Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kindle 2 Review

My shiny new Kindle 2.0 arrived yesterday, so I've had a bit of time to play with it. Here are some first impressions, and some differences from the Original Kindle.

Form Factor

The Kindle 2 is a lot sleeker-looking. It's very thin and has nice smooth, rounded corners. It is a bit taller and wider than the K1. I'm not sure why, but it does feel somewhat bigger in the hand. The back of the case is brushed aluminum, and some users on the Kindle 2 forums have complained that it's a little too slippery. A skin or cover is probably a good idea.

The paging buttons on the Kindle 2 are very different than those on the first Kindle. My first impression wasn't too favorable, but I think I'll probably get used to them in time. The Kindle 1 had large, responsive buttons that could be easily pressed at any point. The new buttons are not only quite small, but they must be firmly pressed on the inner edge. There were a lot of complaints from K1 owners about accidental page turns, but I think the Kindle redesign team may have gone a little overboard in addressing that issue. As I said earlier, though, I think I will adjust to the new buttons.

The keyboard keys are small and round now, and may be a bit harder to use for some. I don't use the keyboard much, so I don't find it to be an issue.

The big change is the switch from the scrolling wheel to the new 5-way navigation controller. I really disliked the wheel on the Kindle 1. I found that it would often slip when pressed, and it was sometimes difficult to tell exactly which line the cursor was on, particularly when the text didn't extend all the way to the right side of the page. Also, the cursor position in the silver bar was sometimes difficult to see in certain lighting.


The cursor is now on the page itself instead instead of in the silver sidebar, and can be moved up, down, left or right with the new 5-way controller. When reading a book, the cursor works like a cursor in a word processor. As you move the cursor around the page, a definition for the word to the right of the cursor will automatically appear at the bottom of the page, and you can simply begin typing anywhere to add a note or highlight a passage. When on the home page, or in a menu, the current position is now denoted with a thick underline, making it much easier to see where you are. The movement of the controller is much more distinct than the wheel, too.

The whole navigation system has been greatly improved. From the home page, you can move the cursor to a book title and click right to bring up a page with the book cover and menu items to buy now (if it's a sample), see book description, go to a location, search or delete. A left click over a title on the home page will delete the item. The menus themselves are now accessed from a hardware button just above the 5-way controller, and filling in form fields is a much simpler process now.

More soon...

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