May 052011

There have been rumors for a few months that Amazon is planning to release a color Kindle touchscreen tablet, in a bid to challenge Apple iPad’s encroachment of Amazon’s ebook and eperiodicals market. These rumors have resurfaced following reports that Quanta Computer Incorporated of Taiwan has received an order from Amazon to produce 800,000 new touch-screen Kindle tablet devices per month (Source: Taiwan’s Digitimes).

There is speculation that the new Amazon tablet will run on the Google Android operating system, which occupies a large market share of smartphones in the US and UK. Currently, Amazon already offers a free Kindle app that enables Kindle books to be read on handheld Android based devices and Apple iPad and iPhone. So what would be the point of releasing “just another” Android tablet on the market? Amazon’s aim could be to have a walled garden on the tablet and restrict the convenient access to non-approved applications or content, rather like the NookColor Android tablet and the iPad.

Digitimes also reports that Taiwan-based display maker E Ink Holdings (EIH) subsidary HYDIS is also gearing up its production capability for supplying touch panel as well as providing its Fringe Field Switching (FFS) display technology. The fringe field is generated by comb like electrodes that allows greater transmission of backlight.

Alternatively, Amazon could choose to use another display technology developed by EIH: a color E Ink display called Triton Active Matrix Display. In addition to 16 levels of monochrome, Triton is capable of displaying thousands of colors. For image-rich information applications showing charts, graphs, maps, photos, comics and advertising, color displays made with Triton Imaging Film enable ultra low power and high mobility devices with a paper-like experience. And just like E Ink’s monochrome Pearl products used in  latest generation Kindle, Triton’s crisp text and detailed color graphics are fully viewable in direct sunlight. However the display update rate of the Triton display is the same as Pearl display and therefore not suited for viewing video or fast motion games. This is likely to be  an acceptable compromised for dedicated eBook readers.

In fact, the requirements for a dedicated eBook reader and a multipurpose tablet as so different that it is likely that the ereader niche will continue to exist. For an ereader some of the most important requirements are:

  • Ease of holding the device conveniently in one hand.
  • Outdoor reading capability.
  • Long battery life.

On the other hand, a multifunctional device will compromise on these features, to provide a better video display for movies and action games, high data rate interfaces and large capacity data storage.

We will update our eReaders Comparison as soon as the new Kindle is released.

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