When the first Amazon Kindle was released, I thought it an exciting new invention — a wireless reading device that lets you purchase digital copies of books right from the device and, within seconds, it’s sent to the Kindle. I thought of all the books I could tote around with me, without the space and weight of them in my bag — the same principle as the iPod, which allows you to carry your music library around with you in a lightweight device. But, since I hate being the “beta tester,” I didn’t buy the Kindle even though I really, really wanted it. I figured, let some braver people discover the kinks and when it’s eventually improved upon, then I’ll get it for myself.
Well, it seems like that time is now. The Amazon Kindle 2 is available now for pre-order and will be released on February 24, 2009. From what I could tell from the Video Demonstration (on the purchase page), there’s been vast improvements from the original version, like a slimmer, lighter model with a better battery life. Not only is it far more aesthetically pleasing and easier to navigate, but new features have been added, like the Text-to-Speech feature, which can read the books out loud to you.
New Features & Enhancements
- Slim & Lightweight: Just over 1/3 inch and 10.2 ounces
- Books in under 60 seconds: Get books delivered in less than 60 seconds; no PC required
- Improved Display: Reads like real paper; now boasts 16 shades of gray for crisp images and text; even reads well in bright sunlight
- Longer Battery Life: 25% longer battery life; read for days without recharging
- More Storage: Take your library with you; holds over 1,500 books
- Faster Page Turns: 20% faster page turns
- Read-to-Me: Text-to-Speech feature means Kindle can read every book, blog, magazine, and newspaper out loud.
- No Wireless Bills: No monthly wireless bills, data plans, or commitments. Amazon pays for Kindle’s wireless connectivity so you won’t see a monthly wireless bill.
- Large Selection: Over 230,000 books, plus U.S. and international newspapers, magazines and blogs available.
- Low Book Prices: New York Times Best Sellers and New Releases $9.99, unless marked otherwise.
If you’re an avid reader, then the Kindle 2 is a wise choice, since there’s 230,000 books currently available for the Kindle 2 (plus, newspapers and blogs) at a lower cost then their print editions. It’s also great for anyone who wants to save some trees or avoid the clutter of printed books or is so impatient that they want to be able to purchase books on the go and have them in seconds. (I seem to fall in the ‘all of the above’ category on this one.)
I haven’t actually used the Kindle 2 yet, but from what I could see from the Demo, it’s definitely something that would be a worthy investment. I like that it’s slim and lightweight; has a screen that supposedly reads like paper (a non-glare screen — that’s exciting!); and that not only are the electronic versions cheaper than buying the print editions, there’s also a lot of free versions of classic books available. Plus, the new Text-to-Speech function is a major bonus. While it does read like a computer — so it won’t replace a well-made audio book — it is great to use for books you’ve already read or for people with poor eyesight. My eyesight is good, but since I read a lot and am always on the computer, I get eyestrain, so I know that I would use the Text-to-Speech feature at times. This kind of feature is available with many of the free books online, so I sometimes turn it on and read along with it, especially on days I’m finding it hard to concentrate or when I’m on a crowded, noisy bus or train, I turn it on and pop in my headphones and listen and/or read along.
I’ve read some online reviews, and they all agree that the Kindle 2 is a vast improvement over its predecessor. The main con about the device which some people are noting it does not use the touch-screen technology of iPods and iPhones — which I’m totally fine with, I don’t have much faith in the current touch-screen technology; plus, it’s not like you’ll be using the screen for much besides READING so I don’t think it’s a necessity at this time.
The folks over at iReader Review have a great feature on the Kindle 2 on how it compares to the first Kindle and whether it’s worth the purchase. A must-read if you’re considering making this $359 investment.