Amazon’s E-Ink Kindle Will Feature a Front-lit Screen

According to the report of TechCrunch, Amazon’s next-generation Kindle will feature a “glowing” display. Amazon bought the Oy Modilis Company – the world leader in light-guide technology in 2010, and plans to adopt the light-guide technology to the E-Ink Kindle e-reader.

The E-Ink Kindle would target a different user demographic than the popular Kindle Fire, which is designed for tablet-style activities like gaming and video streaming–two uses poorly suited for today’s non-backlit, monochrome e-paper displays with very low refresh rates. It was that blue-white glow found in uncorrected white LEDs, not the warm light on off-white that most people associate with books by lamplight. But, of course, the e-ink screen is in fact grey and dark grey, not black on off-white, as paper is, so a cooler light may actually work better. At any rate, they are apparently sensitive to these issues and looking into it. An e-Ink screen might make the Kindle better to readers of children’s books, graphic novels, and textbooks.

Coldewey, who lives in Seattle near Amazon’s offices, writes: “The device I saw was crudely camouflaged in a sort of cardboard enclosure, but the screen was clearly visible. With a tap, a slider popped up on the screen, and as it was dragged to the right, the screen lit up evenly with a rather cool light. In the dark, it was plainly noticeable as a glow, and in uneven light — say, shade or a shuttered room — the slight illumination made the screen much more readable.” As for the shape of the device, it was impossible to tell, wrapped as it was in its little cardboard box. But the size appears the same, and the whole point of purchasing the light-guide company was to get the team and their patents, which essentially laminate the light diffusion layer right onto the screen without adding much in the way of depth or interfering with the touch system.

The new Kindle doesn’t look like it’s going to address all of the issues with this kind of device, but the improved display will definitely set it apart from its rivals. We’ll know for sure when it comes out later this year, the future may bring hybrid, switchable displays that offer the best of both worlds in tablet-oriented tasks such as games and video; and monochrome e-ink for reading, predicts IDC analyst Bob O’Donnell.