(Head Honcho)
07/07/10 10:08 PM
First look review: Amazon Kindle DX Graphite eBook Reader

Update our full written review with video review of the Kindle DX Graphite is here: .

Our Amazon Kindle DX Graphite, aka KDXG, has arrived and we're busy putting it under the macro lens. Amazon claims the new 9.7" Kindle has 50 percent higher contrast, and we're inclined to agree. If e-ink didn't look eerily enough like paper, it's one step closer now. On the Kindle Graphite, the increased contrast is more noticeable in the blacks: it has blacker blacks. The gray background isn't significantly lighter than other traditional e-ink readers like the nook, Sony Reader Pocket Edition PRS-300, the Kindle 2 or IREX DR800SG.

Notice here how inky black Virginia Woolf's hair looks. If you've got a Kindle DX or Kindle 2, you're familiar with Ms. Woolf as a screensaver and you know her hair never looked so richly black. The black background behind the "Slide and release..." text at the bottom is also darker.

How about text? The written word is also much darker, and you get the feel of a semi-slab font with a standard weight font. In our 100% macro crop of the nook and Kindle DX Graphite, you can see the difference, though the nook actually is using a semi-slab font (Amasis medium). We took a photo with the ebook readers side-by-side, then cropped out the middle to ensure that the exposure and setting were identical.

Note: Macro shots use strong magnification; think of it as putting the display under a microscope. This means you'll see a level of detail here that you won't see with the naked eye-- text no longer looks perfect under magnification. That doesn't mean it won't look sharp when viewed with your own two eyes for reading.

Using the macro 100% crop we could see that the e-ink display on the IREX DR800SG and to a much lesser extent, the nook, had what looks like ink bleed (you know, in traditional print where the ink bleeds and spreads into the paper creating less crisp edges. There is less bleed at all on the Kindle DX Graphite. After a few years of e-ink display technology stagnation, it's wonderful to see such useful real world improvement.

Above: a macro shot of the nook (left) and KDXG.
Below: a macro shot of the IREX DR800SG (left) and KDXG.

While the KDXG is easily more readable, especially in low light than the last gen Kindle DX and other e-ink readers, we still aren't at the printed book level that Amazon mentions. Yes, there's very good contrast and deep blacks but the background is still light gray. If you already own a Kindle DX, it's probably not worth the upgrade, unless perhaps like me, you read in cave-like rooms. But if you're looking for your first large screen e-ink reader, the KDXG is looking like a fine choice at Amazon's new $379 price. It's available now from Amazon.

We'll be posting a video review tomorrow and a full written review in the coming days. In the meanwhile, please feel free to post questions.


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