-ink is great, but the Kindle is too expensive, its books are too expensive, and I'm not going to deal with a company that puts limits on what I purchase.

        I am waiting to see what Google does. I think that they are the only possible company that has the inclination and sheer might to give us an e-book reader and content that is reader friendly.

    • by SendBot (29932)

      Plus, physical books are kinda cool; they don't need to be recharged, you can drop them from amazing heights and they still work, they're infinitely reusable and lendable, and they effortlessly multitask--leave one in the bathroom, one on the nightstand, one in the car, etc.

      responses:
      - This thing uses very little power. You have to worry more about charging your body with food than charging this thing with power.

      - Dunno about you, but I don't like dropping my books either.

      - Digital books are EXTREMELY "lendable".

      - If you like being a slob you'll find you can leave books (and other things) just about anywhere! Compare looking all over for a book you left somewhere to pushing a few buttons on the kindle.

      - and try carrying all your favorite books with you on a plane.

      - or reading

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      You could buy a laptop and download thousands of free books from Gutenberg.org or wherever, and spend the rest on used books and have more than you can ever hope to read.

      Alternatively, you can spend $350-$500 on one of these Amazon gadgets and then have to pay to read books on it.

      Or, you can buy a Kindle and download thousands of free books from Gutenberg.org or wherever. The Kindle doesn't lock you in to only reading Amazon books. I've probably read about as many project Gutenberg books on my Kindle as I have books I bought from Amazon.

    • by MBoffin (259181) on Friday July 03, 2009 @12:59PM (#28572999) Homepage

      Why not a laptop, you ask?

      Because a laptop battery doesn't last for two weeks.
      Because a laptop screen can't be read from any angle.
      Because a laptop is much heavier than a Kindle.
      Because a laptop doesn't have always-on, free Internet access.

      Because a laptop is not a book reader.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nitroamos (261075)

        on the other hand.... perhaps a better question is whether it's a good idea to get a kindle, ASSUMING you already have a laptop. which is, i think, a quite likely scenario.

        so are the conveniences of a kindle worth 500$ to me? my answer is no.

        1) I have my own way of sorting & storing .pdf of academic papers on my laptop.
        2) My laptop already does everything i need, including markup, searching, cross-linking to the internet, VPN to my school so I can access more papers.
        3) All the tools I like to have (like

      • by Tweenk (1274968)

        Because a laptop screen can't be read from any angle.

        Nowadays laptops and even standalone monitors have shitty screens. Look at a HP TC1100 someday for true LCD glory. Viewable for any angle with no color degradation and very slight brightness changes. When I went to a store I was very surprised that almost all modern screens are inferior compared to this 4 year old thing.

        Of course it is different from an e-ink screen. For example, it's not too bright when viewed in direct sunlight. But overall if you can buy a cheap used TC1100 it makes for a great ebook rea

      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        Because a laptop battery doesn't last for two weeks.

        Because a laptop doesn't have always-on, free Internet access.

        I have to wonder how any device can have "always-on Internet access" and have a battery that lasts for two weeks.

        With my Blackberry sitting in its holster, it uses zero power for the screen, so in that state it's just like a Kindle for power usage...only the cell connection is using any power. It will only last about 4-5 days at most when in this state (which isn't actually uncommon for me, as it's not my cell phone...it's really only used to receive emergency system outage e-mails).

        Admittedly, the Kindle

    • Re:Why not a laptop? (Score:5, Informative)

      by MyDixieWrecked (548719) on Friday July 03, 2009 @01:02PM (#28573033) Homepage Journal

      Disclaimer: I own a KindleDX and am incredibly happy with it.

      you have a lot of good points, but there are some things that you fail to recognize:

      For one, the size and weight of books. For a casual reader, the KindleDX is overkill. It's large, expensive and the benefits don't outweigh the hassles (recharging, fragility, etc). For those of us that have large libraries of tech books, the KindleDX allows us to store our entire bookshelf on a single device that takes up less room and weighs significantly less than a single book.

      This brings me to my second point: The Kindles (an ebook readers in general) have better displays for reading large quantities of text. It's easier on the eyes than a laptop. Also, for those of us that use mass transit to commute and don't always have a seat, a laptop is not an option. Have you ever tried to stand up in a crowded subway and use a laptop? Even sitting down and using the laptop is a pain. Laptop battery life is also significantly worse than the Kindle's--my kindle hasn't needed to be charged a single time since I got it nearly 3 weeks ago. It also beats out the laptop because you can travel light with it; you don't need to carry a laptop bag. All you need is the device, and since it doesn't require frequent charging, you don't even need to bring the charger (USB cable) with it.

      Third point: When using ebooks for reference (or following a tutorial in the book) while you're doing work on the laptop, it's nice to have a separate device. This was one reason why I stuck to buying physical books rather than purchasing PDFs exclusively.

      So, while $700 (KindleDX + tax + shipping + 2 year warranty + sleeve) is quite a steep price to pay, for those of us that will use it a lot, it's worth the price. If I wasn't in such need for the solution, I would have held off a year or so and waited for it to come down in price or for a cheaper solution to be released.

      My coworker picked up the Sony PRS-700 a couple months ago and he's mostly very satisfied. It was around $375 + tax, but has a significantly smaller screen. Although it's got a touchscreen, the touchiness is kinda flakey and it's got some weird glare because of the touch surface. Also, PDF support in the thing is mediocre--the zoom sucks and it really needs a larger screen.

      I was going to hold out for the PlasticLogic (http://www.plasticlogic.com/) but I was hoping for something that I could get real books on, too. Since I really liked the Kindle (my dad picked one up last year) and the features that come with it (cellular websurfing/wikipedia/wireless book delivery and books that you can buy FROM the device), I opted for the DX.

      Like I said, the DX isn't for everyone. It's pretty big and it's expensive, but I feel that I'm definitely getting my money's worth.

      • For those of us that have large libraries of tech books, the KindleDX allows us to store our entire bookshelf on a single device that takes up less room and weighs significantly less than a single book.

        I have a large library of tech books, how can I store them on the Kindle? By buying them again? No way. I'm not paying a hefty sum for an empty device and then buy my library again. Not gonna happen.
        • erm, oh yeah... the internet has dark corners. dark corners indeed.

          All future book purchases, I'm buying the PDF if it's available. I do occasionally re-buy older books when new editions come out.

          I've purchased at least 2 versions of the O'Reilly MySQL, Javascript, and Python books. I've purchased 2 versions of the Pragmatic Agile Development with Rails book, too. So now, no more taking up extra space, no more waiting for books to ship and no more wishing I took the book(s) with me.

          • I'm not saying that I don't see the use of having a small device containing every book you own. I even understand that you have to start sometime to build a useful collection of e-books.

            Say I get the Kindle and get twenty books to start of my collection. That's useful in itself. But it has no hope of competing with my 2000+ book collection on old dead tree.

            The first publisher that solves this conundrum gets my money. I'd love to have my collection portable, it just isn't feasible yet.
            • Ok, you're the next level up from me, then. I've got about 100 books, about 10-20 of which I use for reference regularly and about 50 that I haven't touched in 5+ years.

              I feel that this problem is the same that plagues the music industry. My best example is the fact that I've got MP3s that I encoded from my own CDs back around 1999/2000. the CDs are now lost or damaged beyond repair (cannot be reliably ripped), the mp3s have missing tags, are encoded low quality and/or have become damaged themselves. I real

        • by Zerth (26112)

          My wife reads approx 500-1000 pages of PDF documents a week.

          It took me a day or two to find a work-around, I'd hope it wouldn't take you much longer, even if you had to automate a screencapture+reprint to pdf.

          It was worth it to me just to make reading for her easier, let alone the 20+/week the printing cost.

          A DX is only worth it if you want a large screen area or really need to view PDFs or documents you can't just throw through a character recognition program.

          If you just need plain text, no pictures, conve

    • With the kindle?

      whereas the only way to do that on the others is to illegally copy published works.

    • by richmaine (128733)

      I've got a laptop computer. I also have a Kindle. No way is the laptop even close to an adequate substitute. I plan to bring both on a cruise I'm going on starting next week. My Kindle is not the DX, and I'm not at all sure whether I'd prefer the DX or not, but your comments have nothing in particular to do with the DX either. I'm not going to just repeat all the sales blub stuff in detail. That is all readily available. I don't know whether you never read it, or perhaps the Kindle just isn't for you. I'm s

    • Because the Kindle isn't a laptop.

      It's like saying that an iPod is stupid because your laptop can hold the same number of songs.

      (You can also transfer Gutenberg books to the Kindle just fine.)

    • Laptops:

      1. don't last weeks on a charge. (something like 3000 page turns on a charge with these eReaders)
      2. backlit displays cause eye strain for for reading.
      3. are barely readable in direct sunlight. reflective e-ink is simple to read on a park bench.
      4. LCDs matrix causes some people eye strain compared to the print-like blobs in electrophoretic displays(e-ink).
      5. are cumbersome to read while on a bus/train. Unless perhaps your laptop is a netbook that can fold into a tablet.
      6. the reader apps for PCs kind of suck, but that
    • by nurb432 (527695)

      for 500 i agree.

      For less i disagree. The kindle is great for what its designed to. For someone that doenst like reading on the 'pc', i dont mind at all reading a book on a G1 kindle.

      And just for the record you DONT have to pay to read books on it. there are 10000's of legal free books you can put on there, even more if your morals are a bit 'grey'.

    • I think Amazon should move to the inkjet approach of giving away the initial hardware and then making money on the refills. I wouldn't mind paying $5-$10 for a new bestseller (as long as it didn't crash/timeout and disappear on me) but the initial investment is rather daunting.

      This would really prove a drag on Amazon profitability.

      Currently with Kindle books (in my somewhat informed information) Amazon takes approximately 40% of the list price of the book as their profit, and any discount from list comes

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BikeHelmet (1437881)

      Books also don't mysteriously vanish when the publisher goes out of business.

      But if Amazon's DRM servers ever go down, all your eBooks go with it!

      I know, I know... "What are the chances of Amazon going down?" ... well, slim to nil. But what are the chances of them deciding to shut off their DRM servers to save money, in 15 years? I bet those odds are much higher.

      PlaysForSure? Uh huh! Burn me once and I'll learn!

    • by Nutria (679911)

      leave ... one in the car

      And if you leave an e-reader in the car (especially a dark-colored car, in the sun), Bad Things will happen to your really expensive gadget...

    • I remember exactly the same argument when high-dollar MP3 players started showing up. Whatever the market will bear.

  • Math PDFs (Score:5, Informative)

    by Elote (649512) on Friday July 03, 2009 @12:30PM (#28572709)
    It worked beautifully for the 2-3 higher mathematics PDFs I tried it with. All ot the little set theory symbols were displayed crystal clear. I don't think the screen is as readable as the PRS505's, however it's still good.
    • by Qubit (100461)

      The PRS-505 is apparently a version of the Sony Reader [wikipedia.org]. The latest version is the PRS-700, which looks to be about $350 right now.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bwalling (195998)
        The PRS-505 and the PRS-700 are both current models. The 700 has a touchscreen, which increases usability at the expense of screen clarity. The touchscreen is an overlay to the e-Ink screen, so you're viewing it through another material. The 505 is a nice device and handles PDF just fine. I picked one up a few weeks ago when Borders had it on sale for $199.
        • Funny, I played with one of these in Borders and it seemed like a piece of crap to me. The screen was decently readable but not all that better than a black and white LCD screen -- it certainly didn't make me think "digital paper is here!" But it was nevertheless quite readable; what really pissed me off was the software. Navigating text in any way other than turning pages seemed difficult, and even that took an unusually long time. Perhaps the model I played with had been abused already so it wasn't wo

          • what really pissed me off was the software. Navigating text in any way other than turning pages seemed difficult, and even that took an unusually long time. Perhaps the model I played with had been abused already so it wasn't working up to snuff; what is the reaction time when you turn pages or move from book to book?

            It's an inherent limitation of current eInk technology. Since it involves physically manipulating small black and white particles of matter to form the image (which is why it doesn't require any energy to maintain once it's formed, leading to those long battery times), the refresh rate is very slow, on the order of 0.5-1s. They're working on it - older readers had 1.5-2s, so it's getting better bit by bit.

            In general, this doesn't cause any trouble when reading fiction books, since you rarely need to do much

    • I don't think the screen is as readable as the PRS505's

      It's slightly lower DPI, but otherwise seems to be the same. There haven't been any production eInk screens with more gray gradations or higher DPI than on PRS-505 or the older Kindle so far.

  • Kindle review (Score:2, Informative)

    by mr100percent (57156) *

    I trust David Pogue, and he reviewed it this week [nytimes.com]

    This question sounds like it deserves the LMGTFY [lmgtfy.com] treatment though.

  • It's cheaper, smaller, and it's pretty much a full Linux based computer... oh and it has a colour screen too!

    I'm sorry, but at $500 you can buy any of a number of laptops, netbooks or PDAs that all do much more than the Kindle does. Their price point is definitely in the wrong place for such a limited device.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Albanach (527650)

      It's cheaper, smaller, and it's pretty much a full Linux based computer... oh and it has a colour screen too!

      Given he is asking about the larger Kindle, the DX, I hardly think a smaller screen would be considered a plus. The point of the DX is that you can view an entire page, just like having a textbook in front of you. For that the N810 - while an awesome tool is hardly a substitute.

      The N810 also misses the mark, because it has a standard screen, not an e-ink one. That's great for reading a web page, but

    • by Wovel (964431)

      Really? Which cheaper devices let you read books on a 9" screen and automatically synch free and paid content over 3G without any recurring service costs? One link to any device that does all that and more and costs less will be sufficient. I will even give you a freebie, your device can include the long term eye strain from reading on a backlit device..Still nothing..That is kind of what I thought...

      I think the n810 is a great device, the comparison is like comparing apples and monkeys.

    • Re:Nokia n810? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by JohnBailey (1092697) on Friday July 03, 2009 @01:06PM (#28573087)

      It's cheaper, smaller, and it's pretty much a full Linux based computer... oh and it has a colour screen too!

      I'm sorry, but at $500 you can buy any of a number of laptops, netbooks or PDAs that all do much more than the Kindle does. Their price point is definitely in the wrong place for such a limited device.

      And it fails on the second property you mentioned. For PDF, a netbook is about the smallest practical display. Not to mention the fairly short battery life of the N series web tablets. I have an N800, and I agree. they are great for the proper tasks. But reading PDFs is not one of them. I know. I tried with my N800, and the screen size was only one of the drawbacks. Loading time was the worst.

      I'm a keen e-book reader. Got myself an e-ink based reader last year, and I love it. For it's intended task, it's fantastic. That task being reading fiction. NOTHING ELSE

      But I have a grand total of zero PDF files on it. Because when it comes to using PDF files, the current range of readers are all basically crap. Including the Kindle DX. The screen updates far too slowly. so paging back and forth is irritating. Search if it works, is slow. looking up the index is also slow, and usually set over several pages if it even has links..

      If you want to read fiction, great. You will get onto the habit of pressing the next page button mid way in the last sentence of the current page, so you don't even notice the page refresh blink after a few chapters. And as fiction is read one page after the other, it is perfectly suited to this. Graphic novels may be ok. A bit small on a 6 inch screen, but the bigger Kindle screen might work out ok. These too are page by page, not random access.

      But if you need to read a few paragraphs here, look in the index, and read a few pages somewhere else.. All common tasks with manuals.. Forget it. Get a netbook for portability or a tablet for functionality. Both great choices for manuals and text books. Do yourself a favour. Avoid e-ink displays unless the primary function is fiction reading. No matter how big the screen. You will either be disappointed, or worse.. end up justifying the extra cost of a 9 inch book reader that only works for manuals in the same way an iPhone works as a camera.

      There are supposed to be a few new displays coming out that are better suited to fast access, but you are realistically looking at several years before they are on sale anywhere. The current generation are a dead loss for PDF files.

    • by abigor (540274)

      True, but you can't read any of those things outside in full sunlight. I like to read out on my balcony, and using a laptop out there is impossible. Same with on the ferry to work, when I sit by a window. For reading, backlit displays are fundamentally terrible devices.

      What people don't understand is that the Kindle is NOT a laptop replacement - it's an e-Ink display device, an electronic book that reads in the same way as the printed page. Either this is meaningful to you as someone who reads a lot, or it

  • Depends (Score:3, Informative)

    by Spy Handler (822350) on Friday July 03, 2009 @12:35PM (#28572751) Homepage Journal
    If the textbooks you require are available at Amazon, you can save money (ebooks cost less than paper)... if you need to buy lots of them then you might even save enough to offset the Kindle purchase price.

    If not, there are other readers that handle PDF better (*ony makes one)
  • What is the Kindle like? It's like a book with ink that can vanish permanently at any moment.
  • by Rick Zeman (15628) on Friday July 03, 2009 @12:37PM (#28572783)

    ...by any means here, but I'd never buy a Kindle unless I can borrow or lend a Kindle book like a dead tree book. Serialize it to the purchaser, and have the mothership ensure it's only on one device at any one time. To me, that's a reasonable compromise. The way it is now SUCKS and should be avoided at all costs (pun intended....)

  • by Locke2005 (849178)
    No. Books are available for free from your local public library, and you've already got a computer capable of downloading online content, or you wouldn't be posting to slashdot. In short, there is nothing you can do with a kindle that you can't do without one. And trust me, it WILL NOT get you laid more often!
    • by hedwards (940851)
      I don't know about your library, but the ones around here provide e-books through the website. You've got to install a DRMed Win program to use them, but I don't think you can use it with the kindle, which is going to cost you opportunities. I'm sure that's not a big deal to the Kindle audience, but it may be to some people.

      Service for that is through http://www.netlibrary.com/ [netlibrary.com] if anybody's interested, it may or may not be available in any given library system.
  • Kindle DX and PDFs (Score:5, Informative)

    by proxima (165692) on Friday July 03, 2009 @12:41PM (#28572829)

    I seriously considered getting a Kindle DX, but after a little digging I found that it's not quite there yet for my use. So while I don't have personal experience with one, I did spend some time looking into it.

    I'd love to eliminate the need to print PDF documents (like journal articles) for comfortable reading away from my computer. Once I heard that the Kindle DX supports PDF natively and has a large screen, I thought it might be perfect. Before prices were announced, I actually expected it to launch for $600 (comparable to the iRex Iliad). To my surprise, the price was cheaper.

    As an added bonus, the free Whispernet (Sprint network) Wikipedia access has been expanded to include a rudimentary web browser. It would be unwise to buy a Kindle expecting this feature to remain free, though.

    What's not made clear is that the PDF support has drawbacks. It cannot zoom, except to turn the device into landscape mode, which provides a small magnification. Fortunately, the software does automatically eliminate margins, making the screen about the right size for most documents. What's worse is that all of the annotation features available for ebooks and other documents do not work with PDFs; no highlighting, no note-taking, etc. I think it supports bookmarking, but that's it. For me, this is a deal breaker (at least until the price drops much further). I'm hoping that since this is a software limitation, it might be fixed with an update. I've learned not to count on feature additions in firmware until I see them, though, so I'm holding off on the purchase. Hopefully the price will drop before the end of the year anyway.

    More strange is the method of firmware update. Apparently the Kindle 2 gets an update automatically if you leave Whispernet on long enough (usually overnight). I realize Amazon is doing this because they don't want users to need a computer and want to make things as simple as possible, but I would still strongly prefer user pull to Amazon push of content like software updates. Perhaps this behavior is configurable, I'm not sure.

    I found it interesting that (at least some) newspaper subscriptions were made cheaper with the DX. If you save $4/mo on two subscriptions each, in about 18 months that will pay for the price difference between the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX. Since neither unit is sold retail, I don't have a very good sense of how comfortable they are to read from, or how annoying I would find the screen wipes (as the eink screens refresh the content). The good news is that the return policy from Amazon seems pretty reasonable, and you can return an opened unit within a few weeks for a full refund. If it supported annotations (and zooming might be important on some documents), that's how I would try it out. Until that's supported, or the price drops substantially, I'll just wait.

    • Kindle DX (Score:5, Funny)

      by Locke2005 (849178) on Friday July 03, 2009 @12:48PM (#28572905)
      ...after a little digging I found that it's not quite there yet for my use. Yeah, greyscale sucks for porn, doesn't it...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      It cannot zoom, except to turn the device into landscape mode, which provides a small magnification. Fortunately, the software does automatically eliminate margins, making the screen about the right size for most documents. What's worse is that all of the annotation features available for ebooks and other documents do not work with PDFs; no highlighting, no note-taking, etc. I think it supports bookmarking, but that's it.

      Yeah, those are my only issues with it so far (I've had it for almost 3 weeks).

      I haven'

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Doofus (43075)
      A couple of comments, from a "pleased DX owner" -

      1) Amazon indicates that the Whispernet service is free. You make a good point that Amazon or Sprint may at some time in the future choose to charge for web browsing, but using the service to buy/sync/transfer documents will remain free. Nothing I've seen from Amazon indicates that they *will* charge for browsing, though.

      2) In reading other posters' comments, it appears that PDFs - even those of the technical genus - render quite nicely. There are PD
    • When I print out a PDF, I don't just read it. I deface it with a pen. I take notes, circle things, draw boobies, etc. If the kindle was also a tablet, and I could annotate... I may have a use for it. I'm waiting for the Kindle / live-scribe hybrid.

      • When I encounter the canine beverage dispenser, oftimes I find myself at a loss for perforated tissue paper in the appropriate dispensor. At those times, I find that carefully removing several sheets from whichever dissertation I am currently persuing will quickly allow me to resume my current endeavours. Until an e-book provides an equivelent capability, they will be unusable for my purposes.

  • I'm not sure if it's worth the money for most, but I've been really enjoying mine so far.

    The PDF reader works great for things like academic papers as long as moderately small fonts aren't a problem. Large PDF books don't work quite as well because links don't work on PDF in the current version. Some PDF slide decks work well, depending on the formatting - colored text on black background doesn't render well.

    The built-in browser is OK. It's a nice novelty to be able to read wikipedia on this form factor of

  • Pleased DX Owner (Score:5, Informative)

    by Doofus (43075) on Friday July 03, 2009 @12:53PM (#28572949)
    I own a DX - my mom and wife went in together on a Kindle 2 for my birthday, several days later Amazon announced the DX. Returned the K2 and got the DX a couple of weeks back. I have used it every day since receiving it, and have thoroughly enjoyed using it. Excellent reading device and experience. The DX simply allows me to read, without getting in the way.

    Loading PDFs using USB is trivially easy; once, too rushed to plug the DX into my work laptop, I emailed a work-related PDF document to my kindle email address; $0.15 saved me a few minutes. Amazon will convert some documents to Kindle format via email if you cannot convert to PDF on your own. One downside on PDFs: have not figured out how to magnify other than rotating the DX. I cannot testify to complicated graphics, as I have not loaded any technical PDFs on my DX.

    A few technical reviews I've found that you may find helpful:

    http://www.matthewdavidwilliams.com/2009/06/12/technical-document-pdfs-on-the-kindle-dx/ [matthewdavidwilliams.com]

    CNET Review [cnet.com]

    Gizmodo Review [gizmodo.com]

    Hope this helps. There are other reviews out there.
    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Also, mobipocket will do your PDF conversions for nothing.

      Tho i have to admit that native PDF would be MUCH better.

      • by Zerth (26112)

        Amazon will do the conversion for free also. the charge is for transmitting over the cell network, if you use USB to transfer it,it costs 0.

  • by DrXym (126579) on Friday July 03, 2009 @12:56PM (#28572977)
    If I'm paying full whack for an e-reader I expect it to support all of the common book formats without prejudice. If the firmware integrates a store or a proprietary format as an extra then fine. This after all is how the iPod sold so well. Apple wisely ensured it played unencrypted MP3s and AACs first and foremost, complete with ripping software. The result was iPods sold through the roof and Apple coined it from integrated iTMS support.

    I just don't understand who is stupid enough to buy a Kindle at full price considering how crippled it is. The device should be subsidized to reflect its proprietary nature or the software should be opened up to make it more useful. FFS even Sony (a company not exactly known for embracing standards) has a more open reader that costs less.

    Even less fathomable is why publishers are letting the ebook market degenerate into competing formats, proprietary readers and possible market dominance by Amazon. One would think it is in their interest to come up with and dictate a single book format, one which all readers can implement, one which all stores can sell books with. It sounds obvious but a single format would level the playing field and catapult ebooks into the mainstream.

    • by hedwards (940851)
      It's worth noting that Apple refuses to license out their AAC DRM and never used WMA DRM, meaning that if you wanted the ITMS support back when it was DRMed, you had to have an iPod or be happy only playing via the computer. And no burning to CD to rerip really doesn't cut it. I'm still curious as to why the DoJ never looked into the obvious antitrust violations that represents.

      Amazon is just a couple of steps worse than that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by N7DR (536428)

      Even less fathomable is why publishers are letting the ebook market degenerate into competing formats, proprietary readers and possible market dominance by Amazon. One would think it is in their interest to come up with and dictate a single book format, one which all readers can implement, one which all stores can sell books with. It sounds obvious but a single format would level the playing field and catapult ebooks into the mainstream.

      While one hears a lot about the Kindle (most US people who are even aware of the existence of e-book readers generally believe that the Kindle is the only one on the market), but once one digs through the hype to try to see what's actually happening in the industry, the situation is very different.

      All the entities with interests in the classical publishing industry (meaning, mostly, authors, agents, and "classical" publishers) are thoroughly unsure how best to prepare for the tidal wave that is now in its e

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cdrguru (88047)

      The Kindle 2 supports a large number of e-book formats and it is possible to convert some more to the pretty common .mobi format. I have run a .LIT (Sony) to .mobi format conversion myself (free program) and the results were very good. The DX supports the same formats, plus PDF in a limited way.

      The problem wtih PDF is that it is a page description langauge where the page layout has already been determined. OK, so how do you transform a generic PDF to a different page format? Short answer is, you do not.

    • by demachina (71715) on Friday July 03, 2009 @02:47PM (#28573989)

      "Even less fathomable is why publishers are letting the ebook market degenerate into competing formats, proprietary readers and possible market dominance by Amazon."

      Even less fathomable is why you need "publishers" once you fully reach the ebook era. The only necessary roll they play in the system is to publish books on dead trees. Good authors could easily start going direct to ebooks and completely cut publishers out of the system as long as they are willing to go without a dead tree version of their books.

      Publishers play a roll in filtering out the crap but they also filter out stuff none of them like but at least a niche audience might find interesting. They play a roll in promotion which may still be necessary but in the Internet era probably isn't as importance as it once was.

      Publishers are about as useful in the digital age as record companies.

      • Even less fathomable is why you need "publishers" once you fully reach the ebook era.

        Publishers are about as useful in the digital age as record companies.

        You need publishers because you cannot get on sites like Fictionwise (biggest current eBook seller) as an individual, and that's where people are buying eBooks. While I recommend not dealing with Fictionwise in my above post (worth reading why), you can't just show up at a lot of big sellers yet, eBook in hand, and make your fortune by having them list

        • by demachina (71715)

          They probably had all the same complaints about software until Apple proved them wrong with its app store. Why do all these arguments apply to books but not to apps for the iPhone?

          Sure there are ebook publishers that wont tank works from an individual now but all that does is open up a market for a low overhead ebook publisher who will.

    • Even less fathomable is why publishers are letting the ebook market degenerate into competing formats, proprietary readers and possible market dominance by Amazon. One would think it is in their interest to come up with and dictate a single book format, one which all readers can implement, one which all stores can sell books with. It sounds obvious but a single format would level the playing field and catapult ebooks into the mainstream.

      You don't understand small publishers -- I do because I sell through o

  • I fail to see the logic in a book reader.

    A book reader is a computer. Why not make it full-featured?

    I would love to have a computer that had an e-ink (persistent) display, internet access, and could also read books, with the battery life of an e-book (with internet turned off).

    Why purposely limit the machine to only being able to read books? It makes no sense.

    • by hedwards (940851)
      Part of it probably has to do with the fact that Amazon is picking up the tab on the wireless connection. I'm also not sure that the display is really designed to handle much more than just e-books.
    • At the risk of sounding redundant, check the form factor out (I've seen the Sony). If you don't have a computer, this would be secondary, especially at the wrong price point. But if you love to read, and value your eyesight, and already gotten a notebook/laptop, this is worth checking out. Battery goes for weeks and it's instant on--those are pros for me.

  • I was looking at the Kindle to read journals. By and large the journals are not available through Amazon, but are available through the web, as text or PDF. I currently read these on laptop, but, to answer another question, the clamshell form factor does not always work when reading. I think I will buy a Kindle when the web browser is no longer beta, as that is my preferred method of getting my reading material.

    Unless something better comes along. That is a device that does not waste real estate with

  • Loading PDFs is trivial. The DX shows up as a standard USB flash drive, allowing you to drag and drop files into its Documents directory from any modern OS.

    PDFs display well, though you'll want to turn the DX on its side to more closely approximate the width of a printed page. The DX can't reflow PDF text like it can with standard Kindle books. It became very obvious why Amazon didn't bother with PDF support on their smaller Kindles. Pragmatic Programmers [pragprog.com] offers their eBooks in .mobi format, so I redown

    • "or have simply given up on paying off your credit card"

      OH~ Say can you seeeeee. by the dawn's early light~... land of the freeeee~ and the home of the braaaaave.

      Sorry, your sentiment moved me to a patriotic outburst.
  • "From the academic-paper-reading-geek perspective, is it worth the money?"

    HeeYELL no. IMO, papers are best read on paper. But with electronic journals coming to fore, you have to adapt. Those get sent as PDF to an email or similar account. Kindle doesn't do email and isn't paper. For $500 I can buy a laptop to do these things if needed, and still have enough for a major party.

  • by stevenj (9583) <stevenj @ a lum.mit.edu> on Friday July 03, 2009 @01:20PM (#28573213) Homepage

    As pointed out in this review [computatio...lexity.org]:

    You can move whole directories but the Kindle flattens them out listing every file (by file name) separately on the main home page.

    You can't organize PDFs into directories on the Kindle, which makes accessing a large number of PDFs a serious problem. It's like 1984.

    (The lack of PDF annotation capability is also a headache.)

    • You can't organize PDFs into directories on the Kindle, which makes accessing a large number of PDFs a serious problem. It's like 1984.

      You mean it's like a boot stomping on a human face over and over forever??

  • Engadget has a nice review. [engadget.com] I was considering selling my Kindle 2 to get a DX -- I'm an academic who reads many multi-column PDFs -- but apparently the DX doesn't do this well :

    Another puzzling design choice involves PDF support. For the most part it works well with standard size pages, but there's no zoom, so you're stuck with however the DX decides to display your file -- the only way to get things bigger is to switch to landscape. Since not all PDF pages fit on the screen, that means you often end up wit

  • by volsung (378) <stan@mtrr.org> on Friday July 03, 2009 @01:49PM (#28573491)

    I picked up the Kindle DX on release day (much to my amazement, as I figured the initial stock would go entirely to preorders) and then took it on a 2 week trip. I'm quite pleased with it, although I definitely believe that it will only appeal to a narrow market.

    Pros:

    • The e-ink display really needs to be seen to understand the benefit. Over time, more and more of my reading material has become electronic, and I had not appreciated how much reading long documents on my backlit laptop LCD was leading to eye-fatigue. The result was that I tended to read on my laptop in short bursts, taking frequent breaks and losing focus. With a passive display like this, I find that I naturally read for longer intervals. Contrast is not as good as paper, but being able to read in direct light really changes your reading behavior.
    • The form factor is perfect for full page document reading. A netbook or small laptop, while useful for other things, is a horrible document reader. The clamshell form factor is the wrong orientation for reading pages, and if you try to turn it to read in portrait mode, you have a keyboard sticking out the side for no reason. I tried reading with a sideways 12" laptop on the bus as a graduate student, and it was pretty annoying. Anyone suggesting a real computer as an alternative to the Kindle DX should at least begin with a tablet PC.
    • As a reader, the software mostly gets out of your way. The power switch just puts the system to sleep, so you can pick up the DX and be reading where you were last in about 4 seconds. Your last location is remembered in all documents, as you would expect. More sophisticated controls would be nice, but aren't a deal-breaker.
    • The built-in cellular data link is not spectacular, but gets the job done. I really enjoy being able to read something, then if I encounter an unfamiliar concept, I can just start typing a phrase and hit "wikipedia". xkcd's comment about the Kindle being our manifestation of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is very true.
    • The browser is definitely limited, but very convenient when you are traveling. I don't have a fancy phone, so this is the only device I own which provides nearly universal Internet access. (Yeah, I'm late to the party.) Not having a stupid cell contract to use the web browser is a huge plus.
    • Battery life and weight are good. I tend to leave the wireless radio on, but even with that extra drain, I normally have to recharge every few days. At 1 lb., it is the weight of a thin hardback. You won't read it for long periods by holding it out in front of your face (see "gorilla arms"), but it doesn't take much support to a corner or an elbow to comfortably hold it.
    • Being able to read the first chapter of books free is kind of neat. I don't usually buy books for the Kindle with the store, because I consider DRM-crippled data to be disposable. It is a great way to find new books to buy in dead-tree format, though.
    • PDF rendering works fine. I have encountered one image in one PDF that rendered strange, but otherwise viewing PDFs has met my expectations.

    Cons:

    • Some people say other readers have a better e-ink display. This is my first e-ink device, so I can't comment on that.
    • If you are used to reading on an LCD, it will take you a little bit to adjust. The first thing I noticed when I got the DX is that I have very poor lighting in my apartment for reading. With a backlit display, I never noticed. However, the DX needs external light, just like paper. :)
    • This is not a speedy device, nor a speedy internet connection. The browser is very slow, especially on complex websites.
    • The economics of the cellular link are worrying. Since it is effectively pre-paid in the cost of the device itself, Amazon does not have a strong financial incentive to improve the built-in browser. More web use means more money they have to pay to Sprint on your behalf. You see the effects of this in o
  • I bought a Sony PRS-500 a couple of years back. The display is kind of small, which sucks because I tend to use it to read a lot of technical books which tend to be a lot bigger (e.g.the Apress Programming books) than the novels I think the device was meant to be used on. My work around right now is to use CutePDF to crop the books as much as I can... then I use Rasterfarian to split all of the pages in half (the program essentially takes a screenshot of each page) and convert to the reader's format. Thi
  • I have several thousand technical documents ranging from hundreds of pages to a dozen pages. I have been carrying them around with me on a 500GB portable USB hard drive, connecting that to my laptop or a public computer. I got 801 of them on my DX before it filled up, so now I am in the process of triaging all my PDFs to get the most important ones on the DX. I have no problems at all reading them, even the mathematics-intensive ones. Something I thought of after I bought the DX: hey, now I can easily hav
  • by erleellis (1192547) on Friday July 03, 2009 @02:46PM (#28573987)
    From one academic-paper-reading-geek to another: Don't waste your time with the Kindle DX. I am a professor and did order one- with very high hopes of going beyond paper! To warn others, I also posted a review of my experience with the Kindle DX on my blog: http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/Kindle-DX-Not-ready-for-Academic-users.aspx [ecotope.org] But there was no way to really use the thing the way you need to if you are an academic-paper-reading-geek! I returned it after about a week. Maybe next year there will be a machine with the right stuff! I hope so!
  • And it won't be worth the money even if it give it away for free until:

    1. I can resell a book on the secondary market (i.e. it gets removed from my Kindle and loaded onto somebody else's.
    2. I can have only one account with access to all purchased books and newspaper subscriptions for the entire family.
    3. Don't have my book access depend on whether my Amazon account is active (i.e. Amazon cancels my account and I can't read my books anymore).
    4. I can loan a book to a friend. It's OK if it gets disabled on my

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