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I got a Kindle 2 and have been using it a couple of days. Below are my thoughts:

Design: The design is improved, with curved lines and smoother look. Still not awe-inspiring to me, but an improvement. Just making it black would improve its looks by several points. The page-turning problem is fixed.

USB: The Kindle 2 can charge via USB. This is an improvement as many gadgets are now rely on USB to charge.

Text-to-Speech: It can read text to you. Not bad but not great. The text-reading is ok and is usable. It is in no way in the ball park of a true actor reading an audio book. I had it read a few things to me and found it ok to use and mostly understandable. Speech technology is much improved than even 5 years ago. It understands abbreviations and other things that older speech recognition software struggled with years ago.

Faster: The device is faster.

Navigation Button: It has a navigation button. It works pretty well. I am not sure navigation is totally figured out on the device yet.

SD Slot: A little odd that they took the SD slot away. So, most people probably lost storage space moving from Kindle 1 to Kindle 2. Extra space on Kindle 1 was good for loading lots of extra MP3s and audio books.

Additional Random Notes

Nothing beats the Kindle for travel. It is a superior travel companion, especially in the US. I traveled several places in the world with the Kindle 1 last year. (Note: the wireless does not work outside the US, but you can read all the books you have loaded.)

It seems like they would add a big “Amazon” button to encourage more browsing of the book store. You have to navigate to the menu to choose to shop at Amazon.

Bottom line, I really like it-  this is the future.
I find I like reading it for linear (non-reference) style reading more than a regular book.

What does a Kindle Not Do Well?

1) Graphics: Better eInk price points will develop over time. Also, color eInk is in the lab. Once color and graphics get perfected, this will be interesting.

2) Reference books: If you have a book that you will use as a reference – and will keep to flip through and re-read often – then you will want to buy the actual physical book. I wonder what kind of UX design would make eBooks good for the “reference book experience”. That is something we will have to mull over. I think it is possible. This is one area that Amazon may want to think about when desiging the larger “Textbook Kindle” that is rumored for the future.

Why buy a Kindle?

Well, beyond just being an natural early adopter, below is my math:

Number of books I buy a year: at least 30 (approx)
Amount of money I save buying a Kindle book vs the physical book $10 (approx)

Total Savings: $300 (30 x 10)
Cost of Kindle $359
Net Kindle Cost: $59

So, if you buy a lot of books, you may have a “Net Kindle Cost” that makes sense to buy a Kindle.