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Displays Handhelds Portables

Are the New Kindles Tablets-In-Training? 134

Hugh Pickens writes "TechNewsWorld reports that Amazon's new, slimmed-down Kindle devices are notable for several things, including upgrades to their experimental WebKit browser that makes it faster and easier to navigate, and the new 'article mode' feature extracts the main text-based content from Web pages for easier reading (as Safari does), suggesting the possibility that the Kindle may grow up to be a real tablet computer someday. Eventually, the tablet and e-reader categories 'are going to slam together,' says Rob Enderle, adding that they are 'held apart, largely because we don't yet have an affordable display that will do both tasks well.' One current problem 'is that TFT displays like the iPad uses suck for reading because they aren't outdoor viewable and are very power hungry. Display technologies like the Qualcomm Mirasol stuff will change this over the next 18 months, and by the end of next year — likely before — we'll begin to see converged devices.' Mirasol uses tiny mirrors, known as microelectronic machines, to create its display, which has the low power characteristics of E-Ink displays and the video-playing and color abilities of LCDs."
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Are the New Kindles Tablets-In-Training?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 01, 2010 @08:52AM (#33100672)

    IPS displays are TFT displays. TFT means Thin Film Transistor. Before TFT displays (and in small LCDs), the pixels were/are activated by voltages which are delivered by a lattice of rows and columns directly. In TFT displays, there's a transistor at each pixel which amplifies the signal. Passive displays are slow because the voltages can't be increased without causing artifacts throughout the rows/columns. TFTs eliminate this problem. IPS is the way the liquid crystals are arranged and moved to change the display content. IPS means In-Plane Switching. The most common arrangement is TN, which means Twisted Nematic.

  • by foobsr ( 693224 ) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @09:03AM (#33100700) Homepage Journal
    It's not a TFT display. It's IPS. []

    Twisted nematic (TN)
    In-plane switching (IPS)
    Advanced fringe field switching (AFFS)
    Multi-domain vertical alignment (MVA)
    Patterned vertical alignment (PVA)
    Advanced super view (ASV)

  • Re:Why not pixel qi? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 01, 2010 @09:54AM (#33100862)

    Because Mirasol is bistable (zero power on static images) and uses less power than a refreshing E-Ink display while playing video, while Pixel Qi uses at best a quarter of the power of a LCD all the time, even with the backlight off, since it's pretty much a transflective LCD. When the backlight's on, the Pixel Qi advantage is minimal. It is not revolutionary technology by any stretch.

    The difference in power consumption is orders of magnitude. Since batteries lag behind pretty much all other tech these days, and LCD screens suck down massive amounts of power for both backlighting and the pixels themselves, true revolutions in battery life (like a week plus for a smartphone or tablet vs. maybe a day) will depend on Mirasol or related tech. There are a few other contenders, but Pixel Qi is not one. They do seem to have an excellent marketing department though, because the same misconceptions you have are quite widespread among people that should know better.

  • by langelgjm ( 860756 ) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @10:04AM (#33100916) Journal

    Is anyone able to comment on what the browsing functionality actually does for them? Is there news that you actually digest in a productive fashion? Certain news sites that work flawlessly? Blog technologies (like Wordpress or something) that always work? And how is the 3G coverage and reliability? I have so many questions about these devices and can find so little on reviewing this web browser functionality on the Kindle.

    I can't speak to the new one (or even the software upgrade, since I haven't used it extensively since it was installed), but I had the original Kindle DX for over a year. Critical new features in the software upgrade include "collections" (a way to organize documents you've loaded onto the Kindle, which was probably the number one feature request and something I can't believe they didn't originally include) and improved PDF handling (basic zoom/pan ability - before your only option was to flip the device to get a larger view).

    As for web browsing... it's always been slow and unimpressive. My expectations aren't even that high, since I don't have a data service for my phone or anything like that. On the other hand, it came in handy when I was visiting my parents out in the boonies... jumping on the Kindle to check Wikipedia was faster than dialup. Sometimes I had to go outside to get a good signal, but we have to do that with cell phones anyway. Specific mobile sites I've bookmarked, like mobile New York Times, are fine... for me, though, it makes more sense to use an application like Calibre that will automatically download all the news you want in the morning and sync with the Kindle, rather than just relying on the 3G. I've used the web browser to get on Facebook and Slashdot from trains... again, better than nothing, but not exactly pleasant. I've gotten a few things directly from Project Gutenberg as well.

    One great thing is that I've written up some scripts that use the command-line version of Calibre to watch a directory on my home server. Instead of having to e-mail documents to Amazon and pay for conversion (or carry around a sync cable and software capable of converting), I just e-mail my documents to a special address. The scripts check the e-mail, download the document, convert it, and upload it to a web server. A few minutes after sending it, I log into the web server from the Kindle and download the converted document. This is actually what I probably use the web browser for the most.

    For reading text... IMO it kicks ass and bests any other style of device (netbook, tablet, etc.) currently available. But I also always carry about my 9" netbook with Ubuntu.

  • No? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xugumad ( 39311 ) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @10:04AM (#33100918)

    So... if they got a much more powerful processor, a completely different display (color, fast refresh, touch screen) and an entirely different operating system... it might be like a tablet?

    It's a lot more plausible that tablet display contrast will improve, and people will tend to use a tablet where a Kindle isn't enough for them. Kindles aren't ever likely to develop into the tablet space.

  • Mirasol - 8 colors (Score:3, Informative)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @12:05PM (#33101408) Homepage

    After going through two articles and a blog, we get to the Mirasol site. [] Mirasol is straightforward - each pixel is a flexible membrane in an air gap. It's bistable; either the membrane is against the front plate (dark) or against the back plate (light), pushed there by an electrostatic charge. So it's either monochrome, or an 8-color technology if RGB pixels are provided. By putting in more pixels, they can dither their way up to 3 bits of color per pixel, for 512 different colors. This costs resolution, of course. Their technical paper talks about dithering over time at 50Hz to get more even shades. But if they do that, they lose their power-saving advantage. It costs power to change a pixel.

    This is one of many bistable persistent display technologies. Kent Displays [] has had a similar technology, cholesteric LCD devices, for years, used mostly for big display signs and military applications. Until recently, Kent's displays were very expensive, but they've finally solved the cost problem. This year's DEFCON badge has a built-in Kent display.

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