Kindle DX 2 Review

The Kindle DX 2 is a very interesting eReader which occupies a very unique niche in the reading device market. Hopefully this Kindle DX 2 Review can paint you a good picture of the DX 2’s strengths, weaknesses, and unique status.

Kindle DX 2 Review – What makes it unique

Kindle DX 2 is the only large screen eReader (9.7″) available from the top 3 eReader brands (Kindle, Sony Reader, Nook). Since nearly every other eReader company is far behind the top 3 it’s perhaps your only choice if you want a top-notch large screen eReader.

The 9.7″ screen means you get 2.5 times the screen area you would from a 6″ Kindle 3 or 6″ Nook. It makes a pretty big difference with PDFs and newspapers and websites and is quite pleasurable even when reading. It also becomes your ideal eReader if you need or like rather large font size and still want lots of words on every page.

The other thing that makes it unique is the $379 price which is closer to the iPad than to eReaders. This balances out a lot of the positives and firmly cements it as an awkward caught-in-the-middle device. If the Kindle 3 and Nook are for people who love to read the Kindle DX 2 is for people who love to read and love it more than the next 5 things combined.

Kindle DX 2 Review – Top 3 Killer Features

The Kindle DX 2 really shines in some areas –

  1. eInk Pearl Screen – Electronic Ink is particularly suited to reading as it’s easy on the eyes, has great contrast, and only uses energy when refreshing the page. eInk Pearl is the latest generation eInk and it has 50% better screen contrast than the previous generation. It’s basically very close to print on paper and great for reading.
  2. Large Screen Size – The Kindle DX 2 has a large 9.7″ screen that makes it great if you want a lot of words per page or a larger font size or want to read newspapers and PDFs and magazines and websites that are all better suited to a larger screen. Plus you can put DX 2 in landscape mode for even better viewing of PDFs and websites. The screen size is 2.5 times the screen size of a 6″ eReader and a big plus. 
  3. Pairing with Amazon Kindle Store and Whispernet – Since the Kindle Store has a lot more newspapers and magazines and blogs than Sony’s Reader Store or the Nook Store it goes particularly well with the Kindle DX 2. Kindle DX 2’s large screen is great for reading websites so it’s fortuitous that Amazon has WhisperNet and offers free Internet browsing to US Kindle DX 2 owners and also to DX 2 owners in some other countries. The Kindle Store also has the best range of books and some of the lowest prices on non Agency Model books.

These are the 3 main super killer features that set DX 2 apart. There are a lot of opportunities for Amazon to add to this list – opportunities it hasn’t yet taken advantage of.

Killer Features Amazon could and should add to Kindle DX 2

There are 4 promising possibilities for the future and hopefully Amazon adds these so we can have a longer list of super killer Kindle DX 2 features –

  1. Potentially all of the Kindle 3 software improvements – Kindle DX 2 would add quite a few killer features if it got Kindle 3’s software improvements which include a new WebKit Browser (that would go superbly with the DX 2’s large screen), better PDF support, Voice Guide for full accessibility, tweaks for sharper fonts, 3 font choices, faster page turns, and lots of other smaller improvements.    
  2. Full-fledged PDF support – Kindle 3 added contrast settings and the ability to add notes and highlights to PDFs but it didn’t do a complete job. Kindle DX 2, due to its screen size, is particularly well suited for PDF reading and Amazon needs to add reflow support, proper highlighting, and various other features that would make DX 2 a full-fledged PDF reader.   
  3. $250 Price – Amazon could eat up the entire large screen eReader market if it can hit a lower price point. A price between $200 and $250 would be perfect.  
  4. Kindle Apps focused on (or suited for) Kindle DX 2 via Kindle App Store – The larger screen and wireless capability make RSS readers, Email Clients, and Read It Later type apps a big potential draw. The lack of WiFi is a handicap here but there are still a lot of possibilities.

Basically, the Kindle DX 2 is a very good eReader that has a lot of potential and room to grow. The Kindle 3 software improvements are quite likely to make it to DX 2. If the Kindle App Store takes off some valuable apps will make it to the DX 2. The other two will take more time – the PDF support might evolve to the point that the DX 2 can function as a full-fledged PDF reader but it might take 9 to 12 months, Kindle DX 2 pricing will probably hit $250 but not in the next 6 months.

There are also two potential killer features Amazon should consider for Kindle DX 3 –

  1. Writing Support – Sony 350 has shown that touch can be added to eReaders without compromising readability and it’s time the Kindle DX line added writing support.  
  2. WiFi Support – WiFi opens up a lot of possibilities and would also let Amazon cut down on price i.e. they could sell a cheaper Kindle DX WiFi.

There’s no way these could get added to Kindle DX 2 so please don’t factor these in when evaluating the DX 2.

Kindle DX 2 Review – Top 5 Weaknesses

The DX 2 has some significant weaknesses –

  1. It’s too expensive. $379 is a lot to pay for an eReader – even one that has a huge 9.7″ screen.  
  2. It doesn’t have the software improvements that Kindle 3 has – There are lots and lots of great improvements missing including faster page turns, voice guide, additional PDF features, and the WebKit Browser. This is a particularly surprising omission given that Kindle DX 2 is ideally suited for PDFs and better suited for web browsing.
  3. It’s too big and a bit heavy. It’s hard to carry and pack and one-handed reading is out of the question. It’s 10.4″ by 7.2″ by 0.38″ and weighs 18.9 ounces.
  4. No support for ePub or library books.
  5. It doesn’t play to its strengths. PDF support isn’t good enough to make it a solid PDF reader. There’s no writing support to make it ideal for students. The browser isn’t very good and prevents it from being great for web browsing. Basically, it misses out on being great at some things it is particularly well suited for.

Those are the biggest reading specific weaknesses. The next section will look at big weaknesses unrelated to reading and smaller reading related weaknesses.

Additional Kindle DX 2 Weaknesses

  1. It’s only great for reading. If you want a do-everything device or even a do-10-things device the DX 2 isn’t right for you.
  2. It doesn’t have touch.
  3. It doesn’t have a color screen.
  4. The page turns/refreshes take a bit of time. Around 0.9 to 1.1 seconds though those are rough measurements.
  5. It gets tiring to hold it for longer than 5-10 minutes – Ideally you want to be using both hands and even that can get tiring after a while and then you need something to rest it against.
  6. Not having all the software improvements added in Kindle 3 means a whole host of small negatives – no WebKit browser, no Voice Guide, and so forth.
  7. It doesn’t have WiFi.
  8. It’s only available in Graphite. Some people find that a white case is easier to read on (personally, don’t find a difference) and some have mentioned the case getting hot when it’s very hot outside.
  9. You’re locked into the Kindle Store as DRMed books from other stores don’t work. So your only options are the Kindle Store and stores that sell DRM-free books.

The list might be missing some weaknesses but suffice to say Kindle DX 2 isn’t perfect.

Kindle DX 2 Review – Additional Strengths

Here are some more Kindle DX 2 benefits –

  1. It’s focused on reading. It doesn’t compromise on the reading experience and that’s a big win.  
  2. It’s very easy to use with close to zero learning curve plus you don’t need a computer to use it. 
  3. It’s readable in direct sunlight. The eInk Pearl screen is also pretty readable in early evening type lighting conditions. You definitely need a reading light in the late evening and at night. A Kindle Lighted Cover for DX 2 would be perfect – Hopefully, Amazon makes one.
  4. There are no distractions – You can use the slow browser and that’s pretty much it. This advantage might disappear once the Kindle App Store opens.  
  5. Kindle DX 2 has really good battery life – 2 weeks with the 3G off and 1 week with the 3G on.
  6. You can start reading your book on DX 2 and continue on your phone (if it’s Blackberry, Android, or iPhone), then continue on your PC at work, and come back home and finish on the DX 2. Your position in the book, your notes, and your highlights are all saved and carried over.
  7. Free Store Browsing and books in 60 seconds.
  8. Text to Speech feature that reads your documents and books to you. Publishers sometimes turn this off.
  9. Accelerometer for auto-rotation of the screen which is more annoying than useful. You can set orientation manually and lock it.
  10. Wireless coverage in 100+ countries. Browse the Kindle Store for free in all these countries. For US Kindle DX 2 owners free Internet in all these countries.  
  11. It has 4 GB memory which is quite good.
  12. The Graphite case helps bring out the screen contrast of the eInk Pearl Screen better.

Kindle DX 2 definitely delivers all the advantages of the Kindle ecosystem – a focus on reading, strong infrastructure, great store, free Internet, 60 second downloads, and constant evolution and improvement.

Kindle DX 2 Review – A very good, work-in-progress eReader

The Kindle DX 2 is a very good eReader with some killer features and also some significant weaknesses.

  1. If you want a large screen dedicated eReader it’s the only option and a very good one.
  2. If you want a device for textbooks or PDFs or newspapers or reading websites it’s a decent option but needs some solid work from Amazon to become a very good option.
  3. If you want a dedicated eReader primarily for reading books the Kindle 3 might be a better option.
  4. If you want a device that does more than just read or perhaps one whose specialization is something other than reading then DX 2 is definitely not the right choice.

Do take a look at the Kindle DX 2 Video page and the Kindle DX 2 Photo page to get a better feel of what you’d get for your money. The Kindle DX 2 videos and photos include size and screen comparisons with Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader.

The Kindle DX 2 is a few features and a price cut away from being the perfect large screen eReader. Given Amazon’s history it’s likely to reach there in 4-10 months and if you have a strong need for a large screen eReader you can get a Kindle DX 2 and be reasonably confident that Amazon will keep improving the DX 2 and the Kindle Store.

17 Responses

  1. If the price falls below 250 I will buy one on the spot.

  2. The combination of PDF bugs in 2.5.5 that sometimes lock up the machine, and the size/weight issue caused me to return a new DXG.

    Perhaps I’ll try the next version – this one is too badly flawed…

    • PDF bugs in 2.5.5? Haven’t run into them – what were you seeing?

      • some pdf files can cause the kindle to freeze completely. usually, if you open that file with your computer and compress it further, or make it compatible with older versions of adobe pdf reader, the problem is solved. still, the device should not freeze. not to mention, lack of support for password-protected files! come on, amazon

  3. Wish Amazon would put out an 8″ model: easier to carry, bigger screen for reading, but not as cumbersome as the DX.

    • Quite a few people have been asking for this.

      • “Quite a few people have been asking for this.”

        Here’s my request: How about a Kindle with a clamshell keyboard hinged to the wide side of the screen? This would:

        1. Make the keyboard wider, for easier typing;
        2. Allow landscape-mode orientation when reading, which some prefer;
        3. Allow a truly PDF-capable Kindle to be small enough to fit into a large pocket. This is an important convenience.

        In landscape mode, the screen would be the same width as the DX’s, but only half the height. So reading a two-column page in a PGF document would require three extra keypresses more than the DX: Page-down (to the bottom of column 1); page-up (to the top of column 2); page-down (to the bottom of column 2).

        These would be much less annoying than panning and magnifying on the K3, and would be justified in light of the HX’s lower cost, lighter weight, and greater portability than the DX.

        The keyboard’s hinge could (I hope) be designed so that if the user wanted only to read (and not to keyboard, or not much), and wanted to minimize the Kindle’s “acreage,” he could rotate the keyboard a full 360 degrees, so its back rested against the back of the screen-portion of the device. With the keyboard fully rotated, the user could be given the option to read in either portrait or landscape mode, as on the Sony. There’d be a raised rim around the keyboard so the keys wouldn’t be pressing against a tabletop when laid down.

        This clamshell-keyboard could have two click-stops before it reached full rotation out of the way:

        1. 110 (say) degrees, like a laptop. The screen would lean back 20 degrees from vertical, while the keyboard would lie flat for typing.

        2. 290 (say) degrees. The screen would again lean back 20 degrees from vertical, but this time with the keyboard tucked under it, not in front of it. (Keys would deactivate automatically at this click stop and beyond.) This would provide more stability and take less desk space.

      • Like it.

        It would also protect the screen when it’s not being used.

        What would you think about a slider design instead of a clamshell?

        Interestingly, Qualcomm has a patent on a multi-screen (3 to 4 screen) device which changes function based on how the screens are aligned to each other. So when they are all flat it goes into TV/movie mode. When they are aligned at closer to a book type alignment it becomes an eReader.

        A 2 screen version of that patent would fit your design perfectly.

    • “What would you think about a slider design instead of a clamshell?”

      I’m willing. (What do I know?)

      My main thought is that an “in-between” Kindle would hit the just-right sweet spot. It would provide adequate PDF-handling and adequate size/weight/cost. In this instance, “Adequacy is sufficient” (Adam Osborne), and adequacy is what the market wants..

      • PS: This full-width view would also make web-browsing almost nice. Having only a half-height view of a web-page is tolerable; having a miniaturized one is not.

  4. I enjoy your reviews and commentaries.

    I was wondering do you think the DX will get a makerover in 2011?

    I found that the regular is too small for my taste. I actually held a paperback next to the Kindle3 and was disappointed that the actual reading space is 2/3 the size compared to the paperback.

    Right now, I know from reviews and comments that the DX is big, too big for some but I view it as a trade paperback size eReader.

    As someone who lugged around Marion Zimmer’s Bradley trade paperback version of her “The Mists of Avalon” for days I don’t have a problem carrying the DX around with me.



    • Andrew, the Kindle DX should get a make-over. It felt like the DX 2 was rushed to market and it had none of the features of the Kindle 3 (wifi, better PDF support, etc.).

      There is a slight possibility Amazon does with a readign tablet and delays/forgets the DX line – However it’s unlikely they’ll ditch Kindle DX.

  5. Has the DX 2 firmware been updated to be comparable with the K3 firmware? In other words, does the DX now have the same PDF reader as the K#?

  6. […] can check out our Kindle DX 2 Review and our Kindle DX 2 Review Video for more […]

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