A bunch of e-readers will be coming to market in the next few months. Each is offering its own brand of ecosystem and a host of features. But right now, if you want an e-reader, the most popular choice is Amazon’s Kindle. So, I thought I would be fun to compare their two offerings, the Kindle 2 and the Kindle DX and give you some insights into which might be right for you.
Before we get started there is one thing you need to understand. When you buy a Kindle (Kindle 2 or Kindle DX) you are buying into the Amazon Ecosystem. This means that you are agreeing you let Amazon completely control your legal, legitimate, files.
This is both a strength and a weakness of Kindle e-readers. The concept of an e-book is not well understood by anyone. Do I have to lend you my Kindle to lend you a book on my Kindle? Can I let you “use” or “borrow” my file? The answer to these questions is a resounding, “No.”
However, you can register up to six Kindles on one Amazon account with one credit card. This entitles you to share books between all of the Kindles on the account. It also will wreak havoc with your Amazon recommendation engine. Having four to six different readers buying books from your Amazon account pretty much defeats all of Amazon’s ability to recommend new books that are individually appropriate.
Here’s an important note: Even though you can share books between Kindles on the same account, you cannot easily, wirelessly, share periodicals between them. It requires you to go to your Amazon Kindle Page and do some serious gymnastics with your mouse. Many clicks, many times.
If the inconvenience of several clicks, several times is too bothersome for you, you can purchase multiple subscriptions. For example if you have four people in your family with Kindles who each want the NY Times you would each have to pay the $13.99/month subscription fee at $55.96/month for all four kindle owners in my family adding up to almost $700 for the entire year. Ouch!
The Kindle 2, which is the second generation Amazon Kindle, has a 6″ screen and is about the size of a 8″ x 5″ book. You may think that the small screen is a disadvantage, it isn’t. The Kindle 2 is the perfect size for your briefcase or for your handbag, and, it’s very easy to hold. You can easily type on the keyboard without putting the unit down. This is a plus. And, although it is not an instantly obvious difference, the numbers each have their own keys.
The newer Kindle DX has a 9.7″ screen and it is much bigger, about 10.5″ x 7″. It’s heavier, and it’s very hard to hold with one hand. The keyboard requires you to use the alt key to type numbers. So there’s almost no way you can type on it without putting it down. If you like to annotate your books and papers, this is an issue.
People make a big deal out of the fact that you can set the Kindle DX to auto-rotate the screen (like an iphone). The bad news here is that it chews into your battery life and, worse, if you are reading at an angle, you may accidentally flip the image. So, in practice, it’s a feature you will never use.
If you seen the Kindle 2, you know that it has control buttons on each side of the unit where your thumbs naturally fall. The bigger Kindle DX only has buttons on one side. This really becomes an issue when you need to rotate the screen.
Although you can transfer word documents and PDF files to either Kindle through Amazon, you can attach the larger Kindle DX to your computer and drag a PDF file right into the document folder. If you are going to read a lot of PDF files on your Kindle, you should seriously consider the Kindle DX. Not because of the native PDF support, oddly enough: but because there is really no zoom control for PDF’s and you will need the larger screen to read them.
Which to buy? I have both. If that’s not an option for you, the smaller Kindle 2 is a wonderful, dedicated e-reader. It’s priced right and you won’t be too sad in a few months when new models come out with more features. The Kindle DX is expensive and doesn’t have enough additional features to justify its price tag, unless you are a heavy PDF user.
About the Author: Shelly Palmer is the host of “Digital Life with Shelly Palmer,” a weekly half-hour television show about living and working in a digital world which can be seen on WNBC-TV’s NY Nonstop Tuesdays at 10p Eastern and online, and the host of “MediaBytes,” a daily news show that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment. He is Managing Director of Advanced Media Ventures Group, LLC an industry-leading advisory and business development firm and the President of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, NY (the organization that bestows the coveted Emmy Awards). Mr. Palmer is the author of Television Disrupted: The Transition from Network to Networked TV (2008, York House Press) and the upcoming, Get Digital: Reinventing Yourself and Your Career for the 21st Century Economy (2009, Lake House Press). You can join the MediaBytes mailing list here. Shelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org For information visit www.shellypalmer.com