By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 7:24 pm
What should the next-generation Kindle be like? Like the current Kindle, only more so. That’s clearly Amazon.com’s strategy, judging from the news about the new Kindle which first broke tonight on Engadget.
In the wake of the iPad, Amazon could choose from several obvious potential strategies for the future of its e-reader. The one it’s chosen, at least for now, is to focus on reading–and to move away from the iPad rather than towards it, by making the Kindle smaller, lighter, and more affordable.
Key new features:
The new model is 21 percent smaller and 15 percent lighter than its predecessor (at 8.7 ounces, its weight is almost two-thirds lighter than the iPad);
Same 6″ E-Ink monochrome screen as before, but with 20 percent faster refresh rate and better contrast;
Ten days of battery life with 3G on, a month with it turned off;
4GB of storage space for books, versus 2GB in the past;
Both graphite (like the new Kindle DX) and white versions;
Slightly revised keyboard and controls;
New WebKit-based browser;
$189 model with free 3G access; $139 model with Wi-Fi (both prices undercutting roughly comparable Barnes & Noble Nooks by $10).
The new model ships on August 27th–and I guess we know why Amazon let its supply of the old version run out. (I guess it’s going to go for a month without any Kindles except the DX to sell, though–wonder how many people will go for a Nook or Kobo or Sony Reader rather than wait?)
Amazon’s strategy is as sensible as any I can think of for the Kindle–make it more like a book and even less like an iPad, thereby catering to all the folks who want the equivalent of a (relatively) cheap, highly portable digital paperback rather than the costlier do-it-all device that is Apple’s tablet. For all the people who do their electronic reading on the iPad and/or smartphones (like, um, me) there should be plenty of customers left who want a dedicated device–at least for now.
I’ll review the new Kindle as soon as I can get my hands on one. I’m most curious about how much closer the display gets to true paperlike legibility. (I haven’t seen the improved screen on the Kindle DX in person yet.)