Amazon has announced that it’ll start shiping its jumbo-sized e-reader, the Kindle DX, on June 10th, a week from this Wednesday. On paper (ahem!), it’s not a breakthrough device–it’s pretty much the current Kindle 2, only more of it, with the capability to display PDFs. But the larger screen’s ability to display more words with less reformatting could make for a meainingfully more pleasing reading experience. Look for a review on Technologizer as soon as we can swing it…
Tag Archives | Amazon Kindle
Greetings from LAX, tech lovers…
Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos says that a Kindle e-reader with a color screen won’t show up any time soon:
The Amazon CEO also said a color version of the Kindle was not imminent.
“I know it’s multiple years. I don’t know how many years but it’s years,” he said.
“I’ve seen the color displays in the laboratory and I can assure you they’re not ready for prime time,” Bezos said.
Bezos’s stance sounds like it’s based on the assumption that the Kindle will continue to use a power-miserly E-Ink screen, or at least that Amazon is unwilling to consider the possibility of an LCD Kindle with a battery life measured in hours, not days. I persist in the stubborn notion that we live in a color world, and that the Kindle might have trouble competing with a cool, multipurpose tablet device in a similar form factor from, oh, say, Apple–even if the tablet had a traditional LCD display with traditional uninspiring battery life. I’m also intrigued by alternative display technologies such as that offered by Pixel Qi, which may bridge the gap between the benefits of E-Ink and LCD.
Maybe Bezos is being less than entirely forthcoming–hey, if Amazon is working on color right now, it’s not going to tell us–but if I were him, I’d be formulating plans to have some sort of color Kindle out in months, not years…
Amazon.com, whose first pass at putting Kindle e-books on the iPhone was simultaneously amazing and disappointing, has released a new version of its iPhone app. It’s still not the ultimate iPhone e-reader, but it sh0ws welcome influence from the excellent Stanza (recently bought by Amazon).
Four new features make it worth checking out, and one of them is important enough to turn iPhone Kindle from an app I almost never user to one I’ll use frequently when I have time to kill.
Amazon has unveiled its new, larger Kindle, and it’s pretty much what you’d guess it would be–a device that looks a lot like today’s Kindle 2, with more screen real estate. The Kindle DX has a 9.7-inch screen (that’s twice the space of the 2’s 6 inches), costs $489, and is shipping some time this summer. It’s got the built-in capability to read PDF files, and the larger, 1280-by-824 display means it can show magazine pages without reformatting.
Like an iPhone, the Kindle auto-rotates the display when you flip the device into landscape orientation. And it’s got 3.3GB of available memory, good for storing up to to 3,500 books (the Kindle 2 stores 1,500).
The screen uses the same E-Ink technology as the Kindle 2; Jeff Bezos’s letter repeats Amazon’s mantra that it “looks and reads like real paper,” and says that text and images are “amazingly sharp.” But even though the DX will be able to show photos and other art at a comfortable large size, E-Ink’s sixteen shades of gray will have trouble making anything that was originally in color look “amazing.”
Besides the newspapers and magazines that are already available in Kindle format, a bunch of textbook publishers have signed on to produce tomes for the new Kindle, and several colleges say they’ll distribute Amazon’s new gadget to students. Sounds good to me: I still wince when I remember lugging my backpack full of books, and wince even more when I recall how absurdly expensive many textbooks were.
And here’s something a little weird: If you sign up for a long-term subscription to the New York Times, the Boston Globe, or the Washington Post, you can get a discount off the DX’s somewhat intimidating pricetag–but only people who live in areas where they can’t get home delivery of the dead-tree versions of the papers qualify. Sorry, tech-savvy locals!
The Kindle DX would seem to be a great big Amazonian shot across the bow of Plastic Logic’s similar reader. Plastic Logic announced its device last September, but doesn’t plan to ship it until early 2010, which gave Amazon plenty of time to steal some of its thunder. It too has a big E-Ink screen and PDF capability (as well as support for Microsoft Office and other formats); it uses a touchscreen instead of buttons and a keyboard, and has Wi-Fi instead of the Kindle’s EVDO. It’s still an intriguing device, and I don’t think it’s aiming at precisely the same audience as the Kindle DX–Plastic Logic envisions businesspeople loading up their reader with Word documents and PowerPoints. But it’ll be the second one in its category when it shows up, not the first. I wonder if Amazon would have come up with the DX if it didn’t know that the Plastic Logic device was in the works?
Happy Cinco De Mayo, everybody!
[UPDATE: Amazon’s announcing something on Monday–it’s sent out invites to journalists for a press event in New York.]
The New York Times is reporting that Amazon.com is about to introduce a larger-screen version of its Kindle e-reader, tailored for magazines, newspapers, and, possibly, textbooks. If so, it would be an early entrant in what’s shaping up to be a bustling race of new e-readers that set out to save the magazine and newspaper industries. But my guess is that any Kindle variant that’s imminent isn’t going to be an industry-rescuing breakthrough.
Dozens of magazines and papers are already available on the current Kindle, and while that’s a good thing, the presentation and navigation are disappointing. You don’t get the original color layouts of the printed page or the interactivity of the Web. It’s hard to hop around between stories in anything but sequential fashion, and the Kindle’s sixteen shades of greenish gray can’t compete with the full color of the printed page.
If I had to make a call on which was the superior way to read magazine content–on the Web or in print–I’d need to think it over. But I do know that Kindle magazines, in their current form, lag behind both of those options.
A big-screen kindle that displayed magazine pages in their original layout at something close to full size would be an intriguing device, but without color, it wouldn’t be an exciting one. And there’s no way that even a large Kindle is going to show magazine pages in their traditional layout (although it’s an entertaining idea–maybe the screen could fold in half so you could fit the thing into a briefcase)?
Amazon’s not about to reveal that the E-Ink technology used in the Kindle can now do color, and my guess is that the company is unwilling to release a color-screen Kindle that can’t run for days on a battery charge. So any almost-here big Kindle likely uses the E-Ink screen, and does at least some reformatting of material. If it’s essentially the same Kindle 2 that Amazon sells today except that it crams more words onto the screen, it’ll be a relatively minor edition to the Kindle lineup. (I have a pretty long list of criticisms of the Kindle 2, but the amount of wordage per screen isn’t one of them.)
Maybe Amazon has come up with a way to make moving through issues and stories less of a plodding, front-to-back affair. If so, that would be a more significant step forward than any hardware it’s likely to announce–and I hope it would brings it to us owners of small-screen Kindles, too.
A happy May to you!
Google data barges? Love it!
Amazon.com, whose Kindle for the iPhone is an iffy application with impressive content, has bought Lexcycle, whose Stanza is a much better piece of iPhone software whose content offerings, while diverse, don’t compare with the profusion of big-name best-sellers in the Kindle catalog.
Commenting on the deal at Lexcycle blog, Lexcycle’s honchos say:
We are not planning any changes in the Stanza application or user experience as a result of the acquisition. Customers will still be able to browse, buy, and read ebooks from our many content partners. We look forward to offering future products and services that we hope will resonate with our passionate readers.
I hope that the above does mean that Stanza won’t become a Kindle-only proprietary reader. But I do hope that Stanza adds the ability to access Kindle content, or the Stanza developers redo Kindle for the iPhone–in other words, that Stanza and Kindle get mashed up in a way that preserves the virtues of both. And I assume this will happen in one fashion or another. Why else would Amazon invest in an impressive piece of e-reader software?