[Kindle 2 Teardown] Engineers Have More Voice in Design [Part 5]

May 18, 2009
Nikkei Electronics Teardown Squad
The components of the new Kindle. There are some smaller parts that are not shown above.
The components of the new Kindle. There are some smaller parts that are not shown above.
[Click to enlarge image]
The components of the old Kindle. There are some smaller parts that are not shown above.
The components of the old Kindle. There are some smaller parts that are not shown above.
[Click to enlarge image]

Continued from [Kindle 2 Teardown] E Ink, Epson Cooperate to Enhance Display Performances [Part 4].

Nikkei Electronics Teardown Squad analyzed the main boards and the electronic paper modules of the Kindles and started to examine other parts of the devices.

Batteries

First, we compared their batteries. Both of the new and old models were equipped with an Li-polymer secondary battery whose voltage is 3.7V and current capacity is 1,530mAh. And it measured approximately 65 x 44mm. Only the location of the terminal was different between the batteries of the old and new models.

There was no manufacturer's name printed on the batteries, but the engineer said, "probably, they are based on the same battery."

According to the specifications of the Kindles, the battery of the new model has a 25% longer running time than that of the old model. But, probably, it was not achieved by changing the battery.

"I think the power consumption of the Kindle was reduced by improving the driving method like changing the controller IC of the electronic paper," the engineer said.

3G communication modules

Next, we compared the 3G communication modules. Though both of the models used a chipset of Qualcomm Inc, their dimensions were quite different. While the old module was approximately 67 x 41mm in size, the dimensions of the new module was as small as about 51 x 30mm.

As for the new module, the appearance and the position of the terminal were very similar to those of a general-purpose module used for notebook PCs, etc. It seemed that the general-purpose product was employed for the new Kindle to reduce its cost.

Other differences

Finally, we looked over all the components of the Kindles and found that there was a difference in the parts for noise reduction. The old model was equipped with a noise suppression sheet, which probably was added later. Also, "the wiring of the speaker looks unnatural because it is taking a roundabout way," the engineer said.

In the new model, its electronic paper and ICs were covered by dedicated shields, giving us the impression that noise reduction measures were taken in the designing stage. As we have already mentioned, the design of the new Kindle's main board was sophisticated as if it employed a design concept used for a mobile phone. So, it is likely that design engineers were more involved in the design of the Kindle 2 than in the design of the Kindle.

The Kindle 2 was just launched in February 2009 in the US, but a source close to the industry said, "The next version, Kindle 3, is now under development behind the scenes." How will the Kindle 3 look like? We will continue to keep an eye on it.