The news about the upcoming Amazon big-screen e-reader is developing fast: Just yesterday we heard it was definitely due, and there’s an Amazon press conference scheduled tomorrow. But there’s still time for the rumors to develop, and that’s exactly what’s happening.
Over at Engadget, late yesterday, the site received tip-offs on the details of the device. It’s due to have a 9.7-inch screen, way bigger than the existing Kindle’s 6-incher, and it’ll have the ability to read PDFs directly, and allow you to add annotations and highlights. In the absence of any other details, that makes it sound like a straight upgrade of the existing device with an enhanced firmware pack and, possibly, a touchscreen. The leaked imagery of the new e-reader seems to confirm this: It looks a lot like the existing Kindle 2, with a flat surface, white body with rounded edges and the page-forward/back buttons in roughly the same location. The screen is appreciably larger, and though the Kindle’s trademark bigish bezel is still there, the keyboard looks to have been shrunk significantly and relegated right to the bottom of the device. The fact the keyboard is still there at all could suggest there’s no touchscreen capability, but it may also simply imply that there’s no handwriting recognition aboard–any annotations to the text may simply appear hand-written, which would certainly simplify the device’s software.
This morning The Wall Street Journal also popped up with some news that in the Fall some universities will join Amazon in a field trial for textbooks on the new Kindle. The idea is that some students will be given the e-reader and their experiences will be compared to those students using traditional text books. The universities involved are Case Western Reserve University, Pace, Princeton, Reed, Darden School, University of Virginia and Arizona State. This confirms some suggestions that Amazon would be targeting the lucrative academic periodicals and textbook markets with the new e-book. The other detail that surfaced in the WSJ concerns the new Kindle’s browser. In the existing version the browser is apparently classified as experimental, but the new device will have a fully-capable one to aid with student’s research. Whether or not that implies a faster/more responsive screen is unclear: It’s true to say that browsing using the currently slow-updating screen on the Kindle 2 isn’t ideal.
But there’s also news, or at least a strong rumor, about The New York Times, which is going to be represented by Times Co. chairman Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. at the Amazon event. It seems The Times will drop the price of its subscription for the electronic paper from $13.99 to just $9.99 per month–a neat little trick to tempt people to switch to the new version. The problem is that a $4 reduction per month may not seem much when we learn the Kindle 3’s pricing–assuming it’s $400 it’ll take you eight years to recoup the saving on the NYT subscription, though in truth you’re likely to make similar small savings on other newspapers, magazines, and books too.
One question remains: What’s it going to be called? Some suggestions point to Kindle DX, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out for sure.