After playing around with it for an hour, I’m pretty happy with the Kindle 2. I was a satisfied user of the original model, and most of the changes are for the better. So if you’re thinking about getting one — and live in the U.S. — I vote yes.

The good:

  • It’s light and tight. It feels like an Apple product. (The original iPod nano, to be specific.)

  • The screen is faster. It’s not exactly snappy, but it’s fast enough that you can actually map the UI to it. That let the designers get rid of the roller bar.

  • Text-to-speech is decent for non-fiction. It has no sense of dialogue, so it’s hard to hear two characters talking. But it would be great for reading a magazine article aloud while driving to work.

  • Quite smartly, Amazon automatically links it to your account, so you don’t have to do anything to access books from your previous Kindle.

The bad:

  • It’s so thin and smooth that I feel like I’m going to drop it. It doesn’t ship with a case/cover, but adding one will help a lot. (I just ordered the standard one.)

  • Although it was prone to accidental bumping, I was a fan of the giant “Next Page” button. In the Kindle 2, your thumb has to hit it dead-on.

  • The little joystick is only okay. Nudging it around, you’re never quite sure how much pressure to apply.

There’s definitely room for improvement, but I can certainly recommend it to all the folks who were fence-sitting. Having access to so many books simultaneously — and adding new ones at a whim — is a game-changer.

For example, I was at the San Antonio airport waiting for a flight home, when I finally decided I needed to read Twilight. It was $19.99 at the airport bookstore, or $6.04 on Kindle. In less than sixty seconds, I was reading it.1 I’ve done a lot more of this spur-of-the-moment buying since having a Kindle, and read things I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.2

The Kindle 2 runs $359, and is in stock. If you order through this link , they’ll kick a few dollars my way.

  1. My non-review: I can see why Twilight is so successful. Caitlin Flanagan’s analysis is spot-on.
  2. And on the flip side, getting the first chapter free has helped me not buy a few books I otherwise might have.