Monday morning Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) officially announced its second-generation ebook, the Kindle 2 (although leaked photographs of the device have been floating around the internet for some time now).
All-in-all, the new Kindle is a modest step up from the first generation, introducing nothing too radical to the design or functionality but improving the device in a variety of incremental ways.
So just what’s new and different? We’ll take you through the highlights below. If you’ve spotted any other important differences, please let us know in the comments.
- The new Kindle is slightly lighter. The first generation weighed 10.3 ounces while the second weighs only 10.2 ounces.
- It’s much less ugly. Gone is the retro look of the first generation for a curvier and more symmetrical design that (like every other mobile device hitting the market these days) borrows elements from the iPhone.
- The screen has a higher wow factor At six inches tall, it can display 16 shades of gray, and it can turn pages 20% faster.
- It can actually speak to you Amazon’s new Text-to-Speech feature will use a computerized voice to read any book to you in one of three speech rates, and in either a male or female voice.
- The new controls are better designed. Instead of a weird slider on the right-hand side that’s used to move from line to line, there’s a new 5-way joystick. The keyboard is also no longer split into two regions like those funky desktop keyboards you see at Fry’s but never buy.
- There’s been no price drop It still costs roughly the same amount ($359) but at least there’s still no monthly wireless fee for downloading books, magazines, etc.
- It can hold a much bigger library Storage has been boosted to 7x the original size, allowing the device to carry over 1,500 titles at a time.
- It downloads content just as fast. Amazon is touting 60 second downloads for books, etc. — the same rate it gave for the first Kindle.
- You can pick up your reading on a separate Kindle. I’m not sure how useful this will actually be for people, but a new feature called “Whispersync bookmarking” makes it possible to start reading a book on one Kindle then continue reading it on another, just where you left off.
- It still comes in only one color. White.
Some other important facts about the Kindle:
- Amazon has sold 230,000 Kindles to date, which makes up a whopping 10% of the total units sold by the company Apparently, there’s been some confusion. Per a comment below, “They mean that there’s 230,000 books available on the site, and that Kindle book purchases make up 10% of all book purchases. Nothing was said about actual Kindle sales numbers.”
- The new Kindle is available for pre-order now and it’ll start shipping February 24th. Owners of the previous Kindle will get prioritized shipping if they order by tonight, and anyone who has already ordered the first Kindle will automatically have their orders upgraded to the new one.
- The Kindle Store now carries 230,000 books, up from the 90,000 available when the first Kindle launched.
- 103 of the 110 New York Times best sellers are available, just a slight improvement over the 101 available at the first device’s launch.
- Jeff Bezos has talked about how Amazon is working to get the Kindle’s books on other mobile devices. No word yet on which and when, but Amazon has competition here.