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Inside the Kindle 4 (Vs the K2, K1)

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The new Kindle launched on Wednesday last week and it started arriving on Thursday (a lot of us ordered Wednesday morning, yes). It’s now been 3 days since the K4 arrived and I’ve just found the first tear down photos. posted these photos on Thursday, actually, but I was waiting for the second set of photos because I thought they might be more useful for identifying exactly which chips went in to the K4. You can find those photos here.

If you click on the image at right you’ll see the K4 after the backside was ripped off. And I do mean ripped off;  it’s clearly not supposed to be disassembled. His case has obvious stretch and scratch marks from the disassembly and there’s no way to hide the fact that this voided the warranty.

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Just so you understand the scale of what you’re looking at, here’s one of the promo Kindle photos:

The circuit board is about the size of a playing card and it only takes up about a third of the case. On that one little board are the buttons, CPU, Wifi, Flash, and everything needed to run the Kindle.

Now I can see why they dropped the card slot*. It was part of Amazon’s effort to simplify the design and make it cheaper to produce. That is probably also why the keyboard went away.

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In comparison, I dug up the teardown photos of the K2 (source) and the original Kindle (source). The K2 has a circuit board that is almost as clean as the K4, while the original Kindle looks like C-3PO vomited into the case.

The little metal panels in the K2 case cover most of the chips in the K2 (CPU, Flash storage, batter controller, etc). As you can see, it has a much improved design over the original and it probably cost a lot less to produce.

*I don’t know about you, but I still want a card slot. It wouldn’t have cost much to add a microSD card slot. Sure, it would mess with the external profile but as you can see from the lead photo there was room to spare. BTW, the other reason I wanted a card slot is that the K4 ships with only 1.2GB of storage. That’s simply not enough, IMO.

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Syn October 2, 2011 um 11:03 am

1.2gb is not nearly enough. I guess its ok though for the budget reader.. This will be a nice Christmas for people that were waiting for e-readers to 99 dollars or less..

fjtorres October 2, 2011 um 12:27 pm

Nicely designed gadget.
No question it is intended as an entry level reader as they’re starting to adopt "disposable gadget" traits. One more design iteration and they can start filling the insides with epoxy. 😉
I can easily see it blister-packed in drugstores and supermakets at $49 for XMAS 2012.

I’m a big fan of removable storage myself, but I doubt this reader’s owners will miss it much.
With no audio capacity the thing is really just for ebooks (no audible or mp3 files) so 1.2GB should hold up to 2000 files locally and 5GB in the cloud. Plus you can still set up your own private repository online and access it from the browser.
So if you consider the onboard storage as your current reading list it is actually comfy.
Clearly not enough room onboard for an experienced user’s library but, again, its an entry level toy.

I hope they’re building them by the boatload because that’s how they’re going to sell.

Mike Cane October 2, 2011 um 12:32 pm

>>>the K4 ships with only 1.2GB of storage. That’s simply not enough, IMO.

Stop being silly. Amazon is now your SD Card. Delete anything you want from the K, it still exists in your Cloud Library to redownload at will.

That is the future for EVERYTHING.

Nate Hoffelder October 2, 2011 um 1:16 pm

Except that it’s5GB spread across all my Kindles. That’s not very much in the long run.

fjtorres October 2, 2011 um 1:42 pm

Have you tried setting up a private online repository? No limit.
WiFi+unrestricted browser has its uses.

Rob Brown October 2, 2011 um 6:27 pm

I know I’m being an old stick in the mud, but as an electronics engineer I like the original Kindle. That C3PO-vomit will have subcircuits that were designed by hand, placements decided by technical reasoning and not just manufacturing efficiency, and probably some opportunity for creativity on the part of the engineers that designed it. Nowadays it’s more like Lego, clipping together highly integrated chips using manufacturer’s reference circuits, consulting with the Gods of Manufacturability, and letting the circuit board design software automatically do the rest.
The fun’s gone all out of it, I tell you. Bah humbug.

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