Engadget posted up a thoughtful review of Amazon’s new Kindle 2. I am sure nearly everyone reading this post has already read many articles regarding the improvements over the original Kindle, so I’ll make it brief: the EPD (Electronic Paper Display) using E Ink technology has been improved in two ways. One, instead of 4 levels of grey, the new Kindle 2 uses 16 levels, which leads to better quality text and graphics. Second, the refresh on the new EPD is 20% faster. Those are the two main improvements in the display of the Kindle 2. Other hardware improvements are many but you can read Engadget’s longer post for the nitty gritty (sourced at the end of this post). Now, you might be wondering why the title reads “But Not Yet”.
I understand, to some extent, why the Kindle 2 was designed the way it was designed: with a keyboard and a 5-way rocker. The English keyboard is probably based on the fact that most of the books sold on Amazon.com is written in English. Second, without a physical keyboard there is no way to enter text. The 5-way rocker is simpler than the weird slider and is required to navigate through the menu system on the Kindle 2. But must it be this way?
Get rid of the keyboard. And go international. Apple had great foresight when it designed the iPhone (and with a subsequent patch) that allowed for international keyboards. Apple new that the iPhone would be sold in different countries. Maybe Amazon isn’t ready for that on the business side but the hardware should at least allow for it so a complete redesign of the hardware isn’t necessary when the business portion of the equation catches up. With a touch-enabled EPD you can overcome the limitation of a physical keyboard and allow for a virtual keyboard for any language. In the world that we live in I am certain there is a vast market waiting for it.
With a touch EPD you can also get rid of the 5-way rocker and the ‘Menu’ and ‘Back’ buttons. You could possible get rid of the four other buttons too. Other benefits include: smaller profile, lest cost and complexity in manufacturing, more direct interaction, etc.Â The Kindle 2 is a much improved version, but I will be waiting until I see a Kindle with a touch EPD and support for international languages.