UPDATED: Kindle 2 shows sleeker, richer device with Stephen King

  • Chicago (IL) - Looking at the revamped Kindle 2 gives you the immediate impression its designers were solidly on about form and function. With the straight QWERTY keyboard layout, joystick-like thumb control instead of a wheel for scrolling around, and overall its thinner, lighter, more Apple-like footprint, the Kindle 2 could become a viable book replacement for those who didn't feel the same way about the original Kindle.

    Additional images of the device can be seen at Mobile Read, along with their accessories page.

    The first thing which is evident is how nicely engineered the Kindle 2 is. It is sleek in appearance, as thin as a pencil, and with its metal backing it looks solid enough to be built to last.

    There are large buttons along the side for book and page navigation, which allow for one or two-handed reading. At the top, it appears to have jacks for headphone out. The wheel in Kindle 1 has been replaced with a joystick-like device, along with MENU and BACK buttons. The keyboard is a straight-across QWERTY style which, while smaller than traditional keyboards, compared to Kindle 1's split keyboard with rotated keys, it would prove much faster for typing.

    For those who don't know, Kindle is an e-Book reader which allows digital downloads of many popular books for viewing on this single device. Rather than carrying several books around, or having difficulty trying to remember what chapter so-an-so's quote was in, Kindle allows multiple books to be stored with advanced searching abilities exposed to the reader.

    Stephen King exclusive?

    The Wall Street Journal is reporting on a possible exclusivity deal with Stephen King which would allow his books to go out digitally only to Kindle owners - at least for a time - and that Amazon will officially announce Kindle 2 today.

    Check out Amazon.com's media room throughout the day to see if they officially announce.

    February 9, 2009 - 10:57am CST
    Amazon.com has
    the upcoming February 24 release date for its Kindle 2. Taken from the press release:
    Kindle 2 is purpose-built for reading with a high-resolution 6-inch electronic paper display that looks and reads like real paper, which lets users read for hours without the eyestrain caused by reading on a backlit display. More than 230,000 books are now available in the Kindle Store, including 103 of 110 current New York Times Best Sellers and New Releases, which are typically $9.99. Top U.S. and international magazines and newspapers plus more than 1,200 different blogs are also available. Kindle 2 is available for pre-order starting today for $359 at http://amazon.com/kindle2 and will ship February 24.
    Author Stephen King announced today that he is releasing a novella, “Ur,” which will only be available on Kindle ... Ur is available for pre-order beginning today and will be released later this month. For Kindle customers who pre-order, King’s new novella will download automatically when it becomes available. 

    New features

    2GB memory allows up to 1,500 books (up from 200 in original Kindle), a 6-inch, 600 x 800 16-gray shade display (up from 4-gray shades in original Kindle), 25% longer battery life allowing for 4-5 days of continuous use with wireless turned on, or up to two weeks with wireless turned off, a built-in New Oxford American Dictionary with 250,000 definitions (definitions appear instantly at the bottom of the page), a new "Read To Me" feature with Text-to-Speech conversion with an undisclosed number of both male and female voices.

    The Kindle 2 includes Whispersync, which automatically syncs with the original Kindle. Amazon also indicates an additional range of "mobile devices" with auto-sync features will be available in the future - possibly cell phones. the Kindle store now includes newspaper and magazine subscriptions, such as The New Yorker, for 5.99 to $14.99 per month for newspapers, and 1.25 to $3.49 per month for magazines.