The first-generation Kindle eBook reader was introduced by Amazon in 2007 with a 6-inch display and 250MB of internal memory that could hold approximately 200 non-illustrated books. Its price was first $399, but came down to $359.
That Kindle was replaced by the $259 Kindle 2 in 2009, which dropped to $189 in mid-2010 as the field became more competitive.
Yesterday Amazon announced a new generation of Kindles that will be available in late August. These Kindles have a new electronic-ink screen said to provide 50 percent better contrast than any other e-reader, a 21 percent smaller body with the same 6-inch-size reading area, and a 15 percent lighter weight at just 8.7 ounces.
The new Kindles also offer 20 percent faster page turns, up to one month of battery life, double the storage to 3,500 books, and built-in Wi-Fi
The top of the two new models (apparently called simply Kindle) will sell for $189 with free 3G wireless. It will be available in graphite or white color.
A less expensive model, the Kindle Wi-Fi Reader, lacks 3G and is priced at $139. It will be available in graphite color, only. That price is $10 less than the Wi-Fi-only Nook, an e-reader sold by Barnes & Noble Inc. It's also priced $11 below the Sony Reader Pocket Edition, with no wireless downloads.
Both models can be pre-ordered now at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002FQJT3Q
The U.S. Kindle Store now has more than 630,000 books, including new releases and almost every New York Times bestsellers. Over 510,000 books cost $9.99 or less, including 80 New York Times bestsellers. Over 1.8 million free, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books are also available to read on Kindle.
Kindle lets you buy your books once and read them everywhere--on Kindle, Kindle DX, iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, Mac, PC, BlackBerry and Android-based devices. More than 235,000 books have been added to the Kindle Store in just the last six months. Amazon's Whispersync technology syncs your place across devices, so you can pick up where you left off. With Kindle Worry-Free Archive, books you purchase from the Kindle Store are automatically backed up online in your Kindle library on Amazon where they can be re-downloaded wirelessly for free, anytime.
- All New, High-Contrast E-Ink Screen, Read in Bright Sunlight: The new Kindle uses Amazon's all-new electronic ink display with 50 percent better contrast for the clearest text and sharpest images. No other e-reader has this screen or this level of contrast. Unlike LCD screens, Kindle's paper-like display looks and reads like real paper, with no glare, even in bright sunlight.
- New Proprietary Screen Technology--Faster Page Turns, New and Improved Fonts: Kindle's all-new, high-contrast electronic ink display is further optimized with Amazon's proprietary waveform and font technology to make pages turn faster and fonts sharper. Waveform is a series of electronic pulses that move black and white electronic ink particles to achieve a final gray level for an image or text. Amazon tuned the new Kindle's waveform and controller mechanism to make page turning 20 percent faster. In addition, this waveform tuning combined with new hand-built, custom fonts and font-hinting make words and letters more crisp, clear, and natural-looking. Font hints are instructions, written as code, that control points on a font character's line and improve legibility at small font sizes where few pixels are available. Hinting is a mix of aesthetic judgments and complicated technical strategies. Amazon designed its proprietary font-hinting to optimize specifically for the special characteristics of electronic ink.
- New Sleek Design, Lighter Than a Paperback: The new Kindle has a 21 percent smaller body while still keeping the same 6-inch-size reading area. At only 8.7 ounces, the new Kindle is 15 percent lighter and still 1/3 of an inch thin, making it lighter than a paperback and thinner than a magazine. With Kindle you can read comfortably and naturally with just one hand for hours. The new Kindle Wi-Fi is even lighter at just 8.5 ounces.
- Double the Storage, Holds 3,500 Books: The new Kindles have double the storage so you can carry up to 3,500 books.
- Up To One Month of Battery Life: The new Kindles have up to one month of battery life with wireless off. Keep wireless on and your Kindle will have battery life of up to 10 days.
- Free 3G Wireless: Kindle offers free 3G wireless, which means no annual contracts and no monthly fees.
- Global Wireless Coverage: Kindle is the only e-reader that lets you travel the globe and still get books in under 60 seconds with wireless coverage in over 100 countries and territories.
- New Built-In Wi-Fi: In addition to free 3G wireless, Kindle now has built-in Wi-Fi support. Kindle owners will now be able to connect to Wi-Fi hotspots at home or on the road. Readers who don't need the convenience of free 3G wireless can purchase the new Kindle Wi-Fi for only $139 and download content over Wi-Fi. Amazon is offering Kindle customers free Wi-Fi access at AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots across the U.S. for shopping and downloading Kindle content--no AT&T registration, sign-in, or password required.
- Quieter Page Turn Buttons: Quieter page turns means you can read all night without disturbing your partner.
- Share Meaningful Passages: Share meaningful passages with friends and family with built-in Twitter and Facebook integration.
- Simple to Use: Kindle is ready to use right out of the box - no setup, no software to install, no computer required.
- Books in 60 Seconds: With fast, free wireless delivery, you can start reading books on Kindle in less than 60 seconds.
- Improved PDF Reader: The new Kindles have an improved built-in PDF reader with new dictionary lookup, notes and highlights, and support for password protected PDFs.
- New WebKit-based Browser (experimental): The new Kindles use a new web browser that is faster, easier to navigate, and provides a new "article mode" feature that simplifies web pages to just the main text-based content for easier reading. Web browsing with Kindle over 3G or Wi-Fi is free.
- New Voice Guide: With Text-to-Speech, Kindle can read out loud to you. New Text-to-Speech enabled menus allow customers to navigate Kindle without having to read menu options. In addition to listening to books aloud, users now have the option of listening to content listings on the home screen, item descriptions, and all menu options.
- New Lighted Leather Cover: The all-new Kindle cover features an integrated, retractable reading light that lets you read comfortably anytime, anywhere. The light is a permanent part of the cover, so it's always with you, and hides away into the cover when not in use. The LED light illuminates Kindle's entire paper-like display, adding brightness without adding glare. The patent-pending hinge system secures Kindle in place and conducts electricity from Kindle's battery to the reading light, eliminating the need for batteries. The conductive hinges are gold-plated to ensure a reliable electrical connection. Gold is used because of its ability to make good electrical contact even with low force and for its corrosion resistance. The Kindle cover is sold separately.
On "Black Friday" in November, expect to see one or more sub-$100 e-readers, probably at Walmart, BestBuy, RadioShack, Target and Amazon.