Amazon might be working on a new device that combines some of the best features of an eReader and a tablet. The company has filed a patent application for a device with two screens: a color display on one side, and a low power E Ink display on the other.
Tablets typically have full color displays with high refresh rates for playing games, watching videos, and other effects.
But while tablets like the Apple iPad can run for 10 hours on a charge, eReaders like the Amazon Kindle can run for up to 30 hours thanks to their lower power E Ink displays.
It doesn’t take any power at all to sustain text or pictures on an E Ink screen. The display only draws power when it’s refreshing the image, which pretty much only happens when you “turn” a page in a book.
By offering a device with both display types, Amazon could bridge the gap between its current Kindle and Kindle Fire devices — letting you buy one device and use it as an eReader some of the time, and a full-fledged Android tablet the rest of the time.
While Amazon is seeking a patent on this technology, it may not be the only company thinking along these lines. E Ink is showing off a dual-screen smartphone prototype at the IFA show in Berlin this week, suggesting that at least one phone makers plans to bring such a device to market.
Of course, that “phone maker” could be Amazon. There’s a rumor going around that the company is thinking about launching a smartphone. But it seems more likely that the drawings in the patent application depict a tablet/eReader.