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Hardware Technology

Amazon Announces Kindle 2, With Slew of New Features 451

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 Rinikusu ( 28164 ) on Monday February 09, 2009 @01:39PM (#26786113)

    Come on Amazon. It still looks like a plastic toy. For god's sakes, team up with Sony or Apple (kidnap Jonathon Ives). Alternatively, license out your DRM tech so Sony can build a reader compatible with your service.

    Frankly, I can't wait until someone figures out a way to make a digital version of the public library. Make it like O'Reilly's Safari: Monthly subscription, X amount of titles on your "shelf" at any given time (tiered subscription?), with the option to "buy it" for permanent downloads (or just buy it outright and skip the sub-shelf), etc. I'd gladly pay $15/month for something like this, much like I already do with Napster To Go.

  • Funny this. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thesolo ( 131008 ) * <slap@fighttheriaa.org> on Monday February 09, 2009 @01:44PM (#26786187) Homepage
    I was considering buying one of these once the new version came out. One of the media release photos, meant to show the slimness of the device, has the Kindle leaning up next to a copy of pop-sociologist Malcolm Gladwell's new book, "The Outliers."

    A few days ago, I was invited to the Union League in Philadelphia to see Mr. Gladwell speak to a group of roughly 550 local leaders, CEOs, etc. We were all provided with a "free" (in quotes because there was an entrance fee on all tickets, so the book was paid for by that cost) copy of his latest book and breakfast, and then afterward Mr. Gladwell did a Q&A session followed by a book signing.

    It was the collaboration at the event, with people scribbling notes in the margins of the book, discussing certain paragraphs, and having the author sign each copy, that made me relish having the hardback with me. (Even if I do find his work a bit trite at times.)

    In the end, I've opted not to buy this gadget, because ultimately, it's just not as satisfying or lasting as having a book. I have books given to me by my grandparents that they had as teenagers, what do you think the odds are that a Kindle or the formats it supports will last even two decades? I'm going to stick to my dead trees, thank you.
  • by vivek7006 ( 585218 ) on Monday February 09, 2009 @01:50PM (#26786293) Homepage

    My beef with kindle is use of DRM and its high price. For $350, I would want unlimited access to books.

  • by A. B3ttik ( 1344591 ) on Monday February 09, 2009 @01:53PM (#26786359)

    Come on Amazon. It still looks like a plastic toy. For god's sakes, team up with Sony or Apple (kidnap Jonathon Ives). Alternatively, license out your DRM tech so Sony can build a reader compatible with your service.

    It actually looks... clunky to me... like an "Electric Book of the Future!" from the 1970s.

    The screen appears too small, but that's really because there are far too many buttons, and way too much unused space.

    For the price of an iPhone, can't they make it touchscreen?

  • Read-to-me (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NonUniqueNickname ( 1459477 ) on Monday February 09, 2009 @01:54PM (#26786381)
    Having an e-ink screen and text-to-speech on the same device is an odd match. If you want to read, read. If you want to listen, get an audio book for your mp3 player. Spare yourself the synthetic voice. Unless you enjoy imagining Stephen Hawking is in your car reading to you.
  • by Yewbert ( 708667 ) on Monday February 09, 2009 @01:55PM (#26786407)

    Exactly, and moreover, as someone whose personal library (easily several thousand books, 'bout half of which I've read) came mostly from USED bookstores, specialty dealers, random online sources, yard sales, etc., the idea that I don't have an option of buying used/wholesale/opportunistically-on-sale is pretty much a deal-killer for me.

  • by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <enderandrew AT gmail DOT com> on Monday February 09, 2009 @01:57PM (#26786435) Homepage Journal

    Will I pay $359 for a dedicated e-book reader? Not likely.

    Would I pay $20 for an app on the iPhone or G-phone that would allow me access to the Amazon e-book store. Sure I would.

  • Re:corrrection (Score:5, Insightful)

    by c_jonescc ( 528041 ) on Monday February 09, 2009 @01:59PM (#26786481)
    uh, except the first version already held a few hundred books (without using an SD card), and the battery would give several days of reading and several weeks of standby already.

    Sure, the new numbers are better, but not so much that one would now find their older version 'useless'. 7 times more than you need is still more than you need.

    Books aren't like songs - there's not really a lot to gain by having 1500 with you at all times. I keep ~5 books on mine at any time usually, just because there's not really any motivation to have more. I tend to only read one book at a time or two in parallel.

    My main complaint with the gen 1 device is that even though it has a mini USB port, it can't be charged that way with any standard cell phone charger. It has it's own charger and connection, which means one more charger that I have to travel with. I haven't seen anything that says if this has been changed with the updated device.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:02PM (#26786543)
    Most consumers will not pay a barely discounted or not at all discounted price on a heavily DRMed good that's limited to a single device (be it iPod or Kindle) that could have the plug pulled at any time. Many DVDs now come with "Digital copies" with iPod and Windows compatibility, and they're selling like hotcakes. It's easier and it makes sense.

    Want to spur consumers to use eBooks?
    -Consider DRM-free books with the name embedded. The geeks will get it out, but for the majority of people, they'll buy their own books and not share.
    -If you are going to use DRM, make it worth the hassle by making the book much cheaper. In essence, when I buy a DRMed eBook, I'm buying a license that can be revoked at any time to read the text. Why should I pay $18 for an eBook when it's from a $20 hardcover? Especially without distribution or even physical costs.
    -If Amazon sold Kindle "codes" in the books to apply the book to your Kindle, you get the pride of owning a book (that can't ever be turned off) and the convenience of a Kindle copy too. And newspapers, if they don't want to go the way of the dodo, should include Kindle access for print subscribers. I get the WSJ and they want me to pay TWICE to get it on a Kindle. Even if I got a Kindle I wouldn't pay twice.

    At $360, with a nonremovable battery (thinness is good, but I'd prefer being able to pop in a spare) and expensive (for the format) content, I can't bite. I've wanted to get an eBook reader for years, but this isn't ready yet.
  • by Sancho ( 17056 ) * on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:11PM (#26786707) Homepage

    That's the point of DRM-encumbered digital media. They want to kill the second-hand market. If they can keep people from selling their books/music or loaning them to other people, then they get to sell that a few more copies.

  • by blueZ3 ( 744446 ) on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:14PM (#26786739) Homepage

    DRM is 100% the deal killer (for ebooks) for me.

    I don't mind iTunes (though I've only bought maybe 30 or 40 songs) since I can burn the songs to CD and I have them for as long as Apples is around or my CD doesn't degrade, whichever is longer. And I've bought some TV episodes for my daughter to watch on my iPhone--same deal: it's not a huge loss to me if I can't see Backyardigans for some reason :-)

    But my affinity for books is such that I just cannot accept losing access to ones that I've paid for based on the service going under. It might not be rational, but I just don't have the same feeling about music.

    I'll buy eBooks from Baen based on the fact that I can download text/HTML versions that I can keep even if their bookstore goes under. But I'm not buying DRM eBook content and I'm not subsidizing Amazon's DRM efforts by buying their reader.

  • Re:Funny this. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:14PM (#26786743)

    And yet, some of us just want to read the books, not treasure them as eternal keepsakes. That's what eBooks are about.

    I won't say I don't have books that I treasure because of who gave them to me (Grandma's gift of Mark Twain) but those books are few and far between. I read a -lot- of books, and 12 years ago or ago, I had so many that it wasn't possible to move to a new house without getting rid of some. I moved across the country. Most of my books were sold then, with only a precious few kept.

    Had I had eBooks, I'd still have most of the those books instead of the $.50 each I got from them. And yes, I'd probably re-read most of them.

    So now I buy eBooks. I can read them whenever I want and they weigh nothing. If I lose them, I can re-download them for free and all I might lose is a bookmark. (Losing a book while reading it would be an odd event, though.)

    What I'm trying to say is that you're closing off the idea of eBooks without ever having given them a chance. There will always be things that real books do better, but eBooks have things as well.

  • by cthulu_mt ( 1124113 ) on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:19PM (#26786817)
    Good thing its a free market. You can choose not to use their services.
  • by retupmoca ( 932711 ) <retupmoca AT gmail DOT com> on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:19PM (#26786819)

    It's not a screen, it's digital paper. There's no touchable form of this yet.


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

  • Re:Cute. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:29PM (#26787019)

    "Information Received. The Device Software will provide Amazon with data about your Device and its interaction with the Service (such as available memory, up-time, log files and signal strength) and information related to the content on your Device and your use of it (such as automatic bookmarking of the last page read and content deletions from the Device). Annotations, bookmarks, notes, highlights, or similar markings you make in your Device are backed up through the Service. Information we receive is subject to the Amazon.com Privacy Notice."

    Damn you, Amazon, for preserving my annotations and bookmarks! How dare you enable me to keep multiple devices in sync or to avoid losing my contents, place and notes if I lose my Kindle and buy a replacement device!


  • Re:Funny this. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:30PM (#26787039)

    Do you realize your entire argument could have been based around a backstage pass, having your boxed CD or Vinyl Record, and being glad that they signed it and vowing to never turn that in for one of those new-fangled iPod thingies with the same basic effect, right?

  • by ahoehn ( 301327 ) <andrew@h[ ]hn ['oe.' in gap]> on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:31PM (#26787071) 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.

    That's the thing that angers me about Amazon's current Kindle plan. I mean, being able to buy a book from anywhere is great, but not worth an extra $200 for me.

    I would happily restrict myself to only being able to buy books when I'm plugged into my computer via USB, or in range of a wifi network if it meant that I could buy a Kindle for $150 instead of $350.

    I don't understand why Amazon insists on only selling one expensive version of this product. If they released a cheaper version sans cellular capabilities, I think they'd sell lots more, and by extension sell many more e-books.

    Oh Amazon, why do you fail me?

  • by jpmahala ( 181937 ) on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:32PM (#26787095)

    Mod Parent Down. Too much FUD. Most of the material I read on my Kindle comes from feedbooks.com. You can also convert from many other sources, including PDFs and Word Documents. You aren't limited to DRM'd books only.

  • by OG ( 15008 ) on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:34PM (#26787123)

    I'd get one of these the second it became usable for textbooks/research papers. You need 3 things for that to happen:

    1) Native PDF support (which I don't believe this has).
    2) Color.
    3) A pen for the ability to annotate.

    That would be a killer device. This...is not.

  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:44PM (#26787297) Homepage Journal

    It's not just free books that are the issue, it's compatibility with paid-for books. There seem to be various "standards" for eBooks, and buying a Kindle basically locks you in to Amazon's DRM-fest.

    When they start offering books in plain text or a similarly light weight and open format (because having some more advanced formatting for books is nice) I'll buy an eBook reader.

  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Monday February 09, 2009 @03:42PM (#26788463)

    Since you are at a university, how do you find the kindle sized screen for textbooks. I'm thinking the normally large math sized textbooks.

  • by TheModelEskimo ( 968202 ) on Monday February 09, 2009 @03:51PM (#26788617)
    Oops, cut my reading paragraph out but never pasted it. I meant to address the issue of reading - having looked at a Kindle and played with it (NOT the 2.0 version, mind you), I found I preferred the reader features I found on my PDA, especially those that come with uBook. Way too many to mention, but I've tweaked the thing to the point where even my picky graphic designer tastes for things like line spacing (leading) and text hinting are accomodated.
  • by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Monday February 09, 2009 @03:53PM (#26788647) Journal

    it is hopefully the last time I will have to buy that book.

    Given you've bought it in yet another DRM format, I can pretty much guarantee it's not the last time you'll have to buy that book.

  • by bwalling ( 195998 ) on Monday February 09, 2009 @03:59PM (#26788779) Homepage

    I work at a university. I looked at the Kindle as an inexpensive way for students to get most (or all) their textbooks digitally. The $349 is nothing compared to the cash amounts students are bilked every year.

    I keep seeing this come up as an opportunity for the Kindle. This is one of the places where I think the Kindle would be a huge failure. I buy textbooks used on the Internet (NOT from a bookstore) and sell them used on the Internet. I come close to breaking even with the exception of transaction fees (commission to half.com and shipping costs). I don't understand why I would be interested in paying $349 in order to pay $100/book for books I can't sell, and worse, might have some kind of time lock associated with them (these are already sold on some websites).

  • by dbc ( 135354 ) on Monday February 09, 2009 @05:02PM (#26789733)

    My wife has a Kindle 1.0, and loves it. She has loaded a large number of her favorite reference volumes (finance, mostly) on it, and cleared out several bookshelves in her office. For her, the dollars spent are well worth the space saved. The math is easy... compute the cost per square foot of owning a house in Silicon Valley, and consider if you really want to use those square feet as storage for books that have no emotional value. The Kindle is a bargain when analyzed like that. DRM and short life of the media is not an issue... all the books she put on it will be of little relevence in a few years. Oh... being able to make any book a "large print volume" is an outstanding benefit for those of us of bifocal age.

    As for me, I wish I could put my entire O'Reilly bookshelf on it so that "lex & yacc" or "Practical C++ Programming" were always in my laptop bag where ever I went. But the Kindle technology sucks at displaying technical content. See Tim O'Reilly's blog post of a year or more ago on the topic. That's why you don't see nutshell books on Kindle. And that's why I don't own a Kindle. Wake me when Amazon gets a big, fat clue about formatting technical content. When it's good enough for Tim, it's good enough for me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 09, 2009 @05:03PM (#26789753)
    The problem with that article is that they're talking about the total print run of the paper and dividing that by the number of subscribers. What about the millions of people who buy the NYT on newsstands everyday? The printed copy they're paying for and reading is being taken into account in the printing costs, but they're not being considered as "readers" by Silicon Alley Insider. A perfect example of lying by cherry-picking your numbers.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!