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Learning to Love the Kindle DX

I’ve been using the Kindle DX for several weeks now, and it was anything but love at first sight. This is my third Kindle: I was one of the first with the initial Kindle, got the Kindle 2 when it first shipped, and figured, what the heck, I’d pick up the Kindle 2’s big brother, the Kindle DX. I wanted to try it with newspapers, since it had a bigger screen, and was initially anything but impressed. The Kindle 2 is smaller, lighter, and since the newspapers don’t render like newspapers, I thought that all I’d done was pay more for something that wasn’t either as portable, or as convenient.

I started switching between the Kindle 2 and the Kindle DX. Thank God for Whispernet and Sync, because keeping both on the same book and page would have been a nightmare otherwise. Slowly, over time, I was using the Kindle 2 less, and now am hooked on the DX almost exclusively. This outcome was far from obvious, but let me tell you how I got there.

Kindle 2 vs. Kindle DXBigger is Better: Who Knew?

None of the Kindles have a great night reading option, but in dim light, you can increase the size of the print substantially and keep on reading. On the Kindle 2, that means about one paragraph per page on the largest print. The DX has about 2.5 times the screen, so you get about 2.5 times the material. If you start racing through an exciting portion of a book (I’m currently on book 6 of the addictive Assassin’s Apprentice series by Robin Hobb) your page turning thumb starts to get really tired.

The bigger the screen, the less your poor thumb has to work. Also, the largest type size is larger than on the Kindle 2, which means it works in even dimmer rooms, though I wish the M-Edge folks that built my Kindle cases would get their reading light to market.

Rather than being slightly larger than a paperback in page size, the Kindle DX is more like a hardback book. For some reason, the result simply feels more substantial to me, and when I’m walking around it looks less like I’m carrying a purse and more like I’m carrying a portfolio. And when I am carrying a portfolio – which is a lot of the time – the DX seems to carry easier given it is a similar size.

PDF files seem to work vastly better on the Kindle DX. I’m not sure why, but often the layout of a PDF got messed up on the original Kindle and Kindle 2. On the DX, I haven’t had any problems, and I’m learning to send more and more things to the Kindle to read than print as a result (saving trees).

Kindle DXOther Thoughts and Differences

The original Kindle and Kindle 2 had buttons on both sides, the Kindle DX only on one. There were some interesting things you could do with the Kindle 1, like replace the default power off screens with your own pictures, that don’t seem to work with the Kindle DX. And while you can view pictures on it, if the picture file is a large one, load times can be extremely long. I think I’ll stick with my smartphone for pictures, until they figure out color.

On both the Kindle 2 and the DX, the text-to-speech reader is actually rather good, and I’ve listened to books while driving. While not as nice as an audio book, you can pick up where you were reading without spending a lot of time trying to figure out where you were on in the voice file (wouldn’t it be great if you could sync an e-book with an audio book?). You can also turn the volume down with this feature, and have it slowly turn pages for you, which is handy if you are eating ribs while reading, and don’t want to slime your Kindle. (But you need to be more patient than I am, as I slime my Kindle a lot.)

Kindle DXTwo Annoyances

The DX, like the iPhone, has a feature that automatically switches it from portrait to landscape mode, making reading in bed a real pain in the butt. This is nice for pictures and spreadsheets, but sucks when you are trying to lie back and read. Fortunately you can easily turn this off on the same fast popup menu used to set the font size. The other annoyance is that I still haven’t found a good Kindle book light. The M-Edge folks (that make the covers on all my Kindles) have a second-generation E-Luminator light coming (they built the first generation upside down), which is due any day now, but you can’t preorder it, and they won’t supply a more accurate date.

Kindle DXWrapping Up: Overpriced?

I really didn’t think I’d like the Kindle DX, but now it is my favorite. Go figure. It just goes to show you that with people and technology, there is love at first sight, and then there are times it takes a bit longer. The Kindle DX took a bit longer, but now you will almost never see me without it. I can hardly wait for the Kindle 3 – maybe by then they will figure out the damned book light.

Now one final thought: I’ve seen a lot of reviews, and most think the Kindle 2 and DX are overpriced. But by their measure, the iPod Touch, iPhone, and most any technology product that prices out over $100 is overpriced. I have well over 30 books on my Kindles, don’t carry paper much anymore, and my Kindle goes with me wherever I go. I’m using it more than my digital camera, MP3 player, or most of my TVs. I’ve laughed and cried in books I would have never even read otherwise. Just one of those books was worth the money to me, and while they could have made it cheaper, much like Apple could make its products cheaper, the result wouldn’t have been as good. If you love to read, and I do, the Kindle is a great value. And if you don’t, then $5 is too expensive. The Kindle is for folks who love to read, and dream about worlds that were, could be, or exist only in the imagination. For us, the Kindle is life-changing, and well worth the price.

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