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Amazon.com expected to unveil Kindle 2 February 9

Amazon.com expected to unveil Kindle 2 February 9

But questions linger about whether a US$359 e-reader is viable in the mass market

As far as the next-generation device goes, bloggers presume that Kindle 2 will have a joystick instead of a scroll wheel with a button re-design to prevent accidental page turns.

Kindle fans expect the second-generation model to include a new microchip, called Broadsheet, from Kindle's display makers, Epson and E-Ink. Less clear is whether it will offer a touch screen or backlight like its major competitor, the Sony Reader Digital Book PRS-700BC. But adding a backlight would cut into battery life.

Some analysts, including Baker, have hailed the Kindle 2's design, based on leaked photos from the BoyGeniusReport.com, which seem to show the new model as flatter, with fewer angles, than the original.

A spokeswoman at Amazon.com would not reveal anything about a next-generation Kindle , even whether one will be announced at the news conference next month.

Another analyst, Jack Gold of J. Gold associates, said the Sony device and Kindle have "done all right in the market, but the price is still too high for the mass market and the technology needs to evolve."

Gold predicted that electronic paper displays will soon offer color, and future models will allow for Wi-Fi or 3G connections. (The current Kindle uses the EV-DO network of Sprint Nextel Corp.) Add-ins like a music player and plug-in SD cards are "probably on the horizon as well," Gold said.

Still, Baker and other analysts said that Amazon and Sony might want to go slow in adding extra features, which could turn e-readers into netbook-like devices. Adding too many extras will tax battery life, which tends to defeat the point of having a device "that a user can throw in a briefcase and not have to charge for a week," Baker said.


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