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FEB 09

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Amazon's Paperless Book, Kindle 2 is Actually Kinda Pretty

The Amazon Kindle contained pretty much the killer ap of e-book readers: an onboard EV-DO card lets you buy books from Amazon where ever you are, so you never have to go to the bookstore again.

Though, you probably will anyway, since bookstores are so wonderful.

But the Kindle left something to be desired. My Sony Reader is a sleek and beautiful thing with a leather cover and brushed aluminum case. The Kindle, on the other hand, was a geometric nightmare that looked like it was cut out of styrofoam by a futurist in the 1980's.

It might have been the more useful of the devices, and because of that, it sold better. But it was not something I'd be 100% pleased to show off to my friends. The Kindle 2 is starting to change that.

The Kindle 2 is thinner...much thinner, about the width of a pencil. And it's beefier too, with seven times the storage capacity. Not that storage is all that important when you're dealing with books. The old Kindle could already hold 200 books. Battery life has also been increased by 25%, allowing for two weeks of reading before a recharge is needed.

The design, as you can see in the gallery below, is much more simplistic. And I like the dual-side page turn buttons, a surprisingly important feature on these devices. But I'm still a little underwhelmed by the design. The screen is small while the device is large. It makes it easy to hold onto, yes, but it also looks clunky and offers significantly less page-space than a mass-market paperback. Too much room is left for the keyboard, in my opinion.

Other features I find less interesting include the ability for the Kindle to read a book to thanks...that's why I have an iPod. And a whispersync (not sure why they aren't calling it bluetooth) link between the Kindle 2 and "other devices" including the Kindle 1.

The Kindle 2, of course, still uses e-ink technology that makes reading the thing just as pleasant and real-feeling as reading a book. The high-resolution, no-backlight display lets you sink into the book just as easily as reading from the page. Or, at least, that's my experience.

The device is available for pre-order now for $349 and will ship on February 24th.

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Comments (12)Add Comment
. . . .
written by Rob Chant, February 09, 2009
It does seem amazing to me that Amazon can't seem to get their head around designing this thing properly. It makes such a *huge* difference!

If they can't figure it out for themselves, why not just hire someone (Philip Stark springs to mind). The benefits their bottom line would feel would far out weight the fee of a decent designer.
Mistress ;>
written by BrokenGirlSoldier, February 09, 2009
So, you wouldn't trade your Sony reader for it?
written by Paul, February 09, 2009
The thing that'll make the difference, is the price eventually coming down, and nearly all books being available on it. That way, reading could go the way of listening to music

It could also mean good things for independent authors who are trying to self publish.
written by Nick Wright, February 09, 2009
They are killing me with it.
storage not important?
written by Charles Redell, February 09, 2009
So storage isn't important when dealing with books? I think it is. I easily have 200 books on my shelves and add more all the time. I don't get rid of most books and don't want to erase them after I've read them in e-form either. What if I want to go back and re-read one? Should I have t buy it again?
written by Chris, February 09, 2009
Does anyone know, if it plays PDFs? I heard the first one didn't and that's why I wouldn't by one. Seemed to me like Amazon wants you to read only things that you bought from them. Quite annoying, since I have a lot of articles as pdf files. Would be a relief if I wouldn't always have to turn on my Laptop or print them, if I wanted to read them.
written by Dave, February 10, 2009
The major problem is have with the Kindle is the major vendor lock in that happens when you buy one. When you buy a Kindle you can only purchase books from Amazon. If you ever decide to move to a different non-Kindle device, you are hosed as your ebooks won't transfer. And your existing ebooks that you read on... anything else? Can't read those either. Unless you pay to get them converted by... you guessed it, Amazon! Proprietary formats for the lose. This is just another example of a major company trying to squeeze everyone out of their market by locking the consumer into their product. *cough*Apple*cough Come on Hank! What about supporting open platforms! Sony at least has the good sense to let people read ebooks not purchased at their store...
Design is all good but...
written by anonymi, February 10, 2009
... I can only hope that DRM becomes such a hot issue with e-books as it has with digital music downloads. Only when books come in a fairly universal format, and that can be loaded onto and copied between a number of different devices, can I see this format making as much of an impact into paper production as mp3 has into CDs. I think newspapers might need to be significant players in this, since the novel seem to be in decline. Heres hoping....
The real issue..
written by Joel, February 10, 2009
hackers will always sort out the DRM, or lack of viewing Pdfs and such.

The real problem is the network availability in ONLY the US...most well read geeks the types of people that would go for this will constantly be frustrated....not to mention us Canadians!!
written by dvm, February 10, 2009
$359 + $10/book? Crazy! At that price, I'd be afraid I'd lose it, or break it, or get it stolen. It positively screams "LOOK AT ME!" and "STEAL ME!" I'm comfortable taking a paperback anywhere. I would not be comfortable using this expensive of a device on public transportation, at the beach, or at many of the other places I like to read.
Is the Kindle a green alternative to pap
written by Brett, March 26, 2009
I'm just wondering if the Kindle (or other electronic readers) make green sense. What is the environmental impact of the e-reader as compared to traditional print publishing? Have you written or read about this?


Too pricey...
written by Blake, June 06, 2009
Still a bit to pricey to justify me giving up a good solid book that I can get for very cheap. I buy second hand only, or trade, from sites like PaperBackSwap or Compare-Books. For the price of a kindle I could get around 80 books or so.

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