The appeal of electronic book readers such as the Amazon Kindle are both obvious and numerous: what could be more convenient that having hundreds of books at your fingertips wherever you are, and being able to download new ones whenever you feel like it? And when you can also get the latest newspapers from across the globe and magazines as well there is understandably a massive appeal to get an electronic book reader.
One of the first to enter this market was Amazon.com (more famous for their online shopping prowess) with their Kindle and they have been followed by many big names including Sony’s ‘Reader’ as well as some more obscure ones like iRex’s iLiad. But the Amazon Kindle has arguably been the most successful so it was time for version two.
The unimaginatively named Amazon Kindle 2 was released in New York today and it boasts quite an array of improved features. Firstly it has a nice new slim design which not only makes it easier to slip into bags, but also incorporates a much nicer keyboard that doesn’t have the odd looking split in the middle.
It also has a few more practical additional features such as faster page turns and loads more storage with what is now a 2GB hard drive which should be ample space. The screen has also been improved to provide sharper images and there is a new “read-to-me” feature which will read the book to you if you are just too lazy to read it!
In case you were wondering what the keyboard is for, one of its uses is as a note taker which allows you to write notes on sections of the book which is now easier, along with more precise highlighting (for the said note taking).
The screen has also been given a bit of a revamp as it can now support a staggering (yes I’m sorry for being so sarcastic!) 16 shades of grey which is 12 more than its predecessor, and will allow the 600 x 800 screen to display ‘crisp text’ and ‘sharper images and photos’.
The 6 inch screen itself is an interesting piece of technology which attempts to simulate the properties of real paper allowing you to read for extensive periods of time without suffering from the pain experienced from looking at a screen.
This electronic book paper uses light from the surroundings to reflect the image on the screen rather than a backlight giving a more natural look and reducing the need to refresh the page. This in turn gives your eyes a break from having to strain to look and thus creates a more enjoyable reading experience. Unfortunately this means that you cannot read it in the dark using this electronic book reader, unless you have a torch!
Currently 230,000 electronic books are available for the Amazon Kindle 2 and as part of the release author Steven King has announced that his new novella ‘Ur’ will only be released on the Kindle. It is being released in the US for $356 (£238) which is quite expensive for a device that only reads electronic books, but it could well be worth it. We will see!