The Device & Navigation
While the original Kindle was a little chunky with ill-placed controls, the Kindle 2 is svelte and sweet with useful navigation right at your fingertips. At 8″ x 5.3″ x 0.36″, it is thin, but sturdy. At 10.2 ounces it is weighty enough to feel good in the hand without being heavy. The design is excellent. Just looking at the Kindle 2, you might think that it a device designed by Apple, who excels at device design. The Kindle 2 looks like a smaller version of the Apple MacBook Air notebook.
As shown in Figure 4, the front of the device is all white. It has Previous Page and Next Page buttons on the left and Home, Next Page, Menu, and Back buttons on the right. Although we refer to these as buttons, they are not raised, but rather are flush with the face of the Kindle, adding to its sleek look.
Between the Menu and the Back button on the right side of the Kindle 2, there is also a square scroll button the can navigated up and down and left and right to move to the proper selection on the screen. The button is then pressed to make the selection. The scroll button itself is a little stiff. We felt it could be easier to use, but it is workable. Having the selections highlighted on the screen and chosen with a button is infinitely better than the navigation system of highlighting by row that was used in the first Kindle.
Figure 4: The Kindle 2.
Figure 5 shows the revamped keyboard of the Kindle 2. The buttons are now round and placed similarly to a cell phone with a QWERTY keyboard. If you are used to typing on a cell phone, the keypad is sure to please. If, however, you are not used to data entry of this type, you may find the keys small and the letter labels somewhat difficult to read. Generally, the keypad is only used for annotations and web pages, but there are also keyboard shortcuts that can make using the Kindle a little more pleasurable. For instance, you can press Alt+Home to quickly get to the Kindle Store or press Shift+ Sym to start or stop the text-to-speech reading.
Figure 5: The Kindle 2 keypad.
The back of the Kindle 2, shown in Figure 6, is mostly brushed aluminum. The speakers can be seen on the left and right sides of the bottom. We were not happy to see this placement because if you add a case to the Kindle 2, the speakers will be covered. We could not tell if this detracted from the sound or not because while the first Kindle came with a cover, this one does not. We felt that the lack of an included cover was a fairly big drawback. To make it more book-like and to protect the device, we would have liked to see a cover included.
Figure 6: The back of the Kindle 2.
The power switch and the volume keys are more easily accessible on the Kindle 2. As shown in Figure 7, the power switch is now located on the top of the Kindle next to the standard earphone port. The volume control in on the side of the Kindle 2, as shown in Figure 8.
Figure 7: The top of the Kindle 2.
Figure 8: The side of the Kindle 2.
The Kindle 2 can be charged by using the USB port on the bottom (shown in Figure 9). As stated previously, the included cable lets you use either a computer with a USB port or an electrical outlet. The battery life is excellent. Under normal use, even with the wireless on, the Kindle shouldn’t have to be charged more than once every few days. If you do attach the Kindle 2 to a computer, you can use it as drag-and-drop storage for data files. Unfortunately, the battery in the original Kindle was user replaceable. The battery in the Kindle 2 is not.
Figure 9: The bottom of the Kindle.
When you attach your Kindle to a computer, you can drag music files to the Kindle from your computer and play them on the Kindle. The Kindle’s music player is rudimentary. It doesn’t support playlists or any advanced features, but it is functional and can be a nice feature if you enjoy listening to music while you read.