Posts Tagged ‘kindle fire’

Last night Amazon announced its 2014 lineup of Kindle ereaders and tablets.  I will direct you to Amazon’s main Kindle page to get the full specs.

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Looking at the eIink ereaders first Amazon announced that the basic Kindle now comes with a touch interface.  This will retail for CAD79.  This looks a really nice entry into the ereader market and you could do a lot worse.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the new Kindle Voyage, which is smaller, lighter and with a higher resolution than ever before.  It includes page turn functionality in the bezel – something many people seem to have been requesting – as well as enhanced reading features such as an expanded X-Ray, greater integration with GoodReads.  This all seems excellent, but it does come with a hefty price tag.  The Kindle Voyage retails from USD 199.  It has optional 3G.

However, for us Canadians, we’re out of luck.  The Kindle Voyage is not yet available on the Amazon.ca store.  I asked customer service and was told that they had no timeline for when it might be available.  It is available in the UK, Germany and Japan so why not Canada?  I seem to be asking this question each time.  In any case, it looks like I will be obliged to undertake my regular pilgrimage across the US border to pick one up.

http://rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?t=scotbookinq03-20&o=1&p=48&l=ur1&category=kindle&banner=03P504H7KH1CGWSMW7R2&f=ifr&linkID=MI5R2FS5UQMRNEQ4

In terms of the tablets, Amazon brought out a low end 6inch model, the Fire HD6.  This will retail at CAD 134.  This is actually of great interest to me personally.  I have a Fire HDX, but I like the idea of the smaller form factor to take with me. I have an iPad 3 which lives at home for larger tablet needs.My needs for a tablet on the go are pretty basic; books audiobooks, internet, email, basic games.This might do the trick as long as it plays audiobooks and I can still play The CATch to which I am addicted. I will see though how it compares to the HDX.  I have placed an order and I will let you know.  I find lately that I’ve been doing more and more of my reading/audiobook listening on the Fire rather than the Paperwhite, so maybe this smaller entry level tablet will replace it.

It appears that Amazon isn’t upgrading the hardware of the Fire HDX 7inch this year, although it will get a software upgrade to the new Fire OS 4 named Sangria. One of the key features of this software is the addition of profile support so that various family members can use the same device and family library so that they can share content.  That will be a nice to have.

They mention some UI enhancements, too, but they have not specified these yet.

I’m not certain if Firefly will be coming to the HDX – the information is a little unclear.  In any case, while that’s a nice to have I’m not worried about not having it.

The final Fire announced by Amazon was the HD Kids’ Edition.  This is a specially toughened version of the Fire with inbuilt Kindle Freetime and a two year guarantee.  This is again not available in Canada.

So, what are your thoughts on the new releases?  Any of them catch your eye?

Let me know in the comments.

A few days ago, Amazon announced the updates to its Kindle Fire line of tablets.  Here is the page with the details.

Naturally, it has an improved screen, and processor.  No surprises there.  What’s more interesting is that they announced a major update to the Kindle Fire OS, to called Mojito.   Some of the new features in Mojito include:

Mayday button.  This is the most innovative of the inventions and allows you to be connected to a video chat with an Amazon tech support person.  Your tech will have the ability to view and control your screen to assist you.  This could be a godsend for the novice user.  Amazon is at pains to stress that the agent can only see your screen, not you to alleviate privacy concerns.  This is a very interesting feature and one I think could really differentiate Amazon tablets from the others in a saturated marketplace.

On the other end of the scale, Amazon is touting better enterprise support.  This includes support for data encryption, Kerberos integration so that users can browse corporate intranets and VPN clients.  This is interesting. So far, Amazon has placed itself securely in the consumer market – I’m really not certain that a Kindle, limited as the OS is, is a big attraction for corporate use.

One of the most asked for features is finally coming to the Kindle Fire – Collections!  The biggest pain in the current Kindle OS is the inability to organise your content in any meaningful way.  Many people resented the recent upgrade to the iOS Kindle apps which added collection support.  The question was asked why this was available on iOS before Amazon’s own native system.  This feature will be coming in November.

Also in November, GoodReads integration will be included as previously announced for the new Kindle Paperwhite.

Other features include a revamped email client – good! – and printing support.

X ray has also been enhanced – it’s now available for music so that song lyrics appear onscreen as you are listening.  This, along with X ray for movies is of limited interest to people outside the US.

As of today, the new Kindle Fires are only available in the US.  I am interested to see how long they take to come to Canada.  What is unclear at this point is whether or not these features will be made available to current Kindle Fires via a software update. 

For me personally, some of these new features, especially Collections and GoodReads integration,  are very attractive and would be a good reason to upgrade if they’re not made available on the other Kindle Fires.  

Will you be upgrading?  Let me know in the comments.

This evening when I went to download my latest Audible read to my Canadian Kindle Fire, I got a big surprise. A message popped up advising me that I could now listen to and shop for audiobooks natively from my Kindle Fire and that I should uninstall the Audible app. I did so and found that my audiobook played in a new, integrated player.

Screenshot 2013 08 17 18 29 37

I also noticed that individual Audible audiobooks now appear in my carousel and can be added individually to the Favourites drawer rather than just the Audible app itself. Being a Kindle, of course they’re trying to sell you things, and I see that when I view an audiobook in the carousel, I now get recommendations for other audiobooks.

Searching the Kindle is now integrated with my Audible library. Searching for an audiobook will find it in your Audible library ready for downloading.

It seems that they’re not quite there yet with the integration though. Audiobooks doesn’t appear in the top menu bar, and clicking on one of the audiobook recommendations doesn’t take you anywhere yet. Clicking on Shop still only shows three options available to Canadians: Books, Games and Apps.

At this point Audible books are still not showing available from Amazon.ca and Immersion Reading doesn’t yet work. However, the arrival of the integrated app for Canadians and the indication that we will be able to shop for them would strongly suggest that the rest of the integration is not far behind.

Personally, I’m really excited about this development – the lack of Audible integration for Canadians was my one major disappointment about the Kindle Fire. I really look forward to future developments.

What developments would you like to see for the Kindle Fire?

This evening when I went to download my latest Audible read to my Canadian Kindle Fire, I got a big surprise.  A message popped up advising me that I could now listen to and shop for audiobooks natively from my Kindle Fire and that I should uninstall the Audible app.  I did so and found that my audiobook played in a new, integrated player.

Screenshot 2013 08 17 18 29 37

I also noticed that individual Audible audiobooks now appear in my carousel and can be added individually to the Favourites drawer rather than just the Audible app itself.  Being a Kindle, of course they’re trying to sell you things, and I see that when I view an audiobook in the carousel, I now get recommendations for other audiobooks.

Searching the Kindle is now integrated with my Audible library.  Searching for an audiobook will find it in your Audible library ready for downloading.

It seems that they’re not quite there yet with the integration though.  Audiobooks doesn’t appear in the top menu bar, and clicking on one of the audiobook recommendations doesn’t take you anywhere yet.  Clicking on Shop still only shows three options available to Canadians: Books, Games and Apps.

At this point Audible books are still not showing available from Amazon.ca and Immersion Reading doesn’t yet work.  However, the arrival of the integrated app for Canadians and the indication that we will be able to shop for them would strongly suggest that the rest of the integration is not far behind.

Personally, I’m really excited about this development – the lack of Audible integration for Canadians was my one major disappointment about the Kindle Fire.  I really look forward to future developments.

What developments would you like to see for the Kindle Fire?

I have now had my Kindle Fire fir several days now and this is my update to my initial impressions.  Once I got over my disappointment in the lack of Audible integration for Canadians, I began to really enjoy the device. My other two tablets are an iPad 3 and a Nexus 7. I find the smaller form factors of the Nexus and the Kindle Fire very comfortable to use.

Until  now, my main tablet of choice has been my iPad 3.  I use it around the house, and if I’m travelling I take it with me.  However, I find it’s rather bulky to carry around, and I usually end up taking my Kindle Paperwhite too, as I really don’t enjoy reading books on the iPad.  I really don’t use my Nexus very much at all.

Perhaps the the best way to approach this review is to discuss how the tasks I usually undertake on my iPad translate to the Kindle Fire. I don’t use the iPad for work/production related activities.  There are many apps I use on my iPhone to check a few quick things.

Checking email

I was able to import all my personal accounts – two Yahoo emails, Gmail and a non standard account for my evelynne@scottishbookworminquebec.com email – with minimal hassle.  I have not been able to access my work Exchange email, but i generally check that on my iPhone rather than my tablet anyway.

Surfing the web

Surfing the web is fine on both devices.  On the Kindle I miss my synced iCloud bookmarks, but I can live without them.  I find no major difference between using Safari and the Amazon Silk browser

Checking social networking sites

I am active in Twitter, Facebook and GoodReads.  All of these have apps available on iOS and Android and are great to use and look at in both environments.

Reading magazines

Although I prefer reading novels on my Kindle Paperwhite or Kobo Glo, magazines are a delight to read on tablets.  I use Zinio for my magazine subscriptions and have a subscription to Entertainment Weekly as a standalone app.  Both are great on the iPad and Kindle Fire. Despite the smaller screen size, the high  resolution of the Kindle Fire’s screen means that the text is still easily legible.  

Watching videos

This is one area in which the iPad has superiority with its larger screen.  On my iPad I watch iTunes movies and Netflix as well as use the remote app to control my Apple TV.  The lack of Amazon Instant Video and inability to purchase movies from Amazon means that I am limited to Netflix on the Kindle Fire.

Most of my non book content is in iTunes, which I have not yet managed to access on my Android devices.  Other than Netflix, the only movie I’ve been able to get on my Kindle Fire is the one I have in my UV account.

Checking on the news

I usually get my news from the BBC News app.  Again, the app is available for both iPad and Android and is gorgeous to browse.  I noticed the La Presse app is available for Android and iPhone but not yet on the Amazon app store.  It may take a while for Canadian specific apps to make their way to the Amazon app store – I noticed the  Cineplex app is also not yet available – as it’s so new still.

What’s better on the iPad

Integration with the Apple ecosystem.  I’m a Mac girl, and I do appreciate the tight integration with Apple products.  I like that I can add a bookmark on my Mac and it’s available to me on my iPhone and iPad.  This includes movies and music.  

What’s better on the Kindle Fire

Integration with Amazon.  Kindle Fire is designed to promote access to Amazon content.  The Fire makes it very easy to access purchased content and purchase more.  Shopping on Amazon on the Fire is a real pleasure.  I almost never shop on my Paperwhite or the iPad; Apple has blocked in-app purchases from Amazon, so this requires leaving the Kindle app to go to either the website or the Kindle Store app.  On the Fire this is all integrated.

Reading novels.  I still prefer long form reading on the Paperwhite, but the Fire’s high res screen makes reading not too painful. I find the iPad a little too heavy for long form reading.  I would certainly be happy to take the Fire away for a weekend and leave the Paperwhite and iPad at home. 

The notifications. I find them much more subtle and unintrusive on the Kindle Fire, which is nice if I am engrossed in a book.

Book and app recommendations. I love books and reading, and I’ve always enjoyed Amazon’s recommendations.  Yes, I know, they’re just trying to get me to pay them more money,  but they do seem to suggest some great books.  This is all integral to the Fire experience.

Typing.  I really love Android’s suggested words when typing – I find this system much less typing intensive than iOS’s

So what about the Kindle Fire vs the Nexus 7?

Perhaps a fairer comparison would be between the Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7 as they are both Android and 7 inch.  As I mentioned, I’ve not really used it as much as I would have hoped.  I’m not entirely sure why that is.  Perhaps it’s more that other than a few functions I tend to focus on content.  The Nexus can’t access my iTunes content easily and although I can access my books with no issues, it’s not the core function of this device.  

And the iPad Mini?

I do like the smaller form factor.  If the Apple iPad were in a similar price bracket to the Kindle Fire and had the same high res screen I would certainly consider it.  However the Kindle Fire beats it in those two regards

In summary then, while the Kindle Fire is not my perfect device – I don’t think they’ll make a device which can switch from eInk to LCD, has a month long battery life and is integrated fully into both Amazon’s and Apple’s ecosystems – I can see it will fit quite nicely into my range of devices.

Today the Kindle Fire launched in multiple countries including Canada, and one was delivered to my door for your reviewing pleasure.

My initial impression is that, although the device is nice, for Canadians it is still very, very limited.  It is a lovely device, but the Amazon services which distinguish it from the other tablets out there are sadly missing.

There is still no support for Amazon’s music or movie store or Amazon Instant Video for Canada.  iTunes movies will not play on the Kindle Fire due to DRM.  Through the movies for Flixter though you can view any movies you have on your UV account.  They do not have the cool X-Ray for Movies feature that gives you details of the actors in a movie when you hit pause.

For the last few years, iTunes music has been sold without DRM so can easily be copied to the music folder and will be available in the music section of the Kindle Fire.

For me, personally, I was very disappointed that the Audible integration is missing for Canadians.  The whole Audiobooks section is missing from the top menu, and although Whispersync for Voice continues to work, immersion reading is not available.  Audible advised me that right now, this feature is for US-only. It hopes to expand to Canada in the future, but no ETA yet. 

As with the Nexus 7, the Kindle is not recognised by Adobe Digital Editions on the Mac, making transferring epub books to the device very difficult.  I have not yet tried the Overdrive app on the Kindle to try to borrow library books.

On the positive side, the device feels solid in my hands, I found it responsive and I did like the ease of shopping on it.  I’m not certain I could consider it a full tablet – lack of multitasking, decent organizational system – it’s definitely more of a multimedia Kindle, but what it does it does very well.

At this point, I’m not certain if I’ll keep it – the lack of Audible integration is a real blow to me, but I will work with it over the next week or so to see what I think.

 

Today a friend alerted me (thanks Stèphane!) that Amazon has sneaked its 7inch Amazon Kindle Fire tablet into the Canadian store for pre-order.  I have put one on pre-order for your reviewing pleasure.  I may return it as I did the Kobo Aura, but I do want to check it out.

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