Gadgets

Amazon Kindle DX

After being indecisive for few months now, I decided to buy my first e-book reader last month. I went with Amazon KindleDX – the model prior to the newly released Kindle Wi-Fi (which got released few weeks after I bought KindleDX). I didn’t go with Apple iPad – it doesn’t have e-ink and so not easy on the eye, heavier than KindleDX (iPad is 700 grams and KindleDX is 535 Grams) and is a first generation device compared to KindleDX. I didn’t go with the competition like Nook or the Sony Reader because of my loyalty to Amazon – I am always impressed by their excellent customer service, world class self-service website and above all I believe they will surely survive and continue to grow in the expected churn in this industry. Above all an e-book reader is all about the choice of titles and ease of purchase. And I am not a fan of reading long chapters in any LCD/LED displays.

I ordered the device from Amazon website with my India Credit Card and had it shipped to my Chennai address. I got the device on July 13th (3rd business day from 8th July when I ordered)) – unbelievable. I was charged in total $530.70 (Device was $379, Shipping $13.49, Import Fees Deposit $138.21) for the device & shipping.

My observations of using the device for last few weeks:

  • Out of the box, the device came preconfigured with my Profile (username and password) stored. So nice of Amazon team. I am sure no other OEM does this, even though they know everything about us when we order it on their site. The device came in a minimalist eco-friendly, easy to open packaging
  • Amazon has published clear and easy to understand instructions for customers from outside USA, including India. Every other American e-commerce firm I know of, is focussed only with USA and for them customers from outside USA will be treated as “Aliens”
  • The Text to Speech feature where by it reads out a book – though I was sceptical of it, I found it to be very usable
  • The in-built dictionary (Oxford English) is a great feature. Many a times, I am lazy to pick up a dictionary (Even though my firm LIFCO publishes one for last 50 years) and refer for the word I didn’t understand. With Kindle, I just need to move my cursor to any word and the full meaning is shown at the bottom of the screen.
  • The device, the feel of it and ease of reading is better than I imagined. I wish the device had touch, the buttons were Car Friendly (especially Text to Speech Pause/Play, Volume), a little bit lighter. I didn’t miss Colour display as the sharpness of the e-ink was as good as printed paper
  • The auto-sync feature with the other devices for my account. I got the Kindle App for PC and iPhone installed and I was thrilled by the feature where in the pages I have read to are automatically synchronized between the devices
  • The other day I was in a local book store and I liked a book, I could easily browse the same on my iPhone Kindle App (we won’t be carrying our Kindle device everywhere). Then I bought it from iPhone and had it shipped with 1-click to my Kindle device at home. Before I reached home, using Whispernet I found the book already downloaded and ready in the Kindle Device
  • NewsPapers and Magazine are priced too high for an Indian customer. Selection of Indian Authors and titles are currently very limited
  • Ability to back load (copy) any PDF file from your PC to Kindle using USB. I loaded all my unread issues of IEEE Spectrum and actually read few of them over the weeks
  • No native support (Especially in Web browser) for Indian Languages. Indic Unicode displays fine in files saved as PDF (Adobe Acrobat)
  • Nil charges for Whispernet Data Transfer for browsing the catalogue, buying and downloading of books in 100 countries including India
  • KindleDX doesn’t have a Wi-Fi connection, having it would have made downloading of books and casual browsing faster when I am in a Wi-Fi zone like my office or home (The newly announced model has Wi-Fi feature, but a smaller display)
  • The device charges through its MicroUSB Port using any standard USB charger

kindledx

Update (9/Sep/2010) : I was pleasantly surprised today to receive a refund of $41.38 out of the $138.21 paid as Import Fees Deposit. With this cost for Customs Duty to import my KindleDX to India is about Rs.4551. Amazon, you are impressing me continuously!

 

33 Comments

  • Respected Sir,
    I’m also interested in buying one but there are some worry eating me up like the import policy,custom verification and all,means after ordering it for around 20,000,if I don’t get the product,due to any reasons like verification of documents or anything of such type,and so i want to clear it from you,as you are an experienced person,so please do reply,thanking you.

    • you can conveniently buy from Amazon.in, they have it already imported. there is nothing for you to worry. otherwise you can also buy it from local electronic stores like cromoa who sell amazon kindle devices now.

  • Dear Mr. venkatarangan,

    As on date – i.e. July2013, when there is option of other readers and also Kindle paper white 3g, what will be your recommendation for e-reader?
    I want to buy ebook reader. I do not want to go for smaller one as it leads to strain after some reading also you can have access/visibility of entire page in one go. You have to scroll horizontally and vertically.

    Now Kindle DX ia once again available on AMAZON. Should i go for kindle DX or is there any other option? ( i am asking for laptop but asking for any other e book reader?)
    regards,
    Dhananjay

    • I will anyday opt for a e-ink reader. Having owned KindleDX and iPad3, for reading books I go for KindleDX which saves me from constant distraction of FaceBook/Mail, etc. My complaint with KindleDX is lack of Touch and bulky. The new Kindle Paperwhite is awesome and lightweight. If you are buying new, just go for it, you won’t regret it.

      Lastly if you want just one device, then consider iPad Mini. Its lovely, lightweight.

      For reading books in my experience, most important is the weight. Since you will be holding the same for hours on a stretch if its a good book.

  • Hi Venkat: I have been using Kindle and have managed to flawlessly convert some of the Project Madurai books to Kindle. The trick lies in using some of the free tools that Kindle has released. Download Unicode HTML files from Project Madurai website (say Ponniyin Selvan). Use Kindlegen (utility supplied by Amazon) to convert HTML to Mobi. You can preview on your computer by using Amazon’s Kindle Previewer. Converted books can then be transferred to and read on Kindle. My problem is now in embedded fonts (Read PDFs). I am hunting for a solution.

  • Hi Venkat,
    I’m planning to buy Kindle DX latest version.
    Wanted to check out if one can browse to a couple of mobile sites..
    for example I’m subscribed to safari bookshelf and use ‘http://m.safaribooksonline.com/hd/home’ frequently on my Tab.., will I be able to browse it on Kindle DX ( I believe it only has a 3G connection and no wi-fi).

    Regards,
    Navin.

  • I am extremely thankful to you for the help you have provided. Now I realize that Kindle is not so apt for my purposes, but I might be benefited if you could try the links. Take your time.

  • Hello Venkatarangan,
    I am really impressed by this wonderful service you provide to us.
    I am planning to buy a Kindle-4 6″ in the near future and want to know whether it
    supports image PDF files (ie, scanned non-OCRed PDF files) with lots of mathematical
    expressions like those physics book available at http://www.archive.org.

  • Hi Mr. Venkatarangan,
    I just got Kindle touch wi fi, and noticed that it is supporting Hindi (devanagari) very well in .TXT (unicode utf 8), but you have to do a trick through Calibre E-Book Mangement( I mean send .txt file from computer to Kindle through Calibre not direct drag and drop), It will be better for your Kindle if you convert .TXT (unicode utf 8)to .MOBI, the Unicode font support for devanagari not so good quality but all glyphs and conjuncts rendering proper ( I think given font is Arial Unicode, It will be better if Kokila from Microsoft or Cdac DV OTYogesh Font).This process is applicable same for ePub conversion for all Indic Languages.

  • thanx for hte excellent review..i am a medical student and wish to carry all my books with me..and kindle dx would just suite me…but i have a few questions..
    1: most of my books are in HTML HELP format of microsoft…will those book open??
    2: will there be any problem in future if i ask my friend in US to buy it for me…as it would be cheaper..

  • [To Mayank Sharma, who asked where he can buy a Kindle DX and do I recommend this model still. Below is my reply]

    I believe Amazon.COM sells Kindle devices and ships them to India. I do keep seeing offers and deals for Kindle in India from http://shopping.indiatimes.com, check them out and compare it before you make a buy.

    No, I will not recommend Kindle DX (the model I have). Over long usage it feels quite heavy and since I use iPhone/iPad and got used to touch, I miss it. Few months back I bought from US the new Kindle 6” devices for my friend – it is unbelievably light and comfortable. Currently my Amazon wish list has Kindle Touch (http://amzn.com/B005890G8Y)

    Overall, I still prefer reading books with Kindle than with iPad as it is easier on the eye.

  • the commenting here was quite knowledgeable and got to know a more about kindle, I have been researching a lot on kindle as I hold on my own books to publish making a kindle conversion by me own a difficult task at last got it done from http://www.ebookconversion.com/ that gave me a sigh of relief and left me worrisome all of the care taken by them

  • @Sriganesh, you can directly copy a PDF file to your Kindle (which gets mounted as a drive when you connect to your PC using USB). You can also email it to your personal kindle email ID, which converts the file and wirelessly transfers it to your Kindle – for this you pay per MB to Amazon.

  • i have a pdf document; can it be loaded directly to the device; or else i has to be send to amazon to convert for us. if so, how to pay such charges

  • @govind, thanks for the compliment.

    I checked with my Kindle DX now. Scaling of PDF files to 300% or Actual Size worked flawlessly without any issues, only thing you have scroll to read the next columns. The Text to Speech didn’t work on any of the PDF files I tested. It works only the native Kindle format, purchased from Kindle store.

  • Venkat,
    This is great and overall excellent blogs. Well thought and interesting. Regarding Kindle DX, does it have speech functionality on pdf documents or only native supported files.

    Also can you scale pdf docs to bigger size without wrapping wierdness? I am slightly vision impaired and anted to see how flexible it is to adjust to fonts on pdf documents?

    I want to hold plenty of pdf docs like sanskrit slokas,vedas etc and not sure if it increase in scale like Adobe Acrobat on windows (increase in % or Control++). Lack of added storage is definitely a problem for lot of pdf docs. This is good for people buying books on amazon, hich i dont plan to do in much. I am interested in indian newspapers/magazines etc

    govind, san jose

  • vanakkam Venkatrangan,

    Does Kindle support Tamil/Hindi unicode fonts in the properietary .azw format, or is it necessary for me to use embedded fonts in PDF?

  • Hi, I am planning to buy a Kindle DX, but confused on whether need to buy a protective cover also? Did you buy one? Pls. let me know.

  • Hi,
    I am also interested in Kindle but just worried about the tamil language support. As you said PDF files with embedded fonts can be read in Kindle, is it possible to read the PDF files downloaded from Project Madurai web site. These files use the TASCII encoded fonts embedded in them.

  • @Govind, I guess you are meaning Indic Languages like Hindi, Tamil, Bengali when you say Native Language. Currently no version of Kindle ships any Indic Language fonts (you can’t load it yourself as well) and there is no rendering support as well for them.

    But PDF files with Font-Embedded displays that you can back-load (using USB or Wireless) into your Kindle displays Indic Languages just fine. I have many such files in my KindleDX

    All said I feel Native Support is a matter of time, as the base OS is somekind of Linux and Platform is Java – both support Indic Languages for UNICODE. I guess Amazon hasn’t been asked loudly enough for this as only few publishers in India are present on Kindle – which is due to their conservative business nature and lack of understanding of E-Books.

  • What abutt native language books availability? Pandu has almost sold me the kindle (smaller size), super impressed by free browsing :). I do not care for color anyway. Reading is awesome !. I really wished local lang books are available , this would be great gift for mom.

  • After doing some research about price, screen size and PDF support, I ended up buying the Amazon Kindle DX. And it is great. It really is a good device. It doesn’t do much, but what is does, it does beautifully. Very nice.

  • hi krupa shankar, the difference between a e-book and a netbook boils down to what you want to do & convenience. If you want to browse, send emails, edit documents/spreadsheets, see movies and also read e-books then Netbook or iPad will be better suited for you. But if you want a great reading experience with little strain on your eye (due to Backlit and LCD in Netbooks/iPad) then e-book readers with e-ink will be better suited.

    In general, specialized devices are better than multi purpose devices (compare the Camera in your Mobile to a proper Nikon Digital SLR). Similarly though ebooks can be read in Netbooks, PCs, Mobiles through even their respective Kindle Apps; it feels much better & convenient to do it on Kindle device.

  • I have a doubt since a long time. eBook readers cost more than a laptop. Are they really worth the amount costing about Rs. 25,000?

    I have not used it, but not sure what could be the advantage as compared to, for example, a netbook (in terms of reading).