As expected, Amazon.com has introduced the Amazon Kindle 2.

Unveiled at a press event in New York, the reading device gets a new slim design with 25% longer battery life, faster page turns, over seven times more storage with 2GB capacity, sharper images, and a new "read-to-me" feature.

At just over a third of an inch "thin" and weighing just over 10 ounces, Amazon says the Kindle 2 is pencil thin and lighter than a typical paperback.

New buttons claim to make it easy to turn the page from any holding position while the new 5-way controller on Kindle 2 is said to allow for more precise note-taking and highlighting both up and down and side to side in lines of text.

The Kindle 2's 6-inch, 600 x 800 electronic paper display provides 16 shades of grey versus 4 shades available in the original Kindle, a change that is said to result in crisp text, and sharper images and photos.

In addition, the new model gets the New Oxford American Dictionary and it has 250,000 word definitions built-in for instant look up of unfamiliar words.

There's comedy potential too - the Kindle 2 also offers the "experimental" read-to-me feature, a text-to-speech function that gives users a male or female voice that will read the text out loud.

Amazon says 230,000 books are now available in the Kindle Store, including 103 of 110 current New York Times best sellers and new releases, at around the $9.99 price point, while magazines and newspapers plus more than 1200 different blogs are also available.

As part of the new device announcement, it's been revealed that author Stephen King has announced that he is releasing a novella, "Ur", which will only be available on Kindle.

The Kindle 2 is available in the States for pre-order starting today for $359 at http://amazon.com/kindle2 and will ship 24 February - anyone currently with an old Kindle on pre-order will get automatically added to the list for the next-gen model instead.

There are still no plans for a European launch for the device. An Amazon spokesperson told Pocket-lint: "[Amazon is] certainly planning on bringing it to the UK, but we haven't got a timeplan as to when that will be... we have no announcement to make".