Amazon announced the Kindle 2 yesterday, and once I read the specs I hopped over to the piranha-infested place to put in my order. Since I’m a happy owner of a Kindle 1, I get bumped up in the waiting list and should receive mine in about two weeks.
The new model is thinner and has better page control buttons, improved battery life, more built-in memory (but no longer has a SD card slot for expansion), sixteen shades of gray instead of four, and can read a book aloud to you (!).
The last feature could be intriguing for those times my eyes are tired but my mind remains restless. If the computer voice isn’t too bad, it sure would be cheaper than audiobooks. But Audible’s narrators shouldn’t worry – a good audio acting job sure brings a book to life.
The old navigation with the clickwheel and cool “glitter ribbon” along the side is replaced with a movable cursor and clicking joystick. Hopefully the improved E Ink display is speedy enough that I won’t miss the glitter ribbon. One report says the movable cursor is now practical because different parts of the display can now refresh, rather than having to redraw the whole thing for each change.
I’m most looking forward to the new page forward and back buttons, which are reduced to a more manageable size and click inward instead of outward. So you should be able to pick the Kindle 2 up by its edges without accidentally flipping the pages. Of course, I just stuck a rubber band under the Kindle 1’s right-side page forward lever to deal with that, but that makeshift solution had to be adjusted now and then.
As for the Kindle 1, one of my closest friends is a librarian and I’ll be de-registering my Kindle 1 and giving it to her once I get the Kindle 2 set up. I’ve bought and read 24 books on my Kindle 1 since I bought it last June, and any entries in my existing Amazon library can always be downloaded to the new unit. If I kept both Kindles Amazon can now synchronize their internal libraries. I’ve also read several free e-Books on my Kindle which I downloaded from publishers and places like Project Gutenberg and manybooks.net. Those have no digital rights management or copyright infringement issues, so I can give those away and keep them for myself at the same time.
Many people disliked the leatherette cover for the Kindle 1, but I loved it. Jeff Bezos of Amazon is doing a Steve Jobs this time around: he introduced the Kindle 2 with a Jobs-like presentation, complete with special guest (author Stephen King instead of some iTunes singer). And this time around he’ll sell you a leather cover for the Kindle 2 for an extra $30 and Amazon also offers a bunch of other even more ex$pensive covers, a la the accessories at an Apple iPod store.