Amazon’s Tablet Will Have A Six Inch Screen

Reports from today:

Digitimes: Quanta receives tablet PC orders from Amazon, say upstream sources

Engadget: Amazon tablet shipping later this year according to new tattle

CrunchGear: No Improved Displays This Year, Says E Ink

Some background. First, E Ink Holdings Inc.:

Prime View International, Inc. (PVI) (now, E Ink Holdings Inc.) was the first TFT LCD company based in Taiwan. Its products include high quality small-to-medium-sized TFT LCD panels.

PVI’s parent company, the YFY group, a world leader in paper manufacturing, realized that high growth potential of digital publishing and started research efforts on alternative display solutions to link the divide between paper and electronics.

In 2005, PVI acquired the ePaper business unit from Philips and worked closely with E Ink to launch the first EPD eBooks into the market.

To increase its capacity, PVI established Transcend Optronics in YangZhou, China in 2002, for the display module manufacturing. PVI merged with the Korean TFT LCD company, Hydis Technologies in 2008. PVI then acquired E Ink Corporation in the U.S. to further integrate the ePaper supply chain in 2009.

In 2010, PVI became E Ink Holdings, Inc. The E Ink Group is now supplying ePaper modules to the global top tier eReader brand names like Amazon, Sony, Hanvon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Currently E Ink’s ePaper module has a significant global market share and all modules are manufactured by its Chinese subsidiary, Transcend Optronics.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

There’s a huge statement right there: a paper company understanding its days are numbered and also understanding it’s in the information display business, not simply paper.

And that also dispels the notion that the company does only eInk screens.

Over at HYDIS:

Currently, there are four competing LCD technologies in the market using liquid crystals

TN+Film, VA, IPS, and FFS. Today, LCD screens are used in all aspects of our daily life.

And especially:

FFS is used for high-end solutions

Known for: high transmittance, wide viewing angle, authentic color

Also from HYDIS:

What are AFFS+ technology and Viewiz+?

In response to the needs of the times and to the continued demand for more advanced products, HYDIS has further developed its AFFS technology into AFFS+, a technology that offers lower power consumption, improved transmission of color and images, and impressive internal LCD panel reflection, thus guaranteeing perfect readability even under the brightest sunlight. Viewiz+ is the label given to products using AFFS+ technology.

Why is AFFS so special?

As the signature TFT-LCD technology of BOE, Advanced Fringe Field Switching (AFFS) increases transmittance in a LCD panels to such an extent that a full 180 degree viewing angle is made possible. This technology also offers improved visibility, more realistic image and color representation, and reduced power consumption.


What is the difference between AFFS, IPS and VA?

IPS (In-Plane switching) uses a horizontal electric field type LCD to ensure high color stability and simple process. VA has a vertically aligned electric field to facilitate high transmittance and fast response rate.

AFFS improves upon the IPS horizontally aligned field by creating an electric fringe enabling high transmittance and wide viewing angle. All three are used for the manufacturing of TFT-LCD.

But most importantly for an Amazon tablet is perhaps this feature of interest to people who are used to eInk-based Kindles they can read outside:

Click = big

And this:

Click = big

That, by the way, is color as good as the sunlight-readable Pixel Qi offers, which explains why that screen has gotten zero traction. For skeptics, not everyone wants to sit in direct sunlight for hours on end, so that photo illustrates extreme sunlight use.

Notice this:

… by 200PPI, AFFS transmittance is 40 percent better than that of TN while consuming 30 percent less power.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

That would be a density of 200 pixels per inch (PPI). The NookColor’s screen is 169 pixels per inch at 7″. Amazon could achieve 200 pixels per inch by going one of two ways: a very high resolution screen (greater than 1024 x 600), which is doubtful, or a smaller screen, at 6″ instead of 7″. Given people are used to the 6″ screen of the Kindle, I think a 6″ screen on an Amazon tablet is more likely than 7″.

Here’s a 6″ screen versus 7″ (displaying a PDF):

Click = big

I can see the skepticism out there. But I think Sony’s own PRS-600 series has made the case that a 6″ touchscreen is a viable option. In fact, Sony has a 5″ touchscreen in its PRS-350, making it ultra-portable — allowing me to rip off this Engadget photo to show its size:

Click = big

And people love that small size. It’s the first grab-and-go eBook device.

Which is also I think the prime selling point Amazon wants and also why it will go with a 6″ screen at 4:3 ratio (a ratio important to preserve traditional book page size): Smaller, more powerful than a Kindle, it can go anywhere.

Some people will object that a 6″ screen is too small for surfing the web. Newsflash: People with Kindles have already been surfing the web. What makes it a painful experience is not the screen size, it has been the weak CPU, the eInk display, and the lack of a touchscreen.

And if you’re still skeptical about the outdoor readability of an LCD, see this: A New Liquid Crystal Fringe-Field Switching Device with Superior Outdoor Readability. Barnes & Noble got what was in the screen pipeline last year. Amazon will get the newest generation of screen, leaping over that of the NookColor. And an AFFS screen also leaps over the IPS screens of the Apple iDevices.

Finally: Stop thinking of the limitations of a 6″ screen and start thinking about the changes that will be made to adapt to it.

The Internet today is not what it was prior to the introduction of the iPhone with its 3.5″ screen.

Everyone rushed to adapt to the iPhone’s screen. WordPress is no longer what it was prior to the iPhone — it now offers a mobile template for such small screens.

A similar revolution will occur for Amazon’s 6″ screen.

In fact, Amazon is probably busy overhauling every single one its websites with special templates that will recognize the signature of its tablet browser and deliver an optimum online experience that hasn’t yet been seen by anyone with current devices.

Previously here:

That Smell! That Self-Absorbed Ego Smell!
Barnes & Noble: Your Window Is Closing
An Amazon Tablet: Repercussions
Amazon’s Android Ambitions
This Is Amazon


Filed under Amazon Kindle, eBooks: Screens, Other Hardware

11 responses to “Amazon’s Tablet Will Have A Six Inch Screen

  1. I admit to being somewhat skeptical about the 6″ tablet screen but if it can replace my Kindle and still have the good screen view outside…

  2. topcoat

    I’m sceptical about technology coming before function and form. While most pocket a mobile phone I’m less sure that people will pocket a tablet. The Kindle sells on a combination of price and product, ebooks, availability. A tablet with it’s much more varied usage requires other considerations. For example watching a 10 inch tablet running video is rather like watching a 40 inch TV from across the room. And a 6 inch tablet is equivalent to 28 inch TV? Haven’t we moved beyond this?

    As 10 inch tablets drop in price is there going to be a niche for a 6 inch tablet? I’m dubious.

    • mikecane

      According to your argument, perhaps everyone should be carrying a 10″ tablet instead of a cellphone? Why not?

      • Shock Me

        I do carry my iPad in a folio case when I go out to lunch under one arm. I also have a bag which can carry the power adapter and a bluetooth keyboard that I use for longer trips.

        I can see the attraction of a 5″-7″ tablet for people with purses or larger coat pockets up north. The iPad IS too big for that.

        When I need max mobility, however, I read my books on my iPhone which I COULD pocket in my jeans but instead wear on my belt and carry everywhere anyway. Although, I wouldn’t complain if THAT had a 4″ screen and maintained a retina quality display.

        I say welcome to the party Amazon. I probably won’t buy whatever it turns out to be, but I think it, like the Nook Color would be good enough for a great many people who need even less features than what the iPad offers.

      • mikecane

        Rumor is that Apple has a prototype of a six-inch screen device, sort of a Super iPod Touch, running iPhone iOS, not the iPad variant.

      • Shock Me

        I think the interaction elements from the phone UI would translate very well all the way up to a 7″ display. And, given that it is more portable, a smaller display would really only need 5 points of interaction because you are more likely to be holding it in the opposite hand.

        Plus all of us with fat sausage fingers would no longer have to dangle our pinkies above the screen.

  3. Nah, FFS could perhaps be combined with Pixel Qi reflectance and transflectance technology. And no need to invent a new screen size, 7″ is the optimal screen size. Higher pixel density is achieved using Pixel Qi process.

    You have to consider Digitimes has been wrong more times than it has been right.

  4. trukrebew

    Is it possible that Amazon will go with a color mirasol display for these? Qualcomm MEMS, the maker of mirasol, has a manufacturing plant in Taiwan that was just expanded. Could that be the EIH “Taiwan-based small- to medium-size panel maker, aiming to obtain capacity to support Quanta” that was referenced in the Digitimes article? Mirasol is putting out a color 5.7″ screen to OEMs.

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