Amazon has just unveiled its Kindle Fire HDX tablets, along with the significant price drop for the old Kindle Fire HD. The new tablets look pretty good, considering they both have a Snapdragon 800 processor, come with high resolutions (1920×1200 for the 7″ one, just like the new Nexus 7, and 2560×1600 for the 8.9″ one, just like the Nexus 10), and have very reasonable prices – $229 and $379, respectively. But apparently, that’s not enough for Jeff Bezos, and he says there’s a lot more to be done with tablets:
“We think its very, very early in the development of this new product category, tablets. “The whole industry is so young – there’s still so much invention to be done.”
When he says that I’m sure he’s referring to the consumption side of tablets, since that’s what Amazon really cares about – getting you to buy as much stuff and media content as possible from its tablets. We can only speculate about what he’s talking about, but my guess is he’s looking at some new breakthrough technologies that are supposed to come out or be greatly improved in the near future, and he wants to be the one to seize that moment, and show us what’s really possible with tablets.
Since Amazon cares so much about ebooks, since after all, that’s how Amazon started out, by selling books, he could be referring to a new type of display for these tablets, that can make the Kindle Fire tablets true successors to the regular e-ink Kindle tablets. The e-ink Kindles are a dying breed of devices, because in 2013 very few people want single-purpose devices that can only do black and white. On the other hand, current backlit displays hurt your eyes if you stare too much at the screen, continuously. So what could be the solution to fix that?
Amazon has now started using Qualcomm processors, and my guess is they have a pretty good relationship with Qualcomm. So what if they’re talking about using Mirasol displays in a generation or two of Kindle Fire tablets? Qualcomm has demoed the Toq smartwatch recently, which uses a Mirasol displays, and while it looks nowhere close to an AMOLED or super high quality IPS LCD, it looked much better than e-ink, especially since it’s in color, and should be almost as good power efficiency.
Mirasol is not backlit, and works great in sunlight, too, since the image is actually powered by external light, so sunlight is actually beneficial instead of a hindrance, like for normal backlit displays. In low-light, Amazon could just use its own front-light technology, which works great on the latest Kindles.
It would make a lot of sense for Amazon to use Mirasol in Kindle Fire tablets, and completely replace the e-ink Kindles, too. Then Kindle Fire tablets would be not just great for reading, with no backlight, but also great for all the other things you can do with a tablet, too, including watching video on it.
Mirasol is not a very mature technology yet, especially if you compare it with the latest AMOLED and LCD displays, which have gotten incredible contrasts, very accurate colors, and super high resolutions for sharpness lately. Making Mirasol do all of that, too, will be expensive, and I assume will take another year or two to get it done. But when it’s ready, I do hope Amazon will take full advantage of it.