Kindle DX 2 – screen contrast improvement is key

It’s just a few days and have only done the equivalent of a book of reading (split across three books) on it – However, the Kindle DX 2 has quickly become my reading device of choice (beating out the easier to hold Kindle 2).

Better Screen Contrast makes a huge difference

Have talked about how it seems to have only 40% better screen contrast than the Kindle DX 2 – However, this Kindle DX 2 screen contrast analysis post and the comments confirm that the screen (by itself, without the speckling or graphite casing) is 50% better.

This becomes apparent when reading as the 50% better screen contrast and the graphite casing and speckling combine for a much better reading experience. Not only is the Kindle DX 2 much better than the Kindle DX 1 it’s clearly better than the Kindle 2. The Kindle 2.5 upgrade with its sharper fonts does improve reading – However, Kindle DX 2 has 2.5.5 so it has the same software improvements too. Then the casing and the new screen of the Kindle DX 2 kick in and you get a clearly better reading experience.  

Basically, you’ll find yourself always reaching for the Kindle DX 2 – even though the Kindle 2 is lighter. If it comes with this screen the Kindle 3 is going to be a very big hit.

Is the screen contrast really so good that one user is returning it?

There’s a user at the official kindle forum who’s returning his Kindle DX 2 because the contrast is too high -

Imagine reading for long spells from a bold-face font. That’s what the graphite display is like. I know, I know — after all the complaints we’ve all made about low contrast and how great it’d be to finally get darker, sharper text, I should be rejoicing.

But it’s giving me a headache. Literally. The font is too thick for reading long-term in comfort, too.

The bolder font definitely didn’t give me a headache – in fact, it was a pleasure and easier to read at night (needed less lighting). Check out some of the Kindle DX 2 Videos to make sure the font isn’t ‘too bold’ for you and the contrast isn’t ‘too good’. This is the only ‘the contrast is too good’ complaint so far. It’s a welcome change from a lot of years of people asking for better screen contrast.

Note: In my opinion we could do with even better screen contrast than on the Kindle DX 2 though it would be nice to have an option to choose between ‘bold’, ‘light black’ and ‘grey’ for the text color.

Various Interesting Readability Effects

There’s a strange effect where it’s clearer to read when inclined a little bit rather than read straight-on.

You can’t really see the speckling on the screen unless you take a high quality photograph and then look at it on your PC – You might even have to zoom in. There’s no way the speckling is something random. It’s very well structured – it’s got to be by design and to improve readability.

Kindle DX 2 increases the range of lighting conditions in which Kindle beats LCD screens. The higher contrast combines very well with the sharper fonts of the Kindle 2.5 upgrade to create a screen that reads well even in lower lighting conditions.

Earlier as the natural lighting went down there was a definite point at which you would want to switch on a reading light or switch to a back-lit screen. With the Kindle DX 2’s better contrast that point has shifted. Additionaly, with the Kindle DX 2 you can read at night with less lighting – If you have a dimmer then you can go down lower and still see the words.

Kindle DX 2 also brings eInk closer to paper in terms of the contrast and readability – It really is quite something to see where the Kindle 2 US’s screen was, what LCDs are like, and then look at the Kindle DX 2 screen. It’s definite progress towards electronic paper.

Graphite Kindle DX 2 is very pretty

The graphite casing looks very pretty. The lettering is in grey and stands out well. The upper portion of the back is in darkish plastic that’s almost the same color as the graphite casing. This goes much better with the aluminium back.

With the Kindle DX 1 it was rather disconcerting to see the smooth aluminium give way to a plastic slab with a strange greyish shade.

There’s also something done to the casing surface so that it affords a better grip and it now shimmers in light. It almost seems as if there are tiny bumps on the surface that create these two effects. Much better than the Kindle DX 1’s super smooth white casing.

Images really stand out on the Kindle DX 2

Images really stand out – Both the screensavers and images in PDFs look much prettier. The improvements include – the black is noticeably blacker than before, the contrast is much better, the graphite casing plays a role, the white is a bit whiter, and there are more details (not sure why this is – perhaps Amazon upgraded images).

We’re getting closer and closer to ink on paper and while you notice this in books it’s even more apparent with images.

There’s less and less reason for users to avoid eInk

Looking at it strictly from the angle of getting an eInk screen eReader versus sticking with books – the Kindle DX 2 leaves very few reasons to want to stick with books. The screen is very, very close to paper.

Looking at it from the perspective of getting a LCD screen device versus getting an eInk screen eReader – the Kindle DX 2’s screen has great contrast. 

A 50% better screen contrast might not be as sexy as a touch-screen or color – However, it adds a lot to readability and brings eInk very close to paper.

Isn’t that what electronic paper used in an electronic book reader should strive for?

If we go back to Nicholson Baker’s argument against Kindle screens -

This was what they were calling e-paper? This four-by-five window onto an overcast afternoon?

Where was paper white, or paper cream? Forget RGB or CMYK. Where were sharp black letters laid out like lacquered chopsticks on a clean tablecloth?

Well, Kindle DX 2 is awfully close to what Mr. Baker’s asking for. The sharp black letters are laid out and the clean tablecloth is almost the right shade of white.

2 Responses

  1. I never noticed it before, but after reading of the speckling you noticed on the GKDX screen, I noticed yesterday that there’s speckling on my K1 screen. It doesn’t appear to help with contrast, though–at least, it doesn’t seem that it should. To me, it looks more like the screen has plenty of abnormally tiny bits of eInk that haven’t flipped over. The size, shape and scattered nature of these specks don’t suggest to me that they’re part of the eInk used to form letters and pictures, since they don’t carry enough definition to appear to elongate letters or pictures that they happen to fall next to.

    The speckling also reminds me a bit of an old Etch a Sketch that won’t shake all the way clean.

    I’m not sure if these specks have always been there or if my K1 is just showing its age. What do the specks look like on the GKDX?

  2. Despite currently owning a Kindle 2 and Kindle DX, the quote from the user returning his DX 2 due to too much contrast was nearly enough to convince me to order one. :)

    Alas, I think I’ll wait to upgrade until a device is released with a “white-as-paper” background… my personal wishlist feature.

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