Amazon planning a "front-lit Kindle"

15 May 2012
Kindle Touch

The next version of the ebook reader will have its own lighting, but don't expect a colour edition soon, reports say

Amazon 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.

Amazon 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.

Amazon has been ramping up production of the new Kindle, which will use an E Ink display, the source said.

"I do see demand for a front-lit Kindle," said Jennifer Colegrove, Vice President of Emerging Display Technologies at DisplaySearch. There is a trade-off, she said: "Front-lit will consume battery power and (it'll) run out ... quicker."

Amazon also plans to launch a new tablet closer to the holiday season later this year, the source said. The new Kindle Fire is expected to have a bigger diagonal display of 8.9in, bringing it closer in size to Apple's iPad. The company did not respond to calls or emails seeking comment.

While Barnes & Noble was the first to market with a "glowing" e-reader, there has been speculation about Amazon being a close second. Amazon will launch the new Kindle e-reader in the touch 3G and touch wi-fi versions, the source said.

"They can afford to add a front light because the component is not very expensive and their display otherwise uses very little energy," said Colegrove. An increase of about $10 above the current prices should be "quite reasonable," she said. The source said Amazon was likely to keep prices the same, or raise them by a very small margin, if at all.

No colour yet

Some blogs had speculated on the possibility of a colour-equipped e-reader, but the source said that there was very little chance of Amazon launching one this year. Though Amazon has held can talks with E Ink, the companies haven't reached any concrete decisions yet, he said.

Vinita Jakhanwal, an analyst at IHS iSuppli, which tracks electronic component supply chains, said when she looked at the colour e-paper product in a trade show in October, that it needed "a lot of technological improvements" to be used in a products in large volumes.

"I doubt if the colour Kindle is ready for a launch," she said.

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