Amazon Unveils Kindle 2 & Phone eBooks

Readies a two pronged assault on the paper world.

So it’s as we thought… exactly. First leaked way back in early October, the Kindle 2 got its widely anticipated announcement today…

In line with what we had seen previously, the Kindle 2 represents a fairly major revamp of its predecessor. Most noticeable is a brand new look which shaves significant bulk from the original design, cutting thickness to an iPhone beating 9mm. An all metal back provides increased durability (at the expense of weight – as at 289g it’s only slighter lighter) and there’s an enhanced 6in 600 x 800 pixel 16 shade e-ink display.

Look deeper however and the improvements keep on coming. Memory is now up to 2GB – enough for up to 1,500 eBooks, compared to the 200 on the first Kindle – and speakers located on the rear enable users to switch to a text reader mode (useful when driving). Battery life gets a boost too increasing 25 per cent, something Amazon says should see the Kindle 2 last up to two weeks with WiFi disabled (five days with it on).

The keyboard? Yes, many have wanted this replaced with a virtual one to produce a more elegant form factor and while I do agreed Amazon is at least trying to make best use of it with integrated dictionary searches, free Wikipedia access and the ability to receive email. Word and PDF files are also compatible in a read-only mode for those looking to brush up on work when out and about.

As a special bonus the Kindle 2 will come with a specially written Stephen King novella ‘UR’. It’s a horror tale all about a protagonist who receives a Kindle from Amazon. Hmmmn, I’m sure I could have phrased that better – maybe not! Lastly Amazon is upping its own eBook game with more than 230,000 titles now available for the Kindle to download directly over WiFi while it is cutting prices to $9.99 for best sellers (admittedly not that much less than you can find their tree-bark forms online).

Should the Kindle 2 tickle your fancy then ”’tough”’. While it will launch in the US on 24 February for $360 (approx. £240) there’s still no international release date which suggests a significant wait this side of the Atlantic. *Taps foot impatiently*

”In related news” Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener has been talking with the New York Times and admits the Kindle won’t be its only medium for eBook delivery. “We are excited to make Kindle books available on a range of mobile phones. We are working on that now,” he admitted.

Doing itself out of Kindle sales or bowing to the inevitable? I guess we’ll see…

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