How the Kindle DX could be worth the price

The Kindle DX will retail for $489 when it's made available this summer. Don Reisinger has some ideas on how Amazon could improve the DX to make it offer more value.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read
Kindle DX
The Kindle DX is too expensive. CNET

Amazon announced the Kindle DX Wednesday, sporting a bigger screen, more storage capacity, a built-in PDF reader, and better battery life (a full look at the new Kindle DX can be found here).

It's an upgrade over the current Kindle 2 for sure. But if you thought the Kindle 2 was expensive with its price tag of $359, you're probably shocked that the Kindle DX will retail for $489 when it's made available this summer.

The Kindle DX is too expensive. For what we're getting, which basically amounts to a larger Kindle 2 with more storage, I'm not impressed. But that doesn't mean it can't eventually be worth that price. With a few additions, I think the DX could eventually provide enough value to justify spending $489 on it.

A touch screen
As a Kindle 2 owner, one of the things I miss is a touch screen. I want to be able to highlight different sections of the book with my finger instead of using the knob. And I especially would like to be able to move the page around with my finger, while zooming in on sections with a "pinch"-like feature. Perhaps the iPhone spoiled me a bit, but I think it's a more intuitive way of using devices like this. It would also make the Kindle feel more like a book instead of a gadget.

A better browser
One of my biggest complaints with the Kindle 2 is its browser. I realize that it's not designed to be a Web-browsing device, but if a browser is included when I open it up, I want it to work well. I've tried on numerous occasions to access different sites on my Kindle. The pages look awful. That's mainly due to the limitations of the Kindle's e-ink technology, but the Kindle DX won't have an improved display capable of handling Web browsing. So, like the Kindle 2, the DX's browser will be useless. Amazon needs to work on that browser.

A few bundled books
Amazon should ship the Kindle DX to consumers with a few free books. They can choose the books to be bundled with their DX at the time of purchase. Amazon can limit the selection to certain titles (books that were published more than a year ago, for example) if it wants, but any way you look at it, letting customers get some free books makes them more willing to spend $489.

The Kindle DX needs color if Amazon wants to charge $489. There's just one catch: that capability is still a long way off.

GigaOm's Om Malik wrote an interesting report recently on the state of color e-books. He found that "a group of researchers at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio came up with a new technology that allows them to re-create the brightness and color capabilities of paper-based media." Those researchers claim they can "mimic the experience of glossy magazines."

Gamma Dynamics, a start-up in the field, is pursuing electrofluidic display technology to bring color to e-books. According to the company's Web site, the "long-term goal of reflective displays is to mimic the appearance of pigment on paper." In controlled tests, the company has been able to add some color to e-paper, but putting it into practice isn't close.

It might seem counterintuitive to suggest that Amazon add color (which won't be available for years) and a touch screen (which is a major technology shift) to a list of features the DX needs so close to its release, but I think it proves an important point: right now, the Kindle DX doesn't offer nearly enough to justify its ridiculous price tag. And chances are, it won't be worth that much until Amazon makes significant improvements to the Kindle.

So, maybe, Amazon needs to reconsider its pricing.

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