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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

March 2, 2009 at 9:55 AM

Amazon’s Kindle 2 review, feedback and public viewing

There has been some great feedback to the Kindle 2 review published this morning.

I’d love to hear more about what people think about the device.

I’d also like to give people a chance to see the Kindle 2 in person, since you can’t handle one before buying it from Amazon.com.

I’ll have the Kindle 2 available for people to come see in person Thursday evening here at The Times. There’s no schedule or presentation, just a sort of open house where you can come down and spend a few minutes trying it out. This starts at 5:30 at the main office at 1120 John St. (just a few blocks from the new Amazon.com headquarters campus that’s under construction.)

In today’s review, I focused more on the business side of the device than the look and feel, partly because that’s where Amazon is doing some amazing innovation. Kindle 2’s hardware seems to be at the quality level of a brand-name mobile phone, MP3 player or laptop computer but we’ll have to see how it holds up.

Several readers pointed out that there is a way to view a set of headlines from a newspaper’s section.

After you click to open an edition of a paper, presenting the first story, you use the joystick to press “view sections list,” bringing up the screen in the photo with today’s story. Then you use the joystick to navigate sideways and click on the numbers, in parenthesis, after each section title. Then the device displays the headlines of five stories from that section; to see the rest you click the “next page” button, and you can open individual stories to read more by using the joystick.

I should have mentioned this in the review. It’s easier to do than to describe in words, and it does add a little “scannability” to the newspaper experience, but I’d argue that it’s still a step down in usability and too fiddly to convert most readers.

Readers don’t all agree, though.

Mark Davis e-mailed to say, “it’s a different experience than reading an actual newspaper, just not as bad an experience as the article made it sound.”

Davis said he read the review on a Kindle 2, which prompted him to get his first ever newspaper subscription.

Others asked when there will be a Kindle that shows color. In January the screen maker, E-Ink, said there will be prototypes (not necessarily from Amazon) that can display newspaper-grade image by the end of the year. Amazon’s not saying much of anything about Kindle 3, although there was a report in a Taiwanese electronics publication last week that said the next version could appear around the 2009 holiday season.

Comments | More in | Topics: Amazon.com, amazon.com, Gadgets & products

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