Amazon unveils lighter, thinner, text-to-speech Kindle

Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled the Kindle 2 today, a thinner, lighter version of the original e-reader introduced 14 months ago.

The new device, at 10.2 ounces, is also .36 inches thick, thinner than the .48 inch thick iPhone , Bezos said at an announcement event in New York City. It also has 25% longer battery life than before, according to the Amazon.com Web site .

It will sell for $359 and is scheduled to ship Feb. 24.

Page turns are also 20% faster and a new text-to-speech feature allows Kindle to read every book, or newspaper article aloud, Amazon.com said.

As rumored in advance, novelist Stephen King attended the event and said he will be writing a story for the Kindle. King read an excerpt of the story titled Ur , which is about a Kindle, at the press event.

Bezos told an audience of reporters that the device will rely on a body of 230,000 books, which some critics have found too restrictive even at that size. But the Amazon.com site points out that the e-book selections are the "Earth's Biggest Electronic Book Selection." "Even the best device without selection is useless," Bezos said.

The Kindle 2 has a six-inch diagonal display with 600 x 800 pixel resolution. In all it is 8 x 5.3 x .36 inches in size and weighs 10.2 ounces. Internal storage is seven times greater than the earlier model, with 2GB.

The increased battery life will allow a user to read on a single charge for up to four days with the wireless connection turned on, according to Amazon.com. It fully charges in four hours.

A 3.5 mm stereo audio jack is provided along with rear-mounted stereo speakers.

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