Well, now we know why Amazon’s stock of Kindle 2 e-readers evaporated so quickly. Just hours after I wrote about the devices being out of stock, Amazon announced a new model of its popular e-reader. The device, called simply the Kindle, is available for pre-order now and will ship August 27. While most of us will have to wait a month to get our hands on the new gadget, a few lucky bloggers and technology reporters already got a chance to check it out. So far, they seem to like it…a lot. In fact, in reading many of the reports about the new Kindle, I found it difficult to find anything they didn’t like about it.
PCWorld’s own Melissa J. Perenson says that the new Kindle is a dramatic improvement over its predecessor, with “an enhanced display, faster navigation, and an entirely redesigned chassis.” She lauds its notably smaller and lighter design, calling it “vastly improved.” The Kindle’s enhanced software allows it to “fly through menus.”
The New York Times’ Claire Cain Miller focuses on the new Wi-Fi feature that Amazon has added to this generation of the Kindle, as well as the lower price point. “Unlike previous Kindles, the $139 ‘Kindle Wi-Fi’ will connect to the Internet using only Wi-Fi instead of a cellphone network,” she writes, noting that $139 is the “lowest price yet” for a Kindle.
CNET’s David Carnoy also was impressed with the design of the new Kindle, noting that in the short time he got to play around with the device, he noticed that “the new model is clearly smaller and sleeker and the screen definitely pops a little more…The letters appear a little darker and…slightly sharper.”
But Carnoy also notes that while the price of the new Kindle is lower, it may not be low enough: “While not the $99 device some were hoping for, at $139 the Wi-Fi-only version is pretty affordable. “
USA Today’s Edward C. Baig notes that, with the addition of Wi-Fi, Amazon “hopes to rattle rivals,” such as Barnes & Noble and Sony, by offering an e-reader that’s cheaper (by about $10) with the Wi-Fi functionality their devices already include.
Baig quotes a Forrester Research analyst who was impressed with the new, lower price point. James McQuivey tells USA Today, “Anyone who said ‘I don’t want to get (a Kindle) because they’re too expensive,’ will look at $139, and say, ‘It’s time to become a digital reader.’ “
Hmmm. Wasn’t it Forrester Researcher that recently issued a report saying the price of e-readers will have to drop to between $50 and $99 before more users will be willing to adopt them? Perhaps McQuivey is so delighted with the Kindle’s new features that he’d be willing to pay the extra $40. And from the sounds of these write-ups, he’s not alone.