When Amazon (AMZN) dropped the price of its Kindle e-reader to $189, starting an under-$200 price war with its competitor Barnes & Noble (BKS) and their Nook, many puzzled over the huge price differential between the 6-inch Kindle and the nearly 10-inch Kindle DX, which was still retailing at $489.

Now the largest online retailer has answered such speculation in a significant way. Today the company announced a new version of the Kindle DX now priced at $379. Amazon touts the new model's graphite enclosure and an e-Ink display with 50% better contrast and darker fonts. It's available for pre-order now and is expected to start shipping on July 7.

The $379 price also separates the Kindle DX more significantly from the iPad (AAPL), the 3-million-plus selling tablet device that is priced at $499. But it isn't enough to tempt more buyers to try a device that hasn't really improved much beyond the original version, and whose primary market -- higher education and the newspaper and magazine business -- has resoundingly ignored or rejected it? Amazon had to do something with its larger-sized model, but this feels much more like a token announcement for a device that looks like it will be left in the dust.

What should attract more consumers is the 6-inch Kindle on sale at Woot.com for just $149.99. (Update: Woot sold out of its entire stock of 5,000 Kindles at 9:20 EDT.) As Endgadget points out, this price drop is no doubt helped by the fact that Amazon just bought the deal-a-day company.


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