Amazon Ships eBook Reader

Online retailer on Monday shipped its Kindle eBook reader, a portable hardware device with wireless capabilities that seeks to do for reading what the iPod did for music. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos says his company has been working on the Kindle project for four years and has overcome the obstacles that blocked eBook success in the past.

"Our top design objective was for Kindle to disappear in your hands--to get out of the way--so you can enjoy reading," Bezos said. "We also wanted to go beyond the physical book. Kindle is wireless, so whether you're lying in bed or riding a train, you can think of a book, and have it in less than 60 seconds. No computer is needed--you do your shopping directly from the device. We're excited to make Kindle available today."

The Kindle is innovative for a number of reasons. Rather than rely on PC-based sync, the device connects wirelessly over the EVDO 3G cell phone network, for free, to Amazon's online store, allowing you to make purchases and sync and download new subscription content. And while the price of the device is quite high at $399, Amazon got the content pricing right: Best-selling books can be had for $9.99, while various newspapers and magazines, including some interesting international selections, are available for $1.25 to $15 a month. Amazon says over 90,000 eBooks are available for Kindle.

Like other eBook solutions, Kindle features an electronic paper screen that is viewable in both direct sunlight and inside. This kind of display is less stressful on eyes and closely emulates the experience of reading real paper-based content.

The Kindle weighs just 10.3 ounces, and is thinner and lighter than a typical paperback. It can hold over 200 eBooks in its internal memory, and is expandable with common SD-based memory cards. Amazon also backs up all Kindle content purchases online so that they can be redownloaded later at any time.

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