eBook readers have been around for a while, but never really took off. Much the same can be said for the eBook itself; the form factor for a book just never caught on the way some expected it to. When it comes to books and magazines, it’s hard to beat good old-fashioned paper.
Last year, Philips Electronics released its own eBook reader called the iRex iLiad. One big issue with the iRex device was the $826 price tag. Sony decided to get in on the eBook reading action with its Sony Reader PRS-500 device that was released on Halloween and retailed for $350. Today, Amazon launched its new Kindle Wireless Reading Device to battle against the Sony device at an MSRP of $399.
Like the Sony CONNECT eBook service, the Amazon Kindle device operates on a new service called the Kindle Store. Whereas the Sony CONNECT service requires an Internet connection for downloading eBooks, the Kindle uses EVDO connectivity. What’s more impressive than the ability of the Kindle to connect to download reading material via EVDO is that a lifetime of Sprint EVDO service is included with the purchase of the Kindle device.
Amazon promises that you can download more than 88,000 books over the same Sprint 3G EVDO service that cellular phones use. If you are in an area that isn’t served by Sprint EV-DO service the internal modem falls back to 1x RTT. This will be an area of concern for people in rural areas interested in purchasing the device since the much slower speeds will make downloads take longer.
The $399 Kindle device has 256MB of internal RAM, which is enough storage space for over 200 titles and weighs only 10.3 ounces. With wireless connectivity on, the Kindle will require a recharge every other day and Amazon claims that with wireless service off the Kindle can last for up to a week before needing to recharge.
Once the internal memory is filled, expansion via SD memory cards up to 4GB is available. The display is a 6-inch diagonal E-Ink display with a screen resolution of 600 x 800 at 167 ppi in 4-level gray scale. Dimensions of the device are 7.5 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches. Content formats supported are Kindle specific AWC, TXT, audible formats 2/3/4, MP3, HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, MOBI, and PRC with conversion.
Amazon says New York Times Best sellers and new release book titles will sell for $9.99 unless otherwise marked.