The New Amazon Kindle 2 Unboxed

Yesterday, I received my copy of the Amazon Kindle 2 [affiliate link]. Gail and I are on vacation, so I had them send it to me here. I figured this would be good time to get acquainted with the new device, before I head back to the hustle and bustle of work. In this video, I unbox the Kindle 2 and share my first impressions.

I bought a Kindle 1 when it first came out. As a book publisher, I felt that it was important for me to keep up with the technology. I still do. I need to understand what the future of publishing might hold, so I can prepare my company for what is coming.

Initially, I was excited about the Kindle 1. In fact, I blogged about it here, here, and here. I also speculated about the future of eBooks in three posts:

In my very first post on eBooks on December 11, 2005, I speculated “we are only one device away from a digital publishing tsunami.” It’s safe to say that the Kindle 1 was not that device. It was moderately successful—analysts estimate that Amazon has sold nearly 500,000 units—but it did not achieve the iconic status of the iPod.

Will Kindle 2 be that device? Probably not, but it is still a big improvement over Kindle 1. Amazon reports that about 10% of its book sales are Kindle downloads. I am sure that this will at least double that. Rumor has it that Apple is also working on an eBook reader, so this could get interesting fast. Nothing like a little competition to accelerate progress.

Although, I discuss my first impressions in the video, I’d like to include them here in case you would rather read than watch.

  1. It is really thin. In fact, it’s about two-thirds the thickness of an iPhone or one-half the thickness of a Moleskine [affiliate link] hardcover notebook. It is also the exact same dimensions as a Moleskine notebook and about the same weight (10.2 ounces).
  2. It is more stylish. The Kindle 1 almost had a retro, clunky feel to it. The Kindle 2 feels very current—dare I say, cool?—feel to it. The Keyboard is less obtrusive and blends into the overall design better. It also has an aluminum back with stereo speakers.
  3. It arrived personalized. The machine knew that I was upgrading from Kindle 1. It had named the machine, “Michael’s Second Kindle.” Also, the letter from Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s Founder and CEO, was personalized. Nice touch. The books I had bought on the Kindle 1 were “archived” and available for download via one-click.
  4. The “Whisper” network is fast. I couldn’t even connect my Kindle 1 to the network here in the mountains where we are staying. The Kindle 2, however, connected immediately via 3G. I downloaded an entire book in about 15 seconds. Shopping in the Kindle Store was very snappy. The fact that you can download samples of books before you buy them is ingenious. I can see already that this could be very dangerous for book addicts like me.
  5. The page keys are more functional. This was one of the biggest complaints from Kindle 1 users. People kept accidently hitting the keys and advancing the pages. This is almost impossible with the Kindle 2. Not only are the keys smaller but you have to press them more from the inside edge of the key rather than the outside. (This is hard to describe, but it is a brilliant design choice.)
  6. The user-interface is an improvement. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s noticeably better. The 5-way selector key (the pointing device) is way better than the selector on the Kindle 1. You can select specific pieces of text within a line rather than just the line itself. You can bookmark, highlight, lookup, and annotate your text much more easily. The page turns are noticeably faster but still flicker slightly as the screen re-draws itself.

Overall, I am impressed with the Kindle 2. But time will tell. (Remember, I was also initially impressed with the Kindle 1.) The real key will be whether I continue to use it after the initial excitement wears off. Regardless, I plan to read a few books on the device and then report back with “the good, the bad, and he ugly.” Stay tuned.

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  • http://www.thischangesnothing.com Michael Covington

    A printed instruction book for an E-reader?! Haha!

  • Colleen Coble

    Looks awesome, Mike! What I'm most interested in hearing after you've used it a bit is if the note making feature is good. I can see using it for critiquing chapters and making notes right in the text. I won't like it much if I can only see those notes on a page by themselves and not beside the text where I made the note.

  • Julie Link

    Michael, I am delighted to have you as a voluntary guinea pig!

  • http://lynnrush.wordpress.com/ LynnRush

    Looks great. I haven't ventured into the E-reader world yet, but who knows….someday soon?

    Thanks for sharing. Have fun on your vacation.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Yea, but you have to make it idiot-proof. The whole goal is to reduce tech support calls. “Where is the on switch?”

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/tommylane tommylane

    Excellent presentation, Mike. I'm looking forward to your future observations on the Kindle 2.

  • Colleen Coble

    And can you transfer that file back to your computer and make changes where you see the note, Captain Kirk?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Bud_Boughton Bud_Boughton

    Michael,

    Thank you for our review and comments on Kindle 2. What can I say, I guess I am a…. dinosaur? Yes, I have made my living in the technology business for 30+ years and yes I love technology and the many conveniences that is has provided to us in our daily lives, but I have decided I do not want to hold my 'entire life' in the palm of my hand on an electronic device.

    When it comes to a good read, there is something aesthetic about the smell of a book, turning the pages, wondering whose hands have also turned the pages of the very book i am holding in my hands. I'm so spent at the end of the day with e-mail, text messages, attachments that needc to be opened and reviewed, blogs, etc., that every once in awhile, I find comfort in "hard copy."

    Now, forget your blog for a few days and relax and enjoy your vacation.

  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    Great info. Thanks for doing it. As much as I'd love an e-reader and even though the Kindle looks neat, I still like a real book. Just like having the paper in my hands I guess. I'm sure that taste may change.

    Was that @GailHyatt as your videographer? :) Great job.

  • craig

    Did I hear you say the new Kindle was like crack Cocaine?

  • http://www.tonyhill.me Tony Hill

    Great review Michael. Looks like I may hold out on an ereader… especially if there are rumors of an Apple device. Also, if you don't mind sharing, what are some of the books you our reading on the kindle while you're out there? Anything books you've read so far that are surprisingly good and would recommend?

  • Brendas

    Hi Michael. You did a great job talking and showing the kindle 2. I should receive my by March 2nd. It left amazon on the 23rd.. I've been trying to tract it but USPS is not tracking friendly. I can't wait to get mine.

  • http://www.twitter.com/switchinggranny Martha

    Thanks Michael. I appreciated your comparison to the kindle 1 because I've never seen one. Looks awesome.

    And enjoy your blogging while on vacation. For an internet fellow I'd imagine no blogging would be more stressful. Anyway I love love your twit pics from Co.  *apple fan boy* Love it!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/mvivas mvivas

    I love the reference to "crak cocaine". I think it's a perfect analogy when you compare it to people that love reading. You can get really "hooked". Trust me, I just got mine yesterday and I already have read more in less than 24 hrs than I have in the last 2 months.

    Good hands-on Mike. Great video. Kudos to your wife for the videography.

  • http://www.suspensenovelist.blogspot.com Peg Brantley

    I ordered my Kindle yesterday and wish I'd opted for overnight delivery! I can already see my "book bill" increasing and that only makes me happy.

  • David Southern

    Thanks for the review. This is well done. I anticipate your "working" review to make my own purchase decisions.

  • http://www.publishedauthors.com/robsargeant Rob Sargeant

    How is the read out loud feature on the Kindle 2? I use the PDF reader on my home computer sometimes to proof read my manuscripts. I prefer the woman's voice over the man's. He sounds too much like Starwar's C3PO.

  • John Hyde

    Yes, my dentist reads everthing on a Kindle, even has it in church if the sermon gets too long. I'm trying to get him to order my first book, "What's the Problem With Jesus". He says he has no problem. I know, I know, I tell him to read it, then put copies in his office.

  • Joel

    Crack cocaine??? Mike, that's so 80s. It's all about Meth now (LOL).

    I can see how an E-Reader can become an addictive device, but I am going to muster all of the restraint I can to pass on buying K2, just like I did with K1. Primarily, becuase this recession is brutal! If things don't change I will have to start going to the Library (remember those lovely, quiet institutions) rather than buying books (sorry Christian retailers). Seriously, though, if the new Apple E-Reader incorporates the features on my IPod Touch, look out Amazon and Book publishing as we know it! Apple doesn't create products, they create markets…

    I am delighted to read your blogs and see how your interest in multi-media and technology will keep Thomas Nelson's leadership in Christian Publishing. Thank you!

  • http://www.christaallan.com christa allan

    Thanks for allowing me to live vicariously until I own one myself!

  • http://www.marlataviano.com Marla Taviano

    Do you mind sharing how many books you have on your Kindle? And do you buy one or a ton at a time?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/davidpleach davidpleach

    Mike, thanks for the review. Glad to see the new innovations, and am especially excited to see Kindle working on the audio components. Personally, I won't be forking over my hard-earned commissions until the publishers start providing the book in both digital, print and audio forms for one wraparound price.

    For the masses, however, no format or technology can increase book sales. The problem is readership in ANY format. As long as we aren't creating and developing new people who can and want to read, publishing's market will continue to shrink. And expensive gadgets won't bridge the gap.

  • Jeanne Farrington

    Thank you for the review of the new Kindle. I am waiting for Apple to come out with an e-reader. Glad to hear they may have one in the works. That will keep me from buying the Kindle then having to buy the new one from Apple. :)

  • http://www.twitter.com/RaymondTaylor Ray Taylor

    Thanks for the video Michael. Maybe Moleskine will pick up your hint about a case and design a cover with an integrated journal for notes. I still prefer paper and pen for that.

  • Kevin Allen

    Michael thanks for the video. I have loved my Kindle and am trying to get all my books in Kindle format. But one book I am having trouble with is published by Thomas Nelson – Larry Crabb's Becoming A True Spiritual Community. Amazon says it is available for the Kindle but then want to sell me The Safest Place on Earth in Kindle format. Can you all send them the e-file for Becoming A True Spiritual Community?

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

    Mike,

    You likened the Kindle 2's book preview facility to crack cocaine.

    That's hilarious!

  • http://matthewdejesus.blogspot.com MattDJ

    Fantastic review! As a gadget and book nut, I wish Amazon would take a serious look at what Sony is doing with their new readers: beautiful, thin and wrap-around metal. That is what I crave in an e-book reader: the "not gonna go anywhere" Amazon warehouse to store my e-books, and the built like a tank yet oh so cool metal Sony readers that are likely to last a whole lot longer than the plastic white Kindle. I'm even willing to give up 3G for a high-end device like the Sony offerings if I could keep the Amazon connection.

    Alas…all my greatest desires may only be months away after Apple reveals yet another must-have gadget! ;-)

  • JMiller

    Mike, Please follow up and tell us if indeed you are still impressed with the Kindle2. I am considering one for grad school, but am unsure if it is worth the cost.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I still love it. However, I am eagerly awaiting the rumored eBook Reader from Apple. Supposedly, it will be out this fall.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/MonteKing MonteKing

    Enjoyed the video, Michael… I've never used Kindle… I like to underline, make marks etc, when I read most books…. can you highlight things so that you can easily find a passage again?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yes, you can highlight and even take notes. Best of all, they are indexed, so you can get back to them.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/MonteKing MonteKing

        Awesome!!

  • http://twitter.com/sincerelypaige @sincerelypaige

    Thanks for the video tutorial:) I've coveted a Kindle 2 for a while, but with the iPhone the kindle app is free and I can sample and order as many books as my pocket book will allow. It would be nice though if someone would develop a Kindle app for the iPhone that you could listen to the books as well as read them on the phone. As of now I can't listen to my Kindle books on my phone. Can someone make an app for that?

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  • Cynthia Schuerr

    After hearing your presentation, Michael, I am more inclined to try the Kindle. I guess it would be more convenient for traveling. However, I have to agree with Bud_Boughton. I just don't think the reading experience is quite the same as holding a hard copy in your hands and turning the pages. I would even miss smelling the print on the pages.

    Great presentation!

  • Gail Hyatt

    You're so cute. :-)
    (From your little wifey.)

  • Gail Hyatt

    You're so cute. :-)
    (From your little wifey.)

  • http://miketodd.typepad.com Mike Todd

    Michael – Any thoughts on how the Kindle handles non fiction? I love mine, but footnotes can be frustrating…
    My recent post Addicted to Violence

  • Kevin Brinkley

    I have been using the Kindle 2 for almost one year. It’s OK but my boss got the Kindle DX for Christmas. It shames the Kindle 2. The larger screen and other improvements could make the DX enjoyable enough to win over many more paper devotees.

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  • http://twitter.com/mikebone @mikebone

    Thanks for your review. I've been looking into the Kindle (and iPad) myself lately. I'm thinking it might still be too early to see which tech will become the standard.
    My recent post Do you “Kindle”?

  • http://www.kindlecoversandcases.com Kindle Covers, Cases

    Wow, nice! I wouldn't think that Amazon would do such a nice personalized Letter. Boy they are really doing it up with the Kindle aren't they? Going to check out any recent updates about your Kindle. Thanks for posting.
    My recent post Top 5 Tuff-Luv Leather Kindle Case Covers and Stands

  • http://www.kindlecoversandcases.com Kindle Covers, Cases

    Wow, nice! I wouldn't think that Amazon would do such a nice personalized Letter. Boy they are really doing it up with the Kindle aren't they? Going to check out any recent updates about your Kindle. Thanks for posting.
    My recent post Top 5 Tuff-Luv Leather Kindle Case Covers and Stands

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1148281242 Zetti Raven Constance

    Great last line! :D Thank you for convincing me to buy an E-reader! I was, sadly, one of the people who would prefer the “flickering of a candle” instead of “electricity.”

  • craig

    Well, then I am even more interested.