February 9, 2009

Kindle 2 introduction imminent

Rumors about the second version of Amazon's successfull Kindle eBook reader device have been flying (echoing) around the blogo-sphere for some time now.

First came this leak of photos and pricing reported by Engadget, via MobileRead (see mobileread post for more photos also).

In these photos the general look of the first kindle is kept, and it changes in a number of other ways, such as:
  • it is much thinner than the original Kindle, and in another photo it's shown to be thinner than your average pencil...which is pretty thin.
  • the back of the device is apparently made of metal, a little like older iPods and iPhones, although I don't see that as much of a "features", except as it might translate into rigidity.
  • there are stereo speakers at the bottom of it, on the back side as shown in this photo.
I don't really get the speakers. It can do audio books (and music) already, and Amazon now own Audible the leading audio book seller - but I see audio books as a one-person thing best done with earphones. Who wants to head an audio book outloud (except maybe when you're in the car on your own)?

Who can complain about thin-ness and lightness? 

It seems to be fast approaching the kind of thin light device that you wouldn't mind adding to your travel bag, and significantly smaller than most of the books it can contain within.
It looks like an improvement over the design of the original Kindle. In particular it looks like it will address one of the major complaints of the first device (apart from it's general ugliness), that the forward and back keys can be hit accidentally too easily while reading producing unwanted page changes.

Aparently there will be an Amzazon event today at 10AM Eastern Time, where everyone is specualting that it will be officially announced.

We'll probably have to wait until then to get official specs, and details on features. But let me speculate:-
  • it may move to a newer generation of the eInk film that is slightly whiter in white state, and slightly faster changing state.
  • it will move to the new eInk "broadsheet" display controller ASIC that updates the screen faster, introduces new update modes depending on the type of content, allows for partial screen updates - and when all combines can enable "cartoon" type animations in parts of the screen for appropriate content.
  • They will have done a lot of refinements of the electronics and firmware to get to a battery performance approaching that of the Sony Reader, and if well done, so that it can really go into sleep mode while reading, then the battery life maybe also be defined in number of page turns, not hours.
  • I'm tempted to speculate that it might move to a faster 3G data connection over its existing 2.5G EVDO network, but I actually think that might be a bad idea! The existing solution seems fast enough from what I hear, and I dread to think what 3G might do to it's battery life if not implemented very well. The heat that 3G chipsets can generate make me wornder if that's why it's got a metal back all of a sudden.
So, significant incremental improvements seem sure. 

My personal request would be to get rid of the keyboard and replace it with a touchscreen. The Sony Reader seems to have made a good job of this, with slick operation and no significant impact on battery life.

Then, make the whole thing display! 
Rather than making it smaller than the device shown in these photos, fill up thatoverall size with wall-to-wall display that can show documents formatted for A/A4 paper readable.

1 comment:

Andrew Mackenzie said...

I goofed with the posting time on this, so you´ll just have to take my word for it I wrote it last night....

News seems to confirm the expectations, with few surprises.

I´ll wait a few days then post a summary of people´s impressions.