Skip to main content

Amazon's Tablet Will Feature Kal-El, Two Sizes

A few weeks ago, Amazon president and CEO Jeff Bezos indicated in an interview with Consumer Reports that a multipurpose tablet may in the works, and for everyone to "stay tuned." Should a device be revealed, he added, it would supplement the current Kindle e-readers rather than replace them. Amazon's Kindle is a "purpose-built e-reading device" and still has a place on the market.

At this point, it's only logical that the nation's largest e-tailer is working on a new device. Barnes & Noble's current NOOK Color is by far more superior, offering color for starters, but also games and other Android-based apps via NOOK Apps. There's also a fully-featured e-mail client, an enhanced Internet experience backed by Adobe's Flash Player and Android 2.2, a built-in music player and more. The NOOK Color is essentially a super-cheap tablet but not marketed as a tablet.

The Kindle, on the other hand, doesn't try to be a tablet. It's an e-book reader through and through sporting an E Ink screen using the latest E Ink Pearl technology. Built with a six-inch reading screen, it weighs only 8.7 ounces, stores up to 3,500 books, and comes with free 3G wireless (if you bought the 3G model). The WebKit-based browser for surfing on the Internet is "experimental" at best.

As for pricing, the Kindle 3G sells for $189 whereas its Wi-Fi only counterpart retails for $139. Barnes & Noble's NOOK Color is a lot more expensive, costing $249 for the Wi-Fi model. Deemed as the "reader's tablet" and the "best value in the tablet world," the NOOK Color seems to be selling quite well, enough so that Amazon is now looking to enter the tablet sector.

An unnamed source in Taipei has informed PC Magazine that Amazon's mystery tablet is set to hit the market just in time for the 2011 holidays sporting a display similar to the NOOK Color and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The company actually wanted to use a screen that switched from color to the familiar black/white E Ink setup, but the display won't be ready until 2012 or 2013, so Amazon settled with the standard LCD-based touchscreen. These will be 7-inches and 10-inches, the source said.

Other details surrounding the tablet/e-reader are scarce, but the Taipei source said that it will use Google's Android OS and a quad-core Tegra chip from Nvidia, namely "Kal-El." The new SoC, slated to arrive in devices during the second half of this year, will be five times faster than the current Tegra 2 SoC. It will also come packed with a 12-core Nvidia GPU supporting stereoscopic 3D video playback and a 2560 x 1600 resolution. That said, Amazon's upcoming tablet will be more than just a glorified e-reader like Barnes & Noble's NOOK Color.

Amazon entering the Android tablet sector shouldn't be surprising given that it launched an Android-based app store and a music cloud service catered to the Android OS. To reel Android users away from Google's Android Market, the company is now offering a free app each day. On the cloud player front, Amazon will upgrade the free 5 GB cloud locker to 20 GB for a full year (for free) after purchasing one digital album. Amazon's tablet will likely sport a modified Honeycomb OS and integrate/enhance these two services rather than offer Google's Android Market and Music Player.

It's speculated that Amazon's tablet will be shown at Computex 2011 which takes place in the next few weeks. The original Kindle launched back in November 2007, followed by the Kindle 2 in February 2009. The Kindle "3" arrived in July 2010, and as with the prior two editions, was not announced or revealed during Computex.