NEW YORK--Were there an anthology of gadget launch announcements, the unveiling of Amazon's Kindle 2 e-book reader would have one of the more anticlimactic storylines.
It started out like any other big press conference, with a line of reporters and photographers streaming out the door onto the chilly sidewalk outside the historic Morgan Library & Museum.
The Kindle 2's arrival had been preceded by the usual blog blitz of leaked photos, rumors, and breathless wish lists. (A color screen! Better PDF support! International versions of the Kindle store!) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took the stage, Steve Jobs-style, with a slide show recap of the original Kindle's success before making the big debut.
But the announcement itself was underwhelming. The price, $359, remains the same. The battery life's been improved by about 25 percent. The Kindle 2 is much skinnier than its predecessor, slimming down to 0.36 inches in thickness from 0.7, but it's only a tenth of an ounce lighter. The storage capacity has jumped from 256MB to 2GB, or about 200 to 1,500 books, and the electronic ink display has improved from a 4-shade to 16-shade grayscale.
The layout of some of the buttons has been restructured, and the new Kindle also has a text-to-speech reader. In short, the improvements seem worthwhile, but there was no real curveball to give the Kindle a mainstream appeal.… Read more