Mine arrived about 40 minutes ago, a day early. I’m super excited. I’ve been a bit jealous of my wife’s K1 model and when the new one was finally made available for ordering I wasted no time in placing my order. Now, after about 35 minutes of using it (it took a few minutes to get the box open and plug it in) I have to say that I’m pretty happy with the product overall. It is certainly too early to draw any final conclusions on the device, but so far things are looking pretty good.
The packaging is pretty, not that it matters too much, but they seem to have put in a bit of effort to go above and beyond the basic cardboard box. The box contents are very simple: the device, a USB charging cable with AC outlet adapter and the getting started guide. Simple and to the point, with nothing extra or unnecessary. I like that.
I plugged in and was up and running very shortly thereafter.
So, how awesome is it? Honestly just about the same as the K1. That’s pretty awesome in my book, as I’m a big fan of the K1, but the K2 does not appear to be revolutionary or even all that much different to me in the interface or the functionality. I know that it isn’t really supposed to be, so I’m not disappointed in it, but for those who are expecting something materially different, this isn’t it.
When the initial specs were announced I suggested that it might actually be too thin. I still feel that way. Holding it in my hand it just didn’t feel natural. It is much, much wider than it is thick and that makes holding it difficult. Plus, the back is now a brushed metal rather than the rubberized grip material that the K1 was made of. This allowed it to continuously slide out of my hand while I was trying to hold it and read it. Once I slipped it into its fancy Kindle cover, conveniently now an additional purchase item rather than included, things got much better. The cover isn’t particularly thick, but it is enough that when flipped open it provides an appropriately significant bulk to the device. The inside of the cover is also a feltish material, providing some friction against my hand. It makes it much more manageable to hold.
The other dimensions are basically the same as the K1 so that isn’t much of a change. You can see from the photo that it fits reasonably well in my hand (my hands are not huge by any means – men’s medium or large for gloves) and the balance while holding it seems pretty good. I think that the “Prev Page” button is just a bit too high to be comfortable to reach with my left thumb while reading one-handed, just like the K1 was, but the K2 is at least closer to reachable. Still not perfect, but not too bad.
Regarding readability and the newly upgraded display, I am rather impressed. The images (I’ve mostly been using the NY Times for images thus far in my testing) are sharp and the additional shades of gray do make a significant difference in the overall quality. From a text perspective I don’t see much of a difference, but the K1 was pretty good so the K2 keeping that high quality is good enough for me. Page turning is snappy and switching between books is pretty quick. Definitely no complaints from me on that front.
The USB connector allows for both connectivity to a computer (it installed all on its own on my XP SP3 system and appeared as a removable drive for loading additional content on to the device) and for charging of the unit. I’m a big fan of USB-based charging for portable electronics so I am pretty happy on this front. But I am annoyed that, much like the Blackberry Storm, the USB cable is not a standard Mini-B connector but a Micro-B connector. Why? Why oh why was there a need to change this standard? There are millions upon millions of Mini-B cables already out there. I see the the Micro-B is a bit thinner, but I’m annoyed that I am basically going to have two sets of cables to carry now.
I was able to load a document on to the device using the USB connection quite quickly and that was completely functional. Ditto for getting books downloaded from the store using the WhisperNet connection from Sprint.
Some interesting things that seem to be “missing” based on the K1 are a user-replaceable battery and a memory expansion slot. I have no idea why they would skip out on these two things. Yes, it has 2GB of on-board memory built in, of which 1.5GB is usable. And the books are not incredibly huge (The Three Musketeers is ~822KB; today’s NY Times is almost 2MB) so there is capacity for a lot on the device. But still, leave room for future growth. Ditto on the battery issue. Why make replacing it a maintenance event rather than a quick swap by the end user? Did they learn nothing from the annoyance at Apple about the iPhone battery situation??
So, there’s my first 40 minutes worth of experience in a nutshell. I’ll be on the road non-stop for a week starting on Friday so I’ll have plenty of time to put it through its paces and do a more thorough review. But at a glance it looks pretty nice, if not revolutionary.