After months of speculation, Amazon.com on Monday introduced a new version of its popular e-book reader, the Kindle. The Kindle 2 sports a dramatic redesign and will begin shipping on February 24th for $359.
Like its predecessor, the Kindle 2 is designed to enable people to read books, newspapers, magazines and blogs by downloading them through a 3G wireless network. It sports an "electronic paper" display that simulates real paper; Amazon claims that it doesn't cause eyestrain like a backlit LCD can generate. Amazon.com currently touts more than 230,000 books, along with newspapers, magazines and blogs which can be read using the Kindle devices.
The original Kindle was bulky and angular. The Kindle 2 has been completely redesigned; it features new buttons, a new five-way controller and a redesigned power charger. The device's interface lets you search for text, write note sand annotations, and highlight text that interests you.
Inside, the Kindle 2 features 2GB of memory storage -- more than seven times the storage capacity of the original, capable of holding more than 1,500 books. E-books purchased through Amazon.com are automatically backed up, so Kindle users can re-download titles in their library at any time.
The new Kindle 2 touts 25 percent longer battery life than its predecessor, and can operate for about two weeks on a typical charge (with wireless networking turned off), according to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who publicly unveiled the device at a press conference earlier today. The charge lasts for approximately four to five days on a charge with its 3G networking on.
A new text-to-speech feature lets the device read to you -- any text visible on the Kindle can be read, and you can adjust the speed of the playback and gender of the voice -- your page location is saved if you're listening to the content, so you can return to it and read or have it read to you later. The Kindle 2 also comes with the New Oxford American Dictionary built-in.
The Kindle 2 measures 0.36 inches deep -- thinner, in fact, than an iPhone (which measures about 0.48 inches deep), and weighs 10.2 ounces. The display is 800 x 600 pixels, and can show 16 shades of gray (versus 4 on the original Kindle). Pages "turn" an average of 20 percent faster on the Kindle 2, according to Amazon. You can choose from six different text sizes.
Bezos also touted "Whispersync," a new synchronization technology Amazon is introducing with the Kindle 2. Whispersync automatically syncs with the original Kindle and Kindle 2, along with future as-yet unannounced devices.
This story, "Kindle 2 E-book Reader Is Thinner Than IPhone" was originally published by Macworld.