Will the next Kindle use this color E-Ink screen?

This is just another rumor — but it’s a juicy one! “Amazon Kindle could get a color screen this year,” reads the headline at one technology site.

This apparently isn’t the touchscreen Kindle Fire tablets, but the regular Kindles that display ebooks (and games) without a backlit screen. I saw this rumor on the “ToyBoy” technology blog at Ziff-Davis’s web site, but they’re citing a report from DigiTimes, a well-respected technology newspaper, who attributed their information to “industry sources”. They’d report that “makers in the supply chain” are believed to be shipping parts and components this month for a color e-book reader. And the blogger at Ziff-Davis had just one question left: what took them so long?

Amazon’s Kindle uses E-Ink’s screen technology, and that manufacturer has offered a color version of their screens since at least 2010. Last year they gave a demonstration of their 4,096-color screen at a tradeshow, according to Ziff-Davis’s blogger, but it was plagued with a “fairly lackluster color saturation,” and even Amazon’s CEO reportedly described the colors as “very pale.”

The blogger also links to an interview with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos at the web site for Consumer Reports from exactly one year ago. But if you read the rest of his comments, it sounds like Bezos was already interested in the idea of a color screen. He tells the interviewer that color e-ink technology “continues to be improved,” and that a low-power color screen that’s not back-lit like a computer monitor “makes a lot of sense… I think that’s something you could build a fantastic product around.”

We may be getting close to the day when Amazon finally launches a color Kindle. Maybe it’s a way for e-book readers to enjoy some of the same perks that are available in the bookstore for the Kindle Fire tablet. It is fun to see a full-color picture for the cover of your ebooks — and if you’re reading a magazine, there’d even be color pictures!

I just hope that when I’m finally ready to go back to reading — the words on the page stay in black and white!

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