As widely expected, Amazon formally announced the Kindle 2 today at a press event in New York.
“Kindle 2 is everything customers tell us they love about the original Kindle, only thinner, faster, crisper, with longer battery life, and capable of holding hundreds more books. If you want, Kindle 2 will even read to you – something new we added that a book could never do,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. “While we’re excited about Kindle 2, we know that great hardware is useless without vast selection. That’s why the Kindle Store offers customers over 230,000 books.”
The Kindle 2 comes with has been completely redesigned. Only 0.91 centimeters (0.36-inches) thick, it features a 6-inch 600 by 800 electronic paper display capable of displaying 16 shades of gray, 2GB of memory (enough for over 1,500 books), improved battery life, a built-in New Oxford American Dictionary, and a new and still experimental text-to-speech feature that converts words on a page to spoken word. Like the previous version, the Kindle 2 uses Amazon Whispernet (which operates on Sprint’s 3G network) to connect wirelessly to the Kindle Store.
Amazon has also addressed many of the complaints users had with the first Kindle. A new 5-way controller allows for easier note-taking and highlighting, the button layout has been improved and pages turn much faster.
Some 230,000 books as well as numerous international newspapers, magazines, and blogs are available for download. And Amazon also announced that Stephen King is releasing a novella called “Ur” exclusively for the Kindle.
The Amazon Kindle 2 will sell for US$359 and is already available for pre-order. It will begin to ship on February 24. Customers who are waiting on their order for the original Kindle will be automatically upgraded.
The first version of the Kindle went on sale back in November 2007. Amazon has not disclosed sales figures but they are estimated to be as high as half a million units.