The $79 entry-level Kindle is way past due for a hardware upgrade. The main problem is the low-resolution, outdated screen.
The screen was already outdated when the current Kindle was released back in 2016, and at this point the fact that it’s still using 8 year old screen technology is beyond comprehension.
The entry-level Kindle is the only 6-inch ebook reader on the current market to use an older E Ink Pearl screen.
Most other ereaders were updated to E Ink Carta screens with better contrast 4 years ago, with the exception of 9.7-inch devices like the Onyx N96 that were updated this past year.
The last Nook released with a Pearl screen was back in 2013, and even then it had a higher resolution 212 ppi screen. B&N hasn’t released a Nook with the same screen as the current Kindle since 2012, and even it added a frontlight.
Why is Amazon still using the old 167 ppi Pearl screens?
I hear people complaining all the time about how dark and fuzzy the screen looks.
That was the number one complaint I had back when I reviewed the $79 Kindle in 2016.
Some might argue that it’s just a $79 Kindle and they had to cut corners to get the price so low.
The $79 InkBook Classic 2 disproves that theory. It’s actually $20 less when you consider the fact the $79 Kindle has ads that cost an extra $20 to remove. Not only that but the InkBook Classic adds an upgraded E Ink Carta screen, page buttons, and a microSD card slot.
Amazon is by far the largest source for dedicated ebook readers and yet they continue to offer a Kindle with a screen that’s inferior to every other ereader on the market. It makes no sense.
I’ll replace my Kindle Voyage if they release a base Kindle with a good screen, as long as it’s as small and light as the current base model. I just want a decent screen on a device I can hold comfortably.
(I should add that I haven’t gone outside Amazon because their devices handle Japanese language books beautifully. I don’t want to find out the hard way that another brand’s device doesn’t do as well.)
I totally agree with you : we need a new Kindle and a new Paperwhite !
And Carta HD E Ink screens are now 4 years old ! I think we are also seeing a stagnation in e-ink techology…
A basic Kindle with 300ppi and infrared is what I want more than anything. Seriously. I rarely need a light as im never in pitch black or dim settings. I never had issues reading standard books without a Front light. Bedside lamp works just perfect. Front light is OK but I much prefer the inky blacks of basic Kindles.
I wish for the basic Kindle – 9.7 no backlight. The DX was the best and a much more readable screen than the current basic Kindle.
A screen upgrade would be very nice. However, the reason they haven’t is because they don’t have to. Amazon has a near monopoly in the U.S. in terms of e-readers. So why update if there is almost no competition? i.e. little to no impact in terms of sales by upgrading to Carta? … and they might even end up cannibalizing the sales of the higher priced Kindles…
To really understand this, we would have to know the cost between a Pearl and a Carta ink screen is for Amazon. Is it a $5 differential, is it $8. is it $10? That’s the money per device that Amazon would be giving up on the Basic Kindle if it went to a Carta screen.
The cost differential is definitely not zero.
btw: I wish for a better screen on the Basic Kindle like everyone else. 🙂
On the Frontlight issue (although I think this was not the purpose of this article) — I agree with one of the other posters. Frontlight is not needed for the Basic Kindle. It would only increase the price of the device, and there are a lot of people that don’t want to pay for something they don’t need. Those that want a Frontlight can buy the Paperwhite or one of the more expensive Kindle e-readers.
I’m just pointing out that economics and business decisions by Amazon are coming into play. It’s lack of competition in the e-reader space. No need to innovate if you have almost no competition.
What you do to obtain, is what you must do to maintain.
As is relationships, you can’t stop dating your partner once your married. In business, you can’t stop innovating. In football, you can’t go into a prevent defense. In other words…you can’t take your foot off the pedal. Eventually it catches up, even for Amazon.
Yes, although they just have their foot off the gas pedal right now. Believe me as soon as they start seeing someone in their rear view mirror they will step it up again.
That’s whey we really need competition in the e-reader market. 🙂
btw: I always hate to day this, but there is competition — but it’s not e-readers. Amazon own the e-reader niche market — at least in the U.S.
The competition for e-readers is in the tablet area.
I think Amazon wanted to innovate and take the next step into color e-readers back in 2010-2011. Unfortunately the Mirasol technology just wasn’t good enough for either Qualcomm or Amazon. Bezos said often that it “wasn’t ready” and Qualcomm’s CEO killed a 5.7 Mirasol e-reader as well as a 4.1 phone they showed off at a trade show. The one e-reader device from Kyobo that the technology made it into was panned by a lot of consumer reviews as a terrible device with a great screen. The fact it cost $300 when it launched I’m sure didn’t help sales much either.
All of this happened just after Apple released the first iPad in April 2010. The iPad showed that people who claimed nobody would read books on an LCD screen were just as wrong as the iPad Pro has shown Jobs statement about stylus and handwriting on a tablet was wrong.
There are other e-readers out there that do things the Kindle e-readers don’t do. The Sony Digital Paper device and the Onyx devices could have become competitors but their unique features haven’t attracted enough consumers to get them out of the niche market (and pricing) they’re at. Amazon seemed to learn that, at least in terms of screen size, when consumers apparently didn’t flock to the DX.
Because color e-ink apparently *still* isn’t commercially viable I don’t know that there’s anything a competitor could do to push Amazon in a new direction. There’s no new technology that causes “planned obsolescence.” My first generation Kindle that I gave to my Mom when I bought a new one didn’t die until a year or two ago. My second Kindle didn’t die until 2016, and it would probably still work if I had taken better care of it, used it more often and therefore made sure it was charged regularly.
Microsoft had working prototypes of the Courier in 2009 and working prototypes of a “Surface Mini” device in 2013. After all the testing they did, Microsoft didn’t think either of those devices was commercially viable. The rumored Andromeda device we could see released in 2018 that I want *so badly* to have one e-ink screen for note taking may actually turn out to be a dual screen LCD phone so as badly as I want a Courier type device, I may be an extreme minority.
Many of us have never said you can’t read books on an LCD. What many of have said (those that do a ton of reading) is that given the two screen technologies that the reading experience is superior on an e-ink screen, and e-readers still have two fundamental things going for them that are of value to people who do a lot of reading: battery life and weight.
What’s probably done more to impact the e-reader market on the LCD side is the advent of “phablet” phones. If you have a big phone why carry two devices?, especially if you don’t do a lot of reading.
I’ve said it time and time again. About the only area left for e-ink innovation is large e-readers, especially getting the price down to a consumer level.
P.S. Look at the way Apple has destroyed Siri as an example. It was the first virtual assistant and yet Amazon’s Alexa has obliterated it thanks to Apple’s passivity and lack of innovation. There is no room for complacency in business, no matter who you are.