Wednesday, February 11, 2009's second generation wireless eBook

Amazon Kindle have released a second version of their Amazon Kindle 2 electronic book. At US$359 the question is if a dedicated e-Book is more useful than a general purpose netbook for about the same price.

As with the previous version, the Kindle2 has a wireless modem built in which comes with a free account allowing downloading books. There are a number of limitations this system: it is only available on Sprint's USA mobile phone network and while the wireless account is free, the books are not.

Changes to the device itself seem to be minor. It still as the same design with a large portrait monochrome screen above a miniature QWERTY keyboard. Amazon claims the new design is "sleek", as thin as thin as a typical magazine and lighter than a paperback book. However I doubt these were great problems with the previous device. There is more storage and longer battery life (e-books have a longer battery life than a typical laptop in any case). More useful for people with limited eyesight is built in text to speech for reading out books (although the Adobe PDF reader has this feature available for netbooks). have a very clumsy way to get non-Amazon publications into the device. You can send files in Microsoft Word, PDF and HTML formats via Amazon to the device, but are charged ten US cents for each. To avoid the fee you have to email the documents for conversion to the Kindle's format and then upload the returned document with USB. There is no WiFi on the Kindle.

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