PROS / The Kindle 2 has text-to speech, the Kindle Store and has faster page turns than the original Kindle.
CONS / There is no color, just shades of grey on this Kindle model.
VERDICT / The Kindle 2 has made large improvements from the original Kindle making it the top choice for an eReader.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it is no longer available. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
With new features and an overhaul on its body design, the Amazon Kindle 2 is poised to continue taking eBook readers to new heights. After the success of the original Kindle, Amazon's sales of e-books jumped dramatically to end up being 10 percent of all the books on Amazon. With the Kindle 2, our No. 1 eBook reader, we expect that trend to continue.
Kindle 2 looks better - sleeker and much slimmer (even thinner than the iPhone). But the improvements go beneath the surface, too. With new features like better grayscale rendering, USB charging, longer battery life, faster page turns and a new text-to-speech option, the Kindle 2 really has become more convenient and more useful.
Now there are two additional reasons to opt for the Kindle 2. There are two versions, the first of which allows for download of content within the U.S. and the price has been dropped to $259.00. The second version includes the ability to download books internationally in more than 100 countries. Its cost is $279.00. The Kindle can now be shipped to most countries in the world, even those where over-the-air downloads aren’t available. In such countries, books can be downloaded to a computer then transferred to the Kindle via the USB port.
For readers who want all of the standard-setting attributes of the Kindle 2 in a larger format, check out the Kindle DX. While it’s more expensive and a bit heavier, it’s well worth the investment for people with less than perfect eyesight or for those whose eyes just tire easily. It’s also great for text books and periodicals. If a Kindle doesn't sound like the eReader for you, visit our eBook Reader page for side-by-side comparisons and objective reviews
When you take all that into account and add in Amazon’s incredible content library for the device, it’s impossible to see any other ebook reader out there ranking higher than the Kindle 2. For now, at least, the Kindle 2 truly is the epitome of eBook reader technology.
Readability & Display
The idea of an ebook reader seems pretty simple; it’s hard to imagine a lot of ways to improve on the original Kindle when all you’re doing is reading books. And yet, Amazon found several ways to improve on the Kindle 2, some more effective than others.
One of the first things you’ll notice when using the Kindle 2 is the new navigation interface. Instead of the little scroll wheel from the original Kindle, the Kindle 2 uses a new 5-way control (basically a small joystick that can go up, down, left, right and can be pressed to select something on screen). This is a fairly big improvement over the scroll wheel because it allows you more freedom and control when selecting options on the screen or highlighting text.
But one of the features we’re most excited about will sound a little silly unless you’ve used the original Kindle. Amazon has redesigned the page turn buttons on the Kindle 2. Hallelujah! So why is this such an improvement? On the original Kindle, it was hard to find a place to hold the device because the buttons took up most of the sides, and they would turn the page at the slightest bump, leading to a lot of accidental page turns. The page turn buttons on the Kindle 2 are smaller (but still easy to reach) and slant inward when you press them. This may sound like an insignificant difference, but it’s light-years ahead of the first Kindle for usability. It makes the device easier to hold and you will never have to worry about accidental page turns unless you like to throw pointy objects at your Kindle 2 (in which case you have much bigger issues than accidental page turns).
The Kindle 2, of course, still enjoys the benefits of having an E-ink screen, although the Kindle 2 can show more detail than the original, thanks to the 16-level grayscale. While the biggest problem for many people is that the Kindle can’t display color, the 16-level grayscale has done wonders for images displayed on the screen, offering more detail and smoother grays.
Design & Portability
By far the most attractive thing about the Kindle 2 is the content library that Amazon has put together and the ease with which the device syncs with that library. You don’t need to hook up the Kindle 2 to your computer. It can do everything you need it to by itself.
At the time we updated this review, Kindle Store was offering over 350,000 titles, nearly three times as many as when the first Kindle became available. That should give you an idea of how seriously Amazon takes its content. The Kindle Store does a great job of providing contemporary titles soon after they are published and it appears they are also selectively going back to older books as well and making them available.
Another advantage of ebooks, as you may already know, is that they can be much cheaper than the actual “dead tree” books in the stores. The same holds true for the Kindle Store. You can get a brand new New York Times bestseller for $10.
The reason the Kindle Store is such an advantage is that it seamlessly integrates with the device. You simply pick a book and it’s downloaded to your device in less than 60 seconds. It has made the book-buying process so easy that it’s no wonder the Kindle and Kindle 2 draw comparisons to the iPod, which finally made the music-buying process simple by introducing iTunes. The Kindle and the Kindle Store have finally made ebooks more convenient than real books.
While the average user may never need to venture beyond the Kindle Store, the Kindle 2 can support formats from other sources. For instance, it can display the MOBI format, although it cannot be DRM-protected MOBI files, ruling out several prominent ebook stores. You can read DOC, HTML, PDF and TXT files on the Kindle as well, but you must first send the files to Amazon for conversion before they will work on the Kindle 2. They charge a dime for the service. It would be a huge improvement if future Kindles could perform the conversion themselves without needing to go through a third-party conversion process. Are you taking notes here, Amazon?
Another advantage of the Amazon content system is the ability to automatically pull content more timely than books. The Kindle 2 allows you to subscribe to blogs, newspapers and magazines, and when new content becomes available the Kindle 2 automatically downloads it and has it ready for you. This is one of the most obvious reasons why the Kindle is leading the pack of ebook readers. In today’s age, there are so many other types of media that we read. In order, to be relevant a reader needs to be able to handle things like blogs and articles, handle them wirelessly and in a timely manner. Kindle 2 does all that.
Recent price reductions have made the Kindle 2 an even better bargain than in the past. Now the top rated eBook Reader is among the least expensive. There are now two versions of the product. The first allows for wireless downloading of content within the U.S. and sells for just $259.00. The international version, which allows for content downloads in over 100 countries, is just a bit more expensive at $279.00. With all its features and quality, we already thought the Kindle 2 was priced competitively when its cost was $360.00.
There are several new features that have been added to the Kindle 2 that may seem like great benefits at first, but which in reality don’t improve the usability of the device much over the original Kindle. First of all, the Kindle 2 has seven times more memory and almost double the battery life of the original Kindle. You might be thinking “But that sounds great!” The fact is you probably didn’t need either of them that much unless you are an especially avid reader. The first Kindle could hold hundreds of books, more than you would need at any given time, so the ability to now hold 1,500 books isn’t a great improvement unless you absolutely insist on having every book you’ve ever read ready for recall at any moment. And the original Kindle could go an entire week without a recharge (more if you only used it for an hour or two each day) so being able to go two weeks isn’t really that important. Odds are that just about anyone could find time to charge their Kindle in a week’s time. I guess now you can go on that two week wilderness trek without fretting about losing your reading material half-way through.
There is one reason you’ll need to contact Amazon if you plan on having the Kindle 2 for a while (why wouldn’t you?). The battery in the Kindle 2 isn’t removable like it was in the original Kindle, so you can’t replace it yourself if it dies. Instead you must send it in to Amazon to have them replace it (for a $60 charge). Don’t get too worried though. The Kindle 2 needs to be charged so infrequently that the lifespan of the battery should be pretty impressive.
Nothing in life is perfect, and neither is the Kindle 2. But it certainly comes close. It’s carefully designed to be the best at reading ebooks, and for now it certainly is. No other reader, except the larger Kindle DX, can compete with the content library, the interface, the battery life, the wireless connectivity and the simplicity of the Kindle 2.