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Top 5 Gadgets of 2009

Kindle 2
The Kindle 2 has updated firmware that extends its battery life by 85 percent.
The Kindle 2 has updated firmware that extends its battery life by 85 percent.
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Sometimes an interesting product captures a lot of attention in spite of its glaring flaws. And sometimes, an updated version of that same gadget does a much better job of fulfilling the original product's promise. And so it is with the Kindle 2, a fine-tuned edition of Amazon's much-touted portable electronic reader.

The first Kindle had a four-level grayscale display and 256MB of internal memory. It also had an SD flash card slot to let you expand memory capacity [source: Popular Mechanics]. What you won't see in the original Kindle's specs: complaints about its awkward, too-sensitive buttons and weird visual aesthetics.

The Kindle 2, however, has an elegant design that would make Steve Jobs proud. Better yet, its overall physical layout is more usable, with buttons that don't react to every soft, accidental tap. The specs are better, with a clearer, 16-shade grayscale display, 20 percent faster refresh rate, and 2GB of internal memory [sources: Popular Mechanics]. The downside? No flash card slot. However, the Kindle 2 does work on a regular 3G cell phone network, meaning you will have an almost constant connection to download new titles.

The Kindle 2 isn't a must-have gadget for everyone, and avid readers who love gadgets are still its biggest fans. But the Kindle is a nifty idea that's quickly improving, and its falling prices could lure new users en masse.