The Kindle 2 I bought arrived today and I have spent the evening playing with the new gadget. I haven’t had very much time for some serious reading with it yet, but there are some fairly clear early impressions that can be drawn.

The e-ink display is absolutely amazing. It is just beautiful. I find it easier and clearer to read than most printed material and it doesn’t feel like you are viewing an electronic device at all. I haven’t really used this technology before, so one thing that did come as a surprise is that each page turn or refresh is noticeably slow. That is, it takes probably around a quarter of a second to actual render the page. It doesn’t get in the way, but it was a surprise. This is an artifact of the e-ink technology itself, which effectively “prints” the page material once and then the display holds it stable.

Kindle 2 & Nightcap

The size and weight of the device is just right. It’s about the size of a standard paperback and at 10 ounces feels just right in your hand. It is incredibly thin - less than the thickness of a small magazine. Even with one of the optional covers on, there would be no problem taking this thing on a long holiday or business trip.

The user interface for reading is good. The button placement doesn’t seem quite perfect for my hands, but more time will tell. Pages turn fast enough and the ability to quickly highlight words and get their dictionary definition is one of the best features of the device. That said, it clearly would benefit from a multi-touch interface, ala the iPhone, but this would likely just render your e-ink display full of smudged fingerprints.

The keyboard and cursor control are acceptable, but it was much faster to do browse for and buy books via a computer web browser. There are some clear engineering trade-offs made on the keyboard and the cursor control to make them useful in a real world scenario. The good news is it only takes a couple of minutes and then the interface is very natural and more than fast enough.

Amazon’s selection of Kindle books is more than adequate at the moment, and certainly more than we can read in a lifetime. We’ll see as time goes on if the books we want to read show up in the Kindle store versus in print.

I am curious to see if the Kindle 2 is something I will enjoy using or not.  There is something incredibly wonderful about the tangible feel of a book that makes any e-book reader a hard sell. We’ll see if I find it pleasant enough to use for my primary reading tool or not.