Amazon Introduces Kindle 2
Amazon.com Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced the arrival of Kindle 2, the second version of the online retailer's electronic reading device, at a press conference in New York City Feb. 9. The new device is available for pre-order for $359 at http://www.Amazon.com/kindle2 and will ship Feb. 24.
Calling the Kindle "a seemless, integrated reading experience," Bezos addressed a packed auditorium at The Morgan Library & Museum in midtown Manhattan. He highlighted several of the key features of the latest version:
• At 0.36-inches thick, Kindle 2 is 25-percent thinner than its predecessor. "It was an incredible engineering challenge," said Bezos.
• Kindle 2's 6-inch, 600 X 800 pixel electronic paper display provides 16 shades of gray compared with the four shades available in the original Kindle.
• With 2 GB of memory and the capacity to hold more than 1,500 books, Kindle 2 provides seven times more storage than the original.
• A "text-to-speech" feature gives users the option of having the Kindle 2 read to them. Pages turn automatically while the content is being read, so users can listen hands-free. Users also can choose whether to be read to by a male or female voice, and at varying speeds.
• With 25-percent longer battery life, Kindle 2 users can read for four to five days on one charge with wireless on, and for more than two weeks with wireless turned off. "Kindle 2 sips battery power," commented Bezos.
• Amazon's new Whispersync technology automatically syncs Kindle 2, the original Kindle and, in the future, other mobile devices.
“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 Bezos. He also noted that Amazon's Kindle Store now offers more than 230,000 e-books—up from 90,000 when the original Kindle launched. "And 40,000 of those [e-books] have been added in the last three months," he said.
Bezos then introduced author Stephen King to the audience. King was in attendance to tout the benefits of the Kindle as well as to announce the release of his new novella, "Ur," which will be available only on the Kindle. Describing himself as "a satisfied Kindle customer since December 2007," King then read an excerpt from "Ur," which is available for pre-order and will be released later this month.
Bezos presented King with a one-of-a-kind, pink Kindle 2, similar to the one described in "Ur." "Books and the Kindle are not competing with one another," King told the crowd. "They're like peanut butter and chocolate. Put them together and you have a whole new taste sensation."