Sept 2011 Update: The color Kindle for 2011 is the new Kindle Fire Tablet.
For those of you hoping to see full color E-ink, the wait continues… But those hoping for a compact, low priced tablet Kindle to view color, should be more than pleased with the new Fire. Available for pre-order now, orders will start shipping on 15th November. But with sales reputedly hitting 100,000 on the first day expect to have to wait a while if you leave it too long before placing your order!
Kindle Fire Tablet v Kindle E-ink Readers
Well you cannot have it all just yet at least. Choosing the latest tablet over an e-ink based reading device will mean a lot of compromise. In fact I imagine there will be a lot of people choosing the new tablet Kindle as an additional gadget, still choosing to use their traditional ebook reader when reading for long periods, rather than switching entirely from e-ink to the back-lit tablet.
Both formats have distinct advantages, but neither can truly replace the other just yet. Rumors do keep materialising that both Apple and Amazon are trying to develop a screen that can switch between E-ink and LCD. When that happens there truly will be a revolution, and potentially only one type of reading device needed by the majority. But for now at least it seems both tablets and ebook readers will continue to expand their market base alongside each other, getting along in many households happily together!
The Advantages of a Color Kindle Tablet
So I don’t think most of us need to ditch e-ink in favor of back-lit tablets. But there are many advantages to having the new Fire tablet. If you don’t have an ebook reader yet, a traditional E-ink reader is the best choice. But if you already have one of those the Fire might be a nice addition to your gadget collection because:
- The Fire is affordable (not much more than a 3G e-ink based reader), bringing tablets within the grasp of those unwilling to pay Apple prices.
- This is a small tablet, with a 7″ display and an overall size similar to that of the keyboard Kindles. That makes it more portable, lighter and comfortable to carry around than many others.
- The display uses in-plane switching technology to give you a wider viewing angle so it is easier to show others what you’re viewing.
- It really is a colorful Kindle, with a vibrant display able to show 16 million colors.
- This is back-lit, so whilst vibrant indoors it will not be a beach reader like your e-ink based model!
- With its free Whispersync ability, you can start a book where you left of, or continue watching a Movie on your TV from the point you left of on the tablet on your way home.
- Using a Kindle reading app you can access your same library of Kindle books as you can on your dedicated handheld reader.
- Download music from the Amazon mp3 store to listen offline, or live stream as you like. There is a set of stereo speakers at the top of the device as well as a headphone jack.
- Choose from more than 100,000 TV shows and Movies, also available for live streaming.
- Use the built in webmail app to access email accounts such as gmail, yahoo etc.
- Access to your own online back-up. As with the Kindle readers, all you download or stream is saved on your own little section of Amazon’s cloud computing system, so you can re-access whenever you like.
- The device comes with an easy to use navigation based on a library scheme which is intuitive and simple to find your way around.
- Of course it is touch-screen. There are no buttons so the whole thing looks pretty much as you would expect from a modern tablet.
- You have access to a growing (and already impressive) range of Android Apps from Amazon’s own app store.
- Being tied into Amazon’s cloud means that the device doesn’t have to use lots of resources of its own when browsing online. Some pundits have pointed out that this means Amazon knows your surfing habits. We’re still waiting for confirmation as to how long such information is kept, and what if anything, the company plan to do with it. Personally I don’t see it being a big issue to ensure browsing down on your tablet is only stuff you have no qualms with the company knowing! You can make things entirely private but this will slow down the browsing experience.
Any Drawbacks for the Tablet?
Well, there aren’t any majors flaws discovered so far. But there are a few key points to remember before buying the new Kindle Fire. Most are simply about remembering the differences between an e-ink based product and a back-lit LCD one:
- The display has an anti-reflective treatment, but it won’t be as easy to view in bright sunshine as an e-ink model.
- The battery charges in around the same time (4 hours), but will only last around 8 between charges.
- Only comes in wi-fi version. We expect 3G will follow but quite possibly not until 2012.
- The memory is not massive, at 8GB you can store 80 apps, plus 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books. But remember this is intended to be used in conjunction with Amazon’s free online storage Cloud so you always have more room, you might just need to remember to archive things more often!
And now back to our original article contemplating the potential for a color Kindle…
Talk is pretty non-stop at the moment regarding a potential Color Kindle Reader. Now whilst many of us are using our ebook readers just for fun, reading novels, browsing the papers or checking our emails, many are demanding color.
Do We Need a Kindle in Color?
Why would we want a color reader from Amazon? Well its obvious really. With color the world of electronic reading grows considerably. After all wouldn’t your kids be happier with a little color bed time reading? Your glossy magazine subscriptions make a lot more sense with color images, and of course the more serious will appreciate text books, reference material and work documents if they are a little more colorful!
But surely a color ebook reader has always been possible. Didn’t Barnes & Noble bring us a color Nook reader last year?
Well yes they did, but it used an LCD display which means it got more expensive, and had to give up some of the low power consumption associated with e-ink displays used in most other dedicated reading devices. Basically what B&N gave us was a tablet with limited use. Great if you want a small tablet, but not so great if you want to sit on the beach for a fortnight reading.
LCD is impossible to read in bright light, so not great outdoors, it gets hot and it uses a lot of power to run. True it is perfect for computing, it refreshes fast and you can read the screen in a darkened room. But that is not what many of us want when considering a reading device purely for pleasure.
So How to Make a Color Kindle Without LCD?
Until late on in 2010 the only way to create a reading device in color was to switch back to LCD back-lit display technology. As we have discussed this is far from ideal. But the makers of Amazon’s current Pearl display can now produce an equivalent product, but one capable of displaying thousands of colors. In addition Mirasol have developed a similar color screen using iridescence (similar to the way butterfly wings look so bright), to bring us low energy color.
The likely contender, should Amazon create an e-ink based color reader is Triton e-ink. The technology is currently being used by Hanvon to bring a color e-ink based device to the Chinese market. Mirasol have been expected to launch a color reader since last year, but though rumours continue, no firm partner has yet been announced.
Will People Like a Color E-ink Kindle Reader?
This is the big question. When asked if people would be interested in a color version of Amazon’s reader, the answer is very often a resounding yes. But to enjoy color e-ink they would need to be educated as to its limitations. Yes, it will make for brighter charts and kiddies books, but e-ink is subdued. You will not experience the same vivid colorfulness of an LCD screen. This keeps it easy to read, low energy and so on, but some users might find it a little disappointing, and perhaps not quite so impressive after all.
You can get an idea of the possibilities available today, for a color ebook display by watching the videos:
Personally I think once people have seen color e-ink for a while, they will view it as the perfect medium for a color ebook reader. But, in the mean-time I expect many will be expecting something a little brighter, and might wish instead that a Kindle tablet were created.
Of course Amazon could easily go down this route instead. But for now, we shall have to wait and see.