Bigger Isn’t Better

Here’s the question I’ve been wrestling with regarding Amazon’s new lineup of Kindle eReaders: Can I recommend the Kindle DX, the textbook-screen-size model that costs $379, when the online retailer offers a standard model for $139?

A week before Amazon announced availability of its slimmest Kindle (shipping Aug. 27), it sent the Kindle DX for review. The Kindle DX was recently remade with a better screen featuring excellent contrast. It is basically the same as the new Kindle—except the DX is really big. The Kindle DX weighs 1.2 pounds and has a 9.7-inch screen, like the Apple iPad.

The lowest-priced Kindle weighs a half-pound and has a 6-inch screen. It has two price points: Wi-Fi only for $139 and 3G plus Wi-Fi for $189. It will be a hit thanks to those prices. I love the Kindle, and a combination of a better screen, thinner package, more storage and a great price is irresistible.

I like the Kindle DX, but mostly for its sharp contrast and incredible battery life. Give the Kindle DX a full charge and it will last nearly a month, especially when the wireless connection is off. In the month I’ve wrestled with how to review the DX, I’ve charged it twice: when I unpacked the eReader and three weeks later because I was nervous I’d run out of juice in the middle of a chapter.

Should you buy the bigger Kindle? No. It is too awkward to hold while reading in bed, and it adds considerable heft to a backpack or briefcase. You can’t even argue that the bigger screen is better for aging eyes, as you can easily adjust the point size on the 6-inch Kindle.

Plus, the Kindle DX is only $100 less than an iPad and doesn’t offer the experience of that big, colorful screen. If you want a big screen, buy the iPad and use the free Kindle app for reading.

I expect the Kindle DX will come down in price one day, but only to clear inventory. The Kindle DX has a short shelf life.

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