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Amazon Kindle flunked by college students

Text books aren't book books

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Amazon's Kindle DX is flunking out of college.

According to a report by The Seattle Times, the $489, 18.9 ounce (0.54kg) Kindle DX, with its 9.7-inch monchrome e-ink display, is getting bad grades from college students.

Amazon distributed Kindle DXs to students at a number of US colleges, then solicited their feedback. What they discovered was that students don't read textbooks, they use textbooks. And a traditional hard-copy textbook is more usable — it's easier and more intuitive to thumb through, search, and scribble on than an ebook.

One interesting stat from the survey puts the results in clear perspective: 80 per cent of MBA students at the University of Viginia said they wouldn't recommend the Kindle DX as a study aid — but 90 per cent enjoyed using it to read for pleasure.

In other words, students found the Amazonian e-reader to be great for linear reading, but lousy for back-and-forth, search-and-find, "where was that bit?" studying and reference.

Other students, according to the Seattle Times, liked the Kindle DX's long battery life and portability, along with the fact that putting a book on it doesn't require the death of a tree. However, they weren't jazzed by the inability to scribble notes onto it or easily highlight snippets, nor did they appreciate the lack of color in an ebook's charts and graphics.

If Amazon's Kindle DX experiment is any guide, Apple's iPad should fare no better with students. It adds color to the ebook mix, but it's marginally heavier than the Kindle DX, doesn't allow notation, and although its 10-hour battery life is decent, it's far less than that of the Kindle DX — and frisky college students have been known to be away from their recharger-equipped dorm rooms for multiple successive nights. ®

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