Amazon has launched an update to its 6-inch Kindle reader, adding a new battery that the company claims offers up to 85 percent more use, along with software updates that add a native PDF reader and screen rotation to the device. Customers who already have Kindle 2 devices can get the software updates sent to them wirelessly (or grab the firmware themselves and update via USB).
Amazon claims the new battery capacity is the result of six months of firmware engineering effort: the new Kindle 2 should stay functional for up to seven days on a single charge—and that’s with leaving wireless service enables. In addition, the new battery better handles period of inactivity: the battery should stay at its previous level for up to two weeks when turned off. However, customers who purchased the original Kindle who want the new battery life will be forced to buy a new unit: the batteries in the Kindle are not user-replaceable.
The 6-inch Kindle also now sports a native PDF reader, and a new capability for users to transfer PDFs to to their Kindles via email. Users can just send them to their Kindle email address; optionally, if they’ve like the PDFs converted to native Kindle format, they can just put “convert” in the subject line of the message. Native PDF support will be available for “some” earlier versions of the Kindle.
Kindle owners with the update will also be able to manually rotate between portrait and landscape modes, with the page-turning buttons operating the same way regardless of orientation.
The battery life improvements give Amazon’s base-model Kindle reader a point against competing readers from the likes of Barnes & Noble and Sony, which boasted significantly more battery life than the Kindle. However, Amazon may already have an advantage for the end-of-year holiday shopping season: Barnes & Noble says it is sold out of its Nook reader, and Sony is already saying it may not be able to deliver enough units of its Readers to retailers by the holidays.