The next version of Amazon's Kindle ebook reader is likely to launch in July. Rumours indicate that the next version of the device will feature a front-lit screen, letting you read in the dark, but no colour screen.
According to a source cited by Reuters, the 2012 Kindle - or Kindle Glow as some are calling it - will arrive in July. The as-yet unnamed source claims to have seen a prototype of the ereader, which uses lights that cast a soft glow across the screen, ruling-out needing an expensive light-emanating case. Amazon's own costs £50.99.
The current Kindle Touch. Note lack of glow
Barnes & Noble has already produced a similar device. The Nook Simple touch with GlowLight (now there's a mouthful) uses similar lighting technology, although it is not available in the UK at present. Side-mounted LEDs cast soft, diffuse light across the screen, letting you make the most of the benefits of E Ink without suffering too much from its non-lit nature. Of course, powering this sort of lighting will significantly eat away at the month-long battery life of the current top ereaders.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was... a slight glow
E Ink, which produces screens for the Amazon Kindle range, refused to comment on Amazon's plans, but seemed to tease that there is something in the pipeline, saying "E Ink is an innovator and for the past 10 years, we have consistently delivered new products, major enhancements to existing products, and unique designs, so it is not surprising that there is constant speculation about what we will do next."
Of course, arguably the most significant barrier remains - colour. The most common E Ink screens can only display in black and white, and while colour E Ink devices exist, like the Ectaco jetBook Color, they are expensive and only produce muted tones. However, a front-lit Kindle could nevertheless reinvigorate Kindle sales, which have reportedly nosedived in recent months causing speculation that the future for E Ink readers isn't so bright.