Amazon Kindle 2 Review

Just when you thought that wireless reading couldn’t get any more exciting, Amazon comes and launches the Amazon Kindle 2, a sleeker, thinner, and lighter version of the hugely successful and much-raved Amazon Kindle. Before we dive into this Kindle 2 review, it’s important to understand just how hot this ebook reader has become.

The first Kindle version was so popular that it was sold out several weeks before Christmas. Amazon was out of stock of the Kindles through Christmas and right into the new year.

Consumers who placed an order anyway were told their Kindle would be delivered in 10-13 weeks. For those consumers who were willing to wait, they got a nice surprise. They were shipped the brand new Amazon Kindle 2 generation as it hit the Amazon website in February 2009!

Amazon Kindle 2: In-depth review

The eBook technology just got on a whole new level with the enhanced features of the Amazon Kindle 2.

As slim as your typical magazine at just over 1/3 of an inch, and weighing less than most paperbacks at 10.2 ounces, that’s what I would call light reading.

But there is definitely nothing light about this device capacity to give you hours of reading pleasure.

It now has seven times storage capability, allowing you to keep over 1,500 books, each of which you can be delivered in under 60 seconds.

Maybe your eyes would want to quit on you, but the Amazon ereader just goes on practically forever.

With 25% longer battery life and 20% faster page turns, you can read for days without needing to recharge.

Plus, it now has 16 shades of gray for sharper images and text, so it doesn’t only read like real paper but reads well in any lighting condition.

The Cool New Feature of the Amazon Kindle 2

Tired of reading but you just can’t put that book down? No worries. Try out the “Read to Me” feature of the ebook reader. This new Text-to-Speech feature lets the device just read out loud any book or magazine to you!

Cost

While the device itself may cost a pretty penny, book prices including New York Times Bestsellers and New Releases are available for a few bucks. You can choose from a wide range of over 3000,000 US and international books, magazines, blogs, and newspapers, with no need for wireless bills and plans.

All Your Favorite Books With You – Without the Weight and Space

In most of its features, the Amazon ebook reader does measure up as promised. Weighing just over 10 ounces and being a 1/3 of an inch thick, it is lighter than most paperbacks, and is remarkably thin, being as slim as a typical magazine. It can store up to 1,500 books; all packed in a device that has a “nice, solid feel without being heavy.”

Easier, Longer Reads with Crisper, Glare-Free Text

Amazon has made the most use of the e-ink technology with the Kindle 2, introducing 16 shades of gray and 6 font sizes designed for clearer, crisper text and images.

For those not familiar with e-ink technology it eliminates eye strain by producing a display that is virtually identical to printed paper. Even when using the Amazon ereader in broad daylight, the reading experience is still totally glare-free.

With a more convenient and faster page-turning feature and 25% more battery life than its predecessor, you can read non-stop for a few days without having to recharge, even two weeks with the wireless turned off.

“Look Ma, No Hands!” – Text-to-Speech

One of the new additions that the Amazon Second Generation e-reader introduces is the text-to-speech feature. With this, you can have the device read to you, simply switching from reading to listening, with the choice between a male or female voice. When you’re ready to start reading again, you can easily go back to where you left off.

While some say this is a totally unnecessary feature as the device was designed in the first place for avid readers and not listeners, this is still a nice option to have for those who have difficulty reading text of any size or simply want to sit back, close their eyes, and have a book read to them.

Your Choice of Reading Content Anytime, Anywhere

With the introduction of the Whispernet technology, which provide U.S wireless coverage via Sprint’s 3G high-speed data network, there is no need for you to be in a Wi-Fi hotspot or even connected to a PC!

As long as you can get a cell phone signal, you can gain instant access to over 230,000 titles for purchase including thousands of bestsellers, top US and international newspapers, magazines, and even blogs. Enjoy wireless delivery of your choice in less than 60 seconds. What’s more, you don’t pay a single cent for this wireless connection and every purchase is backed up at Amazon.

The Little Details Do Matter

The redesigned navigation of the Amazon ebook reader 2.0 holds testament to the fact that Amazon has listened to the complaints of first-generation Kindle owners.

For one, Amazon’s ereader 2nd generation got rid of the awkward little rolling wheel that was used for navigating around, replacing it with a 5-way joystick which is much more straightforward to use especially with the Menu and Back buttons located just above and below it.

In addition, whereas the page-turning buttons of the original device were longer, larger, and sloped outwards leading to many accidental page turns, the buttons for page-turning of the device are smaller and completely flat, eliminating the problem. Clearly, simple changes to these buttons make for more convenient reading and this is evident in the newer version.

Great Features

Reading enthusiasts, frequent travelers, and those who simply cannot do without the latest gadget will simply swoon over the features of the new ereader. This important factor could hurt Amazon as there are other ebook reader manufacturers fast catching up which offer reading devices at lower prices.

Is the device worth the price? Possibly.

Other Drawbacks

Even with the price issues aside, the Kindle 2nd generation has some other minor drawbacks.

First, the option for removable memory was removed. While thedevice now carries an amazing 2G of internal memory, other people still find it useful to be able to organize their files and music into different external memory cards.

Second, the batteries are now sealed right into the gadget. Amazon says that with its extended battery life, replacement batteries are no longer necessary.

Finally, a purchase of the Amazon device no longer comes with a protective case so you’ll have to shell out an additional $10-$30 for it.

How To Navigate Using Easy Shortcuts

If you want to save time and just get on with your reading, here are some very useful shortcuts that you can use with your ereader. Note that Alt – letter or key or Shift – letter or key means that you hold down the Alt/Shift key and then press the other letter or button indicated.

Most Commonly Used Kindle Shortcuts

  • To bookmark – Alt-B
  • Go to the Kindle Store – Alt-Home
  • Take a screenshot – Alt+Shift+G
  • Play MineSweeper – Alt+Shift+M
  • Refresh the screen and get rid of ghosting (double imaging) – Alt-G
  • Reload a page while in web mode – Alt-R
  • See Wireless Network – Press Menu and look to the top right of the screen
  • Know the time – Press Menu and look to the top center of the screen
  • Find out the memory available on your machine – Press Menu and look to the top left of the screen

Shortcuts for the MP3 Player

  • To continue or stop background audio – Alt-Space
  • Jump to the next track – Alt-F

Entering text with shorcuts

  • To put in a question mark – Alt-6
  • Put in a comma – Alt-7
  • Place in a colon – Alt-8
  • To put in quotation marks – Alt-9
  • Put in a single quotation mark – Alt-7

Shortcuts for the Read to Me or Text to Speech (TTS) feature

  • To start and stop TTS – Shift-Sym
  • Pause or continue while TTS is on – Shift key. If this doesn’t work for you try the Spacebar button.
  • To toggle between male and female voices and alter voice speed while TTS is on – Alt-Aa keys then use the 5-way controller
  • To begin TTS at a specific part of a page – navigate the cursor that location first and then start TTS.

How To Change Your Kindle Screensaver

If the screensavers are not so much to your taste, here’s a guide on how to change your Kindle screensaver. This custom update courtesy of dark nova of MobileRead Forums allows you to replace the Amazon screensavers that are shown when the Kindle is on sleep mode, with pictures of your choice.

Before trying out this Kindle How-To, be aware that there is a potential risk to this process and that you are doing this of your own volition. Installing custom screensavers however, does not necessarily mean voiding your warranty. That said, it would also be good for you to know that several people have tried doing this and have been successful in their efforts.

So now here are the steps to a whole new set of custom screen savers:

Step-by-Step guide on How To Change Your Screensaver

1. Make sure that you are using the latest version of the Kindle software on your device. If not, it is best that you upgrade your software first.

2. Download the screensaver file to your computer and unzip it.

3. Via USB, connect your device to the computer and locate the Kindle directory usually K:\.

4. Then go to the \system folder in the machines directory and create a new screen_saver subfolder there.

5. Put in all custom pictures that you want your Kindle screensaver to display one after the other. You may use both PNG and JPEG files but don’t use the 10-megapixel photos from your digicam as these would take too long to load.

6. Remember to resize images to a dimension of 600 x 800 before copying to the folder.

7. In the screensaver hack that you’ve downloaded and unzipped in step #2, you will find a file there named Update_kindle2_user_screen_savers.bin. Copy this to the root directory of your ebook reader.

8. Disconnect your Kindle from the computer by unplugging the USB.

9. In your Kindle 2, select “Menu” then press “Settings.” Under this, press “Menu” and choose “Update Your Kindle”.

10. If your installation was done right, it shouldn’t take a minute to update your device and do a reboot.

11. To check if your new screensaver was successfully set, you should see this line in the bottom portion of your display:

How To Use Your Kindle Device Outside The US

The Amazon devices are gaining widespread popularity even outside the United States. And one of the main problems that Kindle owners living overseas have is basically how to use the device as soon as they get hold of it.

Some Kindle owners have even gotten to thinking that the Amazon Kindle 2 can only be used wherever there is Whispernet technology available but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

So, are you one of those new to Kindle and living overseas? No problem.

Step-by-Step guide on how to use the Kindle 2 outside the US

1. First of all you would need to have a US credit card and US address to be able to set up an Amazon account, purchase a Kindle, and buy ebooks using that account too.

2. As soon as you get your ebook reader, go to the Books section of the Amazon page, where there are thousands of books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs to choose from.

3. Click the Buy button, and you automatically get an email from Amazon notifying you of your purchase.

4. Go to the media library and find a header marked Download. You can either go to the All page where you can find all the content you can download, or choose the particular type of content you are downloading, e.g. book, newspaper, or magazine.

5. You are given two choices there: Download to Computer or Download to device. You would want to opt for Download to Computer.

6. Download all your files to your computer via your Media Library.

7. Then transfer all downloaded files to your device. Make sure your device is turned on and awake before doing so.

8. If you have already registered your ebook reader and have files stored in your Amazon account but then transferred overseas or in an area where Whispernet is unavailable, you can still access your account through your computer and go to www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle. Again, just download your books to your computer and transfer to the Kindle via USB.

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Final Verdict

The Amazon ebook reader Kindle is by no means perfect. Yet it does carry some great improvements from the original model. I would still choose this as the best eBook reading device available – by a long shot! Oprah declared that the first generation Kindle was her “new favorite thing in the world.” I wonder what she would call the Amazon second generation!