Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Kindle News: Kindle Touch with front light - Is it coming soon? State Dept requires it. What else do they require?

Ace commenter Felix Torres finds the answer to the subject question in the State Dept contract with Amazon for the up to $16.5 million educational project agreement.

In the blog entry yesterday for the Kindle contract story, I included a link to the State Department document justifying the no-bid contract.  I'd not read it though and then forgot about it.

The vigilant Felix Torres, in his comment today to Teleread.Com's story on this, addresses the mistaken idea by many writers that the contract was just for x number of Kindle Touch devices x 50 Kindle books for each.

He explains that you could just read the government specs and rationale to find what it does require:
' ...they need an *integrated* system for “push”-deployment of DoS in-house documents as well as licensed 3rd party commercial content, worldwide, via WiFi *and* 3G for in-the-field use.
Now, oh wise Amazon haters: who else can deliver those features today, at *all*?

Push deliver + 3G? “Hello? Bueller?” '

He adds that it's an election year and
  "Of course the thing was vetted to within an inch of the Contracting Officer’s life!  They have a need and they found an answer, they jumped through all legal hoops and signed the deal.  End of story.  Almost..."

Then he casually tosses in the key portion for those wondering if the Kindle Touch with built-in light is just another rumor.
' Oh, and by the way: lost in all the grumbling and Proxmiring is the real news: Amazon is going to ship Kindles with *front lights* to the State Department.

AKA, Kindle 6.

Not a rumor, not a hoax; it’s right there in the contract.'

Those contract requirements
The contract requirements section is #3 and it shows clearly what the Kindle Touch can do, as needed for this project, and the type of very complex, integrated services and support Amazon must be able to provide and, as Felix says, who else can?

One thing I just noticed is that "3G wireless costs must be not separately priced."

Re Service and Support:
Besides quite involved central management internationally, "the Contractor must be able to provide a dedicated 24/7 help desk to support inquires [sic]."

It's interesting to see that a 2-year warranty must be included with replacements for any device failures, [adding even] accidental danage, with free shipping both ways for damaged and replacement device.

Amazon must upgrade and phase in updated versions of the e-Reader product "at least every two years so that the technology stays up to date for users."

And here's the requirement that Felix noted and that will probably be of most interest -- under e-Reader Device subsection, the requirements itemized include this:

  The device must include a front light feature.

My bolded emphasis of course.

Bear in mind that even the most praising of reviews of the Nook Glowlight mention the lighter display contrast when the front-light technology used is included in an e-Ink device.  Some are bothered by it, some aren't, and there's no question that many will really like having a front light, no matter how uneven or somewhat lighter the text if one can read it in dimmer light without an external light.

I got the DX Graphite and Kindle 3 and then the Touch for the quality of that screen contrast after becoming frustrated with the lighter Kindle 2 contrast.  Am pretty sure I'd not want to give that up, since it's my biggest pleasure when switching to e-Ink reading.  But others will not care about darker font readability if the difference is not noticeable unless the devices are held side by side.

So, there it is. It's a reality. Thanks to Felix for the alert !

Kindle Fire  7" tablet - $199
Kindle NoTouch ("Kindle") - $79/$109
Kindle Touch, WiFi
- $99/$139
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
OTHER International
Kindle NoTouch Basic - $109
Kindle Touch WiFi - $139
Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi - $189
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB

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  1. Sorry, but I'm unclear as to whether the front lit reader would ALWAYS have less contrast or just when the light is on.

    I'm planning on getting a new Kindle. I have a 2G and was planning to get the Touch, but am now waiting to see if the rumors are true that a front lit version will appear in July.

    I don't have a big need for the frontlit feature, and would just buy a regular Touch if the frontlit version would always have less contrast (as opposed to just when the light was in operation)

  2. According to reviews, it always has less contrast because there -is- a 2nd layer (which holds the led lighting). But the difference isn't obvious to most. It's noticed by most only when they're side by side.

    It's like the Nook Touch when it first came out. I couldn't believe the fonts were so light. I had bought a NookColor on sight but asked the counter person if there was any setting where the e-Ink fonts would be darker and he let me try all of them. No difference.

    On the forums at the time, some wished that the Nook Touch had the same darkness that the original Nook e-Ink did and I reproduced some images that a Nook owner put up there. After over half a year, they reorganized the forums and her images were removed from the forum, but I had kept them when I was including them in a blog entry.

    Here's an enlargement she posted. The first one is the old Nook. The 2nd, the Nook Touch

    It comes from the blog article on screen contrast at

    In that case, some were bothered by the differences but most were not. However, B&N, a few months ago did an update that made the e-Ink fonts a bit darker, so there had been enough difference for some for B&N to make the adjustment.

    I think most probably would not be bothered by the lighter contrast but that some (like me who had been involved when there were many wishing the Kindle 2 fonts were darker as the Kindle 1 fonts had been) are more happy with darker fonts. Since you may have a Kindle 2 you're likely used to a slightly lighter font and you won't be affected by any loss of contrast in a built-in led light.

    In one of the blog entries I referenced a story in which a reporter said that Amazon was working on an e-Ink with built in light but that they were still having concerns at that time over lessened contrast.

    I imagine they will have done whatever they can (as B&N did with the Nook Glowlight) and managed a balance so that those for whom a built in light is important will find the advantages outweight the disadvantages.

    Also, there is a 30-day full refund policy at Amazon for Kindles. They apply all the time, including up to 30 days before a new Kindle is released.

    I just looked up and saw your third paragraph. I remember that reviewers who preferred the Glowlight because they never have to use an external light did hope that someday they'll resolve that very slight problem. But that noted small loss in contrast did not change the fact they still preferred having the built-in light.

    I don't know what technology Amazon has been using. I do know that at one point they were working on their concern over some loss of contrast.

    It'll be interesting to see.


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