At the time it was reported in early April, a front-lit Kindle seemed many moons away, but it could be that Barnes and Noble's release of its Nook GlowLight may have lit a fire under Amazon's development team, although I hope Amazon has found a way to avoid the lowered-screem contrast reported for the GlowLight. Since that is difficult to avoid with a 2nd layer above the basic screen display, that'll depend on the technology used by Amazon.
A Reuter's report, written by Nivedita Bhattacharjee, states outright that
' Amazon.com Inc. will launch new versions of its Kindle e-reader and tablet, including a monochrome e-reader with front lighting, a source who has seen the prototype told Reuters.
The world's largest Internet retailer is aiming to have the new e-reader in stores in July, said the source, who has direct knowledge of the matter but asked not to be named because Amazon has not yet made the decision public. '
The source also said that Amazon "plans" to launch a new tablet "closer to the holiday season later this year" and it's "expected" to have a display of 8.9 inches, larger than the Kindle Fire but smaller than the iPad's 9.7." The iPad 3 has the very high-resolution "Retina" display, and it wouldn't be expected that Amazon would match that, as it's costly and Amazon's Kindle Fire targeted audiences looking for a lower-cost tablet. It would be a surprising change for Amazon to target Apple's iPad, which I think they've been careful not to do except to make it possible to view movies very nicely in the wider-screen 16:1 aspect while making Kindle books easier to read than had been expected on a 7" backlit LCD tablet. But a tablet larger than the Kindle Fire but smaller than the iPad may be attractive to many who find the 10" too large but the 7" too small.
E-Ink Holdings' Chief Marketing Officer explained that they don't comment on their customers' launch plans.
The unnamed source adds that the new e-Ink e-readers would be launched in the touch 3G and touch WiFi versions and said that Amazon was likely to keep prices the same, maybe raising them slightly if at all. Another analyst expected the added cost would be about $10, as "the component is not very expensive." They tend to undercut the Nook prices when they can, though.
The source said there's very little chance of a color E-Ink reader being launched in 2012 despite talks held with E Ink, since no "concrete decisions" had been reached.
Another analyst quoted by Reuters saw the color e-paper product in a trade show in October and felt that it needed "a lot of technological improvements" before it would be used in a mass-produced product.
The earlier TechCrunch article pointed out that Amazon had bought a Oy Modilis, a company specializing in this technology, in late 2010 although this happened under the radar in that no one seems to have reported it, Coldewey said. He added that he was told that this company is "the world leader in light-guide technology." Since Amazon bought this company would it be exactly the same technology used in the Nook GlowLight? Coldewey added, re the Kindle front-lit screen he saw briefly:
' [I] thought that the text looked better as well, but it’s possible that this was the result of improved font rendering and aliasing reduction, or perhaps something to do with the light...
... the whole point of purchasing the light-guide company was to get the team and their patents, which essentially laminate the light diffusion layer right onto the screen without adding much in the way of depth or interfering with the touch system.
I was told the industrial design isn’t finished yet, but I ruled out things like ruggedness, waterproofing, or a flush-front screen — all things, by the way, I suggested they look into.[Coldewey makes a good point there. Gizmodo's Kyle Wagner, an e-Ink Nook fan, found that when he inadvertently dropped a remote control on the front-lit unit from about 6" above, the result was a "frightful little light tunnel" as well as scratches on the light layer. Wagner's article is titled, "You Really Don’t Want to Drop the New Nook Simple Touch" but he is extremely apologetic for having dropped his remote control on it, leaving a "gash" and a "super distracting hole of light" like a "coffee stain on a page -- except it's on every page of every book you own." Nevertheless, he felt the Nook is good and you shouldn't ruin "every one of your books with a single act of idiocy."It shouldn’t be any thicker, though it will have to accommodate the LED circuitry and presumably a larger battery.'
Then Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader referenced Gizmodo's article, titling his, "Here's why you shouldn't get the new Nooklit," which seemed too quick a judgment to some of his readers and he then tested his Nook GlowLight by dropping a set of keys from about 4 inches above it. While the Gizmodo unit suffered only one light hole, Hoffelder's unit had 4 light holes. Both writers have good images of the light layer damage, which is mostly not seen when the Glow light isn't used.
Another commenter wrote that he had returned his because the unevenness of the lighting seemed to make reading in low light conditions harder than it is with the backlit Nook Tablet.
Other commenters said people should use cases, but most don't use a case to cover the screen while reading. It does make me wonder how Amazon will get around these problems.
Hoffelder then decided to try the key drop, this time from 6 to 7 inches above, on an Asus Transformer, a Samsung Galaxy Tab, a Kindle DX, an Innosoul Android tablet, and the Kindle Touch. None of these showed any damage, he reported.
As I said on that thread though, the damage described in Gizmodo’s overapologetic report is to the light layer and not to the basic layer underneath that displays text and images. The damage reported is to the top layer only, but that can cause the light to be unusable.]
B&N claims two months of reading on the non-lit Nook Touch on one battery charge if reading only 1/2 a day on average. But for the lit unit, it's one month at that daily reading rate, so the battery runs out twice as fast under those conditions. That'll likely be the same for the new lit Kindle.
Photo credit and disclaimer:
TechCrunch's image at the top, left, is, they explain, just a concept image from Flex Lighting
and not a real device.
Current Kindle Models for reference, plus free-ebook search links
Kindle Fire 7" tablet - $199
Kindle NoTouch ("Kindle") - $79/$109
Kindle Touch, WiFi
Kindle Touch, 3G/WiFi - $149/$189
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189, Free, slow web
Kindle DX - $379, Free, slow web
Kindle Basic, NoTouch - £89
Kindle Touch WiFi, UK - £109
Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi, UK - £169
Kindle Keyboard 3G, UK - £149
Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
Kindle NoTouch Basic - $109
Kindle Touch WiFi - $139
Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi - $189
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189
Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources. Top 100 free bestsellers. Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.
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