The packaging it arrived in was wonderfully minimal. I appreciate that. As I noted, the cord that comes with it is a couple of standard and therefore replaceable/substitutable pieces, which is nice, altho I don't have a normal-micro USB cord which kinda sucks.
First problems: while the kindle went correctly into drive mode the first time I hooked it up, after that, it did not. It didn't go to drive mode screen. My laptop didn't pop up an icon. My laptop didn't do much of anything (this would be one of the problems with the Mac interface). I handed it off to R. after power cycling the laptop to no good effect and trying a couple of other things. His more informative interface (running Windows) said the USB device wasn't responding correctly. Really, not helpful. It took a while to find out how to power-cycle the kindle 2 (hold the power button for 14 seconds). That seems to have corrected the problem.
My first interval in drive mode, I shifted over a previously downloaded _Time of Rivals_ file. It did not let me read it. I then noticed that I was not registered on kindle 2. I have intermittent/crappy radio service on this kindle and was able to register it. I tried shifting the file again (I'd deleted it); still no go. Then I tried sending it wirelessly to this kindle. No go -- but that could be a radio coverage problem. Finally, I shut the radio off, downloaded a new copy of the file and shoved that over the USB connection. Success! But of course, this kindle doesn't know where I am on the kindle 1.
What you really want to know is: How _does_ that text-to-speech sound? A whole helluva lot better than I expected. Word pronunciation, including syllable accents, is good. The problems, of course, lie in where the emphasis lies within the sentence. Handling of commas is not bad. Handling of dashes is non-existent/poor. I think this would be fairly easy to adapt to in a drive-time setting, but would take a little adapting. In the enjoyable sense of being read to by Jim Dale, which Potter fans rave about, this really sucks. Certainly, it has nothing on listening to Blount or Sedaris read their own works. Mine has defaulted to a male voice; I haven't figured out how to try a female voice yet.
The buttons are very different, but don't seem problematic. They keyboard is a little different, but not in an obviously better or worse way. I like the new controller. I sure don't miss the shiny indicator bar on the side.
I'm a little concerned about the drive mode problem. Hopefully it will not recur -- or if it does, it'll do so quickly so I can get it corrected before I'm told to go jump because I'm out of whatever warranty this thing has.
ETA: I found the female voice; it's about what one would expect. You access the controls for text-to-speech via the aA button (normally controls font). The menu lets you turn it on or off, but the aA screen gives you access to gender, speed (slower, default and faster) and offers a pause function.
ETAYA: I'm going to take advantage of tomorrow's childcare and go somewhere with A. where I have wireless coverage and while I'm there, I'll check out the migrate-your-content features. At least, that's my current plan. It would be particularly cool if that place also, say, served sushi.