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.
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.
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.
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?
As pilot programs at seven universities around the country wrap up their evaluations of the Kindle DX as a viable teaching tool and textbook alternative, we see pretty much the expected results. The eReader that has been such a pleasure to use in leisure is perhaps not quite ready for the academic scene.
Humanities classes, especially Literature classes which it would otherwise seem that the Kindle is ideally suited to, tend to involve active reading aids such as highlighting, annotation, page marking, etc. These habits are built up over years as students work their way through their programs. Most of these options are present in the Kindle software in some form, of course, and the ability to access your changes and notes on any platform is a major plus, but the device itself has a coupe minor shortcomings in speed and input design that haven’t quite been fully worked out yet.
As development continues and successive versions make the Kindle more responsive, feature-packed, and convenient to annotate, we’re sure to see things change. For now, those students who are willing to cope with the minor inconveniences are already enjoying savings of sometimes as much as 75% on texts for their classes, a savings which easily pays for the device itself over the course of a college career.
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.