After Hours

Amazon Kindle DX (Graphite) Teardown

Cracking Open the Amazon Kindle DX (Graphite)

In 2010, Amazon released an updated Kindle DX reading device. Hoping to keep the device relevant in a post-iPad world, Amazon dropped the Kindle DX's price to $379 (US), added an improved display, and included a few software enhancements.

Follow along as Bill Detwiler cracks open the Kindle DX (Graphite).

Checkout Bill's teardown gallery of the original Amazon Kindle and see how far the electronic reader has come.

Photo credit: Bill Detwiler / TechRepublic

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

26 comments
nwallette
nwallette

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

g00krus
g00krus

I wish for arrows with descriptions when viewing a wider shot of several components. Also, tell us that the little L-shaped thingies are button springs, which are easily lost. I'll refer you to www.ifixit.com who do a bang up job of detailing the disassembly and repair of Apple products.

Mandolinface
Mandolinface

As with other Tech Republic photo spreads, I bailed after the first few because each 'next photo' click redraws the whole page, which on my notebook computer means I have to scroll down every time to see the image. Check out the BBC's "Today in Pictures" for an example of an elegant solution. http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8815000/8815038.stm

nkokle
nkokle

Hearfelt thanks for the article, satisfies my 'under the hoods curiosity' couldnt have done on my own Thanks again

azoth23
azoth23

Not all that impressed with the new one. It is rather perplexing that the Kindle apps show color but the Kindle device does not. Why can't Amazon put colour in the Kindle since it seems to be a software concern and not hardware as their customer reps point out to me.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler moderator

As the Apple iPad and other tablet devices take center stage in the mobile computing marketplace, are dedicated reading devices, like the Kindle DX, doomed to extinction?

Willie11
Willie11

Thanks for the I Fix It link. I hadn't heard of them before. Looks like they have some really good information.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler moderator

Stay tuned. Our engineers built a new image player, which will be deployed on TR in the not too distant future.

DNSB
DNSB

Current eInk displays are black and white. There is some work on color displays but that last I heard was they were along the lines of newsprint color levels and not even close to LCD displays. Perhaps still a couple of years off. If you wanted a reader with the traditional backlit LCD screen, the battery life is going to drop like the proverbial paralyzed falcon or the weight/size is going to climb to allow fitting a larger battery.

mckinnej
mckinnej

I doubt the information you've been given. I can't imagine a company would install expensive color displays and not use them. If what I suspect is true, then it also shows why they don't have color. The addition of color displays usually comes with a significant power requirement, so battery life would take a big hit. Not a good trade off in a device like this. Maybe someone with direct experience with this display and its capabilities could answer this question.

robc
robc

The only reason E-readers are still relevant is because the Ipad (for example) is a piece of junk. No Usb No ability to add more memory No ability to change the battery yourself. Until "Pad" devices overcome these simple design flaws E-readers will always be relevant. I would say that the Kindle as well has the same memory and battery design flaws as the Ipad. Making the Nook the clear leader... if only they had a larger screen version.

BrizzoRay
BrizzoRay

There are big opportunities for a low-cost tablet display that will display PDF files and replace paper on the music stands of orchestras and bands. Existing devices are too costly to succeed in the market.

isa
isa

I have an iPad and a Sony Reader Touch Edition (PRS-600). My wife uses my iPad frequently and also has a Kobo that she purchased after I already had the iPad. Both of us like the iPad for many things. It's great for watching videos and browsing the non-Flash web. Comics and graphic novels look fantastic on it, and it's pretty decent for reading textbooks or product manuals that are illustration-heavy and text-light. There are a few really killer apps that make the iPad for me, and while they're specific to my needs, the same is probably true (for a separate set of apps) for almost anybody who uses an iPad frequently. All of that said, one of the first things that I did when I got the iPad was test to see if I liked reading on it, with the thought that if I did, I might give my Sony Reader to my wife and just have the one device. Much to my surprise, I discovered that reading on the iPad is a horrible experience for anybody very familiar with a dedicated reader device. The downsides are obvious, even if you don't have lots of eReader experience: The iPad is much heavier, much larger and bulkier, the lack of controls near the edge of the device make page turning relatively tedious, the screen (beautiful for video and colour graphics) is much less appealing for reading novels and other longform text on than the ePaper displays, the battery life is absolutely horrible relative to the battery life of the dedicated Readers. What's surprising is how absolutely gigantic a difference that collection of seemingly small downsides has on the reading experience. The iPad is, in fact, larger, heavier, more cumbersome and less ergonomic than even reading a *paper* book. In that sense it's a step backward rather than forward. For reading text-based books such as novels I would say that dedicated ePaper reading devices are superior to reading on paper, and reading on paper is superior to reading on the iPad. In fact, I couldn't even finish the test book that I'd bought. I really tried to get through it, to see if it was just that I needed to adjust, but it never got better. Thankfully, I'd bought through Kobo, whose cross-platform support allowed me to load the book on my Sony Reader to finish it there in comfort. Now when I travel, I take the iPad and the Sony Reader with me. Collectively they're about the thickness of a thick laptop and they're much lighter, plus being two separate objects, one of which is quite small, they're easier to pack, so I've still moved forward from the old days. And they're significantly easier to travel with than a stack of books. I don't see myself dropping the Sony Reader in favour of the iPad anytime soon. In fact, I don't see it happening ever -- the device would have to change radically before I'd consider it, and in some cases those changes would be at odds with the advantages of the iPad for other uses (for example, making it a lot smaller would make it less appealing for video or applications use).

dms_smith
dms_smith

in addition to the other posts, the kindle dx does not require technical assitance, weekly virus updates, monthly fees, semi-annual software updates....I don't want a computer, just a reader. and when your company network crashes, the dx can provide me my wall street journal to read why the tech boys stand around smoking cigs

dean.politis
dean.politis

For the time being, eReaders like the Kindle are still relevant. While the iPad is a cool device, it is kind of a jack of all trades and master of none device. As an eReader, it is not as good as the Kindle, Nook, et al. Although black and white, e-Ink is amazingly crisp and easier on the eyes. It also has great battery life. For casual readers, the iPad will probably be good enough; but for avid readers, it is not. I do believe future tablet devices based off of Pixel Qi, Mirasol, or other upcoming technologies are more of a threat to dedicated eReaders. These offer all the advantages of e-Ink, but with color and iPad-like functionality. Of all eReaders, perhaps the Nook has the best chance to weather the tablet storm since it is based off of Android and future versions could easily transform into a tablet device. What would be interesting is if you could install the Android Kindle reader on it?

richard.b.fowler
richard.b.fowler

The Kindle and Nook still come with free built-in 3G access, while the iPad has a subscription fee. eReaders are lighter and less expensive, and instead of taking the place of my laptop/smartphone/PDA they take the place of my paperback collection and tech paper printouts. Now, if only the airlines would let me read during takeoff and landing...

azoth23
azoth23

Thanks I dindn't know that. If that is the case, I guess black and white is the way to go.

azoth23
azoth23

My kindle applet for the iPhone displays color text. But if what you say is true, adding a colour monitor would jack up the price of the the Kindle considerably probably pushing it out of most peoples price range. I stated the Kindle apps use color display whereas the Kindle hardware reader does not. Since the Kindle apps display color, then color is a software isssue ,right ?

Tik-Tok
Tik-Tok

I downloaded a trial version of music display software that supposedly works on the iPad (I don't have one, so I tested it on my iMac). It was horribly slow, and the conversion of scanned music was fraught with inaccuracies. But when somebody develops a solution that addresses these issues and adds a wireless foot pedal for page turning, I'm in with both feet.

azoth23
azoth23

interesting remark. The type of books I want to read on an e-reader are on math, general system theory and tech books like Architechture of System Problem Solving by Klir.

zoobadger
zoobadger

I use Kindle on my laptop, my Droid, and I have a Kindle DX. I love the DX, but I'd still be using Kindle software even if I had an iPad. It's easy to browse and buy books, the reader works pretty well on any device (although best on the actual Kindle) and all your books are available and synced to the last page read. So even if the DX tanks in the market, which would be a pity because it's really a great device, Kindle and other e-reading platforms are surely here to stay.

tbrown
tbrown

The battery life of a device that doesn't rely on an LCD display...

azoth23
azoth23

I see, so you need a backlit display that display colour in order for any Kindle app to display color. Fine. I guess I can live with b&w, though color would be nice for graphics.

GSG
GSG moderator

Yes, your applet for the iphone displays color, but you have a backlit display that's made to display color. The Kindle and Nook have the E-ink displays that are not backlit and not meant to display color. Your reasoning is like throwing a fit because your black and white TV (for those of us who remember them) won't show color because the show is broadcast in color. If you are an avid reader, the last thing you want is color and the associated back lit screen and the glare that comes with it.

jacob3273
jacob3273

I'm also a musician. When on stage, I play and sing from memory, but we do so many tunes in the church band that we each need a huge notebook to work from. So I've scanned everything into a Word document to convert to PDF as soon as I find an e-reader that can do the job.