Friday, February 12, 2010

Breaking News: Kindle MD Prototype

One of the advantages of hosting a site such as Kindicted is that sometimes, corporate representatives send out advance products for some early PR.  This must have been the case when a mysterious box labeled "Lab126" from showed up at the office door.  Inside the box was what can only be described as a whimsical, avant-garde and refreshing change to electronics as we know it.  After unpacking the box, the "Kindle MD" (it does not say that anywhere on the unit) was "booted".

Looks
Esthetically, the bold colors signify a departure from the drab canvas that make the previous Kindle line fade into the background.  The new look is sure to appeal to the sub-18 demographic.

The boot icon does seem vaguely familiar, but with so many electronic devices, who can keep track of logos and such?  The progress bar proceeded to complete rather quickly, and without the noticeable redraw 'lag' present in the current eInk devices.

Of note, the bold new orange stylus that harkens back to the Apple Newton days.  This one says, "Look at me; I'm a proud Kindle user!" The prototype did not have handwriting recognition capabilities, but that must be forthcoming in a production model.  The stylus lanyard is appreciated, although we can't be sure if it is for electrical signals, or just so users don't misplace the stylus.


Inputs
Amazon truly "one-upped" Apple this time, as there are absolutely no ports on this model.  Everything must be wireless, but connectivity seemed to be absent in the prototype.  Whispernet was so quiet, it could not be heard (or seen) - even when listening really, really close to the device.  A quick scan with several routers did not pick up any wireless activity.  The only logical conclusion is that the incredible brains behind eInk finally figured out a way to connect wirelessly using the quantum spin of electrons.  Incredible!


PDF and EPUB Support!
The built-in user guide is identical to the existing Kindle DX guide, but there was a pre-loaded EPUB file, and (and this is the best part) - zoom actually worked!  Kindicts knew this was coming, but to actually see software work the way everyone knows it can almost brings one to tears.

Finally, Kindle users will be able to overcome the last Sony hurdle (well, except for touchscreens), and be able to withdraw eBooks from their local library.  It took real guts for Amazon to give up their lucrative lock on book buying.  Kudos!


Stamps
One of the most useful features is the ability to quickly markup the document with the stylus.  If that wasn't enough, Amazon decided to include a handy emoticon stamp drawer, which allows users to quickly rate documents with a simple, but effective code of geometric shapes.  Amazing!





New Display
The eInk technology has to be seen to be believed.  It appears to be comprised of carbon nanotubes, which, when excited by the underlying matrix (or the stylus or stamps), move to the surface by (and this is only a guess) a quantum tunnelling  effect.  What's even more remarkable is that there is no power source other than ambient light.  The unit worked flawlessly even in the lowest light levels.  The display is also a full 8.5 x 11 sheet of Letter paper.  European users will have to wait for an A4 version.

New Screensavers
The Kindle MD was left alone for an hour over lunch, and upon return, the screensaver has kicked in - and what a surprise!  Instead of authors, the prototype Kindle has icons of computing.  Here are three that were captured.

Screensaver 1: A Devilishly Handsome Steve Jobs


Scrensaver 2: Bill Gates' Arizona Mugshot


Screensaver 3: An Angelic Looking Bezos

Conclusion
Amazon's new Kindle (if that's what this is) is a truly "fanatical and evolutionary" device that is poised to once again re-ewrite history.  From the new larger display, to solar and quantum technology, the device really feels like one is holding the future of electronics and computing in their hand.

Hats off to Jeff Bezos and Lab126!

Feel free to leave comments or ask questions, but please note that Kindicted is bound by a strict non-disclosure agreement.

PS
The team is hard at work disassembling the unit and will post pics of the internals as soon as possible.

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