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Amazon ships Kindle 2 a day early ... But is it a dollar short? (Or $150 short?)

I got my "your order has shipped" confirmation yesterday, and here's the PR from Amazon:

Kindle 2 to arrive on customers' doorsteps one day early today announced it is shipping Amazon Kindle 2. Already the No. 1 seller in Electronics on the Web site in just 15 days since it was introduced on Feb. 9, Kindle 2 offers revolutionary wireless delivery of content in a new slim design with longer battery life, faster page turns, over seven times more storage, sharper images and a new read-to-me feature. Kindle 2 began shipping today to customers who were in line for the original Kindle and customers who pre-ordered beginning Feb. 9. New orders placed today will be released for immediate shipping.

"The response from customers to Kindle 2 has been tremendous. In order to ensure we ship Kindle 2 by the original ship day of Feb. 24, we started shipping one day early," said Ian Freed, vice president, Amazon Kindle. "We're excited about the new design and features of Kindle 2, and we think our customers will be too."

Kindle 2 builds on everything customers love about the original Kindle and extends the experience to a slimmer and sleeker design.

OK, so that's nice. I was curious this morning to see a few high profile reviews (USA Today, New York Times), the former of which highlighted what might be some deal breakers in this version (The NYT review was pointless):

- No removable battery

- No physical wireless switch

- No SD expansion (though it does come with a lot more built-in storage)

- No included protective cover (an additional $30 option now)

And then there is that price. $359 is simply too much money in this economy. It's giving me a crisis of conscience, and it's going to affect my eventual review, no doubt about it. In fact... I may not even trade up. We shall see. My Kindle 2 should arrive tomorrow, which is pretty good timing: I'm in New York for an all-day Microsoft event today.

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