Tech Report - Kindle DX

Hot on the heels of the Kindle 2, which only shipped in February of this year, comes an announcement from Amazon that another new version – the Kindle DX – will be released this summer.

Although Amazon is positioning the DX as another member of the Kindle family, albeit bigger and more powerful that its younger sibling, potential buyers are left with a dilemma. Should they buy the existing Kindle or wait until the more powerful DX hits the shelves? Let’s take a quick look at the differences between the two models.

The most obvious difference (apart from price, which we’ll get to later) is size. The DX has a 9.7-inch e-ink screen compared to the Kindle’s 6-inch screen. This results in a device that is significantly bigger than its predecessor. This is both good and bad. Good because the dramatically larger screen surface allows more words and graphics on the page and may appeal more to the business crowd and commuters; bad because the overall size increase now means it’s less portable than the original.

However, bigger also means that Amazon has been able to pack a lot more punch into the DX. According to Amazon, it can store 3,500 titles vs. 1,500 for the Kindle. Battery life has also been improved. Even with wireless mode switched on, the DX will operate for up to 4 days on a single charge. Turn wireless off and you can happily read without interruption for up to two weeks!

Other differences include a rotating screen, which allows users to move seamlessly from portrait to landscape, and a built-in PDF reader, which allows you to (wirelessly) upload all those business documents and take them with you wherever you go. The DX also has an improved web browser but, like the Kindle, it doesn’t support Flash or allow video play, which greatly restricts what you can see or do online.

Which brings us to price. Aside from the increased screen size and memory, the DX and the existing Kindle are very similar. There are no claims for faster download speeds and the controls and functionality of the two models are almost exactly the same. Despite the similarities, the DX is priced almost 40% higher than the Kindle at $489. Throw in a leather cover, a 2-year extended warranty (recommended), and you’re looking at a whopping $625 or more after tax. In today’s market, that can buy you a very serviceable laptop or even a Mac mini.

We certainly haven’t seen anything close to price stabilization for e-readers, although Sony’s basic range already starts at under $300. The Kindle remains the technical leader in the field and the DX continues to move the product forward but right now it has a luxury price tag for what will soon become a commodity item. Unless you have specific business needs and are a voracious on-the-go reader, you might want to avoid the premium pricing.  

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