posted by Thom Holwerda on Mon 9th Feb 2009 22:41 UTC
IconThe massive success of Amazon's Kindle electronic reader caught just about everyone by surprise. The combination of an advanced e-ink display, insanely long battery life, and easy-to-use available-anywhere wireless content delivery ensured that the Kindle made its way to the hearts of many devout readers. Today, Amazon launched the Kindle 2.

The Kindle 2 comes with a number of improvements over its predecessor. The screen has seen the most work, with drawing speed being improved by 20%, allowing Amazon to get rid of the tiny LCD strip from the first Kindle. The e-ink display can now display more shades of gray as well, and it comes with more fonts for better readability.

The click wheel has been replaced by a five-way nub controller, which should make navigation easier. The device is also a lot thinner; it's actually thinner than a pencil, and weights less too, making it easier to carry around with you. Battery life has also been improved, allowing the Kindle 2 to be without juice for two weeks.

The page flip buttons are now smaller, and pivot inwards, removing the annoyance of accidental page flips. THe keyboard has been completely revamped, but according to Ars, not necessarily for he better. It's a full qwerty keyboard, but with some odd button locations. The biggest problem they noted, however, is that the keyboard lacks an offset; the keys are aligned vertically, which made typing annoying, according to Ars. Ars further concludes:

Overall, I have to say that the Kindle 2 is a far superior device to the first iteration, and really shows an attention to detail that, based on the earlier device, it wasn't clear that Amazon had in it. More significantly, perhaps, is the fact that the company has clearly made sensible fixes to many of the problems, which demonstrates a clear commitment to listening to its customers. The changes give me hope that, when the hardware's ready, the remaining issues (primarily the keyboard and the small screen) will be fixed. It makes me anxious to see what's in store for Kindle 3.

The Kindle 2 will be available in the US February 24, for USD 359. No word yet on an international launch.

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