My new, 2nd generation Kindle DX arrived today. I’ve had the small Kindle 2 for the past year-or-so, and I also have an iPad, but the new Kindle DX looked like the ideal platform to fill my needs. Being a computer programmer, I tend to have a lot of technical books in electronic format. Neither the Kindle 2 nor the iPad are especially adept at handling PDFs. The Kindle DX is about the same page size as a typical technical book, so I was hoping it would be the dream solution to my reading needs.
Size wise, the Kindle DX is a hair larger than the iPad:
The extra length is going to be a bit annoying for fitting in cases, but the two devices are about the same width. The biggest difference, which is immediately noticeable the first time you pick-up the Kindle DX, is the weight. The Kindle DX doesn’t feel much heavier than its smaller cousin, the Kindle 2, and it makes the iPad feel like a boat anchor by comparison. Here’s the Kindle DX compared to the Kindle 2:
One of the big selling points of the new Kindle DX is the improved screen contrast. While it is not clear in the picture above, the text on the Kindle DX is noticeably darker than on the Kindle 2.
Since I’m really interested in how each of the platforms handles itself as a PDF or book reader, I loaded the same PDFs on each and took some pictures. The images below are from a PDF of the outstanding GroovyMag, a must-read for Groovy and Grails developers.
First, here’s the Kindle 2, showing both the full page and a close-up of the text. Note that I also link to a very-high resolution image so you can drill in and see the difference. Also, none of the photos have been retouched or corrected in any way.
And here’s a close-up of the text on the Kindle 2:
Now here’s the Kindle DX with the same page:
And the close-up of the text on the Kindle DX:
And finally, here is the iPad rendering the same PDF side-by-side with the Kindle DX:
And the close-up of the text on the iPad:
I also have several ebooks in .mobi format for Kindle, and I loaded the same book onto both the Kindle DX and the iPad, using Amazon’s reader for the iPad. Here’s a screenshot of a page side-by-side:
The Kindle DX fits more text on a page, if we compare using the standard font. One big difference is that I can make the fonts even smaller than this on the Kindle DX, whereas I couldn’t make them smaller with the Kindle Reader on the iPad. As my eyes have spent too many years looking at computer displays, I can’t support reading microscopic text, so the default size is perfect.
Here’s where things get interesting and you can really see the benefits of the E-Ink technology. This is a close-up of a paragraph on the iPad:
And here is a close-up of the Kindle DX with the same text:
The differences are startling. There is no contest on text sharpness. The Kindle DX crushes the iPad. While this sharpness won’t make much of a difference checking email, there is literally a world of hurt between the two if you actually use the device to read for prolonged periods of time.
For one final comparison, lets take a look at the New York Times reader/application for both devices. The iPad “NYT Editor’s Choice” application really demonstrates what the iPad is good for. On the Kindle, for $2 a month, you can subscribe to NYT Latest News. There is a bit more content in Editor’s Choice, but there are also ads. Here is a comparison of the front page from today for each application:
Although it only has limited gray-scale abilities, the Kindle DX actually does really well with images, probably due to its ungodly resolution.
One thing I don’t like about the iPad when reading in bed is the metal edge. This bottom edge is not as rounded as it looks, and tends to dig in to my tummy. Here’s the edge on the iPad:
The Kindle DX has a slightly more curved, plastic edge on the bottom which makes it more comfortable for propping up when using a body part as a rest:
The new Kindle DX is a phenomenal device. It handled PDFs easily, much better than the iPad. The Kindle DX can be plugged in to a USB port and mounts as a drive. You can drap-and-drop PDFs or eBooks into the document and the Kindle DX will read them. Getting PDFs on to an iPad is a major nuisance. The Kindle DX is also faster rendering the PDFs. The iPad will sometimes loose itself and you’ll get a bunch of blank pages while it is trying to sort out the layout. I’ve also had the iPad PDF viewer crash on several PDFs.
For books, there is no contest. The Kindle DX has razor-sharp text and its light weight makes it disappear while reading. With the iPad, be assured you will never forget you are holding it.
Now I know it is not fair to compare these devices, as they really are like apples and oranges. The iPad is about Distraction. If you want a device to check email, surf the web, hit Twitter and Facebook, play games and watch videos, the iPad is really the only game in tablet-town that can do it all.
The Kindle DX, on the other hand, is about Concentration. If you want a device to read books or other text, the Kindle DX is a light-year beyond the iPad in handling that task. It really is an electronic book. It is sort of like comparing a swiss army knife to good survival knife. If you need to open a can, file the nails, uncork a bottle of wine and maybe cut open something, the swiss army knife is your tool. But if your in the woods trying to build a shelter, start a fire and cut wood, the survival knife is hands-down the tool to have.
If you’re in the market for a book reader, and not an entertainment platform, the Kindle DX is the king of the hill.