Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Kindle does more for the same price


Amazon's popular Kindle electronic book reader has been on back-order since last fall. A new model was introduced this week that has more features and better performance for the same price, and should be readily available starting on 2/24. People who have ordered and have been waiting for the original version, will get the new Kindle.

The new model offers Kindle’s wireless delivery of content in a new slim design with longer battery life, faster page turns, over seven times more storage, sharper images, and a new read-to-me feature.

Kindle 2 has a high-resolution 6-inch electronic paper display that looks and reads like real paper, which should let users read for hours without the eyestrain caused by reading on a backlit display.

More than 230,000 books are now available in the Kindle Store, including 103 of 110 current New York Times Best Sellers and New Releases, which typically cost $9.99. Top magazines and newspapers plus more than 1,200 different blogs are also available. Kindle 2 is available for pre-order for $359 at http://amazon.com/kindle2 and will ship February 24.

The new Kindle 2 features a completely new design. At just over a third of an inch thin (0.36 inches) and weighing just over 10 ounces, Kindle 2 is pencil thin and lighter than a typical paperback. New buttons make it easy to turn the page from any holding position. The new 5-way controller allows for more precise note-taking and highlighting both up and down and side to side in lines of text. The new controller also makes it easy to quickly jump between articles and sections of newspapers. Kindle 2 comes with a redesigned power charger that is more portable than the previous Kindle charger. The cover for Kindle 2, which is sold separately, has an integrated attachment hinge to ensure a secure fit and features a leather cover for style and durability. Patagonia, Cole Haan and Belkin also designed covers for Kindle 2 that are available in the Kindle Store.

Kindle 2’s 6-inch, 600 x 800 electronic paper display provides 16 shades of gray versus 4 shades available in the original Kindle, resulting in crisp text, and sharper images and photos (but still no color). Kindle reads like printed words on paper because the screen looks like ink on paper and doesn’t use a backlight, eliminating the eyestrain and glare associated with other electronic displays. With the latest electronic paper display, pages turn an average of 20 percent faster than the original Kindle for an even smoother reading experience.

With 2 GB of memory, Kindle 2 can hold more than 1,500 books, compared with 200 with the original Kindle. And because Amazon automatically backs up a copy of every Kindle book purchased, customers can wirelessly re-download titles in their library at any time.

Kindle 2 customers can read for four to five days on one charge with wireless on and for over two weeks with wireless turned off.

Kindle 2 comes with the New Oxford American Dictionary and its 250,000 word definitions built-in, and definitions appear instantly at the bottom of the page.

Kindle 2 offers the experimental read-to-me feature “Text-to-Speech” that converts words on a page to spoken word so people have the option to read or listen. People can switch back and forth between reading and listening, and their spot is automatically saved. Pages turn automatically while the content is being read so customers can listen hands-free. Customers can choose to be read to by male or female voices and can choose the speed to suit their listening preference. Using the read-to-me feature, anything you can read on Kindle, including books, newspapers, magazines, blogs, and personal documents, Kindle 2 can read to you.

Kindle 2 uses the same wireless delivery system as the original Kindle — Amazon Whispernet. Customers can wirelessly shop the Kindle Store, download or receive new content in less than 60 seconds, and read from their library — all without a PC, Wi-Fi hot spot, or syncing.

Whispernet utilizes Amazon’s optimized technology plus Sprint’s national 3G data network and is expanded to cover all 50 US states. Amazon still pays for the wireless connectivity on Kindle 2 so books can be downloaded in less than 60 seconds — with no monthly wireless bills, data plans, or service commitments.

Amazon’s new “Whispersync” technology automatically syncs Kindle 2 and the original Kindle, which makes transitioning to the new Kindle 2 or using both devices easy for readers. Kindle 2 will also sync with a range of mobile devices in the future.

Author Stephen King is releasing a novella, “Ur,” which will only be available on Kindle. At the center of Ur is lovelorn college English instructor Wesley Smith, who can't seem to get his ex-girlfriend's parting shot out of his head: "Why can't you just read off the computer like the rest of us?" Egged on by her question and piqued by a student's suggestion, Wesley places an order for a Kindle. Smith’s Kindle arrives in a box stamped with the smile logo and unlocks a literary world that even the most avid of book lovers could never imagine. But once the door is open, there are those things that one hopes we'll never read or live through. Ur is available for pre-order and will be released later this month. For Kindle customers who pre-order, King’s new novella will download automatically when it becomes available.

The Kindle Store now includes many additional magazines and newspapers, such as The New Yorker, which is available for the first time on Kindle. Magazines and newspaper subscriptions are auto-delivered wirelessly to Kindle overnight so that the latest edition is waiting for customers when they wake up. Monthly Kindle newspaper subscriptions are $5.99 to $14.99 per month, and Kindle magazines are $1.25 to $3.49 per month.

Over 1,200 blogs are available on Kindle today — up from 250 when Kindle launched. New blogs added to the Kindle Store recently include the Wired blogs, VF Daily and James Wolcott’s Blog from Vanity Fair. Blogs are updated and downloaded wirelessly throughout the day so Kindle customers can read blogs whenever and wherever they want. Wireless delivery of blogs costs as little as $0.99 each per month and includes a free two-week trial.

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