Monday, February 9, 2009

Our take on Kindle 2.0

Amazon's announcement today of the Kindle 2 has reignited interest in its groundbreaking e-book platform.

Here's our take on the new features. Add your own thoughts to the comments to share your take on the new version.

1) Smaller form factor. "Thinner than an iPhone" is Amazon's point of comparison for the newer, svelter Kindle. To the degree that a thinner Kindle is a lighter and easier to hold Kindle, then it's slimmer profile is a positive enhancement.

2) Crisper, faster display. Like my hair, the Kindle 2.0 screen is sporting more shades of gray these days. While early reviewers have said that the new screen technology doesn't create a noticeable difference, higher resolution theoretically means e-books that are easier to read and that are closer to the contrast and readability of ink on paper.

3) 2 gigs of on-board memory. You can never have too much money, and gadget owners can never have too much memory. While it's not likely that anyone is likely to fill up 2 gigs of memory out of the gate, having built in memory saves Kindle customers from having to shell out for an optional memory card.

4) Read-to-me feature. Using text-to-speech technology, the new Kindle will read to you in an easy to understand but decidedly computer-generated voice. As I wrote previously, I wish Amazon would have enabled the ability to read a Kindle book while listening to the audio version. Time will tell, but I don't predict that having a Cylon read your novels to you will be very popular.

5) Whispersync will synchronize your progress across multiple Kindles, and, soon, multiple devices. I'm not sure how many Kindle owners have multiple Kindles they read the same book on, so out of the gate this feature doesn't impress me much. The real promise, when viewed in light of the news that Amazon will be making Kindle e-books available on the iPhone, it may be that Amazon will bring Whispersync to other platforms sooner rather than later. This would mean that you could start to read a chapter from a novel on your Kindle in the morning, and pick right up where you left off and read the rest of the chapter at work on your iPhone at lunch. This has the potential to be very convenient and very cool.

6) Exclusive Stephen King novella. UR, written exclusively for the Kindle, will be available for $2.99 near the end of the month. It's great that Amazon is exploring new models such as commissioning content for the Kindle. It's not clear if this represents a commitment to new publishing models or a publicity tactic to mark the launch of the new device.

So, will any of the new features prompt you to purchase a Kindle 2.0?

Take our poll to express your opinion!


Radio Babylon said...

the loss of the memory card slot and a user-servicable battery means no sale for me. ill never buy another sealed-tight ipod-like device ever again.

Noam said...

What I'm really curious about is, will the new Kindle let me read non-AZW files natively, or do I still have to convert everything? I think this is one of the big advantages that iRex's devices have over the Kindle: if I upload a PDF to an iLiad, I get it in the same font and layout as on my computer. Whereas on the Kindle, all fonts are replaced with the default: a really poor rendition of Caecilia,which is a nice font in its own right but a strange choice for running text.

Michael Long said...

Nope. Don't need yet another device, charger, and whatnot to worry about on trips. Amazon needs to port the software to the iPhone and notebooks I already carry and use.

Hardy Ferentschik said...


I am reading this blog since the early days, waiting desperately to get hold of a Kindle here in Europe. Are there any news whether Kindle 2.0 will be available in Europe? What is the deal anyway? Does Amazon not want to make more business?
Why can a Kindle not just access a normal wireless network. I just don't get it. I would be more than happy to sync my Kindle at home using my local wireless network. I don't care that I cannot access new content while I am out.
I am actually considering getting a Kindle shipped from the US, but I really would like to know how workable a Kindle in Europe would be. What works, what not? Couldn't you guys ask this question on the blog? What are the experiences with a Kindle outside the US? Are there any users? What's their experience?

Walt said...

As I blogged yesterday, I remain underwhelmed by what is little more than minor tweaks to a platform that needs major updating.

I've owned a Kindle for seven months now and still enjoy it. But the Kindle 2 does not address even one of the many faults I've been pointing out.

Note to Amazon: No, thanks. I'll stick with my Kindle 1 until you fix the things desperately in need of fixing.

Glitch said...

I like the sleeker look, since my Kindle 1.0 is kinda toyish looking. But the three main reasons I won't be upgrading are:
• Hardware issues
• memory expansion: no SD slot
• no user-changeable battery
• Software issues
• device clutter: No way to manage books by category (can't stand having 35 pages of titles w/no way to organize or selectively show grouped books)

Glitch said...

Oh yeah, one more reason I won't be upgrading: I missed the quick deadline as a Kindle 1 owner to get moved to the front of the ordering queue. Why didn't I get sent an email from Amazon? How many others missed that little window opportunity to get bumped to front of the line for Kindle 2?

Cant justify spending $350 AND having to wait for a ages to get my device.