Monday, February 22, 2010

Kindle DX review from Gadgeteer

I've noticed in my rounds that people are still buying Kindle DX's despite the iPad's expected release in March for the WiFi network version though the cellular-wireless 3G one is not due until June.  The interest is still there, despite the iPad's lowest-step basic model being only $11 above the DX, but I think some reasons are:

  1. The type of screen. For people interested in reading books rather than surfing tidbits on the web, many have seen the difference between an admittedly unexciting grayscale screen with sharply etched-looking text that can be read outdoors and without light shining into the eyes (it was never about "refresh rates" as a NYTimes article's quote mentioned the other day) and the laptop style LCD screen -- when having to read sequential text for prolonged periods of time.
  I'll add a link here for some photos of mine with web and PDF content in both portrait and landscape orientation.

  2. Cellphone-style wireless access to information sites, free 24/7 even if slow.  There is nothing slower than something that doesn't exist.
  The fact that with the Kindle, in the U.S., there is no extra fee for a cellular modem for the wireless, nor any monthly data charges.  And outside the U.S., there is at least free Wikipedia for Kindle International users who just want more information on what they're reading, wherever they might be (many don't have home WiFi networks).
  If you have a smart phone with web-access and monthly data plan, you won't need this for web lookups, though Wikipedia access from a book you're reading on the Kindle can be useful.

  3. Outside the U.S., Apple is not currently selling e-books from their iStore even if someone buys an iPad (and many will).   Nor have they announced they will be selling e-books internationally in March or June.  They just haven't mentioned it.  This is of importance only to people who would buy a gizmo specifically out of a desire to read e-books on it.  The iPad would still be fun, even with all the missing features and connectors.

  4. The iPad's missing pieces, as listed here.  It's dampened enthusiasm, overall, as seen in columns and comments, even in the U.S., although I think subsequent models will add those items.  As mentioned, the item will still be popular with Apple fans and people who just want to surf and do email while watching TV.  But most of us know what buying a basic lowest-rung model means - it's missing something you'll wish you had after paying quite a bit.  Apple device buyers seldom put the budget first - it's quality and capabilities that are key.

So, today I saw yet another Kindle DX review, this one actually more like a detailed report, one of the most through I've seen (I usually ignore them now, seeing DX reviews as 'old news').
  But this article will be useful for (1) DX owners who want to become more acquainted with what it can (or can't) do and (2) for people who wonder if it would really be something they'd want (or not).
  There are many photos in the review that act as guides and there are also video clips showing how to use a feature or showing how fast/slow the feature might be.
  They're silent videos but they show the steps.  The review is by "cobinrox" (whose first name is Robin) and it's well worth a read.

 While going through it, I saw that there were some questions, and some observations made by cobinrox brought other things to my mind, so I wrote a fairly lengthy comment on it.  Some parts of that might be of interest to people reading this blog, so I'll include the full comment (with links added) here:
' A lot of really good work you put into this. Probably the most thorough report on the DX that I've seen. Very helpful !

A few comments:
1. The reflection you showed. Doesn't that come from the flash on your camera when taking a picture? My DX is matte finish and doesn't show much of a reflection unless a light bulb is right over it

2. Weight of holding it, with cover
I agree. As a result I don't use the cover when reading. Also, M-Edge has a 'Platform' cover for the DX, which lets you just sit it up on your lap or on a table.  Photos of that cover in use for my smaller, 6" Kindle are at this page, and I did buy the version for the DX also.  I usually just use it at a table

3. Yes.   .mobi and .prc files do have the same viewing and annotation features as the Amazon Kindle books - it's essentially the same format but without Amazon's digital rights or book-identifying numbers on them as they are downloadable from elsewhere. So, yes, the zoom feature works on images in those also.

4. True.   mp3 files are played in the order in which you put them into the Kindle's 'music' folder.  Primitive.  But that would allow you to read an mp3-book with multiple separate chapters (or you can get a free utility to combine mp3 files and also save the combined mp3 as encoded-32k which will usually make it all smaller).

  Some say that you can put an mp3 in the 'audible' folder or in the 'documents' folder and then play it on-demand. But if you do, it'll play as foreground material and you can't read a book at the same time that way.

5. Annotations: if you haven't tried it yet, go to and sign in.  You can go to the bottom left of a list and ask that ALL those for a book be shown on one page.  I've added a sample of what you'd see (from my own Amazon Kindle page.

6. Web browsing -- since [the reviewer likes] the CNN news feature, try the free download of my file with several mobile-unit-focused websites.  Go to  There's a guide to faster Kindle web-browsing in that section too.

7. Absolutely right re folder organization or the lack of it (though we can choose to see only Books or Personal Documents or  Subscriptions [Periodicals] -- sorted by title, author, most recent).  Kindle support has written on the forums and Facebook that they expect an update for organizational capability will be due by the summer.

8. My books that have figure boxes etc. (I have history books) -- these usually have a link.  If they do and you click on one, then you press the 'Back' button to get right back to where you were before the "link-jump" via the 5-way button.

9. When paging ahead or backwards, doing a search for a word or content you're looking for can help.  Press 'Back' button to get back to where you were after looking at the various results. I sometimes set the location numbers back or ahead.

10. No, the iPad won't be allowing multiple screens. It can't multitask at all, which is odd for a web-browser.  No listening to Pandora FM while web browsing or reading a book.  Some say the iPad music playback can't be done at the same time either but I don't know if that's true.  The iPad also doesn't have USB ports or Flash support.  [On the Kindles, you can listen to mp3s on the Kindle while reading, though it takes more battery use.]

Thanks again for this helpful page. I'll let people know about it. '

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  1. Oh man I want a DX so bad but after just getting my first Kindle and investing in a 50" Plasma I can't justify it. Maybe with next years bonus from work.

  2. Igotnothing
    I imagine the DX pricing will change soon (and if it does they'd do the regular credit for those who'd bought it within 30 days) but that 50" Plasma sounds spectacular.

    Next year will bring us a whole new world of whatever an e-reader will be, I imagine.

  3. Andrys, can you tell me where I might find that MP3 utility you mention above? That sounds highly useful for the kindle!

    Really would love to have a DX for using at home. I have an Amazon Visa and am saving my little gift certificates I am accumulating. A price drop in the DX would make that all the more possible.

  4. the7gerbers,
    There are a number of free utilities that do appending and more (such as allowing you to save at 32k instead of 128k), I put in a search at Google for this and wound up with these search results at

    It's hard to imagine their not dropping the price a bit just before the iPad release, but buyers have some leverage in that they can return any Kindle within 30 days of shipping date for any reason (as long as it's still in good shape and you have the box), and any prices changes that have been put into effect have come with credits for the difference in costs of prior purchases witin 30 days of the price change.

    Hope one of those mp3 utilities work for you.
    It's amazing what there is out there for free.

  5. Andrys - in your post regarding Archives, with the K2 you can also press the menu button from the home screen to see the "View Archived Items" option. That doesn't show periodicals too, but does bring you to your archived list.

    Also - when you delete a book, if it's from Amazon, you do not get the prompt that it will be "permanently deleted". That only appears for items that are not saved in your archive. If it's from Amazon, the book will simply be removed from your list without prompt.

  6. PaxtonReader,
    Ah, the Menu button. I need to use that more :-) Only 2 strokes. On the other hand, typing an 'a' and pressing down the 5-way is two also. I'll add yours to the body of the note.

    I deleted an Amazon periodical that was out of date (issues no longer exist at Amazon) and got that 'permanently deleted' pop-up. My Archived Items folder had about 10 editions of two periodicals in it that I had not 'kept' (they go in there after a certain number of days if you miss the exclamation mark caution that pops up when you go to the Periodicals folder and it's nearing the time the periodical will be taken and dropped into Archive Items), and I brought them all back since I like to keep those as a database I can searcn and it's come in handy.

    Will note that too. I meant to write to the forums to ask them to let me know what I might have missed but hadn't, so this is a big help.

    Thanks much!

  7. PaxtonReader,
    Correction on what I wrote above. The Menu button method is 2 steps. The typing of 'a' is 3 steps (although I didn't count cursoring down the menu, actually) because the Menu option puts you into the folder without showing it to you first.

    It startled me to see all those files, as this time I was on my DX where I am more active.


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