Amazon's Kindle DX: Not the answer

Jul 16, 2009 By Etan Horowitz
Kindle DX

I am holding in my hands a device that some think could be the salvation of the beleaguered newspaper industry. It's the Amazon Kindle DX, a large-screen version of Amazon's popular e-reader that's specifically designed for papers and textbooks.

The DX is an attempt to bridge the gap between reading printed newspapers, which take up a lot of room and are out of date the minute they come out, and reading news online, which can hurt your eyes and isn't nearly as all-consuming an experience.

It also gives a way to make money from digital versions of the newspaper, since unlike the majority of newspaper Web sites, it costs to subscribe to the Kindle edition of the Orlando Sentinel ($6 a month) or The New York Times ($14 a month). In fact a few newspapers in other states plan to offer discounted Kindle DXs to some readers.

My review of the Kindle DX got off to a rough start. The first unit that sent me had a ghost in the machine. It would bring up the search box and start typing random characters without me pressing anything -- a major bug that Amazon said is not a widespread problem. The second DX worked fine.

The Kindle DX, which costs a whopping $489, includes all of the features of the Kindle 2 (which now costs $299) and two big differences: a bigger screen -- 9.7 inches diagonally compared with 6 inches and the ability to rotate the screen orientation from vertical to horizontal when you turn it.

Another key difference is that the Kindle DX can display PDF files without having to convert them first, a feature that might appeal to doctors, students and other businesspeople.

While the Kindle DX weighs almost twice as much as the Kindle 2, it's still amazingly thin, and it doesn't feel too hefty. A woman might have trouble fitting the DX in her purse, but it won't weigh down a backpack. Reading books on the DX is even easier, because with the much larger screen surface, you don't have to turn the page as often as you do on the Kindle 2.

But despite publishers' hopes, I don't think the Kindle DX will satisfy the needs of newspaper lovers because it doesn't fuse the best of print and online papers. Not yet at least.

For one thing, not many of the 32 U.S. newspapers available on the Kindle include pictures, graphics or charts, even though the Kindle is capable of displaying them. Once you choose a newspaper section on the Kindle, all articles are listed in the same way, with a headline and the first few lines of the story, so you have no concept of which stories in that section the editors thought were the most important.

There's also no way to browse through a bunch of articles at once to see if anything catches your eye. For instance, many people like to thumb through the wedding announcements in the Sunday New York Times by scanning the pictures and names. On the Kindle, none of the announcements has a picture and each is listed as a separate story, meaning you have to click to open one, click to close it, and click to open another one.

Perhaps the biggest drawback is that newspapers are not taking advantage of the technology built into the Kindle to deliver breaking news. Despite a free Internet connection on every Kindle, the Kindle edition of each newspaper is only delivered once a day, so the news is just as dated as the print paper. This doesn't make sense.

Newspaper Web sites and mobile applications include stories from the print edition and updated material throughout the day, and they are generally free. So why should you pay for a digital edition of a newspaper that doesn't update?

I asked Amazon if there were any reason why a newspaper could not update its Kindle version throughout the day, and a spokesman would only say "we work closely with newspapers to provide the best possible reading experience for Kindle customers."

Mike Sutton, who's in charge of the Kindle version of the Sentinel, said it is possible, but it costs Amazon money each time it delivers a Kindle edition, so Amazon might not be inclined to let newspapers update their editions throughout the day.

Amazon isn't alone in trying to make an e-paper device. Several other companies are reportedly working on electronic readers for newspapers, the most promising of which seems to be a lightweight touch-screen device from Plastic Logic that's due out next year. The DX is great for reading books and , but newspapers lovers will have to wait a little longer for a true hybrid of print and digital papers.
___

(c) 2009, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.).
Visit the Sentinel on the World Wide Web at www.orlandosentinel.com/
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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User comments : 7

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earls
4.3 / 5 (4) Jul 17, 2009
Amazon, "doesn't get it." Control is their number one prerogative, and they're going to completely lose it as they are swept up on the tsunami of open (hardware AND software) competition. Why have just an "ebook reader" when you can have a full functioning laptop with the same form factor?
ArtflDgr
3 / 5 (6) Jul 17, 2009
no one gets it...

they dont get that the newspapers are not being bought because their content is full of pravda quality lies and half truths and manipuations.

they think that a jazzy electronic screen is going to make lying and social experiements in peoples lives more palatable,they are lunatics who think we are so below them that its scary.

we dont want to bother with anything that lies to us, so we dont really care if the lie is verbal, on clay tablets in sanskrit, or oily vegetable based inks on low quality paper.

we buy them now for coupons, coupons dont lie.

only an idiot who has signed on that communist elitism is the way to utopia, and is so out of touch with reality would think this way.

great work the schools are doing, reminds me of the peopel from the old country who also couldnt think or be effective in the world (as they too had their head in a fish bowl listening to the echo of their own reasoning based on being fed invalid facts that completely lack imperical truth).

ArtflDgr
2 / 5 (2) Jul 17, 2009
a better way to say it that might reach the knuckeldraggers at apple marketing is.

i dont need to spend 200 dollars and money on electricity and such to be lied to. i can spend 25 cents and get that cheaper.

in fact for the price of this think i can read the newspaper for over 2 years... and i will not be having to buy new batteries, subscription servicves, and so on and so forth.

being lied to at 25 cents a day is excusable given that the coupons exceed the price of the source (15% extra off at macys every day).

oh... and how many people got followed home from the subway and attacked by another person so as to get the electronic gew gaws they are using in public and in a monumental down turn.

so also paying 200 and more to become a crime target is not good either

(maybe they should stop peddline liberal non culture so that we stop breeding thugs and incompetents to buy votes from and the crime will go down to pre 1960s levels and we could enjoy such inventions outside our caves)

sigh
dirk_bruere
not rated yet Jul 17, 2009
What's the difference between Kindle and a fully functional MID with vastly better specs in every department, inc battery life? About 3 years tops. Then nobody will be buying a crippled device tied to pay services.
earls
not rated yet Jul 17, 2009
Ricochet
not rated yet Jul 21, 2009
Actually... coupons DO lie.
Retail companies tend to increase the regular retail price of items a bit before the coupons go out. They also raise the prices of the more popular items that don't have coupons available to make up for it.
ArtflDgr
not rated yet Jul 21, 2009
coupons DON'T lie.

the coupon still gets you whatever off the inflated price, no?

how your explanations mean the coupons lie makes no sense... the value off on the coupon is still same amount when you go to the store, the OTHER value is just what your figuring out if its worth it.

their changing the price in anticipation has no real bearing. whatever they price it is there business, and there is no formulea to this, so whatever the road will bear is fine.

avon had a product in which they charge 2 or 3 dollars for. after not selling, they RAISED the price to 7 dollars, and it sold like crazy.

they are just doing what every capitalist does, persue someone elses happiness and provide it.