July 10, 2009

997 words 5 mins read

Review: Kindle DX after 2 weeks

Two things I need to mention off the bat. Number 1, if you’ve been playing along at home and saying to yourself “The Kindle DX has been out for much longer than 2 weeks”, you’re right, but this post got delayed due to scheduling conflicts. Number 2, I’ve returned my Kindle DX. So, with that being said, let me share my thoughts on the device and why I ultimately chose to return it.

The Kindle DX is a great device for what it was designed for. The problem is that everyone equates the brand “Kindle” with reading paperback novels. That was true for the Kindle 1 as well as the Kindle 2, but not so for the Kindle DX. The KDX was designed to be a large reader for textbooks and newspapers. Ok, so I don’t get the newspaper thing as much as the next blogger, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. The center “scale” is that of a textbook, which is going to be larger and heavier than your run of the mill paperback, just as the KDX is larger & heavier than the K2.

I loaded up the KDX with a number of PDFs, some of them being documents from work, and some of them being proper ebooks I’d purchased elsewhere. My single favorite use was actually for keeping a copy of manual PDFs from software I was working with at the time. It allowed me to free up a screen (not like I don’t have 3 LCD’s, but that is beside the point) for other abuses. For real ebooks, I gave HDR: An introduction to High Dynamic Range Photography a try. Granted the KDX isn’t the prime device for viewing HDR pictures, but it worked great for the rest of the “book” portion. If your use of a Kindle is for viewing textbooks, the KDX will take care of you fantastically. Of course, I don’t have that type of use these days. Additionally, I realized something. My netbook cost me $100 less, and is a better PDF reader, than the KDX.

So what do I use my Kindles for? Mostly reading novels. The book I was reading towards the end of my time with the KDX was Generation Kill. I found two real problems with the KDX over the K2.

First is the weight. Any device that has a bigger screen and a bigger form factor is going to weigh more, there really isn’t any way around this. The problem is that the KDX was just slightly too heavy to be comfortably held in one hand for a decent length of time. My hand (generally my thumb) would get tired and I’d have to switch hands. If you can rest it on something, it isn’t too bad, but when laying in bed (which is generally where I read), it isn’t always an option.

The second issue I found was the lack of left side buttons. It might sound odd that a right-handed person would want left-handed buttons, but let me explain. I like to hold my books in my left hand, so I can continue the operate the world around me with my right hand (IE: Open doors as I walk, get items out of cupboards.). Now you can rotate the KDX to whichever orientation you like, but that is somewhat gimmicky in the end. Flipping the device upside down to hold with your left hand, leaves the buttons rather high on the device and in a fairly awkward position. On top of that the flesh of your hand (if you are using your thumb to press “Next Page”) is liable to hit and trip the “Previous Page” button by mistake.

I did find something of a work around to the lack of left handed buttons. The simple fact that the KDX screen is two and a half times the size as the K2. There is so much more text on the page that you don’t need to turn the page as often. Normally I’d hold the KDX with my left hand and then occasionally reach over with my right to turn the page. Not perfect, but it did work out.

So why did I return it?

That is really the burning question. Here’s a fanboy that has been singing the praises of the Kindle to everyone who would listen since day 1, has ordered each unit the day it has become available, and now he’s dumping the Kindle DX? Well there are really only two important reasons. First and most obvious factor is money. I’m trying to save my money so I can afford to buy a motorcycle. I’ve already got a Kindle 2 which does the job. Additionally, as noted previously, when it comes to PDF readers, my netbook is cheaper (and serves more than just 1 function). The second reason is portability. Having a netbook and “book” (Translation: Kindle DX) that are the same size is rather humorous, but not very practical. My standard wear is fatigues, which have very large pockets. I can fit the Kindle 2 in the cargo pocket and close it, with the Kindle DX I can’t. Without portability, the KDX would only easily come with me when I was carrying my camera backpack, otherwise it would be relegated to stay at home.

So, if money wasn’t an problem, would I buy/keep a Kindle DX?

Definitely. Having the large screen size is fantastic because you can bump up the font size (which I’ve got to do right now because my glasses are broken and I’m waiting for replacements) and not have to be turning the page constantly. Plus that large screen size allows me to get just a little more “in” to the books without turning the page to break my stride. The ability to read PDF docs is also fantastic.

I was sad to see the Kindle DX get packed back up, but the motorcycle I’m staring at (desktop background) is much sexier.