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Report: Amazon to release front-lit Kindle in July, 8.9-inch tablet by year-end

May 16, 2012
kindle touch

If rumors are accurate, it has certainly been and will continue to be a busy year for the R&D team at Amazon.

Not only is the online retailer giant apparently preparing a Kindle with a color e-ink display, but Amazon is also planning to release a new Kindle device with front lighting. The latter came from a Reuters’ source that apparently has seen the prototype first-hand.  According to the anonymous source, production for the new front-lit Kindle e-reader is still ongoing, but the new e-reader should be ready to hit the market in July.

It isn’t too surprising to see Amazon making the decision to roll out a front-lit Kindle, especially since one of its biggest competitors, Barnes & Noble, has had a head start for a good couple of weeks in releasing an e-reader with a similar feature. Given that one of the drawbacks of e-ink displays is that they are less than ideal for reading in low lighting, the integrated reading light might boost the appeal of Amazon’s Kindle line.

While Barnes & Noble’s Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight is $40 more expensive than the non-GlowLight version, the source said Amazon is likely to keep the price of its front-lit e-reader lineup the same, with a slight chance that the price will be raised by a very small margin. Analysts believe that a $10 premium for the new front-lit Kindle e-reader is well within a reasonable range.

Right now, the 6-inch e-ink Kindle with WiFi connectivity is the cheapest Amazon e-reader, available at $79. The Wi-Fi version of Kindle Touch with special offers goes for $99, while the 3G version with special offers is priced at $149.

As for the color e-ink Kindle that is rumored to come out later in the year, IHS iSuppli analyst Vinita Jakhanwal said that Amazon may not be ready to launch it this year. Back in October, Jakhanwal had the opportunity to look at the product and she thought that Amazon had its work cut out if it wanted to produce the color e-ink reader in high volumes.

Since a color Kindle is supposedly out of the picture for now, how about a bigger Kindle Fire instead? The same anonymous source said that Amazon is planning to release a new Kindle Fire with an 8.9-inch display in the holiday season this year. So that’s definitely one thing to watch out for.