Amazon prepping new Kindle tablet, e-reader

Amazon is reportedly preparing to launch a new Kindle e-reader with front lighting, alongside an upgraded Fire tablet.

According to Reuters, the new e-reader could hit digital store shelves by July, as Amazon has been “ramping up” production of the E Ink reader. Essentially, the new Kindle would allow users to read in the dark without attaching an external light.

NPD DisplaySearch analyst Jennifer Colegrove told Reuters there was a definite demand for a front-lit Kindle.

However, she also noted there would be a trade-off, as the front-lit feature will “consume battery power and (it’ll) run out … quicker.”

“[Still], they can afford to add a front light because the component is not very expensive and their display otherwise uses very little energy,” she added. 

Although Amazon has yet to confirm the existence of a new Kindle e-reader with front lighting, TechCrunch’s Devin Coldewey claims to have spotted such a device in development during a visit to the online retailer’s headquarters. 

“The device I saw was crudely camouflaged in a sort of cardboard enclosure, but the screen was clearly visible,” he wrote. “With a tap, a slider popped up on the screen, and as it was dragged to the right, the screen lit up evenly with a rather cool light.”

Meanwhile, the next-gen Kindle Fire is expected to feature a larger diagonal display of 8.9 inches, bringing it ever closer to Apple’s wildly popular iPad, at least in terms of form factor. The display size certainly makes sense for those interested in more of an iPad like experience.

As noted previously, I’m fairly confident Amazon will manage to keep its new Kindles competitively priced – even with potential spec upgrades like a camera, faster processor, more storage capacity and 3G capabilities.

And why not? Clearly, the sticker difference is the online retailer’s most significant advantage over Apple’s rival iPad.