Amazon Kindle 2 has Read-To-Me feature

Monday, February 9, 2009, 18:21 by Tech Correspondent

Hey, this is a surprise. The latest Kindle, announced a few hours back by Amazon, is better in so many ways for sure. But the most interesting feature is a read-To-Me option.

We have not come across a demo of the Read-To-me feature so far – its a matter of time before some TV channel or some Kindle enthusiast in Youtube makes a video and uploads it, I guess.

How does the Kindle 2’s Read-To-Me work?

Essentially it is a simple text-to-speech synthesizer. Read-to-Me can read any book, blog, magazine, and newspaper that you have purchased from Amazon and has been delivered to you wirelessly.

You have the choice of a male or female voice. One report said that the readout is crisp, with a clear staccato voice.

We are not sure if just like in text to voice software available for the PC, you would be able to correct a pronounciation by the software. That seems unlikely with the Kindle 2’s Read-To-Me. If it is not present, you would be stuck with the same erroneous pronunciation by Kindle 2 again and again, till you finish the book – not a geat idea. Should be okay for small texts though. As Read-To-Me works, pages automatically flip on the Kindle 2.

We have not come across any mention of earbud / headphone speakers for the Kindle so far. So again, its usability may be a bit limited – you would not want to get irritated glances from people in buses or the subway. Or to look like an idiot, while Read-To-Me staccatos at you at the bus stop.

The refreshed ebook reader comes with 2GB of memory, which can store up to 1,500 books. The original Kindle came with 180MB of onboard memory, or about 200 books.

The Read-To-Me feature of Kindle 2 will not make it to the original Kindle.

Other improvements in the Kindle 2 are

25 percent better battery life

Better page-flipping

Better dictionary use

A new five-way controller

Thinner than an iPhone at .36 inches

Weight: ten ounces

The $359 Kindle 2 is available for pre-order starting today, and will ship February 24.

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