Kindle 2 Review

This Kindle 2 review covers the essential pros and cons of the Kindle 2, which you can buy for $299 at Amazon. That page also has 6,000 kindle owners’ reviews.

Kindle 2 Review – Pictures + Video

 A short Kindle 2 review video -

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For more videos, check out my Kindle 2 Videos page.  

Kindle 2 Review - High Points

  1. WhisperNet and Amazon’s great range of book titles (300K+ titles including 7K+ free public domain books) are still the #1 feature and make the Kindle 2.0 the best eReader available.
  2. WhisperSync – synchronize across Kindle 1.0, Kindle 2.0, and soon across other mobile devices. Not only can you share books, you can also share the exact position in the book you were/are reading at – pretty cool.
  3. Read to Me feature. Text to Speech is very cool and should be fun. Note: Amazon has now given publishers the option to turn this off for their titles.
  4. Its very slim (0.36 inches), and sleeker with a metallic back. Opinion is divided on whether this looks better than Kindle 1 – However, Kindle 2.0 is definitely sleeker.
  5. 16 level gray scale screen is much sharper than the original Kindle’s 4 shade gray-scale.  A few reviewers have been very taken by the improvement in the screen, and I have to admit it looks much better. 
  6. Much better button placement and an end to accidental button clicks. Next page, previous page buttons are smaller, and you have to press them from the inside edge. Holding the kindle by their outside edge does not cause page turns.  
  7. 25% more battery life – This isn’t a plus since it’s balanced out by not being able to replace the battery.   
  8. 2 GB internal storage - This isn’t really a high point though because of the lack of adding more storage severely restricts things.
  9. Still saving trees.

Kindle 2 Review - Low Points

  1. Still Expensive at $359.
  2. Still not pretty. Some people do find it pretty now - Perhaps I’m biased by the plain white color and plain design.
  3. The lack of a colour screen  is another problem I have.
  4. No Next Gen technology like touch screen. Kindle 2 actually is a little behind in terms of latest screen technology – however, have to admit that touch screen doesn’t really work well with eInk and perhaps not having touch screen is a good decision.
  5. No International versions. Amazon is majorly missing out on the international markets.
  6. Lack of a replaceable battery.
  7. Not being able to upgrade to a new memory card. This is a huge mistake - why would Amazon so severely restrict the flexibility the Kindle offers as a potential storage device for personal files and documents. With an SD card slot I can expand storage infinitely (multiple SD cards) and also transfers to SD cards are easier as Dennis pointed out in the comments.
  8. There is no cover included. It retails separately for $30. That’s a $30 price increase in a way.
  9. Still No PDF support – you can email and have PDFs converted – however, that’s a weak solution.

Kindle 2 Review – Overall Recommendation: 

  1. If you don’t own any eReader and can afford $359 – Yes, Buy the Kindle 2. It is the best eReader available on the market now.
  2. If you don’t own any eReader and can afford $200-$250 – Buy a used Kindle 1. Make sure it still has 6 or more months of warranty left. 
  3. If you own a Kindle 1 – I’m not sure it’s worth an upgrade. Personally, I did buy a Kindle 2 – However, I’d recommend making your own decision.

At Amazon, 529 out of 616 actual Kindle 2 reviews give the Kindle 2 4 stars or 5 stars. That means 86% of the time a Kindle 2 Review from an owner is 4 stars or 5 stars. You can find details at Kindle 2 Reviews from actual owners.

Overall Kindle 2 Review grade -

  1. A-minus – if you don’t own a Kindle 1. If you love reading, you must get one.
  2. B – if you already own a Kindle 1. Kindle 2 is an incremental release, not a transformational one.

You can check my Kindle 2 Video Review or the sections below if you are still undecided.

Kindle 2 Review – Areas Kindle 2 Clearly Beats Kindle 1

  1. Screen.
  2. Text to Speech (TTS).
  3. Expanded WhisperNetCoverage. Thanks to Len at Kindle Chronicles for the update. Check the Kindle 2.0 wireless coverage map
  4. Usability.
  5. Powers from USB cable in addition to the charger. Very convenient.
  6. Instant Dictionary.

Kindle 2 Review – Areas Kindle 1 beats Kindle 2

  1. Battery Extensibility via extra batteries.
  2. SD Card – Removing this is a huge mistake.
  3. Keyboard – I personally like both the layout and look of the original Kindle’s keyboard. A lot of reviews at Amazon talk about the keyboard being not as easy to use.

Kindle 2 Review – Tie between Kindle 2 and Kindle 1

  1. WhisperSync.
  2. Looks. A lot of people love the Kindle 2.0′s new slim metallic look. I don’t.  
  3. Price.
  4. Range of Books.

Kindle 2 Review – Technical Specifications 

Courtesy Amazon:

  1. Display: 6″ diagonal E-Ink® electronic paper display, 600 x 800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi, 16-level gray scale.
  2. Size (in inches): 8″ x 5.3″ x 0.36″.
  3. Weight: 10.2 ounces.
  4. System requirements: None, because it doesn’t require a computer.
  5. Storage: 2GB internal (approximately 1.4GB available for user content).
  6. Battery Life: Read on a single charge for up to 4 days with wireless on.
  7. Charge Time: Fully charges in approximately 4 hours and supports charging from your computer via the included USB 2.0 cable.
  8. Connectivity: EVDO modem with fallback to 1xRTT; utilizes Amazon Whispernet to provide U.S wireless coverage via Sprint’s 3G high-speed data network (check wireless coverage). See Wireless Terms and Conditions.
  9. USB Port: USB 2.0 (micro-B connector) for connection to the Kindle power adapter or optionally to connect to a PC or Macintosh computer.
  10. Audio: 3.5mm stereo audio jack, rear-mounted stereo speakers.
  11. Content Formats Supported: Kindle (AZW), TXT, Audible (formats 4, Audible Enhanced (AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; PDF, HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.
  12. Included Accessories: Power adapter, USB 2.0 cable, rechargeable battery. Book cover sold separately.
  13. Documentation: Quick Start Guide(included in box) [PDF]; Kindle 2 User’s Guide(pre-installed on device) [PDF].
  14. Warranty and Service: 1 year limited warranty and service included. Optional 2 year Extended Warranty sold separately.

I’d recommend the optional 2 year extended warranty. If you’re also interested in a Kindle DX, take a look at my Kindle dx review.

Hopefully, this kindle 2 review helped you decide whether to buy a Kindle 2.

50 Responses

  1. Thanks for the thoughtful analysis … a quibble: “review” in general usage implies that you have experienced the thing you are evaluating.

  2. Actually a fair point Sam. because my blog is named Amazon Kindle Review, I’m getting some number of people finding it via google by searching for ‘kindle 2.0 review’.
    The only way i can actually get them to a more relevant post is to name this post a ‘review’ even though it’s a preview.

  3. I’ve been holding off on buying a Kindle since the original version was announced. The design issues that have been corrected in the Kindle 2 have pushed me over the edge, and my order is placed.

    Some features I will miss from the original version are the slot for an additional memory card, the replaceable battery, and the split keyboard design (it just looked more usable than the new version).

    Even with the “missing” features, I’m very excited about the new device and look forward to recieving one.

    Also, switch, I just want to note that I discovered your blog a few weeks back and I’ve really been enjoying reading the new and old posts alike. Great Kindle coverage, with insight that I haven’t been able to find elsewhere. So thanks for taking the time to put this together, and keep up the great work!

  4. thanks a ton method. that means a lot to me.

  5. From the little snippet on the videos, I am not as excited about the text to speech feature as I was when I first read about it. I am not sure I could bear to listen to that for more than a few minutes.

    On the other hand, the form factor looks pretty good to me: I used the Sony Reader before the Kindle, and I never completely fell in love with the shape of the thing.

  6. Lack of a replaceable battery? I didn’t see that in the original “improvement” list.

    This isn’t good at all. I can get around such things because I have an external battery with USB outputs… but what happens if the internal battery goes “bad” like some complained about the Kindle v1.0?

    Well… maybe 3.0 will be better.

  7. Actually, the rounded corners may help with sturdiness. It’s less likely to break if you drop it on a corner with the rounded corners than with the angled ones.

  8. Shelby – that’s a good point. And I think it’s probably safer for younger kids too. When you consider Text to Speech, all the free classics, and long battery life this is increasingly becoming a good option for kids.

  9. If you are okay with a used original Kindle, the price on amazon has been falling very quickly. I have seen multiple offered at $200 (I purchased one of them). We’ll see the condition and if it ever makes it here, but it;s something to keep an eye on.

  10. Just thought you’d like to know The New Yorker is now available for the Kindle
    http://www.amazon.com/The-New-Yorker/dp/B001O2SCKI/ref=sr_1_22?ie=UTF8&s=digital-text&qid=1234270967&sr=1-22

    It is one of the two magazines I’ve really been waiting for, the other is The Economist. When my subscription expires next month I will definitely be getting the Kindle version.

    The point you bring up about pricing remains valid; the Kindle version is only four dollars cheaper than the printed version. Personally I would like to see that change. I wonder if they will incorporate more photography in the Kindle version since Kindle 2 is better able to handle images.

    Thanks for all your great posts!

  11. I’m one of those that purchased after the Oprah show in October. 100 days later it’s replaced. I have very bad feelings. I gave it as an xmas gift, so it is about 45 days of use.

  12. [...] yesterday announced its Kindle 2 (ie, its electronic reading device for books*). I have been trying the Kindle 1 and am on the list [...]

  13. Whispersync – allows people to sync their Kindle to other mobile devices and netbooks….

    Hmmm if I can sync to my netbook can I buy amazon books with my netbook too. Probably not…

  14. thanks for the update Damaso, and for the kind words.
    Getting the New Yorker is great. Considering Portfolio.com was added recently I’m pretty happy.
    And it would be good to get the economist too.

  15. Given the demographic of Kindle users I think the Economist would be a natural fit. I think the New Yorker will be int he top five magazines within six weeks…

    As a journalist it’s nice ot see that print media is waking up to the possibilities of eBook distribution!

  16. Damaso,

    I have an online subscription to the Economist. If there was a Kindle version I’d go for it.

    And according to Amazon The NewYorker is already numero uno.

  17. Yeah the online Economist subscription is way cheaper than the printed magazine, which is a plus. I hope when they come out with a Kindle subscription it gets cheaper or is as cheap as an online sub.

    When I go to Kindle magazines and sort by bestselling:

    http://www.amazon.com/Magazines-Journals-Kindle/b/ref=sv_kinh_4?ie=UTF8&node=241646011

    the New Yorker is last, which I assume is because it just debuted. Let me know if I am mistaken. Once again, keep up the good work, reading your blog is one of the reasons I got a Kindle!

  18. Hi,

    The preview of the kindle was indeed helpful analysis. I have placed an order for kindle 2.0, but I am not sure whether I should cancel it. My main requirement for kindle is to read pdfs,and other documents such as ppts. Do you think kindle would be a good idea or sony e-reader as they have pdf support?
    Can anyone who has used pdf on kindle rate the conversion and reading of pdfs on a scale of say 1-10?

    Thanks in advance…
    SV

  19. For those worried about PDF conversion, the Kindle does read .mobi files. There are numerous free PDF-Mobi converters available online. Just check Google. As the Kindle has a USB port, it’s a simple matter of converting and porting to the device.

    The cost is still somewhat prohibitive, at least $100 out of my comfort zone for the device. I recognize the benefits of the e-ink technology, but I just bought a full-featured netbook for $400 (which was one of the more expensive on offer) and it’s hard to justify paying nearly that for this device.

  20. Hi switch11 –

    I’m working on a story about the new Kindle for my journalism class (I’m a student at Boston University) and I was hoping I could e-mail you a couple questions about your predictions/insight about the device.

    My address is bennettg@bu.edu – if you could send me an e-mail, I’ll send you back a couple of questions.

    Thanks a lot in advance for your help!

  21. Amazon puts little “thank you for being an early adopter” messages in kindle receipts and elsewhere, but when they introduce a new model they don’t offer us “early adopters” a way to UPGRADE — no discount, no option to purchase before it’s on the market or even a “go to the head of the line” preference. Kinda sucks. “Thanks for helping us build a market but now you can just get in line with everyone else and pay full price, too.”

  22. Strange to me that this review would barely mention Kindle’s format support problems (no mention of epub, for instance) and say the “Kindle 2 is the best eReader on the market” without comparing it to any others besides the Kindle 1. Personally, I’ll stick with my Sony 505 because I can read the non-DRM’d books that I already have, and be assured that I’ll be able to read them in the future. I don’t want to read books in Amazon’s proprietary AWZ format.

  23. Ok, so I am under the impression that you cannot get books from other countries. I am a French Major and was seriously thinking about purchasing the Kindle2. Unfortunately if I cannot purchase text from France then I probably will not buy it. BUMMER cuz I really like it.

  24. Jose – you should check with amazon. You cannot buy Amazon books if you don’t have a US credit card with a US address. You can still purchase books from anywhere and as long as they are in the formats supported by the Kindle (or one of the formats that can be converted into an Amazon supported format) you’re good.

  25. Abhi, I think you may have it wrong concerning the expansion of WhisperNet coverae. I just called Kindle support to ask about coverage in Fairbanks, Alaska, and the tech woman said yes, Kindle 2 will have coverage there (and also in Cheyenne and Casper, Wyoming), but not the Kindle 1. She said there is a difference in the Kindle 2 hardware that gives it broader access to WhisperNet coverage.

  26. [...] If you need a more in-depth review/preview (until there are enough owner reviews) based on information released by Amazon, you can check my post Kindle 2.0 Review – Should You buy a Kindle 2.0? [...]

  27. Thanks for the review. I’m interested in an e-reader, but until they have a touch-screen I reckon I’m better-off keeping hold of my cash.

  28. the Kindle 2 screen was designed especially well, it’s easy on the eyes

  29. Just to make sure – you know that there is a year-old device by Sony that has 16 coulours, understands PDFs and Adobe’s standard EPUB format and has an SD card slot? I honestly don’t know why people would bother with the Kindle.

  30. From reading the review, it seems to me that the designers/engineers are deliberatly just adding a little at a time to generate interest in future generations of the Kindle.

    I’m dissappointed – I’ll have to wait . Maybe the next generation will prompt me to buy.

  31. i have a general question about the kindle. there was concern about 14 months ago about google putting millions of books into digital form and how that can alter the content of the original books. is that true? will kindle and other devices remain true to the original texts, or should people expect some quiet censorship to be happening now and in the future?

    what i find really interesting about your blog is how thorough people track technology and what it can do.

    • There are two aspects to it –
      1) there are multiple companies uploading these texts – so hopefully, they’ll keep each other honest.
      2) as we’ve seen wtih search engines in china, and the gradual erosion of rights in the us, it’s never a good idea to assume that any company will fight for your rights.

      overall, I don’t think anyone is going to change the text of books uploaded. however, it’s worth it to keep an eye out for any censoring if it does happen.

  32. Fantastic overview of the Kindle

  33. Kindle 1 was mind-bending. Kindle 2 is a perfect incremental update. Kindle 3 will be when “real” adoption takes place.

  34. This is a great piece, but isn’t it time to park it somewhere other than the top story on your home page? It bothers me, a little, to have to scroll past it each time I visit this excellent blog to see what’s new.

    • at this point I don’t have a means to redirect people to the review page when they’re searching for a kindle review. will try to figure out something.
      also the name change means some pages aren’t back at their search engine positions so that review post might have to stay for a bit.

  35. Concerning the touch screen–considering how much faster a device with a touchscreen loses battery life vs. a regular screen, I think the Kindle line is better off without. Besides, if every e-book reader offered exactly the same features, where would competition go? Let Amazon make their reader how they want and if it doesn’t have your “required” elements then shop elsewhere.

  36. Hi there. I’m from Malaysia and I am researching the Kindle 2.0. I would like to know whether it’s a good idea for me to purchase a Kindle? I am definitely not going to get the Whispernet connectivity. However, I would like to know if it is possible to upload the books from the computer instead? It would mean having to download them manually from the Internet but at least this would be an option I can consider. Thanks in advance for the response.

    • Jules, yes you can buy books at amazon and download them to your computer and then transfer via USB to your Kindle 2. I live in Canada and I do the same as there is no whispernet in canada either.

  37. I didn’t see anything referencing what happens when a kindle breaks. Mine did. I fumbled the kindle trying to power off the recessed power switch. The kindle dropped approximately 4 inchest to a desk top. The screen appears shattered internally, although the outside screen is intact. I called amazon, asking where to send it for repair. I know the screen isn’t covered in the one year warranty but I hadn’t purchased the extended warranty (having received the kindle as a gift less than one month prior) I expected to have to pay to have the kindle repaired. Amazon does not offer repair. The offered to send me a “replacement” (does that mean refurbished and if so, why can’t they fix mine?( FOR $200.00. I’ve found repair suggestions on line, such as find a broken sony reader with an intact screen and take the kindle apart and replace it myself. Why would Amazon develop this technology, obviously a little fragile, and NOT offer some kind of repair for the part of the kindle they won’t warranty??

  38. i really dont want a kindle.THEY’LL TAKE OVER THE WORLD!and no not dictator! i mean end of libraries and the good old books we’ve come to know and love! it would be pretty hard to break a book accidentally. i mean drop a kindle by 50 ft onto concrete. drop a copy of twilight (yes twilight of course good book) 50 ft.um mostly fine maybe some dirt on it. IF they make stronger built to last longer(i know copying rhino footwear.)

  39. [...] folks over at iReader Review have a great feature on the Kindle 2 on how it compares to the first Kindle and whether it’s [...]

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