Customer Review

198 of 208 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rushed implementation mars a nice reader, June 17, 2009
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This review is from: Kindle DX Wireless Reading Device (9.7" Display, U.S. Wireless) (Electronics)
I am generally happy with my Kindle DX, but I also believe they rushed the product to market before it was really ready. The large screen and ability to read PDFs are absolutely wonderful. In this regard it is definately better than its predecessors, and if I could only buy one device it would be the Kindle DX -- especially when you consider access to all the content (and price of content) provided by the Kindle Store.

However, I only gave the Kindle DX 3 stars because it also has some major flaws for which Amazon really has no excuse, and most of these flaws are software related. Amazon either rushed the reader out the door to preempt other manufacturers, or they are purposely crippling the PDF support so that it doesn't cut into their own proprietary formats.

Issues that I hope Amazon will recitify with a software/firmware upgrade include the following:

1. PDF support is not fully integrated/implemented
The Kindle DX finally adds PDF support and this is wonderful. Unfortunately the PDF support is not fully integrated into the Kindle DX. You can't search for text, annotate, add notes, use the dictionary, consistantly go to specific PDF page numbers (works flaky), or use hyperlinks (such as a TOC) within the PDF. This greatly reduces the usefulness of viewing PDFs on the Kindle. The metadata for PDFs is also not supported very well, so that titles and authors are not displaying properly. Students that need to use an ereader for PDF based documents may find that these issues make the Kindle DX unusable for this task.

It is also my understanding that Amazon has licensed the Adobe Reader Mobile 9 SDK. This standard supports Adobe Content Server 4, which allows PDFs with DRM to be viewed, but this was not implemented by Amazon. The ePub standard within the Adobe Reader Mobile technology is also not implemented, nor is the reflowable PDF standard implemented. Full PDF support would be greatly appreciated.

Lastly, other devices support a ZOOM feature that allows you to zoom in on a PDF. The landscape view of the Kindle DX is rather nice, but having full zoom capabilities like other devices would be outstanding. This is especially desired for images like maps or that otherwise contain fine detail.

2. Folders and/or Tags and/or Readlists are still not implemented
This has been a problem since the release of the Kindle 1. Once a Kindle user has acquired a couple hundred books he quickly learns that the Kindle does an awful job of managing those books. The Kindle only allows sorting by a small number of fields -- Author, Title, and Most Recent -- and navigating to a book you would like to read is done by paging through these sorted lists. Kindle users have been begging for a better system. Please listen to us!!!

There are several options available. A folder system that is managed through the USB cable that works like every the folder systems on a PC or any other computer than people have become familiar with over last couple decades. This type of system is simple to manage as dragging and dropping files is very easy. The user should then have the option of displaying a single directory or multiple directories by selecting a parent directory.

Another option is Tags. This system would allow users to add and remove tags to their files. For example, they could add the tag "mystery" to items that fall into the mystery genre, and add "read" to items they have already read. Then they could list items that contain the tags "read" and "mystery" and only items matching those tags would be displayed.

Another option is a Readlist, which would be similar to a Playlist for an iPod or iPhone. The user can create their own lists and add books to those lists. Then they could select a Readlist and the Kindle would only display books that are part of the selected list.

The best of all possible worlds would incorporate all three of the above suggestions. Furthermore, it is even more important to support some type of file management now that the Kindle supports PDFs. Imagine a physician's office that wanted to store and view patient charts on a Kindle, but was prevented from doing so because of a lack of file management/navigation.

3. No way to turn off sleep mode
I really like the "screensaver" images that are displayed when the Kindle goes into sleep mode, but sometimes this is not desirable. For example, if you are using the Kindle to display a textbook you may have it on a page that contains problems you must solve, and if it takes you longer than 10 minutes the Kindle goes into sleep mode. It would be rather annoying to have to wake it up to do each problem.

Other examples include using the Kindle for presentations, cookbooks, art books, sheets of music, and any other situation where having a page displayed for more than 10 minutes is required. Either having the ability to turn off "screensavers" or having the ability to set the interval before the Kindle goes into sleep mode, including an interval of zero (i.e. never), would be desirable.

4. Can't display our own pictures/screensaver images
The Kindle 1 allowed users to display their own pictures when the Kindle went into sleep mode. This was a really nice feature that allowed people to display pictures of family members or pictures of their own interests. It would be nice to allow users to perform this function once again. I can't think of why Amazon would want to prevent people from doing this.

5. No ePub support
The ePub standard is far and away superior to Amazon's mobi file format. It is based on the same XML and CSS standards that drive the Internet. This allows far more control over layouts and better designed books than are currently possible on the Kindle. For example, many printed books currently use dropcaps or have text flow around an image (like the illustrations in Alice in Wonderland) but these tasks are not possible on the Kindle because of limitations in the AZW (or mobi) file format used by Amazon. Furthermore, the ePub standard is not only superior, but it is also an open standard that isn't tied in to any manufacturer. Supporting ePub is higher on many people's list than even supporting PDF.

There are two non-software related items that I'd also like to mention --

1. Please add the buttons back on the left side of the page
Yes, you can orient the page with the keyboard on the top, but this solution isn't perfect. I read in bed quite often, and this necessitates turning the auto rotation off. Then I switch hands every few pages or so as my hand gets tired. This makes reading while lying down very difficult. Even reading while sitting, with auto rotation enabled, is not entirely enjoyable as I have to flip the Kindle around and wait for it to reorient itself every time I switch hands. This may not sound like a big deal, but its really annoying and buttons on the left would definitely be worth the extra expense. Furthermore, I'm not left handed, but if I was I don't think I'd be happy either.

2. Add an SD Card
The Kindle DX (and Kindle 2) doesn't support an SD Card. The Kindle DX comes with 4 Gig and 3.3 Gig is available to the user, and this may sound like a huge amount of storage but it really isn't. I loaded the Gadshill Edition of Charles Dickens work onto my Kindle DX and half my storage space was gone. This edition of Dickens' work contains all of the original illustrations and is quite nice but these PDFs take up 1.5 Gig of space. If I added a few more PDF works of classic literature than contain illustrations then I'd completely fill the available space. The same applies to files such as audio books or if I wanted to use my Kindle to store my music. One of the benefits of the Kindle is having the ability to hold an entire library in your hand. Not supporting SD Cards is a huge limitation.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 18, 2009 10:02:14 AM PDT
You CAN search, but it has to be a searchable PDF. If you can search a PDF in Acrobat, you can search it on the Kindle and vice versa. But not all PDF's are searchable. A page that just got scanned wouldn't be searchable on either, it'd have to be OCRd first (optical character recognition.) But most PDF's you generate by printing to PDF, however, will work.

I've searched many PDFs.

Posted on Jun 27, 2009 8:27:28 PM PDT
I consider it extremely misleading for Amazon to claim you can put thousands of books on this device when marketing to students. Science textbooks in PDF form are typically in the hundreds of MB range. The inability to at least annotate at the page level is also painful when reading journal articles, requiring my to carry a notepad and pen at all times. I am considering returning the DX and waiting on other vendors. I understand the concept of trying to force users to buy Amazon books by not supporting the DRM of competitors, but they need to improve their support of PDFs so that I can properly view the documents they do not offer that they advertise support for, such as journal articles (and free government reports that are typically in non-DRM PDF).

I do not want buttons on the other side if that would mean making the device larger.

Posted on Jan 12, 2010 2:02:56 PM PST
Shantimar says:
Thank you so much for your detailed review. It pointed out things others haven't , and in such a comprehensive clear way!
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