Amazon Fire TV: first impressions

Amazon Fire TV: first impressions

I’ve been trying out my

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

tonight. It does some things very well…and an important thing not at all, so far.

Set up was really a snap, although it was a lot longer from unpacking to enjoying than I expected.

The set-up is basically…plug it in. :)

Plug the power into the AFTV. Plug the HDMI cable into the AFTV and your TV. Connect to your wi-fi network (you can connect with a wired ethernet connection, by the way).

That was it. It was already connected to my account…it already knew my video library, for example.

However, getting to the point of watching that library? 20 minutes.

Why?

Well, one issue was that there were three updates to download (which took quite some time). Gee, that’s one more update than the number of days it has been in release. ;)

It did download videos quickly: notably faster than my Roku.

I tried Netflix: it worked fine. The one kind of funny thing, and this isn’t a negative, is that it supports Netflix profiles, where my Roku doesn’t. That means I’ve always been watching my Roku under my adult kid’s profile (we share the account, basically), so it didn’t know which number episode I had watched last. Easy enough to figure out (by switching to my kid’s profile, and checking).

The voice search has been impressive: actor’s name, show name…even a topic, and it pops right up.

One negative of that? It only works for Amazon video. I’d heard that, but forgot about it and tried it on Netflix…it popped me out of the Netflix app into Amazon video!

One big tip: you need to hold down the microphone button the whole time you are saying your search term. I was making the mistake in the beginning of pressing the button, then releasing it (like I would on my SmartPhone), then speaking. Nope: hold the button down to get it to keep listening, then release it when you are done speaking. It will show you what it found: press the center button to select.

I didn’t see a way to tell it to search just for Prime (no additional cost) video, which would be great. You can tell if something in the search results is Prime if there is a “Watch Now” button. That’s not obvious, but that’s how it works.

I played one game on it (a jet ski thing, Riptide). That also seemed to work okay, and it looked good. I did not buy the game controller…but it seemed to work reasonably well with the regular remote. That game was included with my purchase.

It did have Pandora, but doesn’t have my go to music app…Songza. Maybe it will get that in the future.

Apps you own for the Fire seem unconnected to apps for the Fire TV: it didn’t know which ones I already own, and I would guess if it was an app that costs something, you’d have to buy it separately. Our Amazon Coins were available for purchases, though.

The thing that didn’t work?

Mirroring my Fire.

[Important update: on the advice of a Kindle rep, I reset the Fire TV to factory defaults (under settings)...and that fixed it! The mirroring works now. Just as with a Kindle, that meant I had to re-register it, and download apps and such again, but it is well worth it for me in this case.]

That’s a big disappointment! I plan to use that a lot. I use it quite a bit now with my

NETGEAR Push2TV (at AmazonSmile)

…and I’ve unplugged that from this somewhat older TV so I could use the single HDMI (High Definition Media Interface) port for the Fire TV.

It tries to connect, and they’ve done some things to make it easy.

My Fire already knew about my Fire TV…I just had to do the regular mirroring thing on my Fire:

Home – Swipe down from the top – Settings – Display & Sounds – Display Mirroring

“Bufo’s Fire” was already showing, without a fresh search. I tapped it, it said it was starting to connect.

Then, the TV showed that the FTV was responding…it told me that mirroring would start soon.

However, it never did…even leaving it for about half an hour.

I tried restarting both of them: no go.

To restart the FTV, by the way, the help video says…unplug it. :) Leave it unplugged for thirty seconds, then plug it back in.

That’s going to be the default fix: unplug it.

You can also get more help here:

http://www.amazon.com/firetvsupport (at AmazonSmile)

One of my readers, Tom, also had a problem with “Second Screen”, which is part of the mirroring, sort of. Tom checked with Mayday (the onscreen support) and they said an update is coming within a week.

My own pictures and videos from Amazon (including from my SmartPhone, which has an Amazon Photos app on it)? Brilliant, simple!

So, overall impressions?

Right now, the device is sleek looking, and the set-up and interface is superior. The speed is good…better than my Roku. The image is good. Prime Video and Netflix? No problem. Games? Fine so far.

Not being able to mirror is a major drawback which I hope is fixed soon.

Voice search for Prime video? Vastly superior to using a “clickboard” (an onscreen board where you maneuver around to each letter and then click on it).

Search? Could be better…setting a choice to just search Prime video would matter.

Content? Not as much as my Roku.

One big thing they are missing compared to the Roku? Some place to get the news. You can download the Huffington Post app (for free), but Roku has a place to watch news stories. I would like that. :) I’d like Songza, too, and more channels.

If this was my first streaming box, I’d be really impressed with it (except the mirroring thing).

As it is now, if I needed another streamer, would I get this or a Roku? Hm…I like the voice search on this, but I like the content (and the fact that you plug headphones into the remote) on the Roku better.

The two are close…when the mirroring works on this, that would push it over the Roku.

Update: with a bit more testing, Second Screen works fine…mirroring still doesn’t.

With Second Screen, you start a (supported…not all are) video on your Kindle Fire. Then, you tap a button (with an upward pointing arrow), and the same video starts through your Fire TV on your TV. At that point, it is largely like using a remote control to start the video.

Displaying on your Kindle Fire at that point is trivia and such about the movie, rather than the movie itself. You can also leave the movie on your Kindle Fire and do other things.

Mirroring shows everything (the Carousel, the settings, an app) that is being displayed on your tablet on your TV.

Why the difference?

It’s possible that the short burst needed for Second Screen to start the video is done by Bluetooth, similar to the remote…and that mirroring is done through wi-fi. Not sure, though.

Another trouble-shooting tip: I started HuffPo Live and walked away for a while. When I came back, it had a grey screen.

I tried restarting it: nothing.

So, I did:

Home – Settings – Application

found the HuffPo Live app, and did a “Force Stop”. That’s similar to what you do on a Kindle Fire…and that fixed it.

What do you think? Do you have specific questions? Has mirroring worked on yours yet? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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Round up #248: write your way to a Kindle Fire, “me-colored glasses”

Round up #248: write your way to a Kindle Fire, “me-colored glasses”

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

“I’m not at Liberty to pay…”

“‘By reducing our preferred position and eliminating some of our related rights, Barnes & Noble will gain greater flexibility to accomplish their strategic objectives,’ Mr. Maffei said in a statement.”
–quoted in a New York Times article by Michael J. De La Merced and Julie Bosman

Flexibility? Yes. Capability? No.

Yes, I’m sure all that money you were giving them was reducing their choices. It’s like a parent saying, “You don’t like my rules? Fine. Then you can just get an apartment on your own and live your own rules. Of course, you might have trouble finding someone who will rent to a ten-year old…”

I don’t really see how to spin this and make it a good thing for B&N, and neither can the stock market…following the announcement, B&N’s stock took a more  precipitous  dive than an Acapulco cliff diver. ;)

CNNMoney graph

That doesn’t mean that they won’t recover…but I would be very interested to hear what people think does mean that Barnes & Noble is going to get back to robust health.

I think this does make the continued existence of Barnes & Noble bookstores as we know them today less likely (and I’m speaking as a former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore).

The article was generally pretty good, but I doubt the folks at Books-A-Million liked this statement: “…Barnes & Noble, the nation’s last major bookstore chain”.

 Digitizing your paperbooks will be legal…in the UK

America’s copyright system is often relatively complex compared to many other countries’ systems.

I honestly don’t really expect us to lead on this front.

One could argue that it is due, in part, to us being so successful in creating intellectual property. Most countries in the world consume American media, even if we don’t return the favor in equal proportion. You can also see this in the use of our software.

So, I wasn’t surprised the the UK beat us to saying something that I’ve been hoping would get said here in the USA.

Starting 1 June 2014, it is legal to digitize your paperbooks (turn them into e-books) at home for your own purposes in the UK, according to this

Wired.co.uk article by Olivia Solon

This decision wasn’t specifically about p-books to e-books, but it does cover them (it also covers things like “ripping a CD” to digital).

It doesn’t allow you to do that for other people, but that’s fine. If I knew it was legal here, I’d probably start digitizing a lot more of my books (I do public domain ones now…just started on that with my new Xcanex scanner, although I did it with a flatbed for a non-profit).

I don’t think this is much of a threat to the e-book industry. Not very many people are going to scan a book when they can buy one already done and nicely formatted. I think, as would be the case with me, that it would be books that aren’t available otherwise in most cases. Certainly, some hobbyists might scan the books instead of buying them…but it would be a bit like saying that people who build their own computers are a threat to HP. It just isn’t going to be that large a group.

I hope this inspires a similar decision in the USA…

Amazon Fire TV

My Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile) should be here today. I meant to order it with one-day shipping, but apparently, in my haste (I would afraid they would sell out), didn’t click the button to switch it. That’s okay…I probably won’t really get to explore it until Saturday, and I’ll write more about it then.

Of course, many people don’t wait to explore it before they write about it.  :)

I was…intrigued with all of the 1-star reviews that showed up before almost anybody had the device. The vast majority of those were from people who didn’t have it yet.

1-star reviews for the Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile)

A lot of the “reviews” (I don’t believe you can actually “review” something until you have viewed it) had to do it with it missing something the poster wanted.

That just seems very self-centered to me. Its like giving Baskin-Robbins a 1-star review because, out of the 33 flavors of ice cream they have, they don’t have Banana-Coconut-Mango…and that’s your favorite! So, it doesn’t matter if their service is excellent, prices are good, and the vast majority of people who go there like their ice creams…the place sucks! :)

Now, that’s not quite a fair comparison…arguably, at $99, Amazon is not a price leader on this (they are comparable to many other devices in the category, although not the the Google Chromecast). It does seem like a very narrow focus…seeing the world through “me-colored glasses”.

One of the most commonly mentioned ones, and one that Amazon even includes in the comparison chart, is

HBO GO (at AmazonSmile)

That also messes up the analogy, because that’s a popular “channel”…it’s more like Baskin-Robbins not having strawberry ice cream. To me, that wouldn’t mean BR should get a 1-star review…there would still be a lot of good in that place, and a 1-star review is as low as you can go at Amazon.

Notice, though, that I have a link for HBO Go? That’s because you can get it in the Amazon Appstore…for your Kindle Fire.

That means that, if you have both a

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and an

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile)

you will be able to watch HBO GO through the AFTV, since you can mirror the Fire to it (display what’s on the Fire’s screen on your TV). I assume that will be true: I won’t be testing that specifically, since we don’t have HBO.

The app is free, by the way.

Equally worth noting: no reason to suppose the app won’t get added directly to the AFTV at some point.

I expect AFTV’s 3.1 star average to rise considerably in the next week, once the initial flood of negative reviews by people who don’t have it is countered. Don’t know where it will get, don’t know how good the experience is yet…but I think it has been front-loaded with negativity.

If you don’t have and don’t plan to get an AFTV, does this part of this post matter to you?

A bit…it’s making some changes on the Amazon.com site, and possibly pointing to some interesting strategic shifts.

First, the AFTV appears in the Kindle “family stripe”. That’s the thing at the top of a Kindle’s product page which shows you what other Kindles are available.

If you go to a Kindle Fire’s page, you now see the Kindle Fires…then a “show all device types” illustration, which includes a Fire, a Paperwhite…and an Amazon Fire TV.

I have said many times that I wish they hadn’t named the Fire a “Kindle”, since they are such different devices…I wish they had kept “Kindle” for dedicated EBRs (E-Book Readers).

While I had suggested the “Amazon Current”, I would have been much happier with the “Amazon Fire” rather than the “Kindle Fire”.  It has created a great deal of confusion, with people wondering why they can’t read their “new Kindle” in the sun as well.

This family striping seems to be a step away from branding everything as a “Kindle”, which I think may be a good thing.

Similarly, while the links to

Manage Your Kindle (at AmazonSmile)

still work, the page is now branded, “Manage Your Content and Devices”.

Students: write your way to a Kindle Fire

I mentioned this briefly, but wanted to call it out more.

Amazon has a nice

student guide

to

Timebound (The Chronos Files) (at AmazonSmile)

One of the elements there is a contest:

This lesson will allow your students to write an account of an American History event as seen through a CHRONOS historian. Students can submit their work here to enter to win one of 5 autographed editions of Timebound. One lucky student will win a Kindle Fire. Submissions must be received by 12/17/2014. For more information on the content visit: http://www.chronosfiles.com/students.html.

This is, in my opinion, a good academic and creative contest. The rules will require some real research, and I see this as a legitimate school exercise.

What do you think? Should I cover the Amazon Fire TV at all in this blog? I do think I will do it some (not a lot), but I’m interested in your opinion. Will the USA follow the UK in legitimizing format shifting? Should they? What would be the impact? Were you ever given an assignment in school with a prompting question? If so, was it valuable? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


Our first Give a Kid a Kindle device has been ordered!

Our first Give a Kid a Kindle device has been ordered!

Our first “Give a Kid a Kindle” Kindle has been ordered!

I am giving a

Kindle Paperwhite 3G, 6″ High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light, Free 3G + Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I got the 3G, because I don’t know this recipient’s circumstances. Getting one with 3G gives the most flexibility for connecting to wireless: it includes 3G (like a cellphone) and wi-fi (which many people have in their homes, and is available in some business).

I also decided to order a wall charger. The thought  occurred  to me that someone might not have a USB port to charge (I’m trying to cover the most bases).

The one negative to the 3G for me is that it is out of stock right now, but is expected to be back in soon:

===

Placed on Thursday, April 3, 2014
SHIPMENT 1 OF 2
Your estimated delivery date is:
Monday, April 21, 2014 -
Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Your shipping speed:
Two-Day Shipping

Kindle Paperwhite 3G, 6″ High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light, Free 3G + Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers
Electronics
Sold by Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

SHIPMENT 2 OF 2
Your estimated delivery date is:
Saturday, April 5, 2014

Your shipping speed:
Two-Day Shipping

Amazon Kindle 5W USB Power Adapter
Accessory
Sold by Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

===

Thank you for everyone who participated, either by nominating someone or by “recommending” one of the nominees to receive the device!

This is the person who got it:

[Nominee #1] is a ninth grade student who comes to class every day with a stack of books. [Nominee #1] seems to read very rapidly, perhaps a book a day, and [Nominee #1] checks out stacks of library books so that [Nominee #1] has enough to read. [Nominee #1] would benefit from a Kindle because [Nominee #1] could read free classics and not have to carry around a stack any longer!

http://ilmk.wordpress.com/give-a-kid-a-kindle/

I removed personally identifying information.

When I told somebody about this in person today, they commented that they could see how happy it made me…and it really does! I love being able to give back in this way, and to empower a reader to change the world…or just to enjoy it and understand it better. :)

What’s next?

I think I’m going to wait until I start up again. I want to think about how well it worked. I want to think about ways to up the participation if I do this again.

I don’t think I’ll do it again in April, but may start it again in May. I have to think about the timeline I did: too long? Too short?

Again, though, thanks!

I was able to do two things through Amazon that made this even better.

One was the ability to buy the Kindle in installment payments. That is going to make it considerably easier. Not everybody has that option, but it’s nice when they give it to you.

The other one was that I bought it through

AmazonSmile

That means that the non-profit I chose to support at that site will get a donation from Amazon for purchase…it’s another (very convenient) way to give back.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


At Home in Denver with Fire TV

FireTV still lifeBy the time I arrived home in Denver last night, it had been a long day, beginning with 4:30 a.m. wakeup in Cambridge, Mass., for the Amtrak Acela ride to New York City to the Amazon press conference, then a Southwest flight from LaGuardia to DIA, toting with great mindfulness the attractive shopping bag (in photo above) holding my review unit for Fire TV.

I briefly considered going to bed and saving the installation of Fire TV until morning, when I would be rested and alert. Right. Instead I made a ham and Swiss sandwich and headed quietly to the guest room, where our relatively new Samsung flat screen TV is located. I still don’t watch much television. I like books. I like to read. So the Samsung does not hang in a place of honor in the living room. It’s tucked out of the way, and the arrangement of chairs in the guest room is inconvenient for more than one person to watch at a time.

I started my iPhone’s stop watch before cutting open the Fire TV box. Installation was complete in five minutes, even in partial darkness, because I had to unplug a light in order to plug in Fire TV. I actually forgot to stop the stopwatch when I reached the Home screen of Fire TV. I wanted to jump in and explore, which I did for an hour or so, finally getting to bed at well past 1 a.m. Eastern Time.

This morning I showed my wife, Darlene, what all the fuss is about. She hates TV, never watches it. She doesn’t watch video on her iPhone, MacBook Air or iPad, doesn’t own a Kindle Fire of any generation. So it was like asking her to sit down and admire a new truck carburetor, or the latest rule change from the Financial Accounting Standards Board. I showed her how easy it is to Voice Search for an actor. “Try Katharine Hepburn,” she said. So I handed her the remote control and showed her how to press the button, just like talking to Siri on the iPhone. She got it on the second try, and up came a scrollable row of movies staring Hepburn. “Cool,” she said, before heading back to the kitchen.

The star of the Fire TV is the remote control. It feels like quality, with a slightly rubberized surface that’s pleasing to hold. There are only seven buttons on it, in addition to the wheel that looks like an iPod navigation controller but only offers four clickable commands–right, left, up, and down, with activate as the center button. At the top is a white microphone button. You press and hold it while you speak a search term, and release when you’re done. Your TV screen shows a squiggly line while you talk and then finds what you’re looking for more quickly than you expect.

The remote’s home button, marked with a house icon, takes you back to an arrangement that will be familiar to anyone with a Kindle Fire. You move up and down the left side to select movies, TV, your photos, etc. You know where you are in the navigation, because the live selection has the now-familiar golden orange color of the Fire’s usual navigation scheme.

I’ll have much more to say about Fire TV in tomorrow’s Kindle Chronicles podcast, including my thoughts on how this may change my media consumption. It might even upgrade the Samsung’s location, to the living room. Amazon, as usual, is messing with normal. The press conference was a class act all the way, I thought. The coverage has been positive, except for the usual nitwit slant by The New York Times’s Amazon reporter. I refuse to link to it.

More later…

 

 

Send to Kindle

Amazon Fire TV is here: Amazon’s TV gadget!

Amazon Fire TV is here: Amazon’s TV gadget!

“This is your captain speaking…we are now leaving the rumor zone!”

Amazon has just announced its TV gadget:

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I can’t link to it the way I’d like yet, but I went ahead and ordered it with expedited shipping for myself. :)

I’m going to post this first so you hear about it right away, then update the post.

press release

Update:

Okay, one of the first things to note is the price: $99. That makes it close to three times as much as the $35

Google Chromecast (at AmazonSmile)

which was so popular at that price, it knocked Amazon’s own Kindles off the top spot for electronics…sold at Amazon.

What does this do that will make people think it is three times as good as Chromecast?

Well, first, that’s not really the calculation for most people…just the fact that it is Amazon will get a lot of people to buy it (honestly, that’s why I jumped on the Buy button, and “splurged” for 1-day shipping so I can write about it sooner).

They seem to be highlighting a few things:

  • Integration with Prime video (of course). Prime just signed 24 to be an exclusive, and they have a lot of popular exclusive titles…it comes registered to your account (assuming you have one), so you can just plug it into your TV, connect it to your wi-fi, and you are pretty much good
  • Voice search. Is that a killer app? Maybe…Xfinity promotes theirs a lot. They say they are the only “streaming media player with voice search”. They have a good commercial with Gary Busey (all of this is on the product page), extolling the benefits of “talking to things”
  • They are touting their tech specs, and they do look good
  • They have “ASAP” (Advanced Streaming and Prediction), which will predictively load what you want to watch, to reduce download speeds. I wouldn’t say that the predictive thing in Silk was a big hit, but I could see how this could work. I work my way through series (like Arrow), and it would be nice if when I finished one episode, it just downloaded the next one…for the next time I wanted to watch it. I’m not quite sure if it works that way yet, of course
  • The remote connects via Bluetooth, which is a nice touch…that means no line of sight required (my Roku doesn’t require that, either)
  • They are really pushing this as a gaming device, which some people thought might be done separately. You can use the included remote for some games (I’m thinking simple things like Angry Birds…simple in terms of the needed user input). They also are selling (for $39.99): Amazon Fire Game Controller (at AmazonSmile). That’s a more full-featured controller, so you can do those button-mashing combination moves ;) I wasn’t going to get one, but I might…they have a special deal that gives you 1,000 Amazon coins (basically, $10 for purchase of apps and in-app buys), and their new exclusive game, Sev Zero. That deal is good through May 2nd, so I don’t think I’ll order the controller right now
  • It does music, with several big name services
  • It can display your pictures and video
  • Amazon FreeTime, parental controls, are coming next month
  • Yes! It will mirror the Fire…and do “second screen” flinging, too! I mirror my Fire pretty often, sometimes to watch internet videos. The “flinging” part includes X-Ray, powered by IMDb (owned by Amazon). That’s a great way when you want to find out more about an actor in a scene, for example

Their list of games and apps is impressive! I’m not sure people will see it as blowing away the Chromecast, but remember that with mirroring, anything you see on your Fire you can see on the screen. I can’t plug in an HDMI cable and watch the Xfinity app (at least, I couldn’t last time I checked) because it is blocked then. I can mirror it to my TV, though, using my Fire.

The apps (and other things you can use) include:

  • Netflix
  • Amazon Instant Video
  • Hulu Plus
  • Crackle
  • YouTube
  • Showtime Anytime
  • WatchESPN
  • Bloomberg TV
  • Vevo
  • Pandora
  • HuffPost Live
  • I Heart Radio
  • Vimeo
  • TuneIn (I use this app sometimes…to listen to radio stations)
  • NBA Game Time
  • Red Bull TV
  • Plex
  • Now This News
  • AOL on
  • Flixter
  • Qello Concerts
  • Frequency
  • Minecraft Pocket Edition
  • The Walking Dead (the Telltale game)
  • The Game of Life
  • Riptide OP 2
  • Sev Zero
  • Daily Burn
  • Tasty Trade
  • Asphalt Airborne 8

On many of those, I’m just copying from the logos shown on the page…you may need to pay extra (like a subscription fee or a one-time purchase) for some of them.

They appear not to have worked out a deal for HBOGO, yet.

Formats? It says:

Video: H.263, H.264, MPEG4-SP, VC1
Audio: AAC, AC-3, E-AC-3, HE-A, PCM, MP3
Photo: JPG, PNG

Note! You will need an HDMI cable (not included) to use this, from what I am seeing. They recommend this one

AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable (6.5 Feet/2.0 Meters) – Supports Ethernet, 3D, and Audio Return [Newest Standard] (at AmazonSmile)

which I already own. :)

I suspect we’ll see a lot of complaints on the forum that it doesn’t come with one…people will get one expecting to use it right away, and then have to get a cable. If I were Amazon, I’d make that a very clear “package” option.

Update: right now (6:00 PM Pacific on Wednesday) Amazon Fire TV is the number one item in electronics at Amazon.

  1. Amazon Fire TV
  2. Google Chromecast
  3. Kindle Paperwhite (wi-fi only) ad-supported
  4. Roku 3500R streaming stick
  5. Kindle Fire HD2 7″ 8GB
  6. Roku 3 Streaming Media player
  7. Apple TV
  8. Kindle Fire HD2 7″ 16GB
  9. Kindle Fire HDX 7″
  10. Kindle Paperwhite (wi-fi only) full price

There you go! Whew! What do you think? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


Kindle Monthly Deals for $3.99 or less each: April 2014

Monthly Kindle Deals for $3.99 or less each: April 2014

Amazon does the Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), which discounts (usually) four books a day (often general fiction, a romance, a science fiction/fantasy book, and a kids’ book).

They’ve also been doing Monthly Kindle Book Deals for $3.99 or less each) (at AmazonSmile). That’s a rebranding: they used to say it was “100 Books”, but that’s also gotten to be more…there are 113 for this month at the time of writing.

Those prices only apply to the USA, and one weird thing is that some of the books seem to sell out at that price sometimes (or become unavailable for some other reason).

It’s also interesting…about 49% of the books in the USA Kindle store are $3.99 or less (1,223,790 of 2,513,735). Still, these are on sale, and that’s worth something. :)

I’m going to list some of the $3.99 or lower ones that caught my eye…I’m not necessarily recommending them, but I do think they are interesting.

The ones I list also don’t block text-to-speech access**…but I think blocking it is becoming rarer.

Timebound (The Chronos Files) (at AmazonSmile)
by Rysa Walker
4.4 out of 5 stars, 1981 customer reviews
science fiction, young adult, time travel
$1.99 at time of writing

This is clearly one of Amazon’s successes from their traditional publishing (Skyscape imprint, in this case). The customer reviews are plentiful and a 4.4 is a great score with nearly 2,000 reviews. It was also a winner of an Amazon Breakthrough Novel award.

Interestingly, they also have a good classroom guide for it, with lesson prompts tied to the Common Core Standards. Students also have a chance to win a Kindle Fire! You can see information on that here:

Timebound Classroom Guide pdf

Still Life: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel (at AmazonSmile)
by Louise Penny
4.3 stars, 798 reviews
mystery, British detectives, police procedurals
$2.99

Pecan Pie and Deadly Lies (An Adams Grove Novel) (at AmazonSmile)
by Nancy Naigle
4.5 stars, 210 reviews
romance, mystery
$1.99

Another Amazon tradpubbed book…this one from their Montlake imprint. Several of the books in this month’s group are from Amazon publishing…those have the advantage of having Amazon’s features generally enabled, including being able to be borrowed from the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library).

The Hangman’s Daughter series (4 individual books) (at AmazonSmile)
by Oliver Pötzsch
None of the books in the series is under 4 stars: collectively, more than 5,000 reviews
$1.99 each
mystery, historical, German

It’s nice to be able to link to a page for a series! This is not a bundle, it’s each of the books. Again, from Amazon…AmazonCrossing, in this case, which brings us literature from outside the USA.

Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies (at AmazonSmile)
by J.B. West, Mary Lynn Kotz
4.6 stars, 50 reviews
history, United States, biographies & memoirs
$1.99

West was the “Chief Usher” at the White House: might be a nice little gift for a celebrity politician watcher. :)

Lost Cat (at AmazonSmile)
by Caroline Paul, illustrated by Wendy McNaughton
4.4 stars, 115 reviews
animal care & pets, cats
$1.99

I’ve recently written some about our two dogs (now nicknamed, as a pair, as “Butterscotch Chaos”…I think it would make a great name for a band, and may make up fake t-shirts for us), and I suspect some readers may think I’m a “dog person”. I’m actually an “animal person” (that includes the species Homo sapiens, of course). I’ve often had cats and dogs together (the big trick: feed the cats first. It’s a big way that dogs establish hierarchy, by who gets fed first. You should eat before you feed them, for example…particularly important when a new person comes into a house), and I’ve had exotics (which I don’t recommend…when your tree shrew gets sick, nobody in the world really knows what to do. If you want a pet that can be treated if it gets ill, get a rat: science knows a huge amount about what affects rats’ health). I mention that because this is marketed as a book for cat lovers, although not just them, of course. We had a cat that did this “walkabout” thing, too (that’s what happens in this non-fiction book…a cat leaves, then returns). This cat didn’t like a dog we got, and basically left. When dogs stray, they may run for miles and not know where they are when they are done. Cats typically stay on the same block…somewhere. We later found “Leo” (Leonardo DiCatrio: our now adult kid named the cat around the time of Titanic) being fed by a neighbor across the street. I eventually got Leo to move back in with us, but it was really always a bond for us with that neighbor. Cats build bridges…but they won’t always use the ones you build for them. ;)

What Doesn’t Kill You (at AmazonSmile)
by Iris Johansen
4.1 stars, 197 reviews
thrillers
$2.99

It looks to me like you could read this one even if you haven’t read the other “Eve Duncan and friends” books…sounds more like a universe than a series.

The Group (at AmazonSmile)
by Mary McCarthy
3.8 stars, 83 reviews
literary fiction
$2.51

This was really a “buzz book” when it became a New York Times bestseller…more than fifty (!) years ago. It is properly one of Open Roads “Iconic EBooks”.

Ball Four (at AmazonSmile)
by Jim Bouton
4.4 stars, 194 reviews
baseball, memoirs
$1.99

One of the great non-fiction baseball books…

This post is getting quite long, so here are more quick listings…it’s nice to have so many interesting choices in the list that I can’t do full listings for all of them if I’m ever going to get this post out to you: ;)

  • Berlin Diary by William Shirer
  • Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman (due to it being a graphic novel, text-to-speech shows as not enable…but that does not mean it was blocked, just that the “text” is part of the image)
  • Their Finest Hour by Winston Churchill
  • The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw
  • The Greek Coffin Mystery by Ellery Queen
  • King City by Lee Goldberg
  • The Other Queen by Phillippa Gregory
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth-Grahame Smith
  • Butter by Erin Jade Lange

I have to commend Amazon on a lot of terrific choices this month!

Enjoy!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


Liveblog of Amazon NYC Press Event on New Video Service

image

This is my liveblog of Amazon’s press event Tuesday, April 2, 2014 in New York City to announce a new video business.

If you have arrived here but don’t see the live posts, click once on the headline above to reveal them.

Thanks for following along, and please feel free to spread this link to others who might be interested in what Amazon announces today about video.

I will be checking Twitter, so let me know if you have questions or comments @LenEdgerly.

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Liveblog of Amazon’s NYC press update on video

In order to see the individual liveblog posts, you may need to click once on the headline above. I plan to provide a running commentary at the press conference in New York on April 2nd, featuring Kindle Vice President Peter Larsen. Stay tuned…

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Peter Larsen to be featured at Amazon press event tomorrow in NYC

imageAmazon’s “Update on our video business” scheduled for tomorrow, April 2nd, at 11 a.m. in New York City, will feature not CEO Jeff Bezos but Peter Larsen, Vice President, Kindle.

My guess is that Bezos will welcome media to the event, then turn details of Amazon’s new video initiative over to Larsen. If this were another gala event about the Kindle, you can bet the CEO would be doing the honors. But I suspect he reads books more than he watches television or listens to music, so it makes sense that he would turn the bulk of the program over to someone with more knowledge of the details.

I will leave Boston tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. on the Amtrak Acela, arriving at Penn Station more than an hour before the presser begins at 11. I love trains, and I love how Amazon keeps messing with normal, so this should be fun!

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