Kindle 2: Minor Upgrades, No Major Features

Being reported everywhere (see for instance, the NYT’s blogging the launch), Amazon released its Kindle 2 yesterday.

Publishers Lunch sums up the upgrade:

Kindle 2 is pretty much as advertised and leaked. Thinner ("pencil thin"–a
third of an inch); a new five-way controller to improve navigation,
which particularly helps for newspaper reading; improved placement of
the page-turning buttons; a new E ink display with 16 shades of gray
(just like Sony already has); 20 percent faster page turn; 25% longer
battery life; seven times more storage (though who knows why);
USB-charge capability and a more portable charger; and yes, still
apparently designed by Jeff Bezos’s brother-in-law in his spare time
and priced at $359 and shipping on February 24. (Current Kindle owners
get "prioritized in the queue" if they order right now.)

The new Whispersync lets you switch among multiple Kindles and other
devices without losing your place, and "experimental" text-to-speech
feature lets Kindle read aloud to you in a computerized voice at any
time without losing your place in the work.

In
other words, no epub support and no radically-new features or
changes–an incremental update of the first Kindle. And no new
statistics on sales, and no announcement (for now) on their suspected
iPhone app.

That $359 price tag seems rather high. It also seems strange that would-be Kindle buyers are queued on a waiting list. One would think with the iPhone delivering ebooks and various other ebook readers on the way or in circulation, Amazon would be trying to build up market share.



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