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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
||6″ E INK Pearl
||6″ E INK Pearl Touchscreen
||9.7″ E INK Pearl
||WiFi + Optional 3G
||7.5 – 7.8 Ounces
||2GB (1,400 Books)
||4GB (3,000 Books)
||4GB (3,500 Books)
||$99 – $149
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With 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.
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.
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?
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.
Amazon Kindle 3
Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) is slated to join Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS) and Target (NYSE:TGT) by adding the Kindle to its inventory this fall. Just in time for the holiday season, the Kindle’s presence in Best Buy is predicted to boost its own sales, as well as the sales of its competitors.
Speaking of competitors, both the iPad and Nook are available at Best Buy. There are rumors that the iPad might be hitting Target stores on October 3rd. Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has been trying to distance the Kindle from the iPad by saying that the Kindle is for the more dedicated reader, while the iPad is for more general purposes. By doing so, this seems to put the Kindle buyer in one group and the iPad buyer in another. I wonder if there’s a way to make buying both appealing. After trying an iPad, I would use it more as a computer. The screen contrast is too great to read comfortably. Plus, the battery life on the Kindle is way longer than the iPad’s. With the prices becoming more and more reasonable, I think it is perfectly justifiable to own both a Kindle and an iPad.
The Kindle and Kindle DX’s debut in all three stores allows consumers to “try before they buy.” Adding Best Buy to the mix will just put the Kindle out there to an even broader set of consumers. Best Buy is a natural fit for the Kindle because it’s reputation with quality electronics and good customer service.
The Kindle DX has been tested with little success in universities, but there is hope for the future. It might actually serve as a good replacement for textbooks now that it is a little more mainstream and more readily available in stores. I think using the Kindle DX as a textbook reader would save a lot of money in the long run. It would also save a lot of space. No more bulky, back breaking bookbags to lug around!
There is, and always has been, some confusion for people regarding the nature of eReaders and their place in the market today. While there are, undoubtedly, quite a few people yet who will refuse to consider them valuable devices for being single purpose or still developing to their full potential, I have come to believe that most now accept the fact that the eReader is here to stay. New price points for these devices in recent months have made them more accessible than ever, efforts to bring them into classrooms are gaining more steam every day, and the available selection of literature is truly impressive and continues to expand. Some may yet be unconvinced, and that is of course their prerogative, but for those who find themselves genuinely interested there remains just the one real question: “Which one is the best for me?”
There have always been reviews to read. We here have done our best to give some head-to-head comparisons of the most popular devices, be they Kindle, nook, or Sony Reader, but let’s be honest and admit that when you’re thinking about something like this, it is often most helpful to have the thing in your hand and be able to play with it for a moment. To that end, it’s useful to know where to look for these devices and what you can expect to see what you get there.
Local eReader Stores
The first major retailer to carry multiple eReader devices, to the best of my knowledge. There you can find the Kindle side-by-side with one or more of the most recent Sony offerings. At least in theory. What I, and many others, have found is not quite as useful. Target does not push their eReader section, so unless you’re lucky and find yourself helped by an enthusiast employee you are likely to be comparing two units that nobody has bothered to charge this month, an outdated model(my local Target still displays the impressive but obsolete Sony PRS-505), or, in many stores, not be able to compare at all since they only made room on the sales floor for a single device. If you get lucky this can be a goldmine, since many people overlook the Sony brand, but it really is a matter of luck.
This is the really exciting one, especially with recent developments. Starting at the end of September, Best Buy claims they will be carrying the newest generation of the Kindle(And soon after, the Kindle DX) alongside their already displayed stock of nooks and Sony Readers. Some users will also find the ability to look at smartphones and Tablet PCs such as the iPad to be of value in their decision. I might not personally think they hold a candle to an eReader but that doesn’t mean you won’t! This one brings things close to home and adds a convenience that many people will welcome and value greatly. You can’t say they push the eReaders actively, but in my experience there is almost always a moderately knowledgeable employee nearby when you have a question about them or need some help getting things working. That cannot but help new users; especially those who might find themselves slightly out of their element when they find reading to be ever so slightly less intuitive than opening the cover and turning the page.
Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS)
Obviously, this is pretty much a place to check out the nook. This isn’t nearly as good for an active comparison, but they do a good job of making sure you know what accessories are available and what the device can do. B&N actively pushed their product, so you WILL walk away knowing everything you can think to ask about. This is also the only store I could recommend purchasing an eReader at on the spot. In most cases, especially when talking about the Kindle, it just has a chance to complicate things immensely as far as returns or servicing when your original receipts don’t come from the manufacturer. Better safe than sorry.
Borders is a latecomer to the eBook game, but like anybody else they are trying to get their devices to as many people as possible in hopes of locking a percentage of the market into their store and its DRM. I don’t say this to be critical, it’s simply what everybody is trying to do here. You won’t find the Kindle or the nook at Borders. Instead they present their customers with an increasingly wide variety of slightly less well known brands in hopes that the one you’ve not heard much about will happen to surprise you. This is where you’ll find the Kobo, the Libre, some of the Sony Readers, and more, depending on how well handled your local store is. Supposedly, by the end of this year we’ll be seeing an area set aside dealing with nothing BUT eReaders in pretty much every one of their locations.
There are more places to check out your potential new toy. These are just the ones that stand out because they allow you to compare directly or, in the case of Barnes & Noble, do such a good job helping people understand their device that it’s worth the trip. I would still recommend buying your Kindle online for ease of support. The same might be best of the others as well. It’s never a good idea to jump into something like this uninformed, however, and the ability to run in and look at eReaders for yourself might end up being your deciding factor. I certainly recommend it.
Kindle 3 and Kindle 2 size comparison
Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is offering refurbished 2nd Generation Kindle 2 and Kindle DX for $159.99 and $289.99 respectively through its Warehouse Deals section. For the smaller Kindle, I don’t see any point in going with the refurbished model because the Kindle 3 3G is only $30 more, and it has improved features such as better screen contrast, better web browser and is more lightweight. I have heard that the web browser is much better, which is good because the Kindle 2 web browser is slow and clunky. The Kindle 3 Wi-Fi is an even cheaper option if you are looking for one.
The refurbished models are probably just left over Kindles that didn’t get sold before the new release or returns that were not used. Amazon Warehouse Deals has a lot of other electronics for sale at a discount as well. However, you never know what whether there is something wrong on the inside. Apple (NASDAQ: APPL) provides refurbished iPods as replacements for ones that have been broken as long as they are under warranty. They appear to be brand new, although I’m not sure it is fair to replace a fairly new product with a refurbished one.
I think getting a refurbished Kindle DX might be worth checking out, but the latest generation Kindle DX has much better screen contrast. It is hard to believe that a refurbished Kindle DX is not much more than the Kindle 2 was just nine months ago. At $289, it would be almost half the price of the iPad. Who knows, we might see another price drop for the latest generation of the DX in the near future.
With the Kindle 3′s improvement on the web browser, comes the ability to read newspapers via Google Reader. Google Reader is news site that allows you to add clusters of news sources for whatever topics you like. It also serves as an RSS feed for blogs of your choice. I really like it because you can put everything in one place. I have topics ranging from Science and Technology to Recipe blogs on my Google Reader page.
To navigate Google Reader on the Kindle, use the cursor to find the desired feed, then click the right cursor to navigate to the articles. After that, press “f” on the Kindle’s keyboard to enter full screen mode and you are set to go.
The Kindle 3 and Kindle DX will soon be offered at Staples (NASDAQ: STPS), an office supply chain. Staples joins Target as the second retail store to sell the e-reader. This is a good marketing strategy for Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) because they don’t have their own store to let customers try before they buy. Both Target and Staples offer in store options to try out the Kindle before purchase. Apple (NASDAQ: APPL) and Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) previously had the edge with the iPad and Nook on this strategy because they have their own stores.
“Staples is not just bringing this incredible product to our 1,550+ US stores, but we are offering customers a chance to discover first-hand Amazon’s revolutionary reading device,” said Jevin Eagle, executive vice president of merchandising and marketing at Staples. “As part of our efforts to offer customers a wide range of top technology products and services at amazing values, the new Kindle is a natural fit.”
The new Kindle has had rave reviews. The screen is 50% better, has twice as much battery life as its predecessor, is about 20% smaller and has faster page turns. The quicker page turns is one thing that I’m glad to see improved.
Staples is a great store. They sell really good quality products for good prices. I bought a desk there a few years ago and love it. This is a good place for the Kindle to be sold, considering the store’s technology focus and their commitment to good customer service.
Staples will offer:
Kindle Wi-Fi – $139
Kindle 3G – $189
Kindle DX -$379 (Will be available late Fall, 2010)
I haven’t been able to find much information on how well the Kindle has been doing at Target. By putting the e-reader in stores, Amazon is reaching out to the casual readers and cautious consumers not willing to risk purchasing anything online. Target is a major chain in the United States, but Staples has a global presence. For now, Amazon is targeting U.S. readers, but the international avenue is open to pursue if they decide to do so in the future. In terms of sales strategy, Staples is at an advantage because it will be putting the Kindle in its store just in time for the 2010 holiday season. For Amazon, having the Kindle in two major retail stores instead of one will be a big sales boost.
Reports have been swirling around this past week that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is supposedly considering creating other gadgets to sell along with the Kindle and Kindle DX. This would be one tough feat considering that Apple has the monopoly on music players with its iPod, and cell phone carriers make the most revenue from cell phone services. Plus, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) have a good head start with the iPhone and Android smartphones.
Amazon might be able to compete more closely with the iPad if it creates a tablet like device with a color screen and better internet access. However, by going to a LCD color display, the company would be abandoning it’s stance on providing a pleasurable reading experience that simulates the experience of reading a regular book.
A recent article from Bloomberg Business Week suggested that Amazon resell items that are already popular in it’s marketplace. That would save the hassle of creating a new product, and they could still make a decent profit from it.
I think Amazon should focus on the Kindle Books by working with the publishers to make the digital quality better and the prices more affordable. The Amazon Kindle app. is available on many different devices, including the iPad, and books can be transferred from one device to another. The recent drop in price and Wi-Fi only model was a smart move on Amazon’s part because the newest Kindle is now sold out. A cheaper Kindle means consumers can make up for the cost in buying more books.
Let’s be honest, many of us were wondering what the status of the Kindle DX would turn out to be after the recent price cuts on both the Kindle and the nook made it seem more than a little bit overpriced for the times. Thankfully, Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) has responded and then some with an update to the device. The new Kindle DX has greatly improved screen contrast, a more inviting graphite exterior, and most importantly a greatly lowered $379 price tag.
Now, nobody’s going to claim at this point that the DX is a game changer. It was a great idea that turned out to be impractical for many of its intended audience. The screen refresh is too slow for students used to flipping back and forth before they lose their train of thought, and the size was often found to be prohibitive to easy transportation in crowded areas. That part hasn’t changed. While it may appeal only to a slightly smaller audience than intended, however, this is a great eReader. It’s the only one I have used that has given me perfect, or near perfect, display on every PDF I’ve thrown at it, it’s amazingly easy to read and just simulates the feel of a hardcover better than the usual 6″ screen, and it has all the usual great features you expect from an Amazon eReader. Fortunately they ship on July 7th. I can’t wait to get my upgrade.
Let’s face it, who doesn’t want a free Kindle DX? I certainly do. They’re not ideal for everything, but for some reason they just strike me as cool and they would certainly be better for PDF display than anything else I’ve got handy at the moment. Feeling similarly? Check out Lemondrop.com‘s giveaway page.
They’re giving away a single Kindle DX eReader to a random eligible giveaway recipient sometime after June 9th. To be eligible, you must live legally in the United States(Sadly this does not include Puerto Rico) or Canada(Also excluding Quebec, I’m afraid), be at least 18 years old, enter the contest no more than once, and get your entry into the site before midnight on June 9th. It takes less than a minute to enter the contest, so there’s really no downside to worry about. And hey, anybody who wants to give away something this cool deserves to be talked about a bit, in my opinion.
I wish you all much luck and may the best…well, random-est I suppose…person win! As always, we’ll be keeping an eye out for any similar contests or opportunities that might arise to meet the needs of all the eReading enthusiasts out there.
A day after Amazon’s May 10 announcement regarding plans to offer Kindle for Android, Amazon announced updates for its Kindle for PC application. The article from eWeek suggests that Amazon’s recent actions might be in response to increased competition from the iPad, Nook, Sony E-reader and others.
Kindle for PC’s new features include the ability to edit notes and marks, change background color, adjust screen brightness control and includes a full screen reading mode. Amazon’s Whispersync technology transfers notes, bookmarks and “last pages read” between a PC, smartphone and the Kindle. By adding these adjustments to the application, Amazon has made it much more user friendly.
Jay Marine, Director of Amazon Kindle wrote: “Kindle for PC lets customers enjoy more than 540,000 books in the Kindle Store even if they don’t yet have a Kindle, and it’s the perfect companion application for the millions of Kindle and Kindle DX owners.” Amazon seems to be heading into the predicted direction of gearing their market towards software, despite solid Kindle device sales.
Amazon also recently announced plans for a new update to the Kindle and Kindle DX called Version 2.5. In this version, users will be allowed to share passages with friends on Facebook and Twitter. It will also include Collections, which categorizes books and documents on the Kindle into different sections based on the subject, and Popular Highlights, a passage from a book or document that the Kindle community finds the most interesting. Content sharing is “the big thing” right now. It will be an interesting trend to watch in terms how how the Kindle will work with it.
There seems to be significant interest in this long overdue feature for the Kindle, so to clear up some of the confusion for people I thought I’d look at some of the functionality and ideas surrounding Collections.
In essence, Collections are short lists of books created by the user to make browsing easier. The idea is to save time on moving through the library and keep things nicely organized along the way.
- Books can belong to more than one collection, or none at all
- Collections are built directly on the Kindle
- Your collection data will be stored by Amazon and all books will remain in their collections until you remove them
- No data is changed by Collections, they are simply an organizational tool
- While you are able to import collections from other people, this will not transfer the books themselves; simply the lists.
- There are no sub-listings. This is a one-level categorization, not a real directory tree.
So what are Collections going to be good for? In addition to saving you from having to sort through your entire library every time you want to read a specific book, there’s a lot of customization that can come into it. Since all Collections are user-created, it adds a certain depth of individuality to the device.
Some suggestions I’ve read so far:
- List by Genre
- Rate Your Books After Reading
- Keep a List of Books To Read
- Keep Track of What You’re Reading Now
- Regional Listings
- Literary Period
Any other ideas I’ve missed?
And finally, some bad news for Kindle 1 owners – it looks like Amazon is focusing all of their development effort on software version 2.* so original Kindle will not be getting the Folders update.
Kindle DX Lawsuit
When Amazon Kindle DX with 9.7″ eInk screen was announced it was dubbed “academic eReader”. Academic publications and textbooks don’t display well on a smaller 6″ screen. When the device was released, several universities and colleges announced pilot programs aimed at evaluating its effectiveness in replacing classic textbooks. However these programs hit the same roadblock everywhere: despite having Text-to-Speech capability (which not other eBook reader has), Kindle DX wasn’t accessible to vision-impaired students. This mostly had to do with the fact that menus and other controls don’t have audio. After this concern was raised repeatedly, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) promised to address it in a software update that is expected to be publicly released in Q2 2010.
However several educational institutions decided to go ahead with pilot programs regardless. This caused Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the American Council of the Blind (ACB) to file complaints against Princeton University with Department Of Justice. These complaints led to a lawsuit that was recently settled in a peaceful manner. Princeton University was not held accountable for any wrongdoing and in exchange promised to stop pilot program and only resume it after Kindle DX or any other eReader is fully accessible as required by law. Here’s official DOJ letter that settles the case:
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section – NYA
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Hannah S. Ross, Esq.
Office of General Counsel
120 Alexander Road, Second Floor
Princeton, NJ 08540
Re: Letter of Resolution, D.J. No. 202-48-213 Princeton University
Dear Ms. Ross:
As you know, this matter began with complaints filed by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the American Council of the Blind (ACB) with the Department of Justice, on behalf of the organizations and their members who are current and prospective college students, alleging that Princeton University has violated title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12182, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 5 947(a), by using the Kindle DX, an innovative, hand-held electronic book reader that is not accessible to students with visual impairments, in a classroom setting. According to the complaints, Princeton University is offering a pilot program that began in the fall 2009 semester. The object of this pilot is to test the utility of the Kindle DX in a classroom setting.
The Department of Justice is responsible for the enforcement and implementation of titles II and III of the ADA. The Department decided to investigate this matter because the Kindle DX is inaccessible to an entire class of individuals with disabilities – individuals with visual impairments. According to its product descriptions, the Kindle DX provides several benefits that make it a potentially superior tool to a standard textbook, including the ability to download all textbooks instantaneously, the ability to carry all textbooks on a hand-held device that weighs just over a pound, the ability to search words and concepts instantly on the device’s web browser, while retaining all the characteristics of a standard text book, such as annotating, highlighting, and taking notes. Under title III, blind students must be provided with “full and equal access” to all of the goods and services of the university, 28 C.F.R. § 36.201(a); must be provided with an equivalent opportunity to participate in and benefit from its goods and services, 28 C.F.R. § 36.202(a), (b); and, must not be provided different or separate accommodations unless doing so is necessary to ensure access to goods and services that is equally as effective as that provided to others, 28 C.F.R. 36.202(c).
The Department acknowledges both that Princeton University denies any violation of the Americans with Disabilities Acts and that it has stated its commitment to ensuring equal access to educational programs, activities and opportunities for students with disabilities.
Both the Department of Justice and Princeton University agree that the emergence of new electronic book reading technologies that benefit the sighted have the potential to benefit blind students and faculty as well. The Department of Justice and Princeton University have decided that it is in their interest to resolve this matter amicably. In consideration of the agreement by Princeton University to undertake the actions set forth below, the United States will close its investigation of this matter.
Princeton University agrees to the following actions:
- The University will not require, purchase, or incorporate in its curriculum the Kindle DX or any other dedicated electronic book reader for use by students in its classes or other coursework unless or until such electronic book reader is fully accessible to individuals with visual impairments. Alternatively, Princeton may comply with the terms set forth in paragraph 5.
- The phrase “other dedicated electronic book reader” means any wireless, hand-held, electronic book reader that has been or will in the future be produced or offered by Amazon.com or any other corporation, such as but not limited to the Barnes and Noble nook, the Sony PRS-600, PRS-700, PRS 505 or upcoming Sony Daily Edition, and others.
- Princeton University will commit a policy reflecting the terms of this agreement to writing within 30 days of the date of the last signature below.
- Princeton University agrees that its commitments in paragraphs 1-4, herein, will, take effect on the date following the last day of the pilot project with Amazon.com, Inc., which will terminate no later than the conclusion of the fall 2009 semester,’and will remain in effect through June 30,2012.
- As a reasonable modification, the University may provide its students with visual impairments with a dedicated electronic book reader that ensures that individuals who are blind or have low vision are able to access and acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as sighted individuals with substantially equivalent ease of use.
This agreement does not constitute a finding by the United States that Princeton is in full compliance with the ADA, or an admission by Princeton University of fault or noncompliance with the ADA. This letter agreement does not alter nor enlarge the legal obligations of the University, and shall not form the basis for any enforcement action against Princeton University. The decision to close our file in this matter does not affect the rights of private individuals or of the complainants to enforce their rights under the ADA against Princeton University. As indicated in paragraph 4, above, this agreement also has no effect on Princeton University’s current pilot program testing the Kindle DX.
Please countersign and return a copy of this letter to us, indicating your agreement with the representations and terms set forth herein. Once we have received your countersigned copy, we will consider this matter resolved. We will take no further action on this matter unless we become aware of new information suggesting that Princeton is not complying with its obligations under the ADA or this agreement.
We appreciate your cooperation. If you have questions or concerns regarding this agreement, please do not hesitate to contact the Department.
THOMAS E. PEREZ
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
SAMUEL R. BAGENSTOS
Deputy Assistant Attorney General
JOHN L. WODATCH
PHILIP L. BREEN
Special Legal Counsel
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
Tel: (202) 5 14-8301
Fax: (202) 305-9775
HANNA S. ROSS, ESQ.
Counsel for Princeton University
120 Alexander Road, Second Floor
Princeton, NJ 08540
Personally, I believe that eBooks and eReaders are the future of education and when done properly they can provide levels of accessibility previously unobtainable. Hopefully the software updates will be released soon and XXI century publishing can finally happen for textbooks.
Amazon Kindle is gaining immense popularity in China these days even though Kindle and Kindle 2 are not officially shipped there. While buying a Kindle online on Amazon Store, if you enter the location as ‘China’, it shows a regret message – ‘Unfortunately, we are unable to ship Kindles or offer Kindle content in China’.
However, Chinese are known to be avid technology lovers and true gadget freaks. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that Kindle is selling in large volumes in Chinese Gray Markets, stalls in Beijing electronics bazaar and other Chinese websites including Taobao.com, an auction site similar to eBay. PC World reports that Kindle 2 was on sale for 2,600 yuan (US$380) and the Kindle DX for 4,300 yuan ($630) at the Beijing bazaar. In fact, many people in China get the Kindle through their friends and family in United States by ordering the Kindle online, having it delivered to an address in United States and then having it mailed to them in China. e-Readers are quite popular in China these days and it is expected that sales of e-readers could reach 3.5 million units in China this year, up several fold from around 400,000 last year. Though there are numerous Chinese e-Readers in the market, Amazon Kindle stands its ground against one and all.
It is not hard to imagine that as and when Amazon Kindle starts shipping in China, it is bound to be a monumental success.
Amazon’s Kindle satisfies preferences identified by e-book readers in the United States, based on a recent survey released by Strategy Analytics. The survey reported that current e-book readers report a high level of satisfaction with their devices, and prefer e-books to physical or “dead tree” books. It also reported that e-book readers are looking for three things in their devices: ease of access to books, ease of content transfer, and newspaper and magazine availability. With more than 400,000 titles available to purchase and increased access to free content through services such as Scribd, Amazon offers superior content availability. In addition, Kindle has 107 newspapers and 50 magazines available for subscription, including most of the major US and international periodicals. Both the Kindle and Kindle DX can access Amazon’s bookstore with 60 second downloads.
The one unknown factor is the strength of Apple’s brand recognition. With its strong marketing strategy, buildin up hype prior to this month’s release of the iPad, Apple is betting on brand recognition to tip the balance in its favor. While the survey reported that Apple ran a close second in terms of preferred brand, it also said content will still trump name recognition.
“While brand name is still an important factor for current owners when choosing their next e-book reader,” commented Chris Schreiner, Senior Analyst at Strategy Analytics. “Consumers buying their first e-book reader will focus more on the durability and availability of e-books.”
Strategy Analytics is an international research and consulting firm that specializes in the information, communication and entertainment industries.
Amazon Kindle DX
Right after international Kindle 2 was shipped there were some speculations about international version of Kindle DX shipping sometime in 2010. Well… There is no need to speculate anymore. Amazon has just announced international availability of its 9.7″ eBook Reader. International Kindle DX is available for pre-order right now and will ship on the 19th of January 2010 worldwide.
There doesn’t seem to be any changes to the software as compared to the US version. Kindle DX will most likely get software version 2.3 that is now standard for the entire line-up of Amazon eInk readers. Since it now runs on GSM 3G wireless rather than CDMA it benefits from the latest software update that extended battery life with wireless on to roughly a week.
Last time I’ve checked international Kindle book availability, most countries has 320,000+ books available, while US customers can choose from 404,000+ books.
Most likely new Kindle will have new hardware ID (first 4 symbols in the serial number) so all hacks, including the Unicode Font hack will need to be repackaged specifically for the new version.
This updated version of Kindle Unicode Fonts Hack works on all versions of Kindle software including the most recent 2.3 and installs on Kindle 2 US, Kindle 2 International and Kindle DX.
I’ve added more font combinations:
- GNU FreeFont – this hack uses GNU Free Fonts that come with Linux and are free to redistribute. All font styles are preserved (serif, sans-serif, mono-spaced, bold and italic) but these fonts only support Latin, Cyrillic characters and some others (click here for full coverage data). So if you are only interested in Russian books – this is the way to go. Otherwise this patch will do you little good. Here are download links:
- GNU Free Fonts SansSerif (recommended for Cyrillic) - same fonts as before but SansSerif family is used instead of Serif. In my opinion it looks better. Bold and italic styles are preserved:
- Droid Fallback Fonts (recommened for Asian glyphs) - this hack uses open-source Droid fallback font that is part of Google Android platform. Unfortunately styles and typefaces are missing completely. You’ll only get regular Sans Serif. The upside is the broadest character support. It supports Cyrillic, Chinese, Japanese and a bunch of other languages. This font also looks very good on the Kindle screen (in my opinion way better than native Kindle fonts). This is the patch I currently have installed on my Kindle 2. Here are download links:
- Droid Fonts with Styles – Same fonts as above but all families and styles are there. However Asian characters are not supported:
- Droid Fallback with Styles SansSerif – Same as above but Serif fonts are replaced with Sans Serif because I believe it is more readable on Kindle screen:
Visit the Kindle Unicode Fonts Hack page for detailed instructions.
It definitely looks like I’ll have to eat my words… One month ago I made a statement that there will be fewer Kindle software updates and that chances of new features being added via update are slim. At least on the second count I was wrong. Amazon has released Kindle software version 2.3 for Kindle 2 US, Kindle 2 International and Kindle DX. It added significant features to all of these devices. In fact Amazon deemed the update so significant that they’ve sent out emails to Kindle owners about it.
- Kindle 2 International (wireless by AT&T) got a significant battery life boost. You can now go for a week without having to recharge the device and keep the wireless on. Since it doesn’t apply to the US version of Kindle 2 (that uses Sprint for wireless connectivity) it looks like Amazon didn’t change the poll frequency but either fixed some bug in wireless driver or took advantage of a technology similar to PUSH email.
- Both US and international versions of Kindle 2 got native PDF support based on the same code that was used in Kindle DX. Now you can also manually switch screen orientation to landscape. Kindle DX style automatic switching doesn’t work since Kindle 2 devices lack the accelerometer hardware. PDF files are better cropped now as blank margins don’t use up valuable screen space. This is especially important for small 6″ Kindle screens since PDF viewer still lacks zoom feature.
- Since all Kindle versions now support PDF, sending PDF file to @kindle.com email will no longer convert it to native Kindle format by default. If you still want the conversion to happen, you should put the word “Convert” in the email subject.
- Kindle DX screensaver activation time was increased from 5 minutes to 20 minutes. This makes sense since larger screen can contain more text that takes longer to read.
- All Kindle versions will not require signed update packages. This problem however has already been solved.
Normally you Kindle would update itself automatically if you have wireless connectivity. However if you do not or the update failed because you had hacks installed, you can update Kindle manually. This time around though, rather than trying to hit dynamic URLs that are supposed to always provide the latest version, you can download the update from the appropriate static location. These locations are listed on Amazon.com Help page.
By bringing all Kindle devices to the same version, Amazon will simplify software development process in the long run. They may change the update process in the future to cut the update delivery costs. 2.3 update package was around 10 megabytes large. If they keep the current method update packages will get only larger.
At the moment there is no update for 1st generation Kindle. And dare I make another prediction – the chances of it happening are rather slim.
While we are on the topic of updates. There might be another update currently in the works in Lab126. On Kindle Facebook page Kindle developers have posted the following message:
Amazon Kindle Kindle Customers, We have heard from many of you that you would like to have a better way to organize your growing Kindle libraries. We are currently working on a solution that will allow you to organize your Kindle libraries. We will be releasing this functionality as an over-the-air software update as soon as it is ready, in the first half of next year. – The Kindle Team
Personally I have just one question left: Where are the bleeping Unicode fonts? Amazon, seriously! Is it too much trouble to replace the current fonts with ones that support wider range of characters? Although with PDF support in place there is workaround via PDF font embedding, it would be nice to have native support as well.
I guess this leaves me with little choice but to recompile Kindle Unicode Font Hack to work with Kindle Software 2.3… I’ll post as soon as it’s ready and tested.