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The rumor mill has been set whirring. DigiTimes, which claims “upstream sources,” says that Amazon will be releasing a long-awaited Kindle tablet in the second half of 2011. Some outlets had previously reported that Samsung would be building the tablets; that bit has not been confirmed in this rumor (or, more properly, that other rumor has not been lent any further credence). Reports say the tablet would run the Android operating system, which makes sense; Amazon already operates its own app store for Android devices.

One element of the Kindle tablet we’re most eagerly anticipating is its screen. According to the rumors, the display might employ Fringe Field Switching LCD technology. Similar to another technology called In-Plane Switching, in which crystal molecules move parallel to the panel plane, reducing light scatter and making the screen more viewable from side angles, not to mention having better color. According to the surprisingly thorough Wikipedia article on the subject, Fringe Field Switching goes even further than In-Plane Switching, improving color and luminosity. The site of Vertex LCD Inc., for instance, specifies that several features of Fringe Field Switching–optimized electrode design, further control of liquid crystals, and the horizontal alignment of electric fields–are what afford the technology “high transmittance, wide viewing angle, [and] authentic color.”

The Kindle tablet screens also reportedly might employ a touch panel from E Ink Holdings, which already provides the tech for the Kindle’s EPD e-paper displays

According to the DigiTimes report, Amazon has asked Quanta Computer to manufacture the units, reckoning a demand of as many as 800,000 units per month during the holiday season. Though the Amazon Kindle (not the tablet, but that quaint old e-reading device you may recall) is doing well in America and Europe, it’s still not really in the same league as the iPad 2, in terms of its capabilities and thus its market. According to DigiTimes, the plan will be to lower the price on the traditional Kindle to help give it a stronger hold in the education market; the Kindle tablet, in the meantime, will ideally prove to be the real iPad 2 competitor Amazon’s been looking for.

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Tagged: Computing, Android, displays, Amazon, tablets, e-readers

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