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The kindle DX

For generations students have complained about carrying around piles of enormous textbooks. The weighty books have become so much of a problem that more and more college kids are booking appointments with chiropractors because of an increase in student back problems (even as young as 19 or 20 years old) caused by carrying around loads of traditional textbooks.

But if has its way, the company’s new Kindle DX e-reader will replace those stacks of antiquated textbooks with a sleek, light weight digital “pad” capable of downloading and displaying thousands of electronic books at a time.

The new Kindle DX is larger than the original Kindle– and more expensive — but is otherwise practically identical to its forerunner. The larger screen is designed for periodicals (what used to be called “newspapers” back in the olden days), and textbooks. Amazon claims that the Kindle DX will be ideal for students, and will make college life a whole lot simpler, not to mention easier on the back.

But will college students embrace the Kindle? That is the $100 million question as far as Amazon is concerned.

Recently, e-books and e-textbooks have begun to be taken seriously on college campuses throughout the United States and Europe. While the idea of the e-book has been around for years now, it is only recently that they have become popular with students. And since students are carrying around their laptop computers anyway, why not keep all of their textbooks in digital format on their hard drive, and simply print out material on an “as needed” basis?

E-textbooks are already far less expensive than traditional tomes; usually available online for instant download at about 50% the cost of a paper textbook. And when you consider that the Kindle DX retails at nearly $500, cash strapped students could easily decide to forgo the extra piece of hardware and simply use their laptop as an e-book reader.

So while the idea of the Kindle DX is certainly a noble one, in practical use, it seems unlikely that students will be keen to fork over the extra money just to carry around another piece of digital hardware. Between laptops, smartphones and other school accessories, most students already have more than enough digital gear to keep up with; so the Kindle would have to offer some serious advantages in order to stand a chance on the college campus.

And therein lies the main problem with the Kindle DX: it’s a one trick pony. Laptop computers are capable of an endless variety of functions. You can read an e-book, store your music and video collection, surf the Web, download movies, play video games, or use word processing software.

Likewise, the humble cell phone has become a jack of all trades, featuring robust media players, cameras, GPS navigation and a plethora of other handy features. So where does that leave the Kindle? Basically, it’s just for reading books. It does one thing, and it does it pretty well; but will that be enough to convince college students it’s a must-have? Or to convince their parents to hand over $500 to purchase one?

Contributed by: Our Special Correspondent
City: San Francisco 
Country: USA
Date: March 15, 2010