Owning a Sony PRS-505, I took the time to review the original Amazon Kindle, and paid close attention to the release of the DX. Personally, I was dismayed by two features of the Kindle, and I was disheartened by the fact that the larger model didn’t move to correct these problems.
Perhaps the main theme of Mr. Somogyi’s critique was the price of the new Kindle DX (close to $500!). The Sony PRS-505 sells for under $270, which at the time was $100 less than the same sized Kindle original. This was a material amount, IMO, as the Kindle’s screen was identical in every way (same manufacturer) to the Sony. The Kindle original lacked native Adobe Acrobat PDF support as well, and after having collected literally thousands of documents and ebooks in PDF format, I went for the Sony.
I should point out that the Amazon Kindle business model literally hard-wires a revenue stream to the Amazon book business. The Kindle has a built in facility for buying books through Amazon. While, as a customer, I think Amazon is a good company, I often buy things at Amazon, I think there’s something fishy about making the Kindle a Amazon store buying tool, and then making you pay a premium for it.
I saw one report which took apart the Kindle (original) and estimated the manufacturing costs to be about $185. Isn’t it enough to sell it at cost and then enjoy the future revenue of the book sales? Apparently not. I should point out that, in general, electronics enjoys a very small markup, but the Kindle original was about DOUBLE the cost. That would be a good profit if it had open support for any kind of eBook store and all kinds of eBooks.
In releasing the larger Kindle DX, there were hopes that it would be the same price of the original Kindle, indeed, the smaller one would actually be preferred to the larger by some. But Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, however, has gone the “Apple” route of keeping the price high and the Kindle, while now supporting PDF’s, is more expensive than ever.
BUT THE BIG PROBLEM IS THE SCREEN CONTRAST
While Dealnews’ Jeff Somogyi’s main criticism of the Kindle is the price, and he has some pretty good points, my general eBook reader criticism is the contrast of the screen. It’s NOT like reading a book or even a magazine. It’s more like reading dirty news print. The text is black enough, but the “paper” is a medium GRAY, not WHITE. It’s nice you can read this in full daylight. The PROBLEM, however, is that it’s not so nice to read it without full daylight.
Until they can get the contrast ratio of these displays higher than the 7:1 than they have now, I honestly can’t recommend these things at any price for most people. If you really want one, however, and you’ve got your iPhone, then maybe it’s a buy.