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Amazon Announces Kindle 2, With Slew of New Features 451

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the dr-spatzo-finds-a-new-job dept.
Engadget is reporting that Amazon has announced the new Kindle 2 for release on February 24th at a price point of $359. Thinner than an iPhone and coming standard with "Read-to-me" text-to-speech capability, the new device also has seven times more storage, faster page turning, a 16-level e-ink display, longer battery life, and a new five-way joystick. Looks like life just got a lot more interesting for fans of the original device. Engadget also has live coverage from the Kindle 2 press conference.
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Amazon Announces Kindle 2, With Slew of New Features

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  • by Deag (250823) on Monday February 09, 2009 @01:34PM (#26786035)

    Convince me not to.

    It is the ease of getting new material that appeals to me, I like to read but I am terrible at buying books.

    The price is a bit steep. Eventually these have to come down in price? Anyone any ideas when there will be a decent sub $100 ebook reader?

  • by jasonhamilton (673330) <jason&tyrannical,org> on Monday February 09, 2009 @01:39PM (#26786105) Homepage

    The thing with the kindle is that it includes "free" online access to locate and deliver books. so you can be anywhere and look for and purchase a new book. the book is then delivered to your kindle.

    most other ebooks are just displays.

    I think until there is any significant threat to kindle, you're going to see the price stay high.

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Monday February 09, 2009 @01:42PM (#26786147)

    with the release of the original Kindle. Perhaps they still can.

    The Kindle here is somewhat of a disappointment to me but its aesthetics are much better than than the first generation. Yet, the screen is only usable for fiction novels and the like, and the form factor is such that the keyboard takes up half the space. Either way, they should have eliminated the physical keyboard for an onscreen version (really, you can't exactly type a thesis with that thing as it is now) for that searching or annotation convenience. For serious annotation, the iRex iLiad and DR1000S have a wacom enabled screen with stylus. In this way, you can really go for a small reader that fits in a purse, or use that existing or slightly bigger form for 10x8 screen, allowing to display 11x8.5 pages sans margins.

    I don't know how they sell the new york times on something like that. I can see it on the even smaller iPhone but only because of multitouch and reverse pinching (zoom in) to the exact story someone wants. But I would not pay for an ereader at current prices in the fiction novel page size; I would glady pay money for something that allows me to read reference guides and textbooks without scrolling horizontally, perhaps not vertically.

    All the other readers I see on the market are toys. Like iRex, which sells there models as finished products but are woefully in the prototype stage even after years of development and being on the market because lack of serious money behind it, I suppose. One symptom there is that despite the promise of e-ink not using energy other than when the page is being changed, their CPU doesn't really go to sleep, requiring daily recharging of the device and thoroughly defeating half of the purpose of a good ereader in the first place. I tried the Sony, it wasn't bad but nothing great.

    If the Kindle should get credit for anything, it was the Sprint EVDO connection in the first and now 3G in the second without stupid monthly fees - it just being there. That alone will make it the winner in time, everything else stay the same.

    If Apple had been keen on building their media empire, they'd should have gotten into ebooks when the 1st gen kindle was released tbh. The market was ready for something with a decent interface and good hardware/software integration. They already sell music, movies, tv shows, and this will consolidate the last major piece of the list. Before someone says "color" screens, or Plastic Logic's flexible screens or the like, that's precisely what upgrades are for. Now, I'm afraid, the worse is better philosophy won out again.

    Other than screen size, this model looks like a winner.

  • by flitty (981864) on Monday February 09, 2009 @01:47PM (#26786249)
    Even a "Kindle Lite" would be awesome, if made significantly cheaper. About $129-169 is more in the range where mass adoption begins for something like this. No keyboard, no nifty features, just the nice e-ink screen and some storage space (enough for say, 20-50 books, these files aren't huge) and a way to turn the pages. I would most likely get one for that range, even if it was slightly thicker. Nearly $400 for a way to read books is a toy. Jesus, M$ only charges $199 for an Xbox360, is the kindle really that much more expensive technologically? Is the screen worth so much? Where is the cost coming from, anyone?
  • by Henry V .009 (518000) on Monday February 09, 2009 @01:56PM (#26786417) Journal
    Amazon's Kindle 2 is the same as a Sony PRS-700 (out for a while now) without a reading light, without a touch screen, and with Amazon DRM lock-in. The only good thing going for the Kindle 2 is Amazon's marketing and their exclusive Kindle store.
  • If only... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 09, 2009 @01:56PM (#26786425)

    If only it was about the size of regular sheet of paper and could show pdf files, I'd buy one today just to read journal articles without having to stare at the computer screen all day or print them all out (or walk to the library).

    "Read-to-me" is not exactly a killer ap.

  • by Blimey85 (609949) on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:14PM (#26786745)
    For a long while I was set on getting an ereader. I just had to have one. I tried reading books on my crackberry but the screen was just too damn small and scrolling was a pain. The only thing that kept be from buying a Sony ereader or a Kindle was the price. For the money you can instead buy an Xbox 360 (I have two and the last was only $160 thanks to a coupon at CircuitCity), or an Iphone ($199 for an 8 gig) or hell, get both. So that's what I ended up doing. I bought both.

    Is my ereader experience as great as that on a Kindle? I dunno. What I do know is that it's "good enough" for my uses. I just want to read some fiction. I want to kick back and read some Robin Cook or Dean Koontz in the can or at a theater while waiting for the show or whatever. I use Stanza on my iPhone and I downloaded a few collections via torrents and I'm all set for quite a while. Plus I have a phone and an mp3 player and God knows what else I've added to my phone. And like I said earlier, I also have a second Xbox 360 which obviously lets me play games but I wanted a second for streaming movies and tv shows into my bedroom.

    Maybe if I had a train ride to work everyday a Kindle would make sense, but even then it's too big to be dropped in my pocket and I'd still have to have my phone with me. Who wants yet another gadget to lug around?
  • by MHolmesIV (253236) on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:19PM (#26786811)

    Which is why I strip the DRM off my kindle books, and archive them as an EPub. I do the same with .LIT books I buy. It's a simple procedure, and should be cake for anyone with enough skills to use a linux box :)

    But seriously, with the crappy paper they print paperbacks on, their lifespans are only measured in maybe decades. I had to convert my Eddings series to EBook because the paper versions I bought in the late 80's are now crumbling and falling apart.

    EBooks I can move from device to device, and storage medium to storage medium for as long as I care to.

  • Re:corrrection (Score:3, Interesting)

    by berend botje (1401731) on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:19PM (#26786813)
    For novels, sure, you read one or maybe two in parallel. But now consider reference manuals and other techie books. I'm sure anyone reading /. has loads of them. I sure wouldn't mind taking them all with me if at all possible on this device.

    Not going to happen, as I'm definitely not going to buy my books again, just in a different format.

    Give me my current bookcollection for free with the device, I already payed for the content and the duplication cost of e-books is zero.
  • by blueZ3 (744446) on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:19PM (#26786827) Homepage

    "Break even" on a Kindle?

    You're never going to "break even" on a device like this--it doesn't appreciate in value and it doesn't offer any savings over what you might have spent on books, since eBooks are currently the same price as paper books.

    To add insult to injury, once you've bought in to Amazon's DRM'd eBooks, you'll have to go on buying a new Kindle each time one reaches the end of its useful life just to maintain access to content that you've already paid for.

    If the parent wants one and is willing to accept the compromise of the current high price and DRM'd content against having it now, he should go for it.

    It's not for me, though.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:20PM (#26786843)

    Comparing pictures of the two, they are totally different - in form factor, and external buttons. You mention the Kindle does not have a touch screen while the PRS-700 does.

    So while possibly they may share the same OS (though even there I suspect large differences) they are not the same at all. And it seems to me that by "better" you very likely mean "has more features on a checklist".

    I don't own either reader so I have no stake in which one is in fact better. But I have talked to a number of unlikely people (as in, not really gadget people) that owned and really liked the original Kindle so I think that Amazon may have something to the device they have built beyond the feature list that does make it more pleasing for people to use.

    I myself am still wary of these readers but I like the concept, I just want something with perfect PDF/graphics support so I can use one to read technical books with diagrams.

  • by scubamage (727538) on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:21PM (#26786871)
    If not, still not interested. I don't want to pay amazon to convert something I've already paid for. Postscript is a standard, and they should make it compatible if they want to increase their market share. Period. I have my entire o'reilly and cisco library in PDF on my laptop. The only reason I'd get a kindle is to have them in a more convenient form for study and reference when I'm unable to access my laptop. Oh yeah, so far as I know kindle books can't be read outside of the kindle appliance.
  • by pvera (250260) <pedro.vera@gmail.com> on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:22PM (#26786897) Homepage Journal

    This is a publisher issue. When the current W.E.B. Griffin novel was announced about two months ago, it was announced first as hardcover. A few days later they announced it for the Kindle, it was more expensive than the hardcover. Couple of day later it was priced a few dollars under, but still a lot. By the time I paid for mine, it was $9.99, which is what we were told to expect for main releases.

    I see it a convenience thing. Tom Clancy finally caved-in (I doubt it was Penguin's fault, since W.E.B. Griffin is with Penguin too and he has been selling on the Kindle for months) and started releasing his catalog. Hunt for Red October is $6.39. Is that fair? I don't know, but it is hopefully the last time I will have to buy that book. I re-read certain novels, to the point that I destroy them so my wife forced me to buy hardcovers, the extra price would account for it lasting as long as 2-3 paperback copies.

    A new problem: hundreds of hardcover books, gathering dust and bugs. Wall-to-wall bookshelves are awesome and I am sure there's not a nerd here that would love to have one, but they are a pain in the ass to keep clean and organized. The Kindle solves this for me very well: all my books are online, I don't even need to keep them in my device if I don't want to. And I don't have to worry about deleting a purchased copy by accident.

    Just having my library organized that way, and not taking space in my house, and knowing that for the time being Amazon is not going anywhere (Amazon dropping their ebooks push sounds as weird as Apple deciding to walk away from digital music) makes it a little less painful to pay a little more for SOME of these books. And now my wife is hooked on it too, so on the long run I'll probably save money.

    What I would really like to see is Amazon to take on the college books scam. I finished college more than 14 years ago, and I still feel like I got raped as far as the cost of my books went. My friends that are currently going through college break my heart when they tell me about what they are paying for their books, it is just unreasonable as hell, especially when the subject matter on some of these doesn't change from year-to-year.

  • Re:corrrection (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sheafification (1205046) on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:30PM (#26787041)

    I'm a mathematician and have frequent need to reference books and papers for particular results. When I'm away at a conference and I'm bringing some journal papers along for the trip I either need to (1)print out every reference the paper cites in case I need it, (2)rely on the host institution's library which, while usually very extensive, it not generally set-up for guests to have full access, or (3)hope I already know the results they're going to reference.

    Being able to download a journal article and all of its citations, and all of their citations, etc. to a specified level would be a killer app for academics. Being able to have all the papers we need on hand is incredibly useful. Having reference books as well would be irresistible.

    I imagine anyone that refers to technical documents would feel similarly.

  • by Aquitaine (102097) <{sam} {at} {iamsam.org}> on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:34PM (#26787115) Homepage

    This was one of my chief complaints when I bought my girlfriend a Kindle for Christmas.

    Then I looked into it - you can have up to six Kindles on one account. If I buy one of these for myself, and she buys a book, or I buy a book, we both get it.

    Of course, if we split up we have to haggle over who gets Kindle Account Custody, or else see what one another is reading for eternity. :) And for $659 between the two (I paid $300 during the 'Oprah' sale on the Kindle 1 in November), it's still not cheap.

  • by SupremoMan (912191) on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:35PM (#26787149)

    that this thing looks ugly as sin? I have the first version of the kindle, and this one just looks uglier. The screen is the same size from what I gathered, but it looks smaller. That's because the rest of the thing is larger, except that it is thinner. But the larger width and height gives it the illusion of a smaller screen. That just doesn't sit well with me. I'm not crazy about the new keyboard either.

    At least it has all the features of the previous one, including wireless internet. As far as cost of books, you don't have to buy them, you can "pirate" books if you want.

    Disclaimer: I am in no shape or form advocating copyright infringement. Nor the use of the word "piracy" or any derivatives there of, as it pertains to copyright infringement.

  • by DrVomact (726065) on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:55PM (#26787547) Journal

    DRM is bad, agreed—but monopoly is worse. If you buy a Kindle, you are buying into a scheme where you can buy media from only one vendor, and your media is not likely to ever be readable anywhere but on your Kindle.

    I'm not buying any ebook until the publishing industry gets together and agrees on a standard (i.e., decides just which crappy DRM scheme they will stick us with.) That would mean the beginnings of a real competitive market in the ebook field: you would have a choice of manufacturers from which to choose, and a choice of media vendors.

    The ebook situation today is as though there were a few companies selling DVD players, and each would only play DVDs made by that company. Would you buy one? That was, in fact, the actual situation at the very start of the audio record industry. Some people did buy those early proprietary format record players, for the sheer novelty value. I suppose that's the reason people buy Kindles. But ebooks will not become ubiquitous until the media rights issues are straightened out in a way that's at least minimally acceptable to manufacturers, publishers, and readers alike.

  • by topher_k (622399) <topher.kersting@com> on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:56PM (#26787567) Homepage
    No argument there. My main reason for getting the Kindle was newspaper access (I really like being able to wake up to my L.A. Times in Chattanooga) and not proprietary eBook reading. I would really like to be able to share the proprietary books with friends (currently I can only share with my significant other's Kindle), but it hasn't been a show-stopper for me.
  • by guidryp (702488) on Monday February 09, 2009 @03:18PM (#26787997)

    I read a couple of books on a Palm. I don't need a screen this big, so the device is no longer portable.

    I am instead considering an ipod touch with stanza. That screen is much better than my old palm and should be plenty good for reading on the go.

    The touch is smaller and more versatile to me.

    Is there much of a counter argument for people who don't have eyesight issues?

  • by Brandee07 (964634) on Monday February 09, 2009 @03:21PM (#26788067)
    http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&categoryId=8198552921644523780 [sonystyle.com]

    Primary competitor to the Kindle has no wireless at all and ranges from $300-400, the same price range.

  • by berend botje (1401731) on Monday February 09, 2009 @03:33PM (#26788279)
    No, by Amazon sending me the Kindle version of all paper books I've bought with them.
  • by Chabo (880571) on Monday February 09, 2009 @04:16PM (#26789055) Homepage Journal

    What about people like me, who pick and choose the textbooks to buy?

    For most Computer Science classes, all I needed was a language reference. The professors would assign a $90 textbook that was little more than a language reference, and I'd buy the O'Reilly book on the language for $20-50. C, C++, Perl, SML... I even bought one for Java, then never used it, cause I always had Sun's copy of the API reference available online. The only other class I bought a book for was Artificial Intelligence, cause I needed an AI algorithm reference.

    Most of my other classes really didn't require buying the books, either. For my Political Science classes, most of the material was public domain anyway (I don't need a hardcopy of the Communist Manifesto [gutenberg.org]). Math was about the only exception, but then you only need one copy among 3-4 friends who do the homework together.

    So, if I were a student of yours, I wouldn't buy a Kindle on your logic that I'd save money on textbooks, because I really wouldn't.

  • by Sancho (17056) * on Monday February 09, 2009 @05:35PM (#26790247) Homepage

    "And then I can't read until it's returned to me. Fantastic."

    And that's different from dead-tree how?

    Did you mentally insert an "it" in my quote?

    I said that I couldn't /read/ until it was returned to me, not that I couldn't read "it". The clear difference between loaning a dead-tree book to someone and loaning my reader to someone is that if I loan the dead-tree book, I can still read something else. If I loan someone my Kindle...not so much. Well, I can get a dead-tree book to read, but then what's the point of the Kindle?

    I understand the technology and where it's going. I'm saying that I don't like it, and I'm stating the reasons.

  • by SputnikPanic (927985) on Monday February 09, 2009 @05:55PM (#26790621)

    I've got a pretty big library too, acquired much in the same manner as yours -- used-book stores, library sales, etc. As a percentage, the number of books that I've bought at full price is pretty small. Nonetheless, I did go ahead and buy a Kindle about 8 months ago, this despite my reservations about DRM. My reasoning in buying the Kindle basically boiled down to:

    - I wanted to see some sort of e-book reader and platform remain viable in the marketplace. Every other attempt has either failed (Rocket Reader, for example) or has negligible market presence. With Amazon's name behind it, I felt that Kindle would be the first e-book reader/platform not to fold after a couple of years and to have a reasonable chance for success.

    - Given the technology currently available, I think Amazon got most of the features right: non-backlit display, search functionality (which IIRC, is or was lacking on the Sony), etc. Yes, color would be nice, but e-ink's not there yet.

    - I wanted to reward Amazon for understanding that e-books should not cost nearly as much as dead-tree books. I think, also, that this is something that Amazon is trying to get through to publishers.

    - I felt reasonably confident that the DRM issues would gradually be resolved -- maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually. Case in point: much of the music you purchase online is now DRM-free; this of course wasn't the case when iTunes and such first came about. Also, I think that Amazon understands where the consumer is at on the DRM issues. When they started selling MP3s, it was DRM-free from the get-go.

    - An e-book reader is great for reading works that are public domain and no longer in print. Go into a bookstore, even a used-book store, and see what you can find by, say, Jules Verne. Probably the three or four titles that everyone knows: 20k Leagues, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Around the World in 80 Days, maybe Mysterious Island. Verne wrote something like 50 other titles, though, and dead-tree versions of them aren't terribly easy to find. (Thanks Project Gutenberg and manybooks.net!)

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday February 09, 2009 @07:23PM (#26791809) Journal

    One sony and both iRex devices seem to have touchscreen capability, according to this page.

    It seems to reduce the text quality though, at least judging by the Sony readers. The one without touchscreen (PRS-505) has noticeably higher contrast and whiter background than the one with it (PRS-700). Given the choice, I went for 505 for precisely this reason - I don't need to mark and search for text in fiction books, and none of the existing readers are good enough to read technical books & materials (except possibly for iRex, but that one's insanely expensive).

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@@@world3...net> on Monday February 09, 2009 @08:36PM (#26792483) Homepage

    The situation is far worse than even the bad old days of DRM'ed music.

    There is Palm eReader, MobiPocket, Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader formats with DRM. Then there is text, PDF and other DRM-free formats.

    You can either choose to pay for your books and end up with dodgy DRM laden crap that will only work on one or two devices, or you can just go to The Pirate Bay and load up for free. Unlike music, it's not like you can just buy a physical copy and rip it, although I'm not sure how legally dubious downloading something you already own just to format-shift is.

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