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Kindle DX got a failing grade at Reed College

Reed College was one of the colleges and universities selected by Amazon to run a Kindle DX pilot program last fall. They released a report on the program back in February, but I didn’t come across it until just this week. I don’t think anyone else has written about it either.

The Reed College Kindle DX program covered 43 students in 3 upper level classes. Students agreed to fill out online surveys twice during the semester, join in group discussions, and respond to emails during the semester. The results reported by the students aren’t too surprising. There was quite a lot of detail in the 11 page report, and here are some of the highlights:

The Good:

  • the Kindle has a legible screen (when comapred with LCD), even though it wasn’t as sharp as real paper
  • battery life was long
  • the students thought the DX was quite durable
  • over the air distribution
  • single function benefit. Not being able to check their email was a plus because it reduced distractions.

The Bad:

  • PDFs couldn’t use the DX’s annotation features
  • images & color
  • the process of finding compatible content was hit or miss
  • loading PDFs was difficult
  • library functions were disappointing
  • page refresh was slow enough that it hampered the students
  • it was impossible to have multiple texts open at once
  • highlighting and annotation features were diffcult to use

As I’ve said before, I don’t think an E-ink screen can be used for a textbook. I really feel that E-ink is mainly good for relatively straightforward reading like fiction. When your reading requires frequent page turns or having several books open at once, I think you’re better off using an LCD screen.

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