NEW Kindle 2 Release Day–Wired Product Review…02.24.09

24 02 2009

kindle-2

Here is an excerpted version of Wired‘s review of Amazon.com Kindle 2:

The most notable feature of the Kindle 2 (Amazon.com’s long-awaited update to its groundbreaking but somewhat flawed electronic reading device) is that it’s possible to pick it up and not turn the page. This sounds like faint praise, but anyone using the original Kindle quickly found the oversized buttons covering both sides of the device made grasping it a delicate, stressful task — kind of like picking up a sea urchin. Anything less than perfect finger placement would lose your place.

Not so with the Kindle 2, which fixes that problem and a host of others through thoughtful, businesslike improvements and innovations.

Are the improvements big enough for the Kindle 2 to spark an iPod effect, causing bookstores to shutter, forests to grow unchecked and the tomes on our shelves to disappear, replaced by plants and bobble-head dolls? Not any time soon.

The evolution toward e-reading devices as the dominant means of reading books will be a drawn-out and complicated affair. It will require screen technology with inexpensive, high-resolution color, multitouch and flexible displays. These are all features that the Kindle, as well as competitors like the Sony eReader, are still waiting for. A mass-market solution will also involve pricing that acknowledges how much cheaper it is to distribute books digitally; currently Amazon sells e-books for about half the price of their hardcover equivalents. But for now, the Kindle 2 is the closest thing to this magic formula…

The strengths of the device are the same. The dense, readable display and paperback size allow readers to sink into an author’s world just as they do with a physical tome. But this “book” is augmented by digital technology, allowing you to store hundreds of manuscripts, search through them, and look up words in an onboard dictionary, on the web or through Wikipedia. It also has a free wireless connection to the Amazon Kindle store — now hawking 230,000 books (as well as magazines and newspapers).

The most dramatic changes are in the physical design. Abandoning the quirky shape of the original, which was meant to evoke the form of a real book, the designers boiled down the shape to a pencil-thin (.36-inch) slab, which feels completely natural in hand. Though you can buy an “official” $30 leather cover (it has special hooks that keep the device in place, something that was missing in the original), I found it most comfortable to read bareback. But if you’re into playing it safe, I’d recommend one of the third-party neoprene cases available on Amazon.com…

The Kindle 2 is zippier, with pages turning 20 percent faster (yes, you can tell the difference). It has more memory (2 gigabytes, enough for storing up to 2500 books onboard). And it flaunts a more powerful built-in battery: Amazon claims that the Kindle lasts four to five days with the wireless on (I got 4.5 days in my first test) and up to two weeks with it off. After a week of limited wireless, my meter is around 50 percent. Amazon also says that after 500 charges, it will hold 80 percent of its original juice. That means that most users won’t have to replace the battery (a $60 procedure) for about a decade or so

But text-to-speech works just as well with your own content — you can upload Word files into your Kindle for a dime apiece.

Looking over the horizon, it’s clear that Amazon’s biggest competitor in selling digital books will be Google, whose recent agreement with publishers and authors will make it a virtually exclusive seller for millions of books in copyright but not in print. But right now at least, the Google and Amazon formats aren’t compatible: I was unsuccessful in getting a PDF of a public domain book downloaded from Google to appear in readable form on my Kindle…

WIRED The best e-reading system on the market. Welcome improvements to aesthetics, more functional industrial design, better graphics and longer battery life. Sleeker than the original: A third of an inch thick and 10 ounces.

TIRED Quite expensive. Book content shackled with DRM. Interface is improved, sure, but it could be even better.”

© 2009 CondéNet, Inc.

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2 responses

24 02 2009
Sumesh

Can you please tell me how these pages are put into kindle?

2 07 2010
rochman

Kindle Wireless can switch back and forth between reading and listening, and your spot is automatically saved. Pages automatically turn while the content is being read, so you can listen hands-free. You can choose from both male and female voices which can be sped up or slowed down to suit your preference. In the middle of a great book or article but have to jump in the car? Simply turn on Text-to-Speech and listen on the go.

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