Popular Kindle Book Reader Gets a Sequel

The book reader that was the sold-out hit of last Christmas has a new version: Kindle 2. The second iteration gets a slimmer profile, improved battery life, reads books to you and improves the storage to 2GB or about 1,500 books.

The device is just over a third of an inch thick and weighs about 10 ounces. Amazon has improved the battery life by 25% and enhanced the paper-like LCD display with a crisper 16 grey-scale version (compared to 4 on the previous one). And if you don’t like reading, Kindle 2 will do the work for you using a text-to-speech function that converts books into speech.

Buttons have been added to the side making it easier to flip pages and a new five-way controller helps with note-taking and highlighting text. Kindle 2 also offers word definitions which come from the New Oxford American Dictionary.

"Kindle 2 is everything customers tell us they love about the original Kindle, only thinner, faster, crisper, with longer battery life, and capable of holding hundreds more books. If you want, Kindle 2 will even read to you — something new we added that a book could never do," Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder and CEO, said in a statement. Some estimates say Amazon may sell as much as $750 million in Kindles by 2010.

The unit is available for pre-order starting today for $359 and will ship February 24.

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