Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Photo Comparison of Kindle Klassic and Kindle 2

I'll just start this off with a photo comparison I did quickly when receiving my Kindle 2 after having enjoyed the Kindle 1 (dubbed 'Klassic' or 'KK' or 'K1' by enthusiasts) for about half a year. Many wanted to know what the visual differences were and there had been some discussion (which continues) of not only the more photo-like grayscale capabilities but also the relative degree of grayness of screen backgrounds and the basic font's black density. The Kindle 2 has a somewhat thinner font that some perceive as 'crisper' or 'sharper' while others see it as 'lighter' and providing less contrast. It can be like comparing a fine-point pen to a medium one (as seen with the home page listings, which I have not photographed yet).

The K2's directness of access to the dictionary and to links without added pop-up boxes is a real plus.   I wish, though, that the 5-way were not anchored by the dictionary lookup for each word hovered over while passing through.  But web browsing is much faster.

TEXT and book preview images.  I used the same Amazon store page used by PC World in its recent K1 and K2 comparison.

    *CLICK* on images that don't quite fit on this page to see full original images.

Kindles at the Amazon store


Here's a shot of both units displaying a page with very basic fonts for periodicals sent to the Kindle via plain-text RSS feed once a day from Kindlefeeder.

plain text RSS feeds


grayscale differences seen in photo from K1 vs K2


I chose text LINE spacing that was modified using the key-combo Shift-Alt-5 to match more closely K1's spacing between lines. (We can choose from Shift-Alt-[1-9], with '3' the somewhat cramped default.
Sample:    Leslie's The Amazon Kindle FAQ

The Amazon Kindle FAQ

    I used this sample to confirm that the fonts can be just as dark if they are specified as black somewhere in Amazon's coding.

Again, modified the default Font '3' by pressing Shift-Alt-5 to expand line distance more similar to K1's line spacing

The Kindle Klassic first, followed by the Kindle 2.  This close-up pair had to be taken separately, to get that close, and my shadow looms over them.

Plain text from a book, on K1  Plain text from a book,on K2

    Most of the rest below were taken by lamp light, with the lamp at the left, closer to the K1, but aimed across the K2.  No scientific review here!

WEB PAGE interpretation by K1 and K2
+ ESPN as example

ESPN page

The rows of links are quite sqeezed together by K2 browser.
They underline each link and highlight certain links.

  Someone or something does a terrific job dithering the 4-shades for the header image.

Here's a zoomed-in area to show what the text looks like if we're reading the page.

And here's a separate shot I took closer up of the K2 screen.  I used only the top part of the shot.

WEB PAGE interpretation of

People Magazine page

  Text with images are shown quite differently on these two.

K1's 4 SHADES and K2's 16 SHADES - using this People magazine page
People Magazine page on Kindle 1

People Magazine page on Kindle 2

  This was not a bad job of dithering for 4-shades (using diffusion to blend the dots). 

MORE on K1s 4-shades vs the K2's 16 shades
using People Magazine still.  This one was for a big fan of Hugh Jackman   :-)

K1 and K2 browsing

K1 browsing  K2 browsing

JUST AN EXCUSE to put "Slumdog Millionaire" folks in this thread.

Slumdog Millionaire children Azhar and Rubina with Director Boyle

One last comparison -the K1 image is pretty nicely dithered:
Slumdog Millionaire children Azhar and Rubina with Director Boyle  Slumdog Millionaire children Azhar and Rubina with Director Boyle


At rest on the lounger

I hope this helps with the conflicting reports about less clarity vs the K1 while others say the screen is crisper and sharper.

  The 16 shades capability of the K2 will cause it to interpret colors as different shades of gray.

  You know how they say, "Just give me the basics - no grays"?

    The large differences from using only Black and White plus 2 other shades made up between them (for the K1) leads to inherently good contrast for the eyes at a loss of shading.  The 11 additional shades of gray (for the K2) means that some text will be in a lighter shade, depending on what the publisher or formatter decides to use for the font.

Nevertheless, a few Kindle 2's  (as with the Kindle 1's)  have seemed to have unreadable fonts in sunlight (which shouldn't be), so, for display anomalies do check with Amazon customer reps at 866-321-8851.

Check often:  Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers. 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.

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  1. This is what everyone's complaining about? Kindle 2's text looks sharper to me, judging by your photos. The contrast is the same or slightly better than the "Klassic." Don't fault Amazon for your poor eyesight.

  2. Daniel, next time, try reading what someone has written and you'll fare better without needing to insult others even though the latter may help you feel better when frustrated about what others feel.

  3. Hello Andrys
    I'm hoping to start publishing some of my drawn graphics on the Kindle. Do you any way for me to find exactly WHICH shades of gray the unit displays? I'd like to be able to go into Photoshop and pick the exact shades so that I won't have dithering.

    Any help appreciated!


  4. Lippy,
    You can use Adobe Photoshop to downsize colors to 8 colors and that will get you the same set of colors since they're just calculated for intensity of black vs wihte along the same scale points.

    A good book for you would likely be the Kindle book for $3.43 that is at
    and is titled Graphics on the Kindle, for both Kindle 1 and 2. It gets good customer reviews.

    Good luck!

  5. Lippy, I should add that it's the Sony that is now limited to 8 shades. The Kindle 2 has 16 available.

  6. I guess I'm not clear on the browser. Does Kindle limit what it will allow, or will it attempt any site I type in? Specifically, I would like to be able to do on-line banking from it. Is that possible?

  7. Anonymous,
    The Kindle does not handle 'https://" sites well. And is not ultra secure. It's hard to say what can be done, as it depends on the site's programming and what the Kindle can handle.

    There are no site limits insofar as censoring, if that's what you mean.

    I was able to use my Kindle 2 to go visit a site that led me to the order page for the DX but before buying it (half filling in the order) I needed to check gmail for some certificate numbers, which I did, and then I got back to Amazon to my still filled-in form and was able to complete the order.

    But the banks are necessarily much more restrictive with security programming on the pages.


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