The next E Ink-screen Kindle may feature a built-in light, letting you read in the dark without leaving it near-useless in sunlight like an LCD reader. It's not the colour version many have been praying for, but when the official light case for the keyboard Kindle costs £50-plus, it's a sound upgrade.
Reporting that it has had an eyes-on look at a lit ebook prototype, TechCrunch has suggested that the next Kindle may feature a glowing screen. The glow is supplied by LEDs at the edge of the screen that bathe the display in a cool blue light. Light bounces off the top and bottom of the screen area, filling the whole display.
Here's hoping it'll be worth a glowing review
This will supply a much softer look than the more direct lighting of a backlit LCD display, which goes hand-in-hand with the relaxing look of the paper-like display of most Kindles. Although traditionally an all E Ink range, Amazon diversified the Kindle name in 2011 with the Kindle Fire, a touchscreen IPS device based around a heavily modified version of Android.
If the real deal, a front-lit E Ink will offer the best bits of both Kindle types for readers. It'll look great in direct sunlight, but doesn't become useless when it gets dark. With previous Kindles, you had to buy an accessory to get lit-up - and they tended to be either expensive or bulky. Patents for the screen tech are reportedly owned by Oy Modilis, a company bought by Amazon in 2010.
How the screen works - "1" being the light source
Amazon has not confirmed any plans for the front-lit Kindle, and the prototype seen by TechCrunch seemed to be in its early stages. Its body was housed in cardboard, and although Amazon is keen on simple cardboard packaging, we don't think it'll go as far as making an ereader out of the stuff.
In the UK, we're likely to get the lit Kindle after US buyers. Although released in 2011 stateside, the Kindle Touch will be available here on April 27, and there's still no word of the Kindle Fire hitting our shores.