Hollywood's Characters
Unclutterer on the paperless office

Kindle DX: First Impressions

Upon returning home from WWDC I found a just-arrived Kindle DX waiting for me. I'll spare you the über-geeky "unboxing" details, but I was surprised to see that Amazon ships the device in a box that clearly identifies its contents; which probably explains why UPS required a signature for receipt of delivery.

Overall the Kindle DX feels very solid. It's quite thin, with smooth edges and solid buttons. Other reviews have noted its weight, but so far it hasn't seemed excessivly heavy and I think overall it has a pleasant feeling of heft.

My primary interest in the Kindle DX is using it for carrying and reading PDF-based reference material. I had a disappointing experience with using the Sony Reader with PDFs, and frankly I'm still bitter about it, so the PDF capability of the Kindle DX remains my primary criteria for evaluation.

My initial experiments reveal that the Kindle DX is very capable of displaying PDF files. I've tried about 30 so far and I've only found one that the device refused to open. (Unfortunately, the error message wasn't at all helpful, it simply said that the file required PDF features that are not yet supported.)

The larger screen of the Kindle DX, compared to the Sony Reader and Kindle 2, definitely helps when it comes to displaying PDFs in a readable fashion. The device automatically uses a "zoom to fit" strategy so many of the PDFs were enlarged enough to be readable with just a little strain. Rotating the display to landscape mode helps significantly, but only half a page is visible at a time so it requires a bit of scrolling up-and-down to read a document, particularly if it's in a multi-column layout. But on the positive side, this mode makes most PDFs quite readable. The only exceptions have been a few layout-heavy files that are already formatted for a landscape page--they aren't improved significantly by using the wider-screen mode.

It's clear that Amazon has optimized the Kindle DX for their own text-based books. This is evident because Kindle-format books have significantly more features than those that are available with PDFs. For example, annotations and word definitions are not supported in PDF. Additionally, device-wide searching only examines PDF metadata fields, not the actual content of the files. When you have a PDF book open, however, you can search within that book if the PDF was created with searching enabled.

I'm not yet sure if I'll be keeping the Kindle DX. While I'm mostly pleased, aside from the nifty graphics displayed in sleep mode, it lacks any sort of "wow" factor. In fact, several things about the way it works feel clunky to me. And while I love the crispness of the screen, just as I experienced with the Sony Reader, I'm not sure its PDF capabilities are strong enough to justify its price. But I'll be putting it to serious work over the next several days and will make my decision soon.

Comments

Kindle

I sort of compare both the Kindle 2 and DX to the first generation ipods. Looking back those things were really crappy compared to the new Ipod Touch etc etc. I like the Kindle and it works with what I do, but the future looks extremely bright for these devices.

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