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Amazon Kindle (via Amazon website)

Seems like the Amazon Kindle lineup has just seen a refresh.

Looks much smaller (good thing), and the screen tech seems to have been improved some as well (good there too). If I could get my hands on one, and check out what they are doing with the web browser, I’d really have something better to say about it.

Now, if the browser were a good bit up to snuff, and I’d not have to use a PC for anything (ahem), then I could see this replacing my iPad. Seriously.

In respect to those things computing related, I use the iPad mainly as a reading device. And not even as a book-reading device, but a a large web browser. Some of my issues with the iPad stem from its weight and its very tight integration into iTunes (I’m not so integrated there). That’s not to say that the Kindle being tied exclusively into Amazon is a great thing either, but somehow, it seems less restrictive (maybe its that retailer versus platform owner perspective I have).

A new Kindle would have to do much better in two main areas though, screen and browser. With a competent browser, I’d be able to access and use most of the spokes on my social graph. I’d still have some kind of issue with things since I don’t see a means of easily accessing notes and bookmarks on every other mobile device I use without the Kindle app. The screen needs to refresh faster. I don’t worry about video and such since my N97/X6 does that part very well – and even easily plugs into my TV without fuss.

I’d miss gestures and the touchscreen. Suffice to say that it never took much for me to be sold there, and I was not very happy when I moved to Symbian and had to wait over a year for a mobile there to scratch that itch (shoutout to the classic and solid performing Palm Treo). Gestures and touchscreens are as much a trendy thing in computing as much as they are useful for increasing the attachment we have towards content. No, its not like paper and a book, but its very close.

I like the darker and smaller case. This and the redesigned buttons definitely seems more like a Star Trek pad than many other items. I wonder how far away Amazon is from that pad in their labs. 18-24 months ahead of today would seem to be a right time for a nearly transparent screen that does touch, gestures, and wireless efficiently don’t you think?

The prices are also very nice. It is getting to a point that many have talked about some time ago – the cost of hardware is going down to almost nothing. It would seem that the cost for lifetime 3G on the Kindle is $50 as well – why the heck am I paying that in just under 2 months on my smartphone(s)?

All in all, the Kindle seems like its just sitting on evolving into a solid reading package. And that’s not a bad thing. I do think that it might have to step things up in the industrial design department sooner rather than later, but where it is now in terms of a nip-tuck job isn’t a bad thing.

Amazon does seem to have won things so far for ebooks. They don’t offer every book, and there are all kinds of arguments towards pricing models for both consumers and publishers. And there is a whole mishmash of book formats still trying to war it out. But you can’t say that they aren’t becoming the iPod for books as their CEO once said he wanted them to be. This new model is a refinement to that formula, and if my thoughts are like many others, they might have just won several converts, even from the venerated iPad userbase.

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