Wednesday, July 13, 2011

WSJ says Amazon tablet and 2 e-ink readers by October


That was the headline when I started writing this.  It's been changed to: AMAZON PLANS IPAD RIVAL.

(Thanks to the ever-alert and connected Edward Boyhan for the heads-up.)

They also changed the opening paragraphs (while I was typing), the first one now saying, " Inc. plans to introduce a tablet computer before October, said people familiar with the matter, in a move that will heighten the online retailer's rivalry with Apple Inc." [Always make it mainly about an arch rival...sells better.]

  Well, "before October" is what everyone else has been saying although it was more on the order of "August or September," but WSJ writers Stu Woo and Yukari Iwatani Kane have more info, from sources AKA leakers, probably with some permission.

They add that the sources said that Amazon will also release "two updated versions" of its Kindle e-readers "in the 3rd quarter," which leaves us with July-Sept also.
' One will be a touch-screen device.  The other won't have a touch screen, but will be an improved and cheaper adaptation of the current Kindle, said people who have seen the device. '

It's mentioned that Amazon spokesman didn't return requests for comment, but they almost never do on future releases.  However, Jeff Bezos' "Stay tuned." a couple of months ago said quite a bit with two words.

Woo and Kane add:
' The Amazon tablet will have a roughly nine-inch screen, people familiar with the product said, and will run on Google Inc.'s Android operating system.  The online retailer isn't designing the device itself, but is outsourcing production to an Asian manufacturer, these people said.

 The device will not have a camera, said one person familiar with it. '
These folks are very ...'familiar' with it. at least.  :-)  I'll refer to them now as PF's

The one surprise would be a 9" screen, as speculation had focused on 7", 8.9" and 10" choices, and the 8.9" seems a good compromise, EXCEPT that even the 9.7" Kindle DX has not seemed quite large enough for PDFs although it's FAR better than the 6" e-readers for those.  Maybe the DXG will get the long-due PDF enhancements that the Kindle 3 has had since last August, with the same type of display technology.

I had written, before the later WSJ-changes, that the piece started out with "tablets" by October and ended up talking about only "The Amazon tablet."  Someone else, in-house, noticed and they've changed the piece.  It's been rumored Amazon has been planning a second, more advanced one in early 2012, so that may have been the mixup when the PFs described the Amazon plans.

On the two Kindle e-readers, they'll use the same e-Ink technology as before, the sources said.

  MY guess? Spell that 'h-o-p-e'... The 'improved and cheaper' Kindle might be a new Kindle DX Graphite with WiFi, LONG awaited.  Fingers crossed for enhanced PDF capabilities, at least.  But they still have two versions, of the 6" model to think about, one of them with WiFi only.
  And their wording was "the Kindle" which Amazon has used mainly for the 6" WiFi-Only model.

  Note that their announcement about the AT&T-supported, lowered pricing of the Kindle 3G SO today emphasized, more heavily than they have before, the benefits of 3G.

WSJ probably is one of the news organization trusted most by Amazon, so this one is more credible than some.  But there are so many possibilities.  What do you think?

See the ongoing List of stronger Amazon tablet rumors with dates, titles and links to the Kindleworld blog articles, with linked sources.  [This won't be one of them.]

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  1. I love all these rumors.

    The lack of a camera seems to indicate that they are trying to meet a low price point, perhaps approaching NookColor's. Hope they leave in Bluetooth connectivity, video out would be nice as well.

    For me, more important than the screen dimensions is the screen resolution. I hope that at least whatever Amazon puts out, they don't skimp on that. NookColor is just not enough at 1024x600. It wouldn't do to spread those out to a 9" screen, so hopefully that means at least 1200x768. And personally, I'd rather see them squished into 8" or even 7" for better portability.

    Unfortunately, I would not expect the specs to be optimized for full page PDF viewing. In particular it'll probably be a 16:9 screen for video viewing (like NookColor) rather than iPad's 4:3. That'll mean wasted space for PDF.

    Yeah, I'd love to see a DX wifi touch model for under $200. What I think would really help with PDF viewing is if there were a way to crop PDF's on the device itself (and have that stick as a per-PDF setting). DX has decent enough resolution, but if you could trim the headers and footers on the fly, it would be even better.

  2. Nookcolor is 7" and I don't know of another one that size that is higher in resolution.

    iPad 2 is still at 1024x___. The Nookcolor is tighter as a result. It is STUNNING to me on photos with difficult contrast even.

    The words are no problem to read. What on earth? The other 1024x___ tablet type is the Galaxy, I think. About 95% of the others are 800x600 and they're a no-no after seeing that in a smaller tablet.

    I already have a 7" so am not keen on that idea, but that's pure selfishness talking. The youtube videos are beyond my expectations and I'm into HD. Smooth in every way.

    The 9.7" e-Ink display is low-volume probably because it's said to be quite expensive (no economies of scale or whatevr) and then of course because it's expensive it's lower volume :-) in sales.

    I think a DXG with enhanced PDF and WiFi added would be worth 250 at that size. I still love mine. I try not to use it too much because I then see the 6" as a small contrained toy ! But I love the lightness of the K3.

    That would be so great to have the margins trimmed on the fly. I guess they can do it becaue they do it with Landscape mode.

    We can dream, eh? Thanks for all your input, by the way.

  3. Cropping of white space is one thing, fit-to-screen does that already and automatically. It tends to leave a lot of white space on the sides, because of a mismatch between the aspect ratio of the Kindle viewing area and that of the document—the latter usually is narrower (but on NookTouch I imagine the reverse is true).

    I'm talking about removing headers/footers as well, since they're often redundant and/or just taking valuable space. And sometimes PDFs have graphic elements that extend into margins and prevent auto-cropping from being effective. At least on K3, cropping can give you effectively 5-10% more zoom in fit-to-page, and with landscape viewing, you really don't want to see headers/footers at all IMO since they reduce signal-to-noise ratio and can induce extra page turns when the text body doesn't fill a given page.

    Several PDF readers on iOS let you do the on the fly cropping. It's pretty essential on iPhone/iPod but I imagine even iPad benefits.

    Anyway, the idea is that the closer to 100% you can get, the better, given that the screen dimensions for a tablet are probably always going to be smaller than the page size of a typically Letter/A4 sized document. Margins that paper documents require are generally larger than what you need on a computer screen (since bezel is a sort of built in margin).

    Of course when we have 9" 'retina' displays (300+ DPI, 2000x1500), that's going to make a huge difference and maybe we can declare victory.

  4. Hi Andrys ,

    "About 95% of the others are 800x600 and they're a no-no after seeing that in a smaller tablet."

    Quite a lot of the Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) tablets have 1280x800 (8:5) screens , including :
    - Acer ICONIA TAB
    - ASUS EeePad Transformer
    - Motorola Xoom

  5. AthenaAtDelphi,
    I was clearly speaking of 7" tablets there. See first sentence and the sentence following the one about the 95%.

    It's true that it's about 95% of the 7" tablets that are only 800x600.

    When I threw in, when replying to Tom, that compared to the NookColor, the iPad is a 10" tablet at the same 1024x___ resolution level, that probably confused. I was still talking about 7" there (due to the big rumor, although I'm not convinced Amazon's will be a 7" one -- they may have been shipped one, but ... :-)

  6. "(...) the iPad is a 10" tablet at the same 1024x___ resolution level, that probably confused."

    Especially because the other tablet you mentioned (the Samsung Galaxy Tab) , isn't necessarily a 7" tablet either (there is a 7" , an 8.9 and a 10" version) .

    Sorry for the confusion .


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