Amazon launches Kindle ‘wireless reading device’

Look out, eBook readers. Amazon has launched the Amazon Kindle, a "wireless reading device" that uses EVDO cell phone networks at no charge to the user to download books and other content automatically. The Kindle is available today for $399 with free shipping on Amazon, and it allows users to choose from a library of 88,000 books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs on the Kindle Store.

Books from the New York Times Best Sellers list as well as new releases all cost $9.99 a piece, newspaper subscription cost $5.99 to $14.99 monthly, and magazine subscriptions run from $1.25 to $3.49 per month. Users can purchase content straight from the Kindle Store, and Amazon says delivery is done wirelessly in "under a minute." Newspapers like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post as well as magazines like TIME and Forbes are all delivered automatically when they are published. Amazon also gives users free, wireless access to Wikipedia.

The Kindle itself measures 7.5 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches (19.1 x 13.5 x 1.78 cm) and weighs in at just 10.3 ounces (292 grams). Amazon boasts that it features a "revolutionary electronic-paper display" that doesn’t require a backlight and looks like real paper. Its internal memory can store "over 200 books," and users can add an SD memory card to increase its storage capacity. Despite the wireless functionality, the Kindle’s battery lasts long enough to only require recharging every other day. Users can also turn the wireless off and go for "a week or more" without a recharge. When it runs out of juice, fully charging the Kindle takes two hours.

More tidbits about the Kindle, including videos, are available on Amazon’s product page for the device. The folks at Engadget also have coverage of Amazon’s Kindle launch event.

Comments closed
    • Dent
    • 12 years ago

    Why bother when a used IPAQ/PDA for sub $100 makes a great ebook reader, plus does other stuff if you really want it?

      • evermore
      • 12 years ago

      E-Ink is supposed to be vastly better than an LCD display. More like real paper, easy on the eyes, easy to see, better in different lighting. And this thing is considerably bigger than a PDA, more like a book size, less scrolling or page turning and/or bigger text. And there’s a lot to be said for dedicated functionality, if it’s designed well, sort of like accelerator chips compared to a general purpose processor.

    • Mr Bill
    • 12 years ago

    Why pay for an E-book with DRM that will make it difficult or impossible to loan out to someone else to read?

    • Contingency
    • 12 years ago

    The Kindle could be a smaller-than-laptop size Internet browser; so much wasted potential. EVDO, and all they allow is Wikipedia and their bookstore. Surfing with a phone or PDA is frustrating, and laptops, although more fully featured, are a pain to carry and have a shorter battery life. I’d love to have something just to browse with, bigger than a smartphone and with longer battery life. Someone may eventually mod it, though the long-term possibility of free surfing is unlikely.

    • Richteralan
    • 12 years ago

    Can it display musical scores?

    • unmake
    • 12 years ago

    “Kindle also includes free built-in access to the world’s most exhaustive and up-to-date encyclopedia—Wikipedia.org.”

    This single feature alone is worth $400 to me. I’m still not buying in at $400 – but if I was the kind of person who buys a PS3 without thinking it a great luxury, I’d be sold.

    • albundy
    • 12 years ago

    Considering the Asus Eee Notebook costs exactly the same, which would you choose?

      • odizzido
      • 12 years ago

      haha really.

      Also, for not having a hard copy, the books seem a little expensive do they not?

    • Vrock
    • 12 years ago

    Awesome, but way too expensive. You’ll have me at $99, Amazon, but not ’till then.

    • holophrastic
    • 12 years ago

    What’s with this concept of every device having to do everything? I’ve wanted an electronic book reader thing for ages, but nothing like this. I don’t want/need the sound, and I have no interest in wi-fi nor web access. I just want something small that displays project gutenberg text files — I currently print them out.

    Sure it might as well render html, and pdf, and seventeen different book formats, and audio, and have web access, and a keyboard, and a backlight, and magic paper, and five hunderd other things. And every one of them is useful. But not one of them has anything to do with replacing books.

    I hate books. They’re clunky, flipping pages is as annoying as any rudimentary task requiring two hands for no good reason, they get damaged easily, they take up gobs of space, and the print quality tends to be horrible.

    I just want to replace simple recreational books first. Just display text files. It can be old and crappy monochrome LCD, with a controllable backlight, and I’d buy it for $100.

      • jazper
      • 12 years ago

      A palm 515, tungsten or even a Vx is capable of this – cheap, on ebay and does exactly what you want it to do, has a great backlight and is very little money

    • Rectal Prolapse
    • 12 years ago

    That thing is UGLY. Really horrible ugly.

    It doesn’t even come close to the Sony Reader’s looks – and the Reader is just runofthemill hehe.

    The battery life is very poor – luckily you can turn off the wifi.

    No word on if you can make your own books – I do that with the Sony Reader and it is great.

    The Reader has a two to four week life between recharges.

    • DrDillyBar
    • 12 years ago

    Yeah… Cut the price to about 1/3rd, and I’d probably take a serious look at it. But for $400, it’s just not quite good enough. But I really like the display they chose for the device, looks good.

    • eitje
    • 12 years ago

    Sounds like the Sony Reader, but with automatic online service.

    §[<http://arstechnica.com/reviews/hardware/sony-reader-review.ars<]§ if that's the case (and it likely is), it probably suffers from the same problems, and costs as much for the same reason (eInk).

    • liquidsquid
    • 12 years ago

    I see two advantages over a laptop for many customers: It doesn’t have to flip-open == more rugged when rolled-over, and… easier to deal with when laying down, reading in a chair/plane, etc. If I were to spend $400, I would get a laptop for my wife to get her off of my computer.

    Price is high, Amazon should almost give it away contingent upon selling a minimum number of books per year, or several subscriptions to the customer. They could sell it for <$100 if you purchase subscription to the Wall Street and a few magazines or something, and then wind up with a much larger customer base that would be “hooked-in” to their services where repeat business would pay for the up-front loss. Much like the X-box.

    -LS

      • cygnus1
      • 12 years ago

      I like that idea, or sell it at $400 but you get $200 worth of credit in their store or something like that

    • d2brothe
    • 12 years ago

    Yea, definitely too expensive, but I really do like it, I’d prefer wifi access over cell access though….the wikipedia touch is nice too…but I want to be able to copy/read my own files as well.

      • cygnus1
      • 12 years ago

      you can, you email them to the service, and it converts them to be read on the kindle and then wirelessly delivers them to the device.

        • sigher
        • 12 years ago

        For a small fee, and making them available to the NSA..

    • Nitrodist
    • 12 years ago

    No PDF support but I guess it supports mobi, if the comments on Amazon are accurate.

    • JJCDAD
    • 12 years ago

    Why do you need a full keyboard to read a book?

    What is the headphone jack and volume buttons for? The product overview makes no mention of audio capabilities.

    And yeah…$400 is way too much for a product like this. The only way ebooks are ever going to take off is if the reader is near free.

      • eitje
      • 12 years ago

      my guess is this: if it can go online to the Kindle store, then you’ll need the keyboard to search for the books you want to buy.

        • JJCDAD
        • 12 years ago

        You’re probably right. I post first think later. 😉

      • cygnus1
      • 12 years ago

      the audio capabilities are for audiobooks, it handles audible and mp3

      • sigher
      • 12 years ago

      About that $400, I think it’s meant for adults, with some disposable income.
      And the dollar isn’t that impressive currently.

    • king_kilr
    • 12 years ago

    To me ebook readers and the like won’t become practical until they lower the cost of the books.

      • cygnus1
      • 12 years ago

      they did, NYT bestsellers and new arrivals are 9.99 and many others are even less

    • pepys
    • 12 years ago

    What fresh hell is this???

    • radioactive21
    • 12 years ago

    you gotta be kidding me, $400??? I rather buy a laptop.

      • sigher
      • 12 years ago

      You don’t have a laptop yet? Oh dear, you are a bit outdated aren’t you >:)

    • mikehodges2
    • 12 years ago

    Um…i assume you mean 1.78cm thickness?

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