Amazon unveiled its new Kindle 2 eBook reader yesterday.

New features include

  • A slimmer profile (8″ x 5.3″ x 0.36″)
  • Text-to-speech conversion
  • An improved display (6″ diagonal E-Ink electronic paper display, 600 x 800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi, 16-level gray scale)
  • Improved battery life (2 weeks in standby mode with wireless disabled)
  • 20% faster page turns
  • More storage (2GB internal, 1.4GB of which is available to the user)

Like the Kindle 1, it still allows direct download of books from Amazon (over Sprint’s 3G network) at no cost other than the eBook itself (about $10 for a New York Times bestseller). Additionally — and I don’t know if these features are new or not — the device also has a built-in dictionary, allows for limited browsing to predefined website destinations (like wikipedia) and blogs/newspapers for a small subscription fee. The device also allows previous Kindle owners to transfer their books to a Kindle 2. (Come on…is anyone expecting current owners to drop another $360 on version 2?)

With a price tag of $359 (the same as the current Kindle), I’m not quite sure I’m ready to jump on board, but the features sure do sound nice. I like the slimness, but wonder if the device is too large and is prone to flexibility breakage issues. The screen itself is not backlit. Too bad…in my opinion, that’s one of the nice things about reading books electronically. I don’t want to be tied to room lighting, whatever it may be. As Dean mentioned in a face-to-face conversation (remember those?) the killer app would really be an unlocked browser allowing me to browse any website I wanted. But I understand the technical and security challenges that go along with that and that that might not fit their desired usage model.

Stephen King was on hand for the announcement. He’s written a Kindle-only story about “a one-of-a-kind pink Kindle with magical powers”, says CNet.

Is this enough to convince you to finally take the eBook plunge?

Filed under: BooksScience and Technology

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