Amazon.com has unveiled its much anticipated e-book reader — the Kindle. However, the device won’t be available in the UK anytime soon, the company claims.
While some of the details had been widely leaked beforehand, Amazon.com chief executive Jeff Bezos filled in the remaining blanks at a launch event in New York on Tuesday.
On the question of weight, the Kindle is 10.3 ounces and is about the size of a trade paperback book. It's both taller and thicker than the Sony Reader.
The Kindle connects to the web via the "Amazon Whispernet", a free high-speed cellular wireless network. Books and other content are available for direct download, without the need for connecting to a PC (though a USB port does provide PC connectivity for transferring files).
However, Kindle is currently available only in the US and the connectivity is likewise only available via Sprint.
"We have no plans for a launch outside the US at the moment," a spokesperson for Amazon UK confirmed on Tuesday.
The Kindle's internal memory can store up to 200 books, and it's expandable via an SD slot (which can also be used to load additional media).
Once you're online via EVDO, electronic books are available directly from Amazon for up to $10 (£5). Click on the title you want, and it's downloaded (and you're charged) in about a minute's time.
Amazon is currently offering more than 90,000 titles, including 90 percent of the current New York Times bestsellers. The first chapter of most books can be previewed on the Kindle for free. Amazon keeps track of your purchases, so you can delete the file on the Kindle (to make space for more content) and then download it again later for no additional charge.
The Kindle can also be used to subscribe to a variety of periodicals, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Time, Le Monde and Forbes.
The Kindle also offers more than 300 blogs, including Slashdot, The Onion, BoingBoing, and Techcrunch, but these are customised Kindle versions that cost at least $1 a month. Moreover, unlike your RSS feeds, you can't add your favourite blog so, if it's not on Amazon's list, you can't subscribe to it.
The Kindle can also browse the web at large (it has its own Qwerty keyboard directly below the screen) but, unlike the Kindle's own premium content (listed above), most standard web pages do not look very good. The CNET home page, for example, was rendered as 18 separate pages.
You can bookmark key passages of what you're reading, and (using the keyboard) make, edit and export notes. The Kindle also saves your place when reading anything, so you can pick up where you left off.
The Kindle reader is now available from Amazon.com for $400 (£200).
CNET News.com's John P Falcone contributed to this report.