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back to article Amazon unveils Kindle 2.0

The worst kept secret in literary history has finally been officially confirmed by Amazon: the existence of its Kindle 2. Amazon_Kindle_2_003 Amazon's Kindle 2: thinner, smoother, sexier than before Amazon’s second-generation e-book reader has just been unveiled in New York as a device that measures 8 x 5.3 x 0.36in and which …

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Silver badge

Why no ePub?

Just when a standard of sorts is being agreed amongst Book publishers, it's a huge shame that Amazon haven't incorporated ePub support in Kindle 2.0. Right now, Kindle is more of a closed system than SONY!

Let's hope the wireless module can be made compatible with European 3G networks.

Nice looking piece of kit though, very Apple, right down to the product shots.

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Happy

I run stanza on my iPhone

After forking out for the iPhone it's remarkably free. And it does more. But the reading area's not so hot. I can live with that.

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cf iMac

And people say the iMac bezel had too much of a chin. There is far too much plastic round the outside of that screen

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DRM with a reader on the side

This is yet another DRM encrusted dogs dinner. Boycott it. What is wanted is books that you can buy using a web browser and credit card, give or sell to others, make backup copies of on your hard drive, read on devices from multiple manufacturers.

This is not that. This is an attempt to control what you do with what you've bought with DRM, and a reader and store on the side.

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Unhappy

pdf on kindle

you can view PDFs and other docs.

shame the Palm/eReader doc with its DRM isn't open, it might have become the defacto standard.

yeah, there's too many file formats. palm doc. mobipocket. iSilo. pdf. html. ascii text. just to name half a dozen off the top of my head.

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What's with the keyboard?

Currently it looks like about half the area is taken up by a keyboard. You're reading, not writing, and presumably it shows up as a USB mass storage device to put new books on so no keyboard needed there either.. so what gives?

As the primary function of the device is to be looked at, having the screen so small IMO defeats the point.

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E

Too pricey.

For that money I can buy an eee pc or the like and get much more function while still being able to read stuff on the screen.

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Anonymous Coward

So when's it available in the UK?

Oh, that'll be never then.

I'd buy one tomorrow if it did here what it does in the US.

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This whole article...

...and not a solitary word about the product shot having a Malcom Gladwell book in it? For shame.

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Pirate

Ah... But what can you do with it?

Can you replace the on-board OS with Ubuntu? Can you turn it into a mobile tablet?

What a lovely little mobile THIS would be! With a FOUR DAY RUN TIME!!!

I wonder how they initially load the O/S... There's probably some hidden connector that lets you flash the system ROM. I wonder! Time to Google!

Y'arr!!!

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Paris Hilton

Nah

I'll stick to my Jetbook.

Paris cos we know she reads, she's got glasses.

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Joe
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Flashing

Does the screen still flash irritatingly every time you turn the page?

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Unhappy

Bah

So much dosh for something that is effectively a dumbed-down Palm PDA with a bigger form factor.

As an avid buyer of books, I enquired about Kindle Mk1. It turned out I would have to buy over 40 paperbacks to spend as much money, not factoring in the cost of recharging the thing or the e-books themselves.

My reading habits mean that that would approximate to a year's reading. No-one was willing to quote the expected lifetime of the device in the commuter-lifestyle it would be used. Not only that, some of the time I like to see these things called "pictures" and "colour" when I read.

I understand about early adopter issues but Kindle doesn't seem to be overly agressive on the tech improvement-curve.

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Pirate

Update after a few minutes of googling about

So, I found this guy's blog (igorsk.blogspot.com) and he has a several part series on digging around in the Linux that already runs on the kindle. I don't dare read his posts at work; they'll likely get websensed. But when I get home, I'm digging in.

It looks like he's gotten a console to run, at the very least, and checked the boot logs. Apparently, although the Linux that's built into the Kindle is hard to get to, you CAN get to it.

Pretty interesting stuff. If I could get a kindle to act like a regular, multipurpose computer, that'd be pretty cool I think. Hmm... If it has Perl or Java installed, and I can bring up a console, I can do text-based apps. As far as GUi apps go, if it'll let you run web pages and applets off an SD card, you can write in Java and JavaScript, although you'd have to figure out how to save to the SD card so you could keep your work for later.

If I stick to using browser-based apps, I might not even break the warranty. I wonder if doing text-mode stuff in the console would annoy Amazon? Browser-based stuff might be ok with them, but consoles might make 'em nervous...

I wonder how much you can get away with here? The four day run time just blows me away... The idea of having a portable that runs for FOUR DAYS is just tantalizing.

I think I'm going to pursue this.

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Anonymous Coward

Looking better but...

I think I'll still wait a while. Also, it's hard to rationalize the $359 price when you can get a basic new or good used laptop or netbook for that.

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Pirate

Sigh... Now I'm depressed.

Looks like the built-in browser is VERY minimal and offers no plugin support, no Flash, no Java, no nothing. Meh.

Also, I've read their TOS and it looks like we programmers need to be careful what we write. Amazon is very persnickety about changes to the Kindle. They seem to be mostly worried about people pirating content, so this probably won't be a problem for most programmers, who just want to tinker around and maybe do little location-based apps (since it's wireless and all).

It seems to me that all you have available is JavaScript and CSS if you want to write your own stuff (without breaking the warranty, getting yelled at, etc). I suppose you COULD write web pages with embedded JavaScript, and put together simple apps that way without annoying Amazon. And of course you could write server-side apps on your own websites that the kindle could work with, so it's not a total loss.

Ok, I might still get one.

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IT Angle

Web browser?

With 3g and 16 greyscales, this could be interesting

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A great step forward ..

We have invented the book that needs a keyboard ... WTF ?

Given that paperback books are the size they are so that you can get enough stuff on the page without having to turn it every 3 words, but yet not so big you don't need 2 arms to lift them.

Come on, even before the sacred-iPhone we had touch screens, soft keyboards and handwriting recognition that could cope with multiple input languages ... it's hardly new.

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Re: Why no ePub?

Just because it has a brushed-metal back it doesn't look Apple.

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Flame

pdf,wifi

Now all they need is native PDF support (not convert trash), and wifi support. Whats the deal with 3G ? ...who cares when you can just upload books to it on a computer.

Big improvement in the looks department. The first one looked like crap.

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Flipping heck!

Does that mean Kindle's OS uses about 600MB - to read a sodding book and do a bit of networky stuff? That rather puts MS in the shade for the old bloat:functionality ratio...

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Keyboard

Why?

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Jobs Horns

No storage slot anymore :(

I guess the iPlop mimicry continues - take away user flexibility and define the "one right way" to do things.

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Bronze badge

hmm

Kindle looks (minus that ghod awful keyboard! They could at least have made it fold or slide out of the way!), iRex Illiad capabilities, Sony reader flavour, and a bit less DRM (or at least a DRM that allows transfers from one device to another, for lending), and I'd not be unhappy with it. As it stands, however, ick.

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Keyboard

Meh. For what's meant to be, in the end, a (replacement for a) book?

Still kinda sold on the Sony.

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Coat

I'll stick to the tried and tested

500 years of printed books can't be that bad. With a £250 price (yeah right - we know it'll be £ = $ on the pricing) tag on it that's nearly 40 books I could buy and have something to show for it at the end (or to sell to a second hand bookshop)

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Anonymous Coward

E-Ink

For all the "Bah, I can read books on my laptop/netbook/pda/iphone" people, you're missing the point. It has an E-Ink display. Reading off an E-Ink display for long periods of time is pleasant, like reading off a page of paper. Reading off an lcd screen is not pleasant.

If you want one in Europe, just import one. Don't worry about the 3G connectivity. It's a nice bonus, but it's not required to use the device.

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Silver badge

@AWeirdoNamedPhil, others

Surely the four day battery life and the screen flashing on page turns is related to the eInk display? Those displays tend to update slowly and consume power to change state, but subsequently retain an image without power. While the user is just reading a page of text, the device could in theory power itself down completely.

It strikes me that you therefore get not only a much, much better reading surface than an Eee or iPhone or whatever, but also one that is thoroughly unsuitable for most normal desktop tasks.

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So... about that battery

Where are the chorus of cries of 'foul play', about the fact that it's not user-replaceable?

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Better than LCD, but not better than paper...

Anon says "Reading off an E-Ink display for long periods of time is pleasant, like reading off a page of paper. Reading off an lcd screen is not pleasant."

So... paper's still best then. Good. Move on. A solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

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Plenty of people that don't get it.

and clearly have no idea what they are talking about.

PDF and TFT displays are NOT what ebooks are about. Neither are designed for the purpose. If you ever actually saw a ebook, you would understand this.

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Paper books defeat piracy. Stick with them.

It is intreging that a multi-billion pound company can make such a basic mistake: either it takes off, and the format will be hacked by pirates, thus undermining revenue for the industry, or it fails, and they have wasted money.

Paper books defeat piracy. Stick with them.

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Anonymous Coward

@Better than LCD, but not better than paper...

A solution to a problem that doesn't exist? So you have magic books the thickness of a pencil that have 1500 books inside them, complete with search functions and inbuilt dictionary - oh and you can buy new books over a wireless connection from your magic paper book? Ah.. thought not.

For a great many people this is a great solution to a problem which does exist - I currently have to carry a ridiculous number of books as part my job. Regardless of that, I love reading and this device makes reading ridiculously easy and accessible, anywhere any time.

I'm buying one of these the minute there is a UK launch.

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I already burnt my fingers buying ebooks

I read books on my Palm PDA and it's fine. Great in the underground when there's hardly any elbow room and in the cinema for something to do during the ads and trailers cos it't readable in the dark. There are plenty of out-of-copyright books available free. I did get tempted a few years ago to buy a couple of ebooks but never finished reading them. When I went to read them a month of so ago they asked me for my credit card number, and I can't remember what card I was using all that time ago when I bought them, so money down the drain. I bought the books but now I don't have them, I haven't passed them to a friend or given them to Oxfam. Just money wasted. I will not be buying any more ebooks, and it isn't clear to me why I would want to carry a gadget like this with me when I already have my Palm.

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Pirate

@Thomas -- True, BUT...

If you know about the page flipping issue, you'd design your app to work mostly in the background, only updating the display when something interesting happens. For example, you could do some kind of mashup with Google maps that shows you types of businesses YOU find interesting, instead of the plain old "restaurants near you" thing Kindle currently offers.

You could write an app that lets you maintain a rating list for places you've visited, for instance.

You could write a P2P app that checks in with a server and maintains communication with your friends, letting you play with the flash mob concept.

You could store all your technical notes in some Kindle-friendly format, and write a search tool for your own stuff, targeted at your job so you can whip through some drop-down boxes and find information you're interested in.

There are all KINDS of crazy things you could do with one of these. IF, that is, the thing is programmable enough.

But now I'm thinking.. Apparently all the native apps on Kindle run on Java! So if you got a console, you could probably invoke the runtime and run your own full-blown apps, with them being rendered with Kindle's built-in widgets. IF, that is, you can get the widget libraries, which are probably in the downloadable source code...

I'm telling you, this thing might be really really neat.

My only concern is, if I fork out a bunch of money for it, I don't want to void the warranty or piss off Amazon. But I don't want to be limited to JavaScript, either.

It's a conundrum.

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Err I thought this was a book reader?

Why are people talking about web browsing, applications and other things that have nothing to do with reading books?

Yes it has a dumbed down browser, so you can purchase ebooks.

The keyboard is for the browser, as well as bookmarks with notes probably.

It doesn't need Flash, OS X, Windows Vista or World of Warcraft.

However the people complaining about DRM and not conforming to a standard publishers are moving to are bang on the money. The Microsoft music site debacle is evidence enough that DRM is for suckers.

No form of magnetic media (which includes CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray, Hard Disks and Flash Memory) can retain its data for as long as a book can last with reasonable care. Even books produced in the days of acidic paper have longer lifespans than 99% of media.

Which means that eventually you will be forced to move it to a new device or pay for it again. As DRM, media and devices will undoubtedly change over the years at a fast pace, the chances of only paying once for a copy of a book seem small.

Meanwhile the guy that bought the paperback for $5-7 and didn't break the spine will be able to re-read his book until his eyes fail him.

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Jobs Horns

@andy -- Oh ye of little imagination

Andy, Andy, Andy... You sadden me.

If I want to read books, I'll buy them on paperback. If I want to read e-books, I'll download them from Gutenberg or some other free site, convert them to RTF, format them a little, and stick them on my old Sony reader. Books, alone, are no reason to buy a Kindle.

But this device has POTENTIAL! And when a developer's kit for e-ink technology costs $1500.00 (not counting the rest of the kit and work required to build a functional device), being able to get a complete, functional device for $400 that already has a built-in development platform (if somewhat hidden from view) is pretty cool!

This is a wonderful world we live in, where every comp.sci student grew up watching MacGyver, and every device will be extended to do things it wasn't meant to do. Everyone's an inventor these days, don't you know.

I am SO getting one of these...

P.S. You sound kind of curmudgeonly. Are "those damn kids" still on your lawn?

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