Amazon Debuts $489 9.7" Kindle DX E-Reader

Just as the rumors insinuated, Amazon has indeed launched a new Kindle. And yes, you're right in remembering that Amazon just launched a new Kindle right around three months ago -- crazy, right? In a very atypical manner, the e-tailer with a flair for making hardware has issued its second e-reader in three months, with the newest version boasting a larger screen, an unbelievably high price tag and little else.

Called the Kindle DX, the device looks and feels almost exactly like the refreshed Kindle 2 from February. The biggest difference (literally) is the panel. Instead of the standard 6" screen, this device includes a 9.7" (diagonal) e-ink display which will supposedly enable newspapers and textbook publishers to get their content into digital form more easily. The other new capabilities are built-in PDF support (finally!), auto-rotation via an integrated accelerometer and storage for up to 3,500 books. If you're keeping count, the Kindle book store now has over 275,000 titles available, which sure beats your local library.

According to Amazon, the DX's screen has 2.5x the surface area of the Kindle's 6" display, and it also features 16 shades of gray for showing more subtle changes in text. Also new with this device are initiatives from both The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post. All three papers will begin a trial this summer to sell the Kindle DX along with a newspaper subscription for a discounted rate, but there's a huge, huge catch: you can't be in an area where home delivery is available. In other words, the newspaper firms are alienating thousands of potential buyers as they force people to continue reading paper articles -- a dreadful idea, if we may opine. After all, what are the chances that someone is out of home-delivery range, yet has access to Sprint's 3G network for downloading new editions of the newspaper? This clearly wasn't thought out very well.

Thankfully, the above situation is just a "trial," and we're hoping that newspaper executives see the light and begin offering their content (along with the subsidized Kindle DX) to anyone who wishes to buy in. After all, how many potential customers are they losing by forcing an actual paper upon them? Give people the choice to go digital!

On an entirely different front, Amazon has also rounded up Arizona State University, Case Western Reserve University, Princeton University, Reed College, and Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, all of which will launch trial programs to make the Kindle DX available to students in the fall. While details aren't yet available, the schools will "distribute hundreds of Kindle DX devices to students spread across a broad range of academic disciplines." Interestingly enough, there was no similarly big announcement made by any major textbook publishers. We guess that "used textbook" market is a bit too lucrative to give up so soon, huh?

The Kindle DX is available for pre-order right now at the very steeping asking price of $489. Some of the newest, most interesting features are detailed below.

New Built-In PDF Reader

Kindle DX features a built-in PDF reader using Adobe Reader Mobile technology for reading professional and personal documents. Like other types of documents on Kindle, customers simply email their PDF format documents to their Kindle email address or move them over using a USB connection. With a larger display and built-in PDF reader, Kindle DX customers can read professional and personal documents with more complex layouts without scrolling, panning, or zooming, and without re-flowing, which destroys the original structure of the document. Everything from annual reports with graphs to flight manuals with maps to musical scores can be viewed on a single, crisp screen with Kindle DX.

New Auto-Rotation

Kindle DX’s display content auto-rotates so users can read in portrait or landscape mode, or flip the device to read with either hand. Simply turn Kindle DX and immediately see full-width landscape views of maps, graphs, tables, images, and Web pages.

New 3.3 GB Memory Holds Up To 3,500 Books

With 3.3 GB of available memory, Kindle DX can hold up to 3,500 books, compared with 1,500 with Kindle. And because Amazon automatically backs up a copy of every Kindle book purchased, customers can wirelessly re-download titles from their library at any time.

Incredibly Thin

Kindle DX is just over a third of an inch thin, which is thinner than most magazines.

3G Wireless, No PC, No Hunting for Wi-Fi Hot Spots

Just like Kindle, Kindle DX customers automatically take advantage of Amazon Whispernet to wirelessly shop the Kindle Store, download or receive new content in less than 60 seconds, and read from their library—all without a PC, Wi-Fi hot spot, or syncing. Amazon still pays for the wireless connectivity on Kindle DX so books can be downloaded in less than 60 seconds—with no monthly fees, data plans, or service contracts.

Syncs With Kindle for iPhone and other Kindle Compatible Devices

Just like Kindle, Kindle DX uses Amazon Whispersync technology to automatically sync content across Kindle, Kindle DX, Kindle for iPhone, and other devices in the future. With Whispersync, customers can easily move from device to device and never lose their place in their reading.

Massive Selection of Books—Plus Newspapers, Magazines, and Blogs

The Kindle Store currently offers more than 275,000 books, including popular books like New York Times Bestsellers, New Releases, and fiction and nonfiction released in the past several years. Dozens of newspapers and magazines are also available for subscription or single-edition purchase. BusinessWeek and The New England Journal of Medicine are available in the Kindle Store starting today, and The Economist will be available soon. Subscriptions are auto-delivered wirelessly to Kindle overnight so that the latest edition is waiting for customers when they wake up. Over 1,500 blogs are available on Kindle and updated and downloaded wirelessly throughout the day.