Friday, August 12, 2011

BYTE claims new details on coming Amazon tablets - dual screen technology? - UPDATE2


On July 9th, I tweeted but did not blog: " Latest (highly implausible) rumor, this time a dual-screen Amazon #tablet.  Site-friend is playing the site? "

  That link leads to a story by's Dave Zatz, whose sources included someone on a flight described (by the flyer himself, it seems) as a "highly placed Amazon employee."

Amazon doesn't have a rep for loose-lipped managers, however.  He described a tablet with "two displays: e-Ink on one side, color LCD on the other ... front and back..." versus stacked displays that we've seen with Pixel Qi and even the first e-Ink/LCD Nook.  What he described, most of us felt, sounded - as Zatz himself put it - "far fetched" and for several reasons it would seem impractical.  So I didn't see a reason to blog it. At least not from what was said.

Zatz said to remember what they wrote if this turns out to be true.  Well, that hasn't happened yet, but BYTE's Gina Smith reports today that
"... several sources independently confirmed" dual screen technology, glass-on-glass, that would allow switching between an e-reading mode using e-Ink and a back-lit touch display, Android 3.1-based.  "Several sources added" that "It will be optimized for video streaming." '
They are fairly serious about this report, offering more details and a discussion of this in the current week's episode of BYTE Wireless Radio, which is playable in the center of the page.  They have a rep to sustain, so this is pretty interesting.  I've no idea about the quality of their sources.

UPDATE1 To get more control of the radio start-stop sections, go to Episode BWR 021 - "Amazon tablets - iPad Pro - iOS and Windows Phone 7 Usability", download the mp3, and you can start the Amazon tablets discussion section at 6:10 into the broadcast.

  Per the broadcast, Smith called Amazon on August 10 to get a comment and they say Amazon did not deny any of the rumors -- but then they don't do that as a rule, neither confirming or denying.   Smith mentions they have five sources for this story.  Also mentioned is a description of a device similar to the one described earlier, a 2-sided screen sharing the same frame, in which one side of the screen is e-Ink and when you turn it over, you access a color LCD screen (and would, I imagine require a sliding cover).  I'll still be shocked if these sources are right.

  Also, one of the panel members said he talked to his source at Amazon about 2 months ago re a device with the quad core processor and was told they were going ahead with that.  The panelist even mentioned a possible target date, "Black Friday" after Thanksgiving and a hoped-for price of $350 on that device.  [End of Update1]

  Smith mentions the 'Coyote' and 'Hollywood' code names again and says that the 7" tablet will cost less than $250 but that the 10.1" dual-screen model will be priced "under $400" and although originally planned for early 2012, it is now "purportedly pushed up for release this year."

  With all the Cloud services being released in advance of expectations, I'm pretty sure SOMEthing will be released.

  Smith talked with analysts about expectations for any new tablets (she did not seem to talk with them about any dual-screened technology), how well these new tablets might work, and they agreed it's not just about specs, it's "the experience" (something Steve Jobs has emphasized, actually).

  Frank Gillett of Forrester Research said "People are going to stop thinking about individual gadgets and more about relationships -- Amazon is one of the strongest here -- it can link services, content and hardware together, even take it all the way to contacts, calendar, email."

BYTE has long had a good rep - what are your thoughts about THIS latest ?

UPDATE2 - Other (non-Amazon) tablet entries of possible interest
Costco's 8" Vizio tablet
  Commenter Tom Semple in this blog entry's thread mentions Costco's 8" Vizio tablet selling for $285, with same resolution as the 10" iPad) with HDMI output, univeral remote control functionality and, so far, decent reviews.  I've not seen them but haven't been looking.

Lenovo's IdeaPad Tablet
  I was intrigued yesterday to read Office Depot's press release on this Lenovo model, which is optimized for the web and supports the latest Adobe Flash content and complete DRM (for movies in every available format).

 This 10.1" tablet features a 1280 x 800 resolution display, HDMI out support, the Nvidia's Tegra 2 CPU, WiFi b/g/n connectivy and is the "the industry's first Android-powered tablet certified to deliver Netflix video streaming.  It's 1.63 lbs, with integrated front (2MP ) and rear (5MP) cameras and offers instant sync'g of photos, music videos with dedicated online storage space.  The press release doesn't mention USB or SD slots

This will have full accss to both the Lenova App Shop and the Android Market, with 250,000~ apps and games.  Preloaded apps: Netflix, Amazon, Adobe, Electronic arts, Rovio, Zinio, Dataviz and others including of course Angry Birds and Kindle reading app.  At $499.99 it'll come with double the basic storage of the iPad.  [End of Update2]

Also see the ongoing List of stronger Amazon tablet rumors with dates, titles, and links to the Kindleworld blog articles and sources.

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's)   K3 Special ($114)   K3-3G Special ($139)   DX Graphite

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.
Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!


  1. Sounds like Mirasol or an improved Pixel Qi screen.

  2. Mike,
    I'm partial to Mirasol for early color-e-Ink but I think they'd go for b&w if a 2nd screen? But, Mirasol is faster. Pixel QI would have to be quite improved but the switching's built in. I sure didnt' expect -this- rumor.

    My personal take: Looks heavy. Reminds me of Entourage Edge but of course won't be as slow.
    If this "several-source'd" rumor is true.

    I'd want to take a light K3-type e-reader with me and then when needing a color tablet I'd tend to just want the LCD -- for shorter-session reads when out. But a lot of people have posted that they want both types of screens. And I guess some would use both in the home.

    The image they used looks to be LCD on the left too :-)

  3. Sounds similar to the Entourage dual-tablet. If Amazon does release a 10 inch dual screen tablet for under $400 it'll be a game changer, especially when paired with Amazon's Cloud services.

    I've long felt that Amazon doesn't care about the pricing of the physical products, they want to become the one stop shop for everything. If this pricing is true, it only bolsters that belief.

  4. Yes, it is the Entourage Edge, re-imagined. I really hope this is not what Amazon is planning, though $400 for 10" eink and LCD screens certainly seems like a bargain.

    I actually own a Pocket Edge (courtesy of a Woot sale) and even this smaller form factor is tremendously awkward and heavy. And at least their implementation totally neutralized the energy saving benefits of eink, even in 'hibernate' mode it sucks power. While there is some synergy between the two sides, it's not enough to overcome what I think is basically a failed design: the ereader is compromised by the tablet, the tablet is compromised by the ereader. But it is certainly a unique device and I still like to play with it from time to time.

    I can well imagine someone executing more successfully on the 'hybrid' concept, but like you, I'd prefer separate devices.

    Costco is selling an 8" Vizio tablet for $285, with same resolution as iPad (probably same 'sharper' dot pitch as NookColor, but in 4:3 aspect), HDMI output, IR blaster (for universal remote control functionality), and decent reviews. That's more like what I'm hoping Amazon comes out with.

  5. John and Tom,
    I think Amazon -has- to underprice the others and can (up to a point when there are stockholders) with their 'ecosystem' ...

    My first thought was that a piece that is two-sided, front and back as the -first- article said, sharing the same frame rather than side by side as with the Entourage, would be lighter but would seem fragile and almost require a sliding cover :-)

    So, it was the earlier report, which was dismissed, that was the one saying "e-Ink on one side and color LCD on the other" but this newer story by Byte merely says (in the written version) "glass-on-glass" and I wonder if that could mean something else, with switching being between reading modes on the same 'side' but I don't know how that's even possible while remaining clear.

    I had to go away for hours so haven't listened to the audio and will, to see if they describe it in another way.

    That Woot sale for the pocket version of the entourage was tempting (I like the way material on one side can be used on the other side) but I'm surprised if they really go with this idea for mainstream audiences, though that would include students who might benefit from both. Tom, can't say I'm surprised you opted for one for unique like this! The price was right :-

  6. Amazon has tried constantly to improve the reading experience with Kindle, and the fact that it "disappears" during reading is one of the main points of their marketing around it. I highly doubt they would throw it out the window and produce this dual-tablet.

  7. Corneliu,
    I have no idea whether or not they'd produce this particular type of tablet (and do find it not practical but my thinking that doesn't mean it couldn't happen).

    I just listened to the panel discussing it, and one of them said that as of two months ago, in a call to Amazon, his source said they were going ahead with some device using the quad core processor.

    In a call Smith made to Amazon on August 10th at the time of BYTE's report, Amazon didn't deny it, she says. But then they don't deny anything, their stock official answer is 'No Comment.' Wise.

    She, says they have five sources for this story though.

    The tablet line would have nothing to do with the dedicated e-reader line, so the dedicated Kindle reader would not be affected, meaning not thrown out the window if/when they do come out with a tablet or tablets of some kind.

    You alerted me to the Cloud reader - that's yet another method of accessing content, but it doesn't replace the Kindle e-reader, just supplements it.

  8. Of course the Kindle would not be affected. What I meant is exactly what you said: "The tablet line would have nothing to do with the dedicated e-reader line". It doesn't make a lot of sense (to me, at least), to include a Kindle-like screen along with a tablet. Just like the Cloud Reader and the rest of the Kindle apps, it would be a supplement. But because it would look and work similarly (even more so if a touchscreen Kindle appears in the mean time), it would invite negative comparisons with the "vanilla" Kindle, thus lowering the "like" factor of the new device. If I were Jeff Bezos, I wouldn't do it :)

    Of course there's a chance for this to be successful, using some unheard-of technology to superimpose an LCD screen over an e-ink one (I don't think it's impossible, technologically speaking), but I am more inclined to think that Amazon will follow the KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid!).

  9. As a current iPad owner who is frustrated by it's lack of compatibility with various sites/services, I am chomping at the bit to get my hands on an Amazon tablet. A dual-sided tablet? Not so much.

    Admittedly, I am an Amazon prime customer who has bought into both their movie and music services so I'm biased.

    I'm looking forward to the smaller tablet-with hopes that it is as portable as a Kindle. I can see myself using a case that holds two smaller devices easier than I can using one big double-sided one.

  10. Jazz,
    I'm with you on a single-sided tablet and am still dubious they're really doing a dual-screen one, but if it were VERY light, then maybe ..., as it would be somewhat easier to read PDFs on, outdoors as well, while I could turn it around to see it in color. Battery drain! However, my NookColor keeps a battery charger longer than I have expected, considering I use it mainly for the web.

    Isn't their music service smooth? They may be short on features at first but things work so smoothly!

    As for portability of the smaller tablet that's almost surely coming, because reports are now consistent, the NookColor is 7" and considerably heavier. However, if it had 3G I might still carry it out. But it's the light 3G that I carry and the text is always easy on the eyes.

    Interesting view on the one case with two smaller devices. I'd actually rather have one case holding a -slim- double-sided one...

    It seems, even if the dual-screen rumors are true, that the 7" one will be a very simple stripped-down single-screen tablet. I'm curious if they'll have 3G data plans for it. There's no way they'll do free 3G on an LCD tablet but I'd miss having 3G access. Maybe they'd have a limited-data basic plan and AT&T could add some 'sponsoring' of that type too :-)

    I AGAIN lost Comcast connectivity for a few hours the other night and although I didn't blog on the Kindle 3 the down-time that night, I did use the Kindle's 3G to see what was going on in that world :-)

  11. Now that you mention it, a dual-sided device might work in a case-turning the page, so to speak for one use or another. I was thinking of a case for two devices (Kindle reader and iKindle) on occasions where I could carry both; then grabbing a single device when lack of space makes it necessary to make a choice.

    Hmmm. Talking it out, the dual-sided device doesn't sound as ridiculous-just really heavy.


NOTE: TO AVOID SPAM being posted instantly, this blog uses the "DELAY" feature.

Am often away much of the day, and postings won't show up right away. Posts done to use referrer-links may never show up.

Usually, am online enough to release comments within a day though, so the hard-to-read match-text tests for commenting won't be needed this way.

Feedback and questions are welcome. Thanks for participating.

Technical Problems?
If you're having problems leaving a Comment, Google's blogger-help asks that you clear the '' cookies on your browser's Tools or Options menu bar and that will fix the Comment-box problems (until they have a permanent fix).

IF that doesn't work either, then UNcheck the "keep me signed in" box -- Google-help says that should allow your comment to post (it's a workaround to a current bug).
Apologies for the problems.

TIP: There's a size limit. If longer than 3500 characters or so, in a text editor, make two posts out of it.

[Valid RSS]