Thursday, February 26, 2009

State of the Art
The Kindle: Good Before, Better Now

Mario Tama/Getty Images’s Kindle electronic reader, version 2.

By DAVID POGUE writing in The New York Times, February 24, 2009

In the high-tech industry, you live for the day when your product name becomes a verb. “I Googled him.” “She’s been Photo shopped.”
Amazon, is hoping that its product name, a verb, becomes a noun. “Have you bought the new Kindle?”

The Kindle is the most successful electronic book-reading tablet so far, but that’s not saying much; Silicon Valley is littered with the corpses of e-book reader projects.

A couple of factors made the Kindle a modest hit when it made its debut in November 2007. First, it incorporated a screen made by E Ink that looks amazingly close to ink on paper.
Unlike a laptop or an iPhone, the screen is not illuminated, so there’s no glare, no eyestrain — and no battery consumption. You use power only when you actually turn the page, causing millions of black particles to realign. The rest of the time, the ink pattern remains on the screen without power. You can set it on your bedside table without worrying about turning it off.

The big Kindle breakthrough was its wireless connection. Thanks to Sprint’s cellular Internet service, the Kindle is always online: indoors, outdoors, miles from the nearest Wi-Fi hot spot.
This sort of service costs $60 a month for laptops, but Amazon pays the Kindle’s wireless bill, in hopes that you’ll buy e-books spontaneously. “Have you read ‘The Audacity of Hope’?” someone might ask you. “Why, no, but I’ll download it now!” And 45 seconds later, you’ve got the whole book.
The full piece at the NYT online.

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