Saturday, May 14, 2011

Amazon's Android Tablet(s) later this year - more on the likely display

The images at the left are from the HYDIS website's "Outdoor Readability" page for examples of their AFFS technology's display qualities as compared with Trans-reflective TN and and Conventional TN outdoors.

AFFS is HYDIS' signature TFT-LCD technology (thin-film-transistor liquid crystal displays).

 In 1998, FFS was patented by HYDIS and "exceeded conventional IPS (in-plane switching) technology by offering wider viewing angles and improved transmittance."  In 2003, FFS became Advanced FFS, "with a 180 degree viewing angle and authentic color."

According to HYDIS, "The AFFS technology applied in VIEWIZ tablet applications ensures perfect readability in any environment, even under bright sunlight, and allows you to enjoy the entertainment longer with low power consumption, high brightness, and a fast response time.  AFFS' outdoor readability is significantly improved through lowering the reflectance level of the panel surface."

On another page, they show a more realistic (to me) comparison with "Real pictures taken under sunlight" on their now AFFS+ page

Why is this of interest to some of us?
The May 3 Digitimes Systems article by Yenting Chen and Joseph Tsai has been much quoted as very strong indication that the Amazon Android Tablet is being made by Quanta Computer.
Digitimes reports, without cites, that Quanta has "recently received OEM orders from Amazon for its reported tablet PC, according to sources from upstream component makers.  The device's monthly orders during the peak season are expected to reach about 700,000-800,000 units."

  They add, "Quanta is expected to start shipping [this would be to Amazon and not to customers] as soon as the second half of 2011 with the orders to contribute more than NT$100 billion (US$3.5 billion) to Quanta's annual revenues in 2011, the sources noted.  In response to the report, Quanta declined to comment on its clients."

  It's been reported by a few that Quanta is the contracted manufacturer for RIM (Playbook, w/ RIM OS but runs some Android) and one of the Sony tablets (Android Honeycomb).   I've also seen reports that FFS technology is used in the NookColor's display and if true, that is excellent, as I have one for color magazines, and I've not seen a better color LCD display.

 Apparently the Samsung Galaxy 7" tablet also uses FFS.

  FFS again
  The Digitimes article on the reported Quanta Computer's Amazon order also has the following to say:
' The device is expeted [sic] to receive support from Taiwan-based electrophoretic display (EPD) maker E Ink Holdings (EIH) for supplying touch panel as well as providing its Fringe Field Switching (FFS) technology.  However, EIH declined to comment on the news when asked, saying it does not discuss clients with the media. '

HYDIS is a division of E Ink Holdings.  It was formerly known as Hyundai Electronics.

Production needs - Digitimes adds:
' EIH has also recently been in contact with a Taiwan-based small-to medium-size panel maker, aiming to obtain capacity to support Quanta, the sources said. Volume production of Amazon's tablet PCs is expected to allow EIH to gain more profit from the patents of its FFS technology. '

  Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT)
  Digitimes' Susie Pan, also has this, from January 21.
' Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT) has started development of FFS (Fringe Field Switching) panels and expects to cooperate with E Ink Holding (EIH) and support EIH's Korea-based subsidiary Hydis' production capacity to fulfill demand.
. . .
Panel makers noted that IPS and FFS panels are not easy to produce, hence CPT will not be able to start mass production immediately.  Furthermore, capacity for wide viewing angle panels such as IPS is limited, and panel makers will need some learning time before going into mass production. '

If Digitimes is right, we have a pretty good idea of what the display will be like.
  Also, their sources told them that the Kindle "still has strong sales, but the e-book reader is currently still unable to successfully cut into the markets outside of North America and Europe;  therefore, Amazon internally plans to reduce Kindle's market price to attract consumer demand from the education and consumer market..."

Amazon TabletS ? More than one size or type?
Today, Android and Me's Taylor Wimberly headlines his column: "Rumor: Amazon has an “entire family” of Android devices coming this holiday"

  Wimberly writes, "This tip came from an industry insider with direct knowledge of the project.  The information was shared with me in a recent face-to-face meeting and I believe the source to be trustworthy. It was also confirmed by a separate source who has provided reliable information in the past.  As with most of my tipsters, they wish to remain anonymous."  He adds:
' Now most recently, I was told with a smile that there is not one tablet, but an entire family of devices in the pipeline.  This surprised me at first, but Amazon is placing a huge bet on Android so it makes sense for them to launch several types of devices and see what gets the best reception. '

He goes on to say that he couldn’t get any details out of his source about which specific devices will launch first and then speculates away.

In one paragraph, though, he appears to mistake the info from Digitimes about "Fringe Field Switching LCD display from E Ink" when he follows this in the same sentence with "but Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently told Consumer Reports that color e-ink “is not ready for prime time…the colors are very pale.”

  FFS has nothing to do with "color e-ink" but the "from E Ink" may have thrown him.

  He adds that when Bezos "went on to say, "it makes a lot of sense for there to be a low-power, reflective color display...I think that’s something you could build a fantastic product around," Wimberly then talks about "my inside sources" telling him Amazon "would be using a Pixel QI display" (which has been hammered in reviews of the Notion Ink Adam tablet).  Then, apparently feeling that those inside sources are not necessarily right, he says, "my gut tells me" that Mirasol displays 'could be at the top of the list.'

  So the speculation is very iffy, even if Amazon does eventually wind up with more than one size Tablet and a later dedicated Kindle e-reader using e-paper color technology, which many have felt (hoped, actually) they certainly might.   Wimberly's article will likely be repeated quite a bit in today's news.

  In the future, after the Android tablet, Amazon would continue to look at both Mirasol and Pixel IQ, as well as other e-paper technologies, for its dedicated Kindle reader, depending on the phase of development.  At some point, the Pixel QI might have a more effective viewing angle and the Mirasol display (being shown this week at SID Display Week 2011 in Los Angeles) will likely have somewhat stronger colors.  Mirasol has hinted at a partnership with Amazon in the past, and on a dedicated e-reader (as opposed to a tablet), the more-muted-color technology with good battery life and video capability (for textbooks) seems a good bet.

At any rate, about 99% of news analysts feel that an Amazon Android tablet will be here in time for the holidays although the most optimistic report I read (one) thought it might be ready August-September.

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  1. Awesome.. Android Amazon..
    Zamre Bin Ab. Wahab

  2. Do you have any word on the likely price range of these Tablets and their availability overseas?

  3. Gordy,
    The only word the world has received from Amazon is Jeff Bezos' now infamous "Stay tuned."

    :-) But since an Amazon tablet could help sell Amazon's newish streaming video and streaming music wares and its Android app store products, I think it's a good guess that they'll price it as reasonably as they can and try to undercut the competition on the hardware.

    Since the NookColor is $250 for a 7" LCD tablet, I imagine Amazon will not likely charge more than that, but that's just my guess.

  4. I hope it is a good one. I do not want to buy anything Apple anymore. Sick of their BS closed system.

  5. jcorkrum,
    Thanks for visiting from Twitter and Yosemite way. Will look forward to the HDR experiments.

    Am with you on that hope. At least Amazon's Kindle functioning has been pretty well thought-out. Android Honeycomb is currently problematical though so it's probably good it's not quite ready yet, I imagine.

  6. Will the Amazon Tablet compete with the iPad do you think? I'm guessing its capability will include a reader, mail, browsing and a range of apps.

    Come to think of it, what more do you get in an iPad? Embedded camera and that's about it.

  7. Gordi,
    Sorry for misspelling your name the first time.

    I think Amazon just wants to get a share of the Android apps market and a share of video- and music- streaming. Apple is finally coming out with its own music streaming. Google too.

    With Amazon's "ecosystem" of so much that can be enjoyed on a tablet -- if Amazon makes a good one (not necessarily a great one) it'll interest many who spend a lot of time on Amazon.
    Even the NookColor (and just about any Android on 2.2 and above) can do Adobe Flash and direct YouTube and other flash video, unlike iTunes, where it is done via a special app when one's made for it. Any device with a USB port and SD port will have two things the Apple doesn't.

    But I'll bet they'd go for the 7" first and it's all guesswork at this point. If Amazon tablet had a really decent 3G plan, it could be quite big. Apple charges an additional $130 on top of its basic WiFi model just to get 3G capability and then you pay for data plans after that.

  8. No worries with the name :-)

    It's a cliche, I know, but I have to say it "we certainly live in amazing times, don't we!"

    Streaming video and music, touch sensitive devices, electronic ink, apps - it can get quite mind-boggling sometimes! And very exciting!


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