The Amazon Kindle DX is the latest in the Kindle line of e-book readers - but significantly bigger.

Amazon says its new e-reader will allow college students to easily carry and access textbooks, and says the Amazon Kindle DX is ideal for larger-format periodicals such as newspapers and magazines.

When we tried out the Amazon Kindle DX we found some interesting new features, but it isn't as revolutionary as its promoters might like us to think.

The Amazon Kindle DX is indeed larger than the Kindle 2: the new model measures 246x183x9.65mm. (The Kindle 2 checks in at the same thickness, but is shorter and narrower.) The Amazon Kindle DX has a 9.7in. diagonal screen; the Kindle 2 has a 6in display. And at 0.53kg, it weighs nearly twice as much as the smaller version.

Not only does the Amazon Kindle DX have a larger screen, it also has a slightly better one. The new 824-by-1200 pixel display shows text at 150dpi; the Kindle 2 displays up to 600 pixels by 800 pixels at 167dpi. But without being able to compare the two models side by side, the difference in quality wasn't immediately evident.

The large display makes browsing a bit easier, but otherwise, the Kindle browser has not changed - it is still somewhat awkward to use. (Maybe this explains why you still access the browser by clicking on the category labeled "Experimental".)

Despite the added weight, the Amazon Kindle DX is as comfortable to handle as its smaller predecessor. In fact, we found the keyboard, which is now somewhat larger and allows for more space between the keys, easier to work with; when we use it for a couple of searches, we get nearly the number of typos we did with the Kindle.

There are a few other physical differences. The Amazon Kindle DX's control buttons are all on the right-hand side of the screen. (In the smaller Kindle, the "Prev Page" and a second "Next Page" button are on the left side.)

However, lefties need not despair; the Amazon Kindle DX features a nifty auto-rotate feature, so that by flipping the device upside down, all your buttons are on the lefthand side. But you'll have to cope, of course, with upside down button labels.

The auto-rotate was actually one of the cooler new features of the Amazon Kindle DX, which also enables you to view a document in landscape mode by flipping the device on its side. It works quite nicely, switching modes only a little slower than it takes to move from one page to the next.

Another useful new feature is the ability to read PDF files natively after they're imported via email. The Amazon Kindle DX also offers twice as much storage as the smaller Kindle - 4GB total, of which 3.3GB is available for content. And it now allows you to format documents for wider margins.

There are some things that the new Amazon Kindle DX still does not include. According to an Amazon representative, there are no colour versions on the horizon. And it still doesn't have backlighting, which Bezos presented not as a bug but as a feature. The Amazon Kindle DX, he said, helps people avoid eye strain by not having to deal with the glare of a backlight.

Those of us who read in bed, or students who need to make notes in a darkened lecture hall, may beg to differ.

NEXT PAGE: The Kindle DX in education

The Amazon Kindle DX is the latest in the Kindle line of e-book readers - but significantly bigger.

And since students are a primary market for this product, that could be important. Six US universities - Arizona State University, Pace University, Case Western Reserve University, Princeton University, Reed College and the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia - will be participating in trials this autumn in which they will distribute the Amazon Kindle DX to their students. Details about that program are not immediately available.

Considering the number and cost of textbooks, this seems like a useful development for educational establishments. If Amazon can make those pricey textbooks available to students at a discount, it could make the device worth its price.

An Amazon Kindle DX in one's backpack would be a lot lighter and more convenient than several pounds worth of print.

But the idea of purchasing a dedicated reading device - a rather large one at that - for reading the daily newspaper is another thing altogether. Amazon touted a pilot program under which three US newspapers - the New York Times, the Boston Globe and the Washington Post - will offer Amazon Kindle DX devices at a reduced rate to people outside their usual delivery districts who agree to subscribe for a certain length of time. Again, details about that program were not immediately available.

It's nice to receive your daily newspaper automatically on a handy wireless device - we know at least a couple of people who enjoy reading their daily papers on the smaller Kindle. But the Amazon Kindle DX would have to come at a considerable discount to motivate the public at large to invest in one. And its additional weight and size make it a lot less practical to carry on your daily commute.

NEXT PAGE: our expert verdict

Amazon Kindle DX: Specs

  • Linux-2.6.10 based
  • 3.7V, 1530mAh lithium polymer, BA1001 model
  • Freescale 532 MHz, ARM-11
  • 2GB internal memory (1.4 GB user-accessible)
  • 6in diagonal, 3.6in (W) × 4.8in (H), 600×800 pixels or 0.48 megapixels, 167ppi density, 16-level grayscale
  • Electronic paper
  • USB 2.0 port (micro-B connector), 3.5mm stereo headphone jack, built-in speaker, AC power adapter jack
  • Amazon Whispernet using EVDO CDMA AnyDATA wireless modem
  • 203x135x9.14mm
  • 289g
  • Linux-2.6.10 based
  • 3.7V, 1530mAh lithium polymer, BA1001 model
  • Freescale 532 MHz, ARM-11
  • 2GB internal memory (1.4 GB user-accessible)
  • 6in diagonal, 3.6in (W) × 4.8in (H), 600×800 pixels or 0.48 megapixels, 167ppi density, 16-level grayscale
  • Electronic paper
  • USB 2.0 port (micro-B connector), 3.5mm stereo headphone jack, built-in speaker, AC power adapter jack
  • Amazon Whispernet using EVDO CDMA AnyDATA wireless modem
  • 203x135x9.14mm
  • 289g

OUR VERDICT

The Amazon Kindle DX is not so much a revolutionary new addition to Amazon's product line as it is a perhaps useful niche product for academia. And it's too early to tell whether Amazon will be able to penetrate the market enough with its dedicated e-book reader to make it an everyday item for most people - or whether less specialised products such as the iPhone or even an Apple netbook will predominate.

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