Amazon has introduced the Kindle 2, the second iteration of its E-Ink based portable book reader. The new device features a slimmer design with rounded edges and a tapered back, much like Apple’s iPhone 3G and second-generation iPod touch. It weighs 10.2 ounces, is .36 inches thick, and features 25 percent more battery life than the original, allowing for two weeks of reading on one charge. Additional storage gives it seven times the book capacity of the original—1,500 books, Amazon estimates—while an improved 6-inch display features 16 shades of grey, and other UI improvements have been made: a new five-way controller enables 20 percent faster page turning, the full QWERTY keyboard has been redesigned, audiobook support and a 3.5mm headphone jack have been added, a new Text-to-Speech feature is included to let printed books be read to users, along with basic web browsing and MP3 player capabilities, and the same Sprint-powered 3G wireless connectivity as the original. While not a direct competitor to Apple’s portable devices, the proliferation of book reading applications for the iPhone and iPod touch has made comparisons between them increasingly common. The Amazon Kindle 2 is available for pre-order now and will begin shipping on February 24 for $360.