By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Amazon.com will begin shipping Kindle 2, the second generation of its 2-year-old electronic book reader, on Feb. 24.
Amazon said the updated device features improved ergonomics, navigation, display, storage capacity and battery life while maintaining subscription-free wireless access to Sprint's 3G data network and a $359 price point.
What truly distinguishes it from the original Kindle, which debuted in November 2007, is a text-to-speech feature and the ability to synchronize with its predecessor. Kindle 2 will also sync with a range of mobile devices believed to include cellphones, although Amazon wouldn't elaborate.
The Author's Guild has objected to the text-to-speech feature, contending its violates copyright law and the rights of authors who license their books for use on audio books. Amazon, which owns audiobook provider Audible, disagreed.
The device itself has the same height, length and weight as its predecessor, but its depth was cut in half to 0.36 inches to make it easier to hold. Other ergonomic improvements include a toggle in place of the original scroll wheel, enabling navigation along horizontal, vertical and diagonal axis; repositioned control buttons to avoid unintentional page turns; 2GB of internal storage vs. the original's 256MB; and a 25 percent boost in battery life.
The screen remains a 6-inch, black-and-white electrophoretic display with a 600x800-pixel resolution, but it now boasts 16 shades of gray vs. four. Pages turn an average of 20 percent faster.
Downloads are now available through Sprint's faster CDMA 1x EV-DO Rev. A network instead of Rev. 0.
Customer back orders for the original Kindle, which was out of stock for much of 2008, have been switched to the new model, Kindle VP Ian Freed told TWICE. The company said production capacity of the new model has been increased.
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