Kindle DX 2 PDF – Kindle DX Graphite PDF Guide

Lots of questions about the Kindle DX 2 and Kindle DX 2 PDF support capabilities – Well, it does a great job.

After the jump (the latter portion of this post) there are lots of photos and a detailed video illustrating Kindle DX 2 PDF support. The first section spells out what you can and can’t do with PDFs on the Kindle DX 2.

Kindle DX 2 PDF – Is the graphite Kindle DX good with PDFs?

Yes! 

While Kindle DX 2 PDF Support is not perfect it’s pretty good.

What you can’t do with PDFs on the Kindle DX 2

Here are some things you can’t do -

  1. Edit PDFs.
  2. Change Font Size of PDFs on the Kindle DX 2 itself. If you change font size of a PDF on your PC that reflects when you transfer it to your Kindle DX 2.
  3. Highlight passages.
  4. Take Notes. You can convert a PDF to kindle format to be able to take Notes on it and highlight passages.
  5. Use Text to Speech. This also works only after PDFs are converted to Kindle format.

It’s not a PC and there’s no Adobe PDF editing software so you aren’t going to be able to do magical things like change the PDF’s font size or edit it or create new PDFs.

Kindle DX 2 PDF Support – What you can do with PDFs on the Kindle DX 2

Kindle DX 2 PDF support includes -

  1. Search the PDF.
  2. Add bookmarks.
  3. Go to a particular Page. Click ‘Go To’ from the Menu, then enter Page Number and click on ‘Page’.
  4. Zoom – There is support for ‘Fit to Page’, ‘Original Size’ and zooming to 150%, 200%, and 300%. Zoom is preserved as you flip through the pages (thankfully).
  5. Pan around when you have zoomed a PDF. There are little guides at the bottom and right side that show where you are in the PDF page.
  6. PDFs load quickly.
  7. PDF page turns are quick.

Formatting of PDFs translates very well on to the Kindle DX 2 -

  1. Table formatting is preserved.  
  2. Non English languages and embedded fonts work.  
  3. Images and Illustrations work.
  4. Formulae show up fine. 
  5. Most Formatting shows up fine. Haven’t run into any examples yet where formatting isn’t preserved. There probably are some.

Scanned PDFs seem to work well – However, haven’t tried out enough to know for sure.

Things to do to make PDFs work better -

  1. To get features like highlighting and text to speech and note-taking just convert the PDF to Kindle format using Calibre or another software.
  2. Use the 150%, 200%, and 300% Zoom settings liberally.
  3. Use landscape mode liberally.  
  4. If Kindle DX 2 is slow with PDFs it might be indexing books. You could wait or try re-starting.
  5. Use Collections to categorize your PDFs. Then use ‘Collections’ view to see only these Collections and not all the individual PDFs on the Kindle’s Home Page.

Click through to the next part of the post for Photos and a Video.

Kindle DX 2 PDF Photos

These photos will show you Kindle DX 2 PDF capabilities. You can click on them to look at them in glorious detail.

First, let’s look at a Kindle DX 2 PDF magazine.

PDFs with Photos and Magazine PDFs on Kindle DX 2

The Magazine PDF is here in case you want to compare -

A Kindle DX 2 PDF magazine in portrait mode

Kindle DX 2 PDF compatibility - Magazines look great

Next, let’s look at the same page in Landscape Mode which, not surprisingly, shows the text better -

Magazine in Landscape Mode

Landscape Mode - PDF Magazine on Kindle DX 2

Notice that the screen looks much better here and this is more illustrative of the Kindle DX 2 screen. Text is larger in Landscape Mode and the combination of 300% zoom (by the way this PDF is not zoomed) and Landscape Mode leads to pretty large font.

A photo page from the magazine PDF on Kindle DX 2 -

A photo page from a Kindle DX 2 PDF magazine

Photos Look Great. This photo doesn't do them justice.

The lighting isn’t ideal – it actually looks nicer in real life. Please try the Kindle DX 2 Photos Page – the screensaver image (3rd from the top) is more indicative of how images look on the Kindle DX 2.

Technical, Research, Scientific PDFs on Kindle DX 2 

It can be hard to believe that PDFs will format correctly given all the formulae and tables. Well, take a look -

A technical PDF in landscape mode on Kindle DX 2

It Works! Technical PDF on Kindle DX 2

 That’s in Landscape Mode. Here’s an image in Portrait Mode -

Portrait Mode Technical PDF on Kindle DX

Portrait Mode PDF on Kindle DX 2

As you can see both the formulae and the Table show up fine. Finally, here’s a zoomed in portion of a PDF. The 5-way can be used to pan around while the guides at the top and bottom help you see where you are in the PDF page.

Zoom is supported for PDFs on Kindle DX 2

You can zoom and pan PDFs on Kindle DX 2

Let’s continue by looking at a research PDF in landscape mode. The two column formatting translates very well (you could compare with the actual PDF) -

A research PDF on Kindle DX 2

Research PDFs work great on Kindle DX 2

Next, there’s a rather poor quality photo of this same research PDF in landscape mode -

A research PDF on Kindle DX 2

Portrait Mode PDF on Kindle DX 2

Next, let’s look at PDF Manuals.

Kindle DX 2 – PDF Manuals

The only manual around was a repair guide for the Sony Reader 600. Well, here it is in portrait mode -

A PDF Manual on Kindle DX 2

PDF Manual on Kindle DX 2

The images and formatting are preserved very well. The same manual looks even better in landscape mode -

PDF Manual in landscape mode on Kindle DX

Kindle DX 2 PDF Manual in Landscape

It really does look great.

Let me know if there are any other aspects of Kindle DX 2 PDF support you’d like to know more about.

Kindle DX 2 PDF Video

Please note that this video was shot indoors in non-optimal lighting conditions. You should check out the Kindle DX 2 Video page for videos that more accurately show the Kindle DX 2 screen. Kindle DX 2 looks much better than it does in this video.

Kindle DX 2 PDF Support Video should be up in 40 minutes.

This video clearly demonstrates that Kindle DX 2 PDF support is pretty good. It also shows that PDF page turns and PDF loads are both quite fast on the Kindle DX 2.

21 Responses

  1. It would be great if the Kindle offered more than three Zoom settings, or maybe even an adjustable slider. Some PDF’s are just *barely* not readable on my Kindle 2, so that 150% is far too great of a magnification to be very usable. In other words, a slight magnification, like 110%, might cut out the margins, and leave the text.

    Having said all that, the Kindle 2.5 update on PDF reading is excellent. And given the screen size of both the old and new Kindle DX, it seems to make a very solid PDF reader, even without Zoom.

  2. Thanks for PDF support review. Great news for me. I didn’t buy previous version because of weak PDF support (no zoom etc.), but Kindle DX 2 looks better

  3. To start, I just found this website over the last several days, and it’s fantastic. I’ve read some truly great, useful articles so far. Thanks for making these available.

    The photos of the Kindle DX Graphite look wonderful. I’m a proud Kindle 1 owner, but I’ve been waffling for awhile now over a good PDF reader solution to handle the myriad user manuals and other random documents I’ve got, and I was almost sure I’d be going with the iPad due to its app-given ability to highlight and annotate PDFs. However, when I read that the Graphite was coming out, I began to rethink things. Finally, when I saw that I could get a DX Global Refurb for $299, I decided that a 50% increase in contrast wasn’t necessarily worth $80. I took the plunge and ordered one. After all, without having owned the Graphite, I wouldn’t know what I was missing, right?

    Well, this article showed me what I would be missing! :)

    Still, I’m looking forward to receiving my Refurb. In the meanwhile, do you have any photos of PDFs on the previous DX so we could see a side-by-side comparison?

    Also, I’ll echo Ranjit’s comment; although I haven’t yet tried the DX’s PDF capability (still waiting for it to arrive), I was a little disappointed to read that the various zoom levels are preset. On the computer, sometimes a little zoom is all you need.

    One last question: never having heard of the software before, how does Calibre handle converting PDFs with column formatting, pictures, formulae and the like? I recently emailed Amazon a PDF with a bunch of examples of programming code language, and to my surprise, it so far appears as if all the code got translated correctly; however, all the words that begin with the letters “th” lost the “th.” Talk about odd!

    • Haven’t used Calibre enough to know. Here’s a post on Kindle DX PDF stuff that links to photos.

      The PDFs on the new Kindle DX 2 look better due to better screen contrast. The older Kindle DXes got the 2.5 upgrade so they have pan and zoom too. There isn’t really that much difference.
      The new one seems faster on PDFs. However, it seems to be a 20% faster difference – not the 40% screen contrast difference.

  4. Thanks so much for such a comprehensive article. I agree that a more flexible approach to PDF zooming would make a big difference. Have you heard any rumour that this might be in the works?

    As for the magazine you tested, I have two additional questions: when in portrait mode, is it readable at all without zooming? When switching to landscape with no zoom, does it split the page in half, or does it require you to hit ‘next’ more than once to reach the end of the page?

    • The photo is of the magazine in portrait mode and it’s readable. If you can handle 2nd smallest font on Kindle you can probably read it.

      Switching to landscape requires you to use ‘Next Page’ 2 to 3 times per page.

  5. Thank you – your answered a lot of my biggest questions!

    But two questions remain:

    *) I travel a lot to Europe – is 3G there free too?
    *) How can I convert PDFs to Kindle fomat?

    • Yes, 3G is free in Europe. Though subscriptions of newspapers, blogs, and magazines aren’t free. Personal document delivery is also very expensive (much more than 15 cents per MB – think it’s $1 or $2 per MB).

      Calibre, MobiPocket Creater Publisher Edition. Those are two good options to convert PDF to Kindle format.

      • thx.
        Personal Document Delivery?
        I thought I can upload my documents via usb from my pc?
        So why would need this option?

      • If you want things emailed to yourself and don’t want to do it via USB. For example articles using Read It Later. PDF files for work.

        USB = Free.
        Wireless delivery to Kindle using AT&T network = paid.

  6. The “size” of “fonts” that aren’t merely pictures of text can always be increaed in a PDF, or, stated another way, the PD format does not preclude such changes. Only the (in this case deficient) reader software would.

    And “non-English languages”? All of them? Mixed Arabic and French? Tibetan? Bengali? Somehow I doubt this.

    • If the language fonts are embedded in PDFs they work. Have tried Chinese and it worked. If you have PDFs for the others would gladly try them out.

  7. This is exactly the information I’ve been looking for, thank you! Excellent in-depth review of something that most people don’t seem to cover.

  8. I ended up buying the Graphite DX and would like to add my experience with the PDF rendering. I tested the same magazine and I have to say that unfortunately the Kindle does a very poor job with rendering the fonts used by that magazine – as well as a lot of other fonts, based on my tests. It is quite a shame, perhaps due to the anti-aliasing algorithm used. Have you noticed this? It’s a shame, because it only affects certain fonts, but they’re very popular ones… As far as I understand it, there’s no way to fix this, but any suggestion would be appreciated!

    • Have you tried the same PDF with Adobe Reader?

      I’m not an expert on fonts. My understanding was that Kindle displays whatever settings are in the PDF.

      • I tried with Adobe Reader, and it looked perfect. The problem is that not all fonts render properly on a Kindle in PDF, which is really bad news. Basically, if you open that example file (or plenty of others), the font will look greyish instead than black. Comparing it with PDFs using a different font made this clear. [Link Removed]

        I wonder why this hasn’t received any upgrade in recent firmware…

  9. [...] time though some PDFs need landscape mode or magnification even on the DX 2. Check out this post on Kindle DX 2 PDF support for photos and video. [...]

  10. Several libraries state that their books available on PDF format are NOT compatible with the Kindle PDF format. Is there any way to get these library PDF books readable on the latest Kindle DX? Thanks

  11. [...] isn’t big enough. If you are buying Kindle 3 primarily for reading PDFs do take a look at the Kindle DX 2 PDF post. Kindle 3 is much better value for money but the 6″ screen is pretty limiting. The DX [...]

  12. It’s no longer necessary to write about how desirable the Kindle is (or, for that matter, e-readers generally). Books and text and reading are with us to stay; only paper is becoming unnecessary. What we can discuss is how well a device performs its intended task(s), and how it compares to its competition on an absolute basis and for the price.

    My wife and I share a last gen 6″ Kindle and just received a new 6″ display K3. I know, Amazon doesn’t call it that, but how else can users refer to it? In twenty words or less, it is an improvement over an already excellent product. Smaller, but not too small to be held comfortably. Same size display, but sharper and crisper, better contrast. Easy to use, somewhat smaller keyboard that takes a little, but very little, getting used to. It took me a few hours to stop accidentally pressing some neighboring keys, but now using the keyboard is second nature. And the page turning buttons are silent, but have sufficient tactile feedback, excellent feel.

    I found it very easy to duplicate our library from our older Kindle to our new K3, and to activate our home wifi. I don’t like to say I “transferred” our books because that could be understood to mean they were taken from our old Kindle to our new one. I say “duplicate” because they reside on both Kindles. The instruction manual is detailed and somewhat lengthy, but very understandable. (It’s 200 pages, but don’t let that scare you; it’s easy to find the parts you need, and you will never need more than a few pages at one time.) The manual is published on the device, as in the past, and can also be downloaded to your computer as a pdf file so you can read the instructions from your computer as you apply them to the K3.

    If you have wifi at home, which we do, when you are in range of a wifi that you have activated in your K3, it automatically uses that wifi, instead of connecting to the 3G AT&T network, assuming, of course, you have a 3G+wifi K3. It works faster on my home wifi than on the 3G network, so much so that if I had really thought it through before I bought it, or if I were to buy another, I would probably go wifi only and save $50. The only reasons to get the 3G+wifi model would seem to be if you don’t have reliable access to wifi or if you travel a good deal to places that don’t have a lot of wifi access, but do have AT&T connectivity AND you have need to download books or periodicals on a regular basis or without delay while you are away from home or office. If you can plan ahead and stock up on a few good books, and you have reliable access to wifi, such as at home/office, McDonalds or Starbucks, I suggest you think twice about whether you want the 3G+wifi K3, or the wifi only.

    Each K3 has its own email address and you can send documents to it, including Word and pdf docs, and photos. Of course, the photos are B&W, but very detailed and clear. The K3 permits surfing the web, although I haven’t used it much for that purpose and, other than saying it works, I hesitate to pass judgment on how well I think someone who uses it for web browsing would like it.

    I can’t compare it to other dedicated e-readers because I haven’t used them. People seem to be interested in how I think it compares to the iPad, which I don’t own but have “played with” somewhat extensively at the Apple Store. My assessment is that there is no comparison. The iPad will do much more, but as an e-reader I think the K3 is superior. I don’t need color for reading text, the K3 is a fraction of the cost, and its smaller size makes it much more convenient to tote around. However, what kills the iPad as an e-reader, as far as I am concerned, is its weight. I suspect most of us are the same in this regard, but I tend to read for an hour or two at a stretch. A pound and a half doesn’t sound too heavy, but I held an iPad for five minutes, literally, and my hands ached. It is simply too heavy to use as a book reading device, while the K3 is light as a feather. For reading, a cheaper and significantly lighter K3 as a dedicated e-reader is, IMHO, the way to go (compared to an iPad). BTW, a recent (in Aug. 2010) report from Taiwan said Apple in making a 6″ iPod, which, depending on size and weight, could change the equation. It will be interesting to see how the e-reader market develops. I said I can’t compare the K3 to other competitors, and I won’t, but I can say I am completely satisfied with Amazon as an e-book seller. I’ve only had a few occasions to need support (on my old Kindle), but that has also been entirely satisfactory.

    Bottom line: my wife and I both like the K3 very much and recommend it to anyone considering buying an e-reader. I don’t think you will regret buying one, with or without the free 3G.

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