Why is Kindle DX so expensive?

Kindle DX is really expensive. Think about this for a second –

  1. Kindle WiFi is $65. Nook Simple Touch is $79. Nook Simple Touch is on sale in the UK for 29 pounds. Both Kindle WiFi and Nook Simpl Touch have eInk Pearl screens – same as Kindle DX.
  2. Kindle WiFi and Nook Simple Touch have 800 by 600 screen resolution with 167 pixels per inch.
  3. Kindle DX has the same eInk Pearl screen, just in a bigger 9.7″ size. It has 1200 x 824 screen resolution with 150 pixels per inch (so it’s not like it has HD resolution or anything). It doesn’t have a touch screen. It’s $299.

How strange is that.

You’re getting a bigger screen (2.5 times the screen area). However, you’re getting lower pixel density. You are getting the same 2-year-old eInk Pearl screen. You are not getting a touch screen.

Instead of $69*2 ($138) or even $79*2 ($158), you’re expected to pay $299? That’s nearly 5 times the price of the Kindle WiFi. That’s nearly 4 times the price of the Nook Simple Touch which also has a touch screen.

Why is Kindle DX so expensive?

What does Kindle DX offer that makes it so much more expensive?

  1. The 9.7″ screen is probably double the price of the Kindle WiFi. If the Kindle WiFi screen costs $30 to $40, then the Kindle DX screen shouldn’t be more than $60 to $80.
  2. There’s 4 GB RAM. Can’t be very expensive. Perhaps $20 to $30.
  3. The processor has to be a bit faster to support the larger screen. We know the screen isn’t very snappy, so the processor can’t be that much faster.
  4. There’s a 3G modem. Perhaps $25 to $35 for that.
  5. A power charger is included. Perhaps it costs $5 to $10 to make.

So we’re talking about $155. Perhaps another $15. That’s $170.

Where is the other $129?

Additionally, and this is the real question, if Kindle WiFi can be just $69, and Nook Simple Touch with a touchscreen can be just $79, then why does Kindle DX have to be $299.

Something’s wrong for Kindle DX to be $299

Something has to be very wrong for Kindle DX to still be priced at $299 –

  1. Kobo Aura HD is $169 with a HD eInk screen. Are we to believe that the Kindle DX screen costs more than a HD screen? $130 more?
  2. Kindle DX has components that are all 2 years old. Everything – the processor, the memory, the storage. Surely, prices must have gone down since then.
  3. Every other Kindle has seen prices drop massively within 1-2 years of release. Kindle DX is still being sold for close to its launch price. Why?
  4. Kindle DX has the exact same features as at launch. It has 2-3 weeks battery life while the other Kindles have moved to 1-2 months. Magically, the price hasn’t been reduced.

If Kindle WiFi is $69, then the logical price range for Kindle DX is between $120 and $170. Why is it at a ridiculously high $299?

Is Amazon incredibly inefficient? Is Amazon just taking advantage of people who want a large screen eReader?

There are a few possibilities –

  1. The same company that can make a 6″ Kindle WiFi for $69 can’t bring the price of the Kindle DX below $299. For some reason, when it comes to large-screen eReaders, Amazon is incredibly inefficient.
  2. Amazon knows that there is zero competition in the 9.7″ eInk eReader market and is making the most of it.
  3. Amazon has a huge stockpile of unsold Kindle DXes. It’s selling these off. It would rather sell them slowly than take a loss.
  4. Kindle DX sold in extremely small numbers. As a result, the 9.7″ screen never hit economies of scale and is incredibly expensive ($150? $125?). That makes Kindle DX impossible to make and sell for less than $299.
  5. Amazon thinks of the Kindle DX as the luxury model. It’s quite possible. If we look at the $499 Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ LTE, which is now $399, Amazon tried the ‘luxury model’ approach there too. It’s very strange but perhaps Amazon truly does believe you can sell an economy model as a luxury model just by pretending it’s ‘luxury’ level of quality.

Kindle DX is about double the price it should be. Apart from the large screen and the 3G, it has nothing going for it. It’s 2 years old. All the components are 2 years old. The screen is 2 years old. Not sure what Amazon is thinking. Would love to know exactly why Kindle DX is so expensive.

Kindle DX back from the dead

Kindle DX is back from the dead.

Amazon’s making all sorts of strange Kindle moves recently. Kindle Keyboard disappeared. Kindle DX is back.

Thanks to The Verge for the news of Kindle DX being back (in graphite, not black).

Here’s a quick refresher –

  1. Kindle DX was Amazon’s large screen Kindle. The screen is 9.7″.
  2. Kindle DX has the same eInk screen as Kindle 3 did – eInk Pearl. It’s not as good as the Kindle Paperwhite screen, and there’s no built-in light.
  3. The current version of Kindle DX being sold is actually Kindle DX 2, referred to as Kindle DX Graphite.
  4. The larger screen is slower to respond. So if you like snappy you might want to give it a skip.
  5. You can check out our Kindle DX 2 Review and our Kindle DX 2 Review Video for more details.
  6. Kindle DX is the only large screen eReader, based on eInk, available from the top 4 eReader companies (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony).
  7. The 9.7″ screen translates to 2.5 times the screen real estate of 6″ Kindles.
  8. The current price of $299 is still on the high side.
  9. Kindle DX International – Kindle DX does ship outside the US.
  10. You get all the same services and benefits as with regular Kindles. There is also a keyboard (albeit a very poorly constructed one, with tiny buttons and no number keys (press Alt for numbers)).
  11. You do get free 3G wireless. Not sure if this extends to Internet. It definitely extends to browsing books and book downloads.

All in all, it’s a very interesting move.

Why is Amazon bringing back Kindle DX 2?

Amazon had ended Kindle DX quite a while ago. That rules out the possibility of this being left over stock. So the following possibilities come up –

  1. Amazon saw consistent demand for Kindle DX 2. This is quite possible as DX 2 was great for people with weak vision who wanted a larger screen size, and also wanted eInk. Kindle DX 2 was also good for people who wanted to read PDFs. The PDF support was spotty but for reading PDFs that worked on it, it worked well.
  2. Amazon has a new Kindle DX 3 planned. It’s started selling Kindle DX 2 again to gauge demand.
  3. Amazon wants to ramp up production of 9.7″ eInk screens for a dual screen LCD+eInk device. Selling Kindle DX 2 again allows for that.
  4. Amazon decided to bring back the Kindle DX 2 to fill the hole in its lineup i.e. no large screen eInk eReader.
  5. No good reason at all. Just an experiment.

The more we think about it, the stranger it seems. To bring back a product that you had ended, and which had not sold very well.

At the same time, Amazon has ended Kindle Keyboard, which was an eReader which had lots of demand (since it was the only eReader with a keyboard).

Don’t understand this move at all. It’s good to see Kindle DX back from the dead. Just not sure why or how it’s back.

Kindle DX and Value for Money

Addressed this to an extent in the Kindle DX Review 2010 post. However, it merits a post of its own as it’s a very nuanced subject.

What value does the Kindle DX provide?

Let’s start with the value that the Kindle DX provides –

  1. A 9.7″ eInk screen which provides as much space for words as a hardcover.
  2. An eInk screen that is great for reading and easy on the eyes. 
  3. Access to the Kindle Store – the widest range of new books, the best prices on books (except for Agency Model books which are priced the same everywhere). 
  4. Access to the Kindle Platform and Whispernet – which means 60 second downloads, free Internet and Wikipedia in over 100 countries, your notes and books are backed-up in the Cloud, your place in the book and notes and highlights and bookmarks are synchronized across your Kindles and Kindle Apps, and you get access to other features.  
  5. Great re-sale value. Used Kindle DXes are going for $415 (though they might drop as refurbished Kindle DXes are now $399 and $349. Used Kindle DXes of the US only variety are going for $374 (these prices should drop too).
  6. Amazon keeps adding updates and adding to the value of the Kindle DX. Additions have included better battery life and the upcoming Kindle 2.5 update will add folders and social features.  
  7. Lots of font options including 2 new font sizes debuting in the Kindle 2.5 update. 
  8. Accelerometer powered screen rotation.
  9. Access to all the Kindle Apps – Read your Kindle books across most of your devices including PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Blackberry.

The amount of value provided is very high and Amazon keep adding to the value proposition. The question is whether this amount of value justifies the price of the Kindle DX.

Is the Kindle DX worth $489?

In my Kindle DX Review, 2010 edition, gave the Kindle DX only a 5 on 10 on value for money and there are three main reasons for this –

  1. The Kindle DX has not seen a price cut since its release in mid 2009. More on this in the next section. 
  2. The Kindle 2 at $189 provides a lot more value for money. The iPad at $499 also provides more value for money though it isn’t optimized for reading and thus caters to a different audience.
  3. Kindle DX is priced for perfection – yet it isn’t perfect. Take the stunted keyboard for example – Paying $489 for a device ought to mean that the keyboard is a work of art. The Kindle DX got a 7.75 stars out of 10 rating which suggests a price closer to $350 (at most $375) would be appropriate.

While Amazon has cut the price of the Kindle 2 relentlessly and improved the Kindle service and platform and software continuously the Kindle DX has only seen the latter set of improvements – it hasn’t benefited from any price cuts and thus the value for money it provides doesn’t compare with the Kindle 2.

No, the Kindle DX is not worth $489. It wasn’t worth that much to begin with and the price definitely should have come down with time.

Why has the Kindle DX’s price not come down from its initial price of $489?

There are a lot of possibilities here.

The major one is that not enough Kindle DXes have been sold to hit economies of scale. Last year a rough analysis had shown that there are probably 4 to 5 Kindle 2s being sold for every Kindle DX. This year, looking at reviews, you might surmise that the ratio is closer to 9:1 or 10:1 and you might not be far off.  

If there are millions of Kindle selling there might be only hundreds of thousands of Kindle DXes selling and that would mean eInk and Amazon haven’t hit the economies of scale that would allow them to cut the price by $100 to $150.

A very rough ratio is 1 review per 100 devices sold and by that measure there ought to be 161,000 Kindle DXes in circulation. Definitely not enough to result in a large cut in prices. It’s also worth keeping in mind that with larger screens the probability of failures goes up drastically. The Kindle DX screen provides 2.5 times the screen area of the Kindle screen and the ratio of screen prices might be that or even higher.

There are a few other possibilities –

  1. Amazon want to keep a high-end model. Position it as the luxury eReader. 
  2. Amazon want to build a textbook eReader at that price point and don’t want to train users to expect a $300 textbook eReader.
  3. This is the model on which Amazon make profits and compensate for lower profits on the Kindle 2.  

These are all guesses though – the only logical reason for the higher price of the Kindle DX is that the screen and components are more expensive. Amazon is not a company scared of cutting product prices.

Are the Refurbished Kindle DXes better value for money?

Yes and No.

  1. At $399 the Refurbished Kindle DX is still not adequate value for money. It is, however, a slightly better option than buying a new Kindle DX. 
  2. At $349 the refurbished Kindle DX US is good value for money. Of course, if you travel outside the US then it won’t fit your needs.

So the move by Amazon to introduce refurbished kindle dx options is a very good one. Here are the prices they should consider –

  • $369 for a new Kindle DX.
  • $329 for a refurbished Kindle DX. They are at $399 now which is an improvement over $399.
  • $299 or $319 for a refurbished Kindle DX US. They are at $349 now so not far off.

Of course, my analysis might be grossly underestimating the price of the Kindle DX components, especially the screen, and there isn’t any large screen eReader that has come in at a reasonable price. Perhaps a lot of the blame goes to eInk. Truth is eReaders are competing with LCD screens and if they can’t get eInk prices down they need to go with new technology like Mirasol or Pixel Qi.