Amazon Kindle 2

Critical design changes make the Amazon Kindle 2 more appealing than the preceding model.

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Amazon Kindle 2

Pros

  • Improves on the original Amazon Kindle

Cons

  • Joystick feels stiff and is awkwardly placed

Bottom Line

A definite improvement on the original Amazon Kindle, Amazon Kindle 2 remains marginally short of being the definitive reading experience. At least that leaves Amazon room for improvement on the Kindle 3.

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Amazon Kindle 2: design changes

Aside from the screen, the Amazon Kindle 2 packs a slew of design changes. The power switch moves to a more convenient location at the top of the unit (previously it was on the back - an awful place for a power switch). But the handy wireless off switch, which was also on the back of the first Kindle, is gone entirely; now you must turn off the wireless radio in the Home menu (annoying for us frequent flyers who will do so far too often). The volume buttons are no longer on the bottom of the device; instead, the rocker switch is at the right spine.

The navigation keys have been completely redone, too. At left are Previous and Next buttons, with the former half the length of the latter; at right are a Home button and another Next button. The Next button ran the length of my thumb, and it was comfortably situated in relation to where my hands rested while holding the device at its midsection.

We can't say the same, unfortunately, about the Amazon Kindle 2's new five-way navigation joystick. The joystick feels stiff and awkwardly placed relative to where you hand is for the paging buttons. The scrollwheel moved much more smoothly; we've used other joystick designs that operate more smoothly than the one on the Amazon Kindle 2.

As for the menu interface, though, we preferred the Amazon Kindle 2's approach: no longer do you have an awkward column on the right of the screen, with a sliver of silver denoting which line you're about to select. Now, the E-Ink screen technology's speed is fast enough to enable the joystick to move through options directly on the screen, highlighting your selection as you go along. Huge improvement.

The Amazon Kindle 2's keyboard has been completely redesigned, to more closely resemble what you find on a mobile phone with a qwerty keyboard. We found the circular keys easy to press and incredibly handy. In our brief usage, the closer spacing worked better than the angled spacing and more-rectangular keys of the Kindle 1.

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