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Elgan: Here comes Amazon's 'Kindle for movies'

I predict that Amazon will ship a video tablet that will do for movies what the Kindle did for books

May 21, 2011 08:00 AM ET

Computerworld - I believe that Amazon.com is working on a killer product. Call it the Kindle for movies -- an easy-to-use information appliance optimized for buying, downloading and watching super-high-quality, very low-cost movies.

Right now, Netflix dominates movie downloads, but the quality of those downloadable movies is low and the selection is poor. Apple movie downloads are high quality but expensive. And Google is trying to turn YouTube into a Netflix alternative.

The cable providers have utterly failed to offer customers usable interfaces to access TV and movies on demand.

Only Amazon looks ready to give consumers what they really want: a movie appliance -- a Kindle for movies.

I think super-easy, high-quality movies at low cost is a compelling combination to dominate the future of movies-on-demand.

Rumor and speculation

A believable rumor posted on the Boy Genius Report suggests that Amazon plans to ship not one but two Android tablets this year: a cheaper Nvidia Tegra 2-powered tablet code-named Coyote, and a powerful tablet code-named Hollywood that's based on the quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3. Both these systems consume very little power, for better battery life.

The Tegra 3 "system on a chip" has some very suggestive features. First, it will be massively fast with graphics -- far faster than any current tablet technology on the market. It supports display resolutions up to 1920 x 1200. (The iPad's screen resolution is 1024 x 768.) That's Blu-ray-quality video on a tablet!

Also note Amazon's very unsubtle code name: "Hollywood," as in the town Amazon intends to take control of.

Yes, the tablets will be Android devices capable of running all the usual apps. But Amazon is smart enough to avoid the mistakes of most other Android tablet makers so far, which is to position and market a tablet as an all-purpose everything device.

I think Amazon will sell it as the ultimate movie and video appliance and, oh yeah, it also does everything else.

These tablets will almost certainly run Google's Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android. Because this new Android is designed to run devices of any size, we can't know yet how big Amazon's tablets will be. That means Hollywood could be a big tablet -- big enough to become the world's biggest-screen mobile TV and movie player. I'm thinking 13 inches or more (compared with iPad's 9.7-in. screen).

A new generation of screens has emerged on the market since the iPad first launched. Some of these include high-resolution "transflective" screens, which use ambient light when there's plenty of it -- say, in direct sunlight -- and battery-powered light when needed. Amazon has built entire advertising campaigns around iPads' poor screen visibility in bright light, so it seems likely that the company will take advantage of the new screen technology.



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