Amazon’s Kindle DX Versus Second-Generation Kindle

by Jonathan Schlaffer

Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader is the iPod of ebook readers, with seamless integration to its own ebook store and many titles to choose from.  Amazon has released three versions so far: the first (original), the second (current generation 6”), and now the Kindle DX which features a 9.7” display.  The original Kindle is no longer available, so this will concentrate on the differences between the two current ones.

The 6” Kindle features 2GB of internal memory, while the new 9.7” Kindle DX features 4GB of memory (3.3GB is user accessible).  Both feature 3G wireless connectivity over Sprint’s network to download your purchases from the Kindle store regardless of where you are (provided you can get a signal).  Both can also default back to the slower 1xRTT network if high-speed access is not available.

To charge the battery, you connect Kindle to your computer’s USB port.  While it’s plugged in, you can also manually send ebooks you’ve downloaded on your computer to the Kindle by dragging them to the Documents folder on the device.

The Kindle DX does manage to one-up it’s sibling by having screen rotation and native support for PDF files.  While the 6” Kindle does support PDF files, they must be converted first before it will read them.

On the 6” Kindle you will find a 600 x 800 display resolution which turns out a bit finer than the 1200 x 825 resolution found on the 9.7” Kindle.  Though I fail to see any noticeable difference, the spec sheet says otherwise.

Amazon manages to fall short on the technologies included in both Kindles.  Both units lack WiFi support, for instance. And it would be nice to connect to a WiFi network in range for faster downloads.  The company should consider including WiFi with the next Kindle.

Perhaps another shortfall is more of my opinion than fact.  Sprint is falling on hard times, managing to lose 1.3 million subscribers last year and incurring a loss of somewhere in the area of $600 million.  Things are so bad that it is considering outsourcing support of the network.

I’m not saying the network will go away but Sprint may not be around too much longer in its current form.  I’ll trust Amazon to make a seamless transition to whatever comes next, but the Sprint situation is worth noting.

The Web browser Amazon included with both Kindle’s is still classified as experimental.  The good news is that, while it’s still in this stage, Web browsing is free. The possibility of charging for the service is not out of the question, however.  Far be it from Sprint or Amazon to actually provide something totally awesome, for free and forever.  I doubt very much anyone would be willing pay to access the Internet on their Kindle.

It would also be nice to see some kind of backlight on the Kindles, as well.  Not all of us like using book lights and such.

The Kindle should also have some kind of desktop software where users can backup existing ebooks as well as download and transfer new ones directly to the Kindle.  Yes, I’m thinking something like iTunes or maybe even some kind of iTunes plugin.  An Amazon alliance with Apple for an the iTunes store for Kindle would be the death knell for all other ebook readers.

I’m aware there is a Kindle app for the iPhone, but face it: that app is not up to par.  The Kindle is awesome, but it is lacking in a few areas that should be easily fixed if Amazon put its mind to it.

To sum up:

Kindle DX

4GB of memory

9.7” display

Auto rotate

Native PDF support

Kindle 6”

2GB of memory

6” display (obviously)

No auto rotate

No native PDF support (supported with conversion)

Wish-list for both

Backlit displays

Auto-rotate on both models

WiFi access

Desktop software or iTunes plugin