Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Amazon fires next salvo in eBook reader wars

According to Engadget, Amazon has announced its new-generation Kindles, which will replace the Kindle 2. The new models have the same 6" display size of the Kindle 2, but use the same improved E-Ink display technology as the Kindle DX. The new display offers 50% better contrast and a 20% faster page refresh time (meaning that the annoying "flashing page turn," while not eliminated, is shorter.) Also, the new Kindles are 21% smaller and 15% lighter than the Kindle 2.

Amazon has increased the Kindle's built-in storage to 4GB, slightly modified the controls to make them easier to use, improved the PDF reader to include support for password-protected files, and added an "experimental" Webkit-based browser that should, at least in theory, be able to display HTML5 content. (The fact that Amazon calls the browser "experimental" means that users shouldn't expect too much from it.)

The Kindle's Text-to-Speech capabilities have been improved, and vision-impaired users can now navigate using voice prompts. Given the Copyright Office's ruling on requiring publishers to permit text-to-speech, this could dramatically increase the number of speech-enabled titles offered by Amazon.

The single Kindle 2 has been replaced with two models, one with both 3G and Wi-Fi, priced at $189 in the U.S., and the second with Wi-Fi only, priced at $139. Both models will ship on August 27th. Amazon has priced the new 3G/Wi-Fi model at the same price as the just-discontinued Kindle 2, and both models underprice their Barnes & Noble nook equivalents by $10 in the U.S.


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