It's about time: Amazon Kindle could get a color screen this year

It's about time: Amazon Kindle could get a color screen this year

Summary: Amazon may finally release a Kindle with a color E Ink screen, according to a recent report.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Mobility, Hardware
17

Could Amazon finally be ready to announce a Kindle with a color E Ink display?

That's the story according to DigiTimes, which says that Amazon could make move as early as the second half of this year.

But the real wonder is that it's taken this long: E Ink has been promising that manufacturers would adopt color displays since at least 2010.

At last year's IFA Conference last year, E Ink showed of the latest version of its color screen, dubbed Triton. The screen, which runs of the same low-energy technology as the monochrome E Ink displays, is capable of displaying 4,096 colors.

But there was a problem. As you can see in this video, the most obvious issue with the Triton technology was its fairly lackluster color saturation.

Jeff Bezos agrees -- or at least he did last May. In an interview with Consumer Reports, Bezos said that the color E Ink technology wasn't quite ready to be the centerpiece on an Amazon device. The reason? Blame the colors, which Bezos called "very pale."

Even E Ink marketing exec Sriram Peruvemba alluded to the technology's limitations in the above video: "One of the issues with the higher-resolution display is that it reduces the light going into the display material, and therefore the color is not as saturated as we would like," he said.

So its no surprise to see that a color E Ink device from Amazon or Barnes & Noble has yet to materialize. It can't be easy to create a high-resolution E Ink display that also offers adequate color saturation. But if the DigiTimes report is true, E Ink is finally getting close.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

17 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I have a Kindle eInk and an iPad

    Guess which one I use to read books on. Hint: there isn't a fruity logo on it.

    If they can make a color eInk screen that isn't any more expensive, isn't any slower, doesn't use any more battery , and isn't any more difficult to read in brightly lit areas, I'll buy it. Otherwise, I'll stick to black and white eInk.

    Grown up books are printed in black and white. I'll leave it up to you to figure out the correlation between people who claim the iPad is better for reading and the fact that most color books are children's books.
    toddbottom3
    • Textbooks used in colleges are heavy on

      Color. I'll leave it up to you to determine the educational level and critical thinking skills of Kindle users.
      baggins_z
    • I own all the gadgets you mentioned and disagree

      even though I'm a longtime Kindleuser, I now rarely pick it up. The reason is I now own an iPad 3 and find reading on it much easier on my old eyes. This wasn't the case with my Galaxy Tab since I preferred the Kindle over that device. Also, the iPad's larger screen allows me to have two pages open, just like with a real book. I find this to be both useful, and somehow comforting.
      dachba
  • Why blow smoke when there is already a Fire?

    Why is Amazon pursuing color eInk when it already has the Fire? It seems like a waste of r&d effort where there is no need. Instead why not focus on creating a 2nd Gen Fire adding such features such as a bluetooth link for keyboard/audio connection to the fire, an hdmi port, etc.
    jmckayLKWD
    • LCD isn't the same as eInk

      You simply can't compare the screen quality of eInk with the screen quality of an LCD panel. It isn't that one is absolutely better than the other but eInk is far superior when it comes to reading books: battery life that is measured in weeks, absolutely no issues reading outside, far less weight and bulk, reduced eye fatigue, no overheating, less expensive.
      toddbottom3
    • Books?

      Maybe it's because people in the real world need tablets for reading books rather using them as toys.
      illegaloperation
      • I'm guess you have no idea of what a tablet is

        Ebook = a single purpose device for displaying STATIC data.

        Tablet = a multipurpose device used not only for NON-STATIC media consumption, but also for some media production.
        wackoae
      • Why Buy a Tablet When You Can Have eInk?

        Wackoae, What good is your tablet when you are trying to read it outdoors and can't see the screen. Have you ever SEEN eInk while sitting on a bench or by the pool in direct sunlight? When they make eInk tablets, maybe I'll consider one in order to do reading.
        hforman@...
  • It's tough to get right.

    It's tough to get right. E-ink is a subtractive tech, unlike most LCDs, which are additive. E-ink doesn't provide its own light, so they can't just crank up any sort of backlight to make it brighter.

    Getting a good white with a color e-ink display is particularly difficult, since they generally switch between some color and black. Combine the three primary colors, and at best you get a grey because each color is still absorbing the other colors. So it's very difficult to get a white on an e-ink display.

    Hopefully they can figure a way around it someday, but right now there's not much they can do.
    CobraA1
    • What's to stop them ...

      ... From adding a backlight for reading in low-light conditions? Barnes & Noble have with the new Nook.
      bitcrazed
      • Not exactly ...

        Barnes & Noble's new Nook is [i]front[/i]-lit, not backlit. And front-lighting won't help at all with color saturation. In fact, it could make it [i]worse[/i].
        bhartman36
  • And perhaps a Kindle reader with a larger than 7-inch form factor too?

    For most people, the world is in color. I'm thinking of a larger device for textbooks and magazines where color is essential. Textbooks in disciplines such as geography (cultural and physical), geology (including mineralogy, plate tectonics, oceanography and planetary geology), meteorology, biology (anatomy, plants, ornithology, landscape ecology) and architecture (structures and landscape). Just to name a few disciplines and sub-disciplines. Oh, and cookbooks, gardening and landscaping books. Again, just to name a few. And magazines such as, well, see the list for yourself:

    http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Magazines/zgbs/magazines

    One doesn't need color to read novels. But, there is SO much more than novels.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Seriously?

      I've had a DX for about a year and a half now. Its form factor is larger than 7 inches. I use it almost daily.
      jasonp@...
      • RE: Seriously?

        From my above post:
        [i]I'm thinking of a larger device for textbooks and magazines [u]where color is essential[/u].[/i]

        I am aware of the Kindle DX. Let us all know when: 1) the Kindle DX gets color (as opposed to 16 shades of gray), and 2) when the price drops below $379 U.S. (it's expensive).

        P.S. Some tech pubs have predicted the demise of the Kindle DX in its current state (e.g., PC World). Perhaps color support and a price cut will give it a 2nd life.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Leave well alone....

    Why would anyone need a colour EInk screen? When LED or IPS is so good? For novels, I use my Kindle Keyboard practically every day in bed... but use my iPad Gen.1 for pretty much everything else...

    Now if only I could BUY a Kindle note-taker from Malta!!! But the laws say that I cannot....
    grillomalta@...
    • LED/IPS fail in sunlight

      In addition to being hard to read in the sun, LED and IPS screens are less comfortable for many people to read in extended sessions. Also, many find it harder to sleep immediately after reading on a backlit screen.

      While novels won't benefit from color, many textbooks and other illustrations would be enhanced. When I see a color e-Ink Kindle that is as good as the black and white one I now favor, and adds color, I will surely upgrade. But no Kindle Fire for me, for the same reason I don't do much reading on my iPad.
      vulcan666
  • Looks fine to me

    Granted, the colors weren't super-saturated, but they were easy-on-the-eyes while being more useful than just black & white (many of my e-books are photography-related). I'd be thrilled to own a color e-ink Kindle.
    ancillaDomini