There's been a surge in the Amazon tablet rumors over the past few days. The most recent rumor is that Amazon will stream content to the tablet. This rumor is actually half true. Amazon will be streaming content, but there is no tablet involved.
You're not going to believe this, and I really hope you're sitting down. I've seen pictures of Amazon's prototype tablet, and it only has a 5" screen. The screen is so small because it's not the main viewing method. There's a new technology integrated into the device, and it will change everything.
Amazon has been experimenting with direct transmission to the brain. Yes, who needs a screen when you can simply beam the content into your head?
Update: I see that I forgot to mention ebooks. I asked and yes, the new device will support Kindle ebooks. But they've encountered a few problems with the enhanced formats. the projection technology for text doesn't have adequate signal control to handle embedded audio and video. Several beta testers reported excruciating headaches, so there's a good chance that the enhanced content will be disabled.
Second Update: No, I cannot post the pictures. It looks vaguely like a 5" handheld, and I wasn't shown any other component. I'm not sure how the direct to brain transmission is done.
So the "Amazon tablet" rumors reach a fever pitch today with one of the bloggers with gdgt posting a long explanation of why he thinks Samsung is building the Amazon tablet. I respect his opinion and his right to argue a position that has so little factual basis. I've done the same before, so I can't judge.
But I still don't believe that it will happen. Let me poke a bunch of holes in your balloon.
The Kindle Android rumors surfaced again on Friday.
The NY Times noticed that Amazon are hiring Android developers at Lab126 (they develop the Kindle hardware and apps) and jumped to the obvious conclusion. Amazon must be working on a Kindle that runs Android, and that this new device could have a color screen.
There are a couple holes in that idea, unfortunately.
I've just come across a paper this past week discussing a research project funded by MS in India. This concept device was developed to explore low cost record keeping in rural India. The project was run with the assisntance of India's Self Help Group, a microfinance network.
This tablet is running custom software on top of Windows CE, and that screen is 3.5 inches across. If you'll click on the picture, you'll see that the writing on the paper matches what's on screen. The pen has a built in sensor that transmits the motions of the pen to the WinCE device.
Do you recall the Yifang Android tablet I showed you earlier this week? This is pretty much the same idea, except for the fact that this one costs a little more ($100 manufacturing costs) , does less, and is no where near ready for the market.
This paper is fascinating, but strictly from a usability viewpoint (I'm still reading it). The gadget is not that impressive.
Engadget is reporting that Sony working on a dual screen Android tablet. They don't have much in the way of technical details, but they were told that the new tablet, known as the "S2" internally, closely resembles an oval cylinder when closed. It's supposed to use a tegra 2CPU and have Wifi, 3G, and a pair of cameras.
I might be a little early in calling this a fad, but I don't think so. NEC showed off their dual screen communicator at CES 2011. Toshiba had one on the market last year (briefly). And now Sony is supposed to be working on one.
I think we'll see at least 4 or 5 more before the end of 2011.
Mary Lou Jepson jut announced the new screen on the Pixel Qi blog:
New Screen Development: 7?
We are developing a 7” screen for tablets and ereaders that is planned for mass production in H1 2011. Samples will be available earlier, perhaps by late Q4 2010. Contact us to be an early access partner: send email to [email protected]
I wonder if they will ship it with a touchscreen component? I'd bet that anyone who got the 7" screen would want it.
This is probably going to slip most people's notice today, but I caught it.
B&N were listed in the press release as one of the supporters of Intel's new app store, AppUp. This could mean that there is a Nook for Meego app coming some time in the not too distant future. I'm still waiting to hear back from B&N about when the app will be available.
From the press release:
Emphasizing a seamless experience across operating systems, James introduced general availability of the Intel® AppUpSM center netbook app store for consumers. The Intel AppUp center includes both free and paid apps for entertainment, social networking, gaming and productivity, optimized for a netbook's mobility and screen size. To encourage consumers to try new applications, Intel AppUp provides “try before you buy” solutions, encouraging consumers to purchase apps they otherwise might not have. The launch was also marked by the availability of Adobe* AIR applications, as well as apps from companies including Accuweather*, Barnes & Noble*, Funkitron*, Gibson Guitars*, iWin*, Kaplan*, KONAMI*, and Lifetime*.
The NYTimes are speculating on why Amazon have announced job opening for things like: Supply Chain Project Program Manager, Hardware Engineer and RF Systems Engineer.
Some of the people hired for these positions will most likely work on the next versions of the Kindle, possibly integrating touch screens or even creating a color version of the device. But there’s also a good chance these engineers will be recruited to build other gadgets that Amazon is prototyping in its secret labs.
According to people with direct knowledge of the company’s plans, who declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak publicly about Amazon’s internal workings and unannounced products, Lab 126 has been looking into building other gadgets that it could sell to consumers.
Yes, and no. Yes they are developing new gadgets and no they are not trying to get into the gadget market. If there's one thing Amazon have made clear by their actions, it's that they sell the Kindle (and turn a profit on it) in order to have a platform to sell ebooks. If Amazon really wanted to sell other devices then they could have done so any time during the 5 years that Lab126 have been open.
But, I would bet that Amazon have looked at devices that would support their MP3 store and UnBox video store. They've never developed them because there was no need. PMPs and MP3 players are well developed markets.
You might be familiar with Notion Ink, one of the hot new tablet companies. They're working on several tablets right now, and there is a lot of hype surrounding them. (Part of this is becuase their tablets are based on Pxel Qi screens.)
A few days ago, Notion Ink dropped this hint on their blog:
I think you might have heard about Google Tablet. In time to come we all would know what Notion Ink might have to do with it!
To get back to my original question, I would say no. If they were really working with Google then they wouldn't have dropped the hint.
Talking with upstream component makers, the analyst pointed out that Nokia has already completed about 100 engineering samples ready for testing. The tablet PC's panel size will be either 7- or 9-inch and manufactured by Foxconn International Holdings (FIH), the Hong Kong-listed handset subsidiary of Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry), the analyst noted.
My opinion on this is mixed. Yes, I think Nokia is working on a tablet. But, I don't think they're going to release it. The tablet market is going to be quite crowded by late summer, and I expect Nokia to cut their losses and shelve the prototype.
But if they were working on a tablet, the UI might look something like this:
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