TechWeb

Amazon Kindle E-Book Reader To Get Facelift

Jan 28, 2009 (09:01 AM EST)

Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=212903179



Amazon.com's Kindle

Amazon.com's Kindle
(click for larger image)
With Amazon expected to unveil a new version of its Kindle e-book reader in less than two weeks, tech enthusiasts on the Web are taking their best guesses as to what the online retailer has planned for the popular device.

Amazon sparked the speculation Tuesday with an e-mail sent to the media announcing a Feb. 9 news conference at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York. Beyond confirming that Amazon chief executive Jeffrey Bezos would host the event, the company has provided no details about the event.

Nevertheless, to industry watchers, including The New York Times, Amazon's purpose is clear: Launch the next version of what the company claims is its most popular consumer electronics device.

Indeed, Amazon's Web site certainly points to something ready to happen with the Kindle. The retailer has not sold the device for awhile, saying it's sold out. Amazon, however, is taking orders and said it expects to start shipping the device in four to six weeks -- a timeframe that would fit in nicely with the unveiling of a Kindle 2.0.

Despite the Kindle's popularity, most experts agree the $359 device is in need of a facelift. While the Kindle gets high marks for ease of use and a free wireless connection that lets users buy books from Amazon, the gadget, which is more than a year old, is ready for a redesign.

CrunchGear is expecting a thinner Kindle with a touch screen. The Los Angeles Times is reporting the possibility of a sleeker design that relocates the page-forward and page-back buttons so users are less likely to push them accidentally.

While the new Kindle is likely to contain improvements in its black-and-white screen, color is unlikely to be one of them. That's because E-Ink, the company that makes the technology behind the display, is not yet ready to offer color.

Finally, for those interested in seeing pictures of the upcoming device, the Boy Genius Report claims to have them.

Amazon's major rival in the e-book reader business is Sony, which launched a its device, called the Reader, in October. The latest Reader, which uses the same E-Ink display, sells for $400.