Kindle 2 Review

This kindle 2 review is based on 6 months of use and will focus on the kindle reading and ownership experience. It will help you decide whether the kindle will add to your enjoyment of reading.

You can buy the Kindle 2 for $259 at Amazon, and there are also 7,000+ kindle 2 reviews from owners on that page. Kindle 2 ships to 174 countries – check my Kindle International Review post for availability in your country and what it means.

Kindle 2 Review – the indispensable eReader functions

The two indispensable eReader functions are -

  1. Being able to get Books. 
  2. Being able to read Books.

The Kindle 2 does extremely well on both of these –

Getting books on to the Kindle

It’s really easy thanks to 24/7 wireless access to the Kindle Store from your Kindle 2 and the 60 second wireless downloads.

There are a lot of choices for both paid and free content -

  1. The Kindle Store has 350,000 books. That’s more new books than any other ebook seller, and at better prices (usually $9.99).
  2. The Kindle Store adds 10-15 free book offers every month.
  3. You can get 7,000 public domain books from the Kindle Store itself.
  4. 30,000 free public domain books are available at ManyBooks and Gutenberg (check the free books post on the left).
  5. You can also access all Google Free Books after you convert them using Calibre.

An overall 9 out of 10 stars.

Reading Books on the Kindle

  1. The Kindle has a great screen – eInk is very readable, with little to no eye-strain and works in bright sunshine. 
  2. There’s a long battery life so your reading doesn’t get interrupted (1-2 weeks without wireless, a day or so with wireless on).
  3. It’s very easy to turn pages as buttons are very conveniently placed.
  4. The Kindle 2 disappears once you start reading.
  5. Lots of good feature like changeable font sizes, Wikipedia access and the dictionary add to your reading pleasure.

An overall 9 out of 10 stars.

Kindle 2 Review – the hugely important eReader functions

Screen Quality and Size

Kindle 2’s screen uses eInk technology with 16 shades of grayscale which makes for a very clear screen. Its 600 x 800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi.

Here’s a video contrasting it with a paperback and a hardcover –

.

Do check out the other Kindle 2 videos.

The 6″ screen is a good size – the full Kindle is about the size of a paperback and the Kindle’s screen is about 70% of that.

Kindle 2 gets 8 out of 10 stars on Screen Quality.

Kindle 2 Review – Ease of Use

The Kindle 2 is extremely easy to use. Most actions are straightforward and you don’t have to be a tech person at all. The lack of touch and the tiny keyboard keys do make things a bit difficult.

8 out of 10 stars.

Portability

Kindle 2 really shines here because -

  1. It’s very thin and sleek at just .36 inches.
  2. It’s also light at 10.2 ounces.
  3. It has a large in-built memory that can hold a lot of books.
  4. It has great battery life.

One downside is that there’s no SD card slot for expanding the memory.

9 out of 10 stars.

Reference

Kindle 2 has a lot of good reference features -

  1. Built-In Dictionary. 
  2. Ability to search through all books.  
  3. Wikipedia access.
  4. Free Internet Access.

9 out of 10 stars.

Search

While Kindle 2 has a good search function, the way the results are displayed is rather inelegant and there are more features that should have been added.

Just 6 out of 10 stars.

Kindle 2 Review – Content Rights and Content Portability

Kindle 2 gets a lot of flak because it isn’t an ‘open’ system.

The important things to keep in mind are -

  1. No ePub Support.
  2. Kindle books use a proprietary format that does not work on other eReaders.
  3. There is a Kindle for iPhone app that lets you read Kindle books you have bought on the iPhone and iTouch.
  4. There is Kindle for PC that lets you read Kindle books on your PC or netbook.
  5. You can download a Kindle book as many times as you like.
  6. The number of devices you can download a book to is limited – usually 5 or 6.

As far as PDF -

  • Amazon just added in-built PDF support.
  • PDFs cannot zoom text, and you cannot add notes and highlights.
  • PDFs in different languages are supported.
  • You can have Amazon convert PDFs for you, or do it yourself using software like Calibre. The converted files support changing font sizes, and adding notes and highlights.

Kindle gets 6 out of 10 on content rights and content portability.

Annotations

Kindle 2 lets you add highlights, notes, and bookmarks. You can also access these in the book or through your My Clippings file.

The lack of a touch interface and the tiny keyboard hold back the Kindle and it only gets 6 of 10 stars here.

Kindle 2 Review – Changeable Font Sizes

These work very well on the Kindle. 7 out of 10 stars.

AudioBooks

There are a rich set of controls for audiobooks. In addition you get -

  1. Amazon owns Audible which provides access to a wide variety of paid audio books. 
  2. You can get free audiobooks from LibriVox.  
  3. The built-in speakers are pretty loud and work well for when you’re driving or cooking.

7 out of 10 stars.

Easy to Use Store

The Kindle Store is excellent in comparison to other ebook stores.

There’s a good recommendation engine, you have bestsellers lists and categories for a lot of genres, and the store is accessible through the Kindle itself.

9 out of 10 stars.  

Kindle 2 Review – One Handed Use

Kindle 2 does an excellent job by placing buttons on both sides and having them located conveniently. This means that one-handed use with either hand is easy.

9 out of 10 stars.

Time and Date

Whenever you press the Menu button the time is shown. In addition you can type in @t on the Home Screen to get the date and time. A very useful feature.

7 out of 10 stars.

Language Support

Kindle does poorly here as it only supports English and languages based on the English alphabet.

There are hacks to support other fonts – however, nothing official.

1 out of 10 stars.

Kindle 2 Review – Book Organization (Folders)

One real downside of the Kindle 2 is that there is no easy way to organize your books into folders, bookshelves or via tags.

There are workarounds that help a bit – However, the lack of Folders really makes things difficult.

0 out of 10 stars.

Kindle 2 Review – the nice to have eReader features

Looks

This video covers the Kindle’s looks and some basic features –

While the Kindle does a good job of disappearing when you’re reading and has a nice, simplistic look it’s no head-turner.

A lot of people complain about the Kindle’s lack of sex appeal and they have a point.

5 out of 10 stars.

Kindle 2 Review – Free Internet Access

Kindle 2 has free built-in Internet Access. It’s really convenient and adds to both your reading (via reference and search) and convenience (checking email and news).

The downside is that the Kindle’s browser is rather limited.

8 out of 10 stars.

Color

eInk technology at the moment doesn’t support color.

Incomplete.

Kindle 2 Review – Text to Speech Feature

A great bonus with the Kindle 2 is the ability to have the Kindle read your book to you. Some publishers switch this off. However, a lot don’t plus you can have all your personal documents and free public domain books read to you.

8 out of 10 stars.

Journal

Kindle 2 has no support for a notepad or journal.

Incomplete.

Extensions and Utilities

Kindle 2 does not have any extensions like an address book or calendar. You can find rudimentary calendars and weekly planners at the Kindle Store or download free ones at my Kindle 3 Labs page (top of the page).

0 out of 10 stars.

Games & Diversions

Kindle 2 has a simple MineSweeper game.

5 out of 10 stars. Perhaps less.

Background Music

Kindle has a useful background music feature. There are no controls other than play/pause and jump to next song.

5 out of 10 stars.

Device Lock, Lost and Found Options

Kindle 2 does not have a way to lock it and it doesn’t have the option to add on a ‘Return To’ screen.

0 out of 10 stars.

Kindle 2 Review – Personalization

Kindle 2’s personalization is mostly via third-party products i.e. skins, covers, and cases.

You cannot add your own custom screensavers or themes.

5 out of 10 stars.

Kindle 2 Review – Overall 8.5 Stars Rating, Strongly Recommended 

The Kindle 2 does extremely well on the reading experience and the amount of content available. If you love to read you should buy a Kindle 2.

The addition of the free Internet access, the wireless delivery and wireless syncing, support for iPhone reading, and the ease of use make the Kindle 2 a very compelling product.

You should keep in mind that there are several downsides due to eInk being an evolving technology (no color, screen refreshes take .5 to 1 second, $299 price). These are on top of a few Amazon created downsides i.e. lack of openness (to protect its revenue stream from ebooks), no folders, relatively plain design.

However, most of the downsides don’t impact the reading experience. Kindle 2 is excellent at its core function of reading, its easy to get a lot of paid and free books, and you’ll get a lot of pleasure from reading on the Kindle 2.

This Kindle 2 review is based on the ‘What makes a good eReader’ review guide.

68 Responses

  1. [...] Kindle 2 – My Kindle 2 Review based on 6 months of [...]

    • Does Kindle 2 have books in Italian and French? I can’t seem to find them.

      • Katherine – to the best of my knowledge – not at the moment.

        Amazon are targeting english readers in those countries and people who’ll get books in other languages from other sources.

        However, Amazon might start adding books in other languages soon.

  2. Interesting review. As for games, I’d give the kindle 9 stars for having only one game. Eliminate that, and it would have a 10 in that category.

    I haven’t really noticed some of the deficiencies you point out — lack of lock, unsexy appearance, lack of journal or calendar. I guess those things don’t matter much here.

  3. can you show me how you can hilite a word or sentence then hold it into a file and/or print it out on my pc? Richard

    • highlight whatever sentence you want.
      It gets saved in a file called MyClippings.txt.
      You can access this file by connecting yuor Kindle to your PC, browsing to Kindle, then to documents, and opening up MyClippings.txt using Word or Notepad.
      Then print or copy and email.

      let me know if you’re still running into problems.

  4. I used a friend’s Kindle this weekend and loved it.
    One question, is there a back light feature for the screen?
    Thanks

  5. s borrego, no there is no backlight. you can buy a clip-on reading light.

  6. Can you purchase college textbooks through kindle?

  7. Thanks for the review…it’s very helpful.

  8. My mother is a prlific reader and is nearly blind. What is the actual font size for the largest typesize?

    thanks

  9. Hi, Thank you for your review. It is very helpful!

    I have what may be a dumb question, but in your review , you mention that the Kindle 2 doesn’t have “in-built PDF support.”

    On the Amazon listing for it, they mention a built in .pdf reader. Are you saying that by that, Amazon means that they will convert the file for you? Or maybe they added that feature after the release?

    Thanks for your time

  10. While at Barnes & Nobel, my wife told me she wanted an Nook for Christmas. Since I’d read on Mashable that some reviewers thought that even though the full-color Nook promises to be a formidable rival, it may have been released a little prematurely — before all the software bugs were completely worked out. So, I thought I’d order her an Amazon Kindle (I’d recalled seeing a “guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve” on their websit)e. Christmas Eve came and went, and Kindle did NOT come. I called Amazon’s customer service on Christmas Day and mentioned I did not get it. The representative could only tell me it was still in transit per the tracking history. I asked if there was any chance it would come today and he responded no, and offered nothing to resolve the issue. I’d set my cell for up to receive SMS message whenever the package status changed. Prior to calling Amazon customer service on 12/25, I hadn’t received a single package update. About 30 minutes AFTER calling Amazon customer service, I received my first SMS message. Unbelievably, it stated:

    2009-12-24 09:22 PM:
    The carrier attempted to deliver your shipment and will try again.
    Received: Fri, Dec 25 10:24 am

    WHAT A BLATANT LIE! Check out my package tracking history at http://hirning.us — pdf-ed from my account on Amazon’s website! Newburgh NY is the FedEx facility that loads packages on vans for delivery to homes. According to my tracking history, the shipment with my Kindle arrived at this facility at 9:21 PM. The actual package was then scanned at this facility at 9:23 PM. So how did FedEx attempt a delivery at my home at 9:22 PM, when I was at home and my home is at least 15 miles away?

  11. Does anyone know what the actual charging volts and amps are for the kindle 2? Is it a standard USB rate?

    • Steve, the USB wire and power outlet plug don’t have the information like they usually do. The back of the Kindle says – Input 4.9V DC (equivalent to) 0.85 A.
      Presumably that’s what’s drawn from both USB and the power grid.

      This is for the Kindle 2.

  12. Non-fiction books frequently included photos, maps, illustrations, charts, etc. We know that Kindle is capable of displaying crips pictures (as evidenced by the screen savers), yet all of the non-fiction eBooks I’ve purchased have either ommitted the pictures or included very low resolution versions (the resolution is so poor that including them seems pointless). I can think of no reason for this other than limiting file size (to make downloads faster and save space on Kindle’s internal memory).

    I suppose this may change in the future, but for the time being I strongly recommend AGAINST buying non-fiction eBooks for the Kindle. (There really isn’t a problem with fiction books because they tend to be 100% text with few or no picutres).

  13. While I appreciate your article and its contents, I most definitley do not appreciate that you included niether the date of this particluar publication, nor your name. This is not ideal, as SOME people actually like to give credit to the authors of writing with a CITATION. just saying…..

  14. SWITCH11 is not a NAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. I am looking for an ereader for my 9 yr old son. He loves to read, and he really loves technology. What reader would be best for him? keep in mind price, and availability of books for him.

    • Chris, are you looking for a dedicated eReader or something like the iPad?

      Kindle is the best choice if you want a dedicated reader for around $259. There are some amount of children’s books. The Kindle Store currently has 10 of the 13 Lemony Snicket books free – it might not last long though.

      The iPad (for $499) or iTouch (for around $200) are a good choice if you also want your son to be able to play with educational apps like Mathemagic which teaches math tricks. It has Kindle for iPhone and Kindle for iPad which you can use to access Kindle Store books.
      The downside is that there are also a lot of distractions like lots of games.

      One bonus with either Kindle or Kindle for iPhone/iPad app are that you can get a lot of free public domain classics. So you’d have hundreds of books for your son to read (out of the over 20,000 available).

  16. I am religious and want to put all of my Jehovahs Witness books on the Kindle 2. Some of the books I can download, but can I put books that are not on the site on the kindle? Can I convert to pdf and use on kindle? How would I convert the books?

    • Joey, you can put any books that are without DRM protection and in PDF or txt or other kindle supported formats on the Kindle.
      Just transfer from your PC to Kindle’s Documents folder via the USB cable.

      What format are the books in? Use something like Calibre or Mobipocket Creator Publisher Edition.

  17. I don’t know why anyone would buy the kindle. You could buy a netbook for $250 and do everything that the kindle does and much more. You can NOT surf the web, watch movies, listen to music, play games, watch youtube videos, chat with friends or send Emails on the kindle

    • Just cause you’re stuck up doesn’t mean anything. Maybe people want a kindle so they won’t be DISTRACTED with all those other things.

  18. I have been looking at reviews for the kindle 2. To qoute a previous question asker “this may be a stupid question” however not what you would call hip to electronics.
    Is it my undertstanding the only way you can get items on your reader is to purchase books, mags etc direct with amazon? I know my local library offers downloads on to readers but not sure which ones.
    Any information on this and if there are other sources to get downloads for the kindle would be very helpful.
    Thank you

    • You cannot get library ebooks that use ePub with Adobe DRM or custom DRM.

      You can get DRM free ebooks on to the Kindle. Project Gutenberg and Internet Archive.
      Stores that sell DRM free books (like Fictionwise’s multi-format books) will work.

      Basically anything that is using Adobe DRM or its own DRM won’t work. Most other ebooks work or can be converted using Calibre or Amazon’s own service.

  19. How do I turn on the text to speech? When I hit the AA button it does not highlight the text-to-speech, turn on, option.
    Please let me know.
    Thank You.
    Mary Ann

    • Some books have text to speech disabled.

      When text to speech is enabled –
      Option 1: Press Shift (the up arrow) + SYM at the same time. That’ll start TTS.

      Option 2: Press the Aa button. Scroll down to the row that says Text-to-Speech and where ‘turn on’ is listed. If you can scroll down to it and press it then TTS is enabled and it will start. If it’s grewed out and you can’t highlight it then TTS is disabled. The Amazon.com page of the book will have this information.

  20. Can you tell me how to find the mindsweeper game and also the background music?
    Thank you.

    • Colleen – pres Alt+Shift+M on the Kindle Home Page to get minesweeper.

      For background music – First you need to put music files into the music folder on your kindle (if there isn’t one, create one in the Kindle at the top level).
      The music files have to be mp3 format. Others don’t work.

      Then press Alt+Space Bar to start or stop music. Alt+F to jump to the next track.

  21. i am in the process of ordering a kindle 2 which looks great for books.
    Can I read english newspapers on it?
    thanks

    • Yes, you can read newspapers on it. Check out the Kindle Store – Not sure which of the newspapers are available in the UK but there should be quite a few choices.

  22. It may be in this review somewhere, but can you purchase college text books for the Kindle?
    Also, can anyone tell me what the difference is between Kindle 2 and netbook?

    Thank you in advance!
    joy

    • Joy, you’d have to draw up a list of what textbooks you’d be needing and check in the Kindle Store. There are some textbooks available but that’s still a work in progress.
      Also for your subjects the Kindle may be inappropriate as it doesn’t support color and apparently you can’t study some things without color illustrations.

      Kindle 2 is a dedicated ereader – it’s great for reading books and it doesn’t really do anything else.
      A netbook is a small personal computer you can use to do a lot of things.

      • switch11,

        Thank you for your input.
        I have gone back and forth with Kindle and Nook –
        Wanting to make sure I make the right choice.
        I decided against the Netbook – laptop is enough.
        I was truly wanting something to use to read (of course), check e-mail, and study with. I would like to make notes and be able to use a calender as well…but you can not have it all I guess.

        Again thank you and any further suggestions or thoughts would be appreciated.

        joy

      • Joy, with the Kindle

        read – very, very well suited.
        check email – you can use mobile mail websites but not ideal
        study – depends on textbook availability
        make notes – not very easy but doable. I’m assuming you mean add notes to books.
        Calendar – not at the moment. You would probably get a calendar when the Kindle App Store opens up.

        Nook is pretty similar with notes being tougher and email being a little easier. So a wash.

        Perhaps waiting a month or two and seeing what the Asus Eee Tablet is like (eReader + eWriter) would be worthwhile.

  23. Another question…

    Do all of the Kindle 2nd generations have Global useage?
    I was told no, but on the Kindle site it says yes.
    Can anyone help me out.

    Thank you,

    • There’s a Kindle 2 US that used to be sold and now can be bought 2nd hand that only has US coverage.
      The Kindle 2 that Amazon sells (not through 3rd party) – the one on the Amazon product page. That one has global usage.

  24. I am wondering about the battery. What happens to your files once the battery dies(will not hold a charge)? Do you lose all the books stored on the hard drive? I’m assuming the info isn’t transferable as you can’t connect the Kindle to a computer. That would be a lot of money spent on books and then lost once the Kindle is dead.

    • Kurt,
      Kindle books don’t disappear if the battery dies. You can get the battery replaced by Amazon for $80.
      Amazon also stores a copy of all Kindle Store books you buy in their cloud which you can access from your Kindle.
      If you like you can store a copy of all your Kindle books on your computer. You can connect your Kindle to the computer – never had a battery die on me so don’t know if the Kindle still connects to a PC after the battery dies.

      You’d probably have to use Kindle for Android or Kindle for PC until you get your battery replaced by Amazon.

  25. Probably a silly question but i haven’t found the answer yet. How are the books listed on your kindle, by author or alphabetical? or can you change back and forth?
    Another question. Can you list the books you’ve previously read {not on the kindle} so you don’t have to keep it listed somewhere else?

    • You can list books by Most Recent First, Title, Author, or Collections.
      Collections are like Folders and in ‘Collections’ View those are listed before any books and any books in a Collection are not showon the home pages.

      Books you’ve already read you can either –

      Put into a Collection called ‘Read’.
      Delete from your Kindle and look at them in your Archives.

  26. I think you should update this blog. Many of the low ratings were caused by lack of features. These features were added following firmware update 2.5. You should also rate other features of the Kindle 2 such as durability, audio quality, and third-party accessory compatability.

    • Durability and Audio Quality are good points.
      Will get around to updating this post eventually. Yes, Kindle 2.5 upgrade definitely is a game changer.

  27. Thank you for the info, very helpful.

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