Amazon Kindle DX & E Ink Pearl

Amazon’s new Kindle DX has a new color and a lower price (press release). The 9.7-inch ebook reader came only in white with a price of $489. Now you can get the Kindle DX in white or graphite (black, I’m assuming) with a much lower price of $379. The 9.7-inch E Ink display is different too. It uses the E Ink Pearl Imaging Film. According to E Ink:

This display technology offers the world’s most paper-like reading experience with an improved contrast ratio by up to 50%, the industry’s best white state, and the lowest power consumption as expected with an E Ink display.  E Ink Pearl delivers enhanced readability.

Here are the specs on the 9.7-inch E Ink Pearl electronic paper display (EPD):

  • White State Reflectivity: 40%
  • Contrast Ratio: 10: 1 (Minimum)
  • Viewing Angle: Near 180°
  • Grayscale Capability: 4-bit (16 gray levels)
  • Typical Image Update Time: <1s (grayscale mode), 250ms (1-bit mode)
  • Pixel Count: 1200 x 825 (SVGA)
  • DPI: 150

I’m sure Apple’s iPad has something to do with so much recent activity by Amazon. I would too if the competition just sold three million units in less than three months (read Apple Sold Three Million iPads In 80 Days). Both the iPad and the Kindle DX sport a display with exactly 9.7 inches. With the new Kindle DX, Amazon has now trumped Apple: the Kindle DX comes in black and white. Ooh. On a more serious note the PPI at 150 is higher than the iPad’s almost 132 PPI. Not significantly higher, but still, higher. Viewing angles are equally matched, so I would give the E Ink an edge since contrast drop off is almost non-existent. The minimum contrast ratio of 10:1 has been improved quite a bit from just 6:1, but is still considerably lower than the contrast ratio on the iPad, which I think is about the same as that of the iPhone 4 at 800:1. I could be way off, but I’m sure it’s much more than the Kindle DX’s 10:1. Then of course you get 16 gray levels on the E Ink display while the IPS LCD in the iPad provides a palette of 16.8 million colors with 8-bit RGB sub-pixels.

If you are deciding between the Kindle DX and the iPad, see if this will help. If all you want to do is read books, for many hours at a time, and not worry about the battery clonking out on you… and most of the books you read are composed mostly of text then I would without reservation recommend the Kindle DX. It also helps that Amazon’s Kindle Store has significantly more ebooks than Apple’s iBookstore, for now.

I also appreciate the Kindle’s singular focus on the reading experience, though several feature additions seem to point to the Kindle team’s loosening of that focus. To name just a couple: social network integration and advertising supported books.

For bookworms the Kindle is king. Look at the impossibly simple always-on connection to the Kindle Store. Browse a book, like the book, buy the book, download the book, start reading the book. In less than 60 seconds. You don’t have to worry about the connection, and you don’t have to pay for it either. You can’t quite do that on the iPad. You’ll need a data connection that will cost you at least $14.99 per month. Yes, you can connect via WiFi but you’ll need to find a WiFi connection. Try doing that at an airport that doesn’t have the nation-wide WiFi service you’re a part of. The 3G connection on the Kindle DX is global so you could be anywhere and still get the book you want. I don’t think you can do that with the iPad. Compared to the Kindle experience the iPad either costs too much or is cumbersome. If reading is your thing, the Kindle is without peer. Pre-order the Kindle DX at Amazon.com. It ships on July 7th.