Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Kindle DX and its target audience

So this is not the anticipated 'K3' but the 'DX'?

  Has the lower price than was expected confused the presupposed division of target audiences for Kindle-1&2 users?

  It's still packable and there is less room used by the keyboard.

  These are first reactions on the day the DX was announced.
  Online mags are showing the "first official pictures" of the DX which are all pics from Amazon's own Kindle DX page, which has a large video demo and 'guided tour' of its functioning.

  Re DX vs K2, think K2 enlarged beyond purse-size, with no buttons on the left side (favoring lefthand-users for one-handed use) and less vertical space given the keyboard (long a wish of many).  So what else does it do besides let you see content better or see more of the same while also being heavier to hold when reading books?  The Amazon page has charts showing the differences between the DX and the K2.  

  Unfortunately, they blare that it can read PDFs natively while the K2 cannot, which means they likely don't intend to provide a firmware update that will provide native PDF support for the K2 even if it would be on a smaller screen.  Not an admirable move.
  But for those who like to stockpile and miss their K1 SD cards, it will hold an average 3500 text-based books.

  And there is said to be more RAM (no figure given) which usually means faster processing capability and definitely better ability to handle web-browsing of complex pages while the auto-rotating feature (which is optional) ensures better visual displays of webpages, especially online-newspapers.  While I would not want to replace my K2 as it is always with me and fits well into my purse, no extra carrying care needed, I may sell my K1 finally and ultimately get this for home and special use outside.

  I would not get it for just books.  Nor want to hold something that large for my daily reading of books and my newspaper feeds and subscriptions.

  But even if native PDF support were to be included in the K2 later, it would be, on a 6" in screen, unreadable when the pdfs are image-scans of small text.

  So for me it's not a 'replacement' for the K2, for K2 owners.  An addition maybe, for those with enough spare change.  New buyers may be attracted to it over the K2 though, but they'll need larger carrying cases and it'll be a separate item to remember to carry or pick up unless one uses a briefcase or backpack or quite large purse.
  Those with poor eyesight, who have problems with the smaller e-readers, will also find it an attraction.

  They don't seem that different in size in some photos (though the difference is large enough for those who carry their K2s everywhere with them), but this image and this one as well both show otherwise.

 And then there's THIS! ---)   Whoa!  I've never carried around a book that size but do have them for home-use.

  For those whose primary focus is carrying books or a library of books wherever they go, the segment of that group that carries Kindles in their purses will find this less attractive, but for students and business professionals, it will be quite doable in backpacks and briefcases -- and much better for technical textbook reading as well as business presentations.  I expect professors and business users will find the PDF support and larger screen well worth it to handle papers and presentations.
Peter Glaskowsky, writing for CNet, opines that this unit will not be ideal for textbooks for the natural or formal sciences, and it's the lack of color differentiation that is most key there.

But soon the full 8x10 screens will be (and some already are) offering the ability to write directly on the screen, with touch screen control, and able to show a normal multi-column newspaper layout.  The Kindle DX still displays newspaper articles as contained text (which has been fine for readers like me).

With two units this similar though, offered only 3 months apart -- ironically with the pricing being barely more than a $100 difference and with PDFs natively read in the unit (which means that they should be able to incorporate this as an upgrade to the Kindle 2) -- it can cause some people to hesitate more before deciding what to buy - one of the Kindles or a simpler, less capable and less expensive e-reader by anyone while the market settles down. (Nevuh happens.)  Still, for me, the more options and capabilities offered, the better.  

Since PDFs, even formatted correctly, are not ideal when scaled down to the Kindle-2's 6" screen and therefore no threat to sales of the DX if readable on the K2 also, Amazon should make PDF native support upgrades to the Kindle-2 now or customers will likely wonder at what some could consider bait and switch tactics.  I'm hoping they'll do the right thing.  Or explain why it can't be done.  A competitor can do it, why not Amazon?

In the meantime, many bought the K2 for the small size and 24/7 wireless factors and won't be overexcited about spending yet another $130 for a larger version they can't as easily carry around.  The paperback-size feature has been a large attraction and I'm sure it will continue to be.

 A quick look at the Amazon forums shows less interest (at the moment) in the new model than I'd expected to see from current Kindle-1 and Kindle-2 owners.
 My next purchase of $350 or over will likely be a 10" Netbook - for now, likely the Samsung, but that can change in a matter of days in this world.  The Asus I had been planning on before reading about the Samsung, is now available for $100 + a wireless contract (not WiFi but 24/7 wireless for about $50-$60/month.  So much to consider in this rapidly changing world.

Nevertheless, business professionals and some students will find the $489 a good price when 24/7 wireless is included (for how long for free?) and if textbook publishers are sane about their pricing for Kindle textbooks.  As some have pointed out earlier, textbook publishers have been making customized books for universities under special agreements that still give them a decent margin.  Would those be willing to do a general Kindle version instead and price it appropriately?  In this economy you'd think printing companies would take stock and seek survival rather than grossest margins :-)

But Amazon has done well, where other companies haven't, in this recession and if they do well by all their customers who have already invested money in their Kindles, they'll stay ahead of the game.  An important If.  The Kindle is not like a separate TV purchase, it's more like a cable-TV subscription cable-tv-program receiver unit.  The unit, for the vendor, is about the content that can be sold.  That's something for Amazon to keep in mind.

In the meantime, if I had to make a decision between the two units today, I would still choose the K2, for its size, as I'm one who carries my Kindle everywhere and I love reading on it anywhere I am.  But if not interested in books that much or in just reading news on the run, and very active in sharing paperwork and presentations, and with no Kindle already, I'd spring for this.

To get an idea of the DX features and functioning, here is a a copy of the Kindle DX User’s Guide 1st Edition in PDF format, readable on any computer.

Here's a good report, with good photos, of Jeff Bezos' announcement/press conference today, by FastCompany's Chris Dannen.

  Gizmodo's Brian Lam reports first reactions to a very brief hands-on experience with it.  This includes Gizmodo's own photos and their video of this.   They mention that it's almost twice as heavy, with somewhat stiff action in the buttons and a response-time that is almost as fast as with the K2 because although the DX has a faster processer, it has much more data to process for a page.  Brian was unhappy with the autorotate's relatively slow processing.

  Wired's Brian X. Chen weighs in with a hands-on assessment and more photos and echos Gizmodo's hands-on re the slow roundtrip for an inadvertent auto-rotate (7 seconds) while finding the 5-way wheel not to his liking on either the K2 or DX (I like its direct navigation though; even if it's sluggish it saves us from the many dialog-screens of the Kindle-1 before getting where we want).  He also finds the web-browsing slow but doesn't say relative to the K2 or to a normal computer's browser.

  Good, varied screen examples by Engadget's Joshua Topolsky during the live event.

  Hmmm, they'd almost have me (if I didn't already have a purseable Kindle2) with the note in their press release that sheet music can be used with this and page-turns done with a press of a button).

  Thinking...if the DX had been first, many would jump at the 'new' 'COMPACT' K2 :-) Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!


  1. That would be awesome but it's not possible (yet).

    It's not set up to display color because they are using the e-ink technology which lessen strains on the eyes, increases battery life and makes the reading feel more like a book.

    For reading, definitely Kindle is great at what it does but if you want a bit of everything, try a netbook (bit bigger but does all of those)

  2. I plan on getting a netbook (either the Samsung or the Asus 10"), but the Kindles are a different beast and I am currently addicted to my current one (K2) as well as my two computers, the 2nd one being a 12" laptop already carted on my back at 5lbs while traveling, a real Godsend.

    As for color, I guess you were responding to the need for that with textbooks in the natural sciences area. Yes. But, judging from how my K2 seems to be an extension of my arms these days, I can see how the DX would be helpful for students in SOME areas of study and with businesses for sure when larger screens are necessary for preparation and viewing of special presentation work. First, they have to solve the problem of not being able to add notes to at least some of the PDFs in the way they we can highlight and annotate normal books and magazines with the smaller Kindles.

    Re color: When I'm focused in on the written word itself, what I don't want is colored text.

    But, with magazines and unique layouts of those, color becomes important. EFD is an interesting technology right now, but so far it's in the initial stages of development where an actual product is concerned.

    Not interested in carrying a netbook where I normally carry my Kindle, which is everywhere :-) -- the size of and a better thinness than a paperback. Some of us get really lost in reading with the Kindle.


NOTE: TO AVOID SPAM being posted instantly, this blog uses the "DELAY" feature.

Am often away much of the day, and postings won't show up right away. Posts done to use referrer-links may never show up.

Usually, am online enough to release comments within a day though, so the hard-to-read match-text tests for commenting won't be needed this way.

Feedback and questions are welcome. Thanks for participating.

Technical Problems?
If you're having problems leaving a Comment, Google's blogger-help asks that you clear the '' cookies on your browser's Tools or Options menu bar and that will fix the Comment-box problems (until they have a permanent fix).

IF that doesn't work either, then UNcheck the "keep me signed in" box -- Google-help says that should allow your comment to post (it's a workaround to a current bug).
Apologies for the problems.

TIP: There's a size limit. If longer than 3500 characters or so, in a text editor, make two posts out of it.

[Valid RSS]