A few months ago Spot Cool Stuff reviewed the Kindle, Amazon’s perpetually sold out e-book reader. Given the demand for the Kindle you’d think Amazon would have increased its production. Instead, Amazon came up with another way of meeting the demand. They introduced product that people would want even more: the Kindle 2.
How is the Kindle 2 different from its predecessor? And does the Kindle 2 address the shortcomings of the Kindle 1? We find out:
Physical look and feel
The Kindle 2 is thin. Amazingly thin. .36 inches (9mm) thin, which is about the same thickness as a typical magazine and about half the thickness of the Kindle 1. The Kindle 2 is also slightly taller (.5 inches or 12mm). The combination of the increased height and decreased thickness equates to an updated Kindle that’s significantly more comfortable to hold than its predecessor. The Kindle 2 does not feel like you have a book in your hands. It feels more like you are holding an oversized iPhone.
One of our biggest peeves with the Kindle 1, which we mentioned in our review, is the placement of the scroll bar. It was too easy to hit the Kindle 1′s scroll bar by accident. We are thrilled that the new Kindle has gotten rid of the scroll bar and replaced it with a more useful mini-joystick.
The screen clarity on the Kindle 1 is outstanding. If anything, the clarity and detail on the Kindle 2 is even more impressive, especially when it comes to photos.
Unfortunately, Amazon took a step backwards designing the new Kindle’s keyboard. The Kindle 1 had perfectly angled keys, ideal for thumb-typing. The Kindle 2′s keys, rounded and evenly-spaced, offer a more clumsy typing experience.
One of Amazon’s best Kindle upgrades: The Kindle 2 works over a 3G cell network, which means you can download a full novel over a cellular network (ie. wifi is not needed) in 60 to 80 seconds. As with the Kindle 1, no subscription is required to make these downloads.
The Kindle 2 also has 2GB of internal storage, enough for up to 1,500 (!!) books. The rechargeable batteries on the Kindle 2 lasts for around 40 hours, or 25% longer than the Kindle 1. The Kindle 2 also seems to have a more nimble internal processor—the sluggish scrolling speed we noticed with the Kindle 1 is not there with the upgraded model.
We wish Amazon had given greater weight to our review of the Kindle 1 where we lamented the Kindle’s lack of a color screen, touch screen and video capabilities. The Kindle 2 has not added any of those features. For that, we confess ourselves disappointed. Further, the Kindle is still an American-centric device. There are no foreign language versions expected to be available in the near future.
The latest Kindle did fulfill our wish for a more easily accessible dictionary and for 3G capabilities (see above).
The Kindle 2′s coolest new feature is the text-to-speech capabilities: The Kindle 2 can read any book, magazine, newspaper or web page to you! If you are thinking to yourself “I’ll never use that feature,” don’t be so sure. Yes, the Kindle 2′s reading voice is a little robotic sounding. And, of course, you don’t get the human inflections you do from an audio book. Still, with the Kindle you are always a button away from being read to. Imagine you are reading a novel on a long plane ride but want to close your eyes for a little. Switch the Kindle to speech mode and let it read to you. The pages will continue to scroll as the Kindle reads so you can easily pick up reading from where the Kindle left off.
Spot Cool Stuff Recommendations
The old Kindle was one of our favorite products. The new Kindle 2 is certainly superior to it, though not phenomenally so.
If you currently own a Kindle 1, Spot Cool Stuff does not suggest upgrading to a Kindle 2 unless having text-to-speech capability is especially important to you.
If you are on a wait list for a Kindle 1 there’s good news: You’ve been automatically placed at the top of the wait list for a Kindle 2.
If you have neither Kindle and are in the market for an ebook reader then we strongly suggest the Kindle 2. It is, by a considerable margin, the best e-book reader on the market. At $350, the Kindle 2 costs $100 more than the Kindle 1. For that extra money you’ll avoid the annoyance of the Kindle 1′s scroll bar and get a device with a sleeker form factor and vastly increased storage capacity.
Demand for the Kindle 2 is expected to be heavy. Get on the wait list as soon as you can. You’ll be happy you did.