Round up #309: cool reading, peripheral problems

Round up #309: cool reading, peripheral problems

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

An author on the cover of People

I do think that in the past, oh, ten years or so, authors have become a bit more cool.

Generally, when people think pop culture, it’s movies, TV, and music. Videogames, while sometimes the biggest revenue generators, are too introspective for a ton of coverage…and they don’t feature human beings about which magazines can gossip. 😉

That last point might, I suppose, help to explain why books are less likely to be featured in pop culture coverage.

Oh, all the popcul mags do it some. The book coverage may be my favorite part of Entertainment Weekly, and regular readers know I use the term “People Magazine books” for the very popular mainstream titles.

That’s why I was honestly a bit surprised to see

Jackie Collins

get the full cover of the October 5th issue of

PEOPLE Magazine (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Certainly, Collins was a (very) popular author, and does have a Hollywood tie-in (with sibling Joan and some minor acting experience)…that might have had some influence.

However, there was a special circumstance: they had an exclusive interview from just a few days pre-mortem.

Still, they obviously thought readers would be familiar with Collins.

People Magazine readers would also know Stephen King, John Green, J.K. Rowling, and perhaps another ten or so authors (excluding authors who are well-known from other fields, including movies, TV, music, and politics).

Now, that’s not to say that they wouldn’t have known some authors in the past: Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway…but I do think there has been a shift. I’d like to say that the impact of the Kindle on the e-book market since its release in 2007 may have impacted the “cool ratio” of reading…but that’s just speculation. 😉

The problem with peripherals

I think it’s understandable that companies producing gadgets focus on the gadgets themselves. I recently wrote about

Amazon hardware announcements! $50 tablet, 10″ tablet, Fire TV 2

There wasn’t a lot of talk about the peripherals: power supplies, remotes (although I was pleased to see that the game controller for the Amazon Fire TV Gaming Edition ((at AmazonSmile*)) has a headphone jack ((Dolby enabled)), one of my favorite features of some models of Roku).

I do think that matters…it’s been perhaps my biggest frustration with some gadgets which I otherwise like very much.

I really like the inexpensive

ARCTIC P324 BT (Black) – Bluetooth (V4.0) Headset with Neckband – Headphones with integrated Microphone – Perfect for Sport (at AmazonSmile*)

that I use with our Fire TV, and at work with my Kindle Fire HDX, my laptop, and my phone at times.

That’s the alternative to the headphones that plug into the remote that I mentioned above.

The sound is good, the microphone works…the only negative to the device itself, really, is that the battery seems to discharge pretty quickly even when I’m not using it. If I don’t use it for a couple of days, I still need to plug it in to charge before I use it again.

I can live with that, though.

The weird thing is that it came with a simple carrying case. The headphones fold, and fit into something…oh, about the dimensions of an old audiocassette, except as thick as about four of them.

Shortly after I had the headphones, the zipper broke on the carrying case.

I can still use the case…it goes in my laptop case with me to work, so that pretty much keeps it closed.

It is, though, disappointing: I paid for the case (not much, certainly), and it doesn’t do what it was supposed to do.

How about Amazon hardware?

Amazon did a great job with the headphones for the Fire Phone…I use mine a lot (the Fire Phone is still my daily use SmartPhone). Since that device is now not in their current line-up, though, it’s hard to count tht as a win. 😉 There may be people at Amazon who said, “You know, if we hadn’t spent that much development money making good headphones, the Fire Phone would have been a hit.” 😉

I’ve never really been impressed with the chargers for the Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers) and Fire tablets. The EBR chargers notoriously end up having the coating peel away from the raw wires…I’ve had that happen many times, and I need to replace them.

I don’t find that they fit very well, and they don’t charge very quickly.

That’s why I use the third party

Pwr+ Extra Long 6.5 Ft AC Adapter 2.1A Rapid Charger for Fast Charging Hd, Hdx 6″ 7″ 8.9″ 9.7″ Tablet and Phone, Tab Power Supply Cord (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s $14.90 right now…a reasonable price, as far as I’m concerned. Amazon’s PowerFast charger is $19.99…and seems much slower.

The Pwr+ works great…until it doesn’t work at all. 😉

I went back and looked: they seem to last me a few months, and then they just die. That’s not Amazon’s fault, of course.

Then, there are the remotes for the Fire TV.

I just had (another) one die.

That’s happened at least twice now. The first time, it was at under warranty.

This last one was a voice remote which I got when the Fire TV was first released…in April of 2014.

Amazon wouldn’t replace it, which is fine…they did give me a $5 credit towards some other things.

I could replace it for $30…but I have the 2nd generation

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*) $99.99

on order now, and that will have a voice remote.

Is it a big deal that the remote stops working?

Yes! 🙂

You can’t tell the box what to do without communicating with it, of course…its just a paperweight without some sort of control.

Fortunately, I have the free

Amazon Fire TV Remote App (at AmazonSmile*)

on both my Fire Phone and my Kindle Fire HDX tablet.

It works pretty well…even does voice search. That should be how people can pay $40 for the

Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*) $49.99 with voice remote, $39.99 with standard remote

new generation, and get the Alexa Voice Service (like we have on the Amazon Echo ((at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)).

Still, I’m often charging my phone or tablet when I would be watching that Fire TV Stick, so it’s a bit inconvenient. Naturally, when we have true wireless device charging (which I believe is coming) so we don’t need to plug in the devices at all, that would solve that problem, but that’s in the future).

Tom Clancy quotation via Kindle Nation Daily

I liked this one:


What do you think? How important are peripherals to your feeling about a device? Is reading cooler because of e-books? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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! :) 

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.


9 Responses to “Round up #309: cool reading, peripheral problems”

  1. Tom Semple Says:

    Note that you can control Fire TV with the free Fire TV mobile app (for iOS or Android). It supports voice as well.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom! Yes, that’s good to mention: not only does the Fire TV app that I said I was using work on my Fire Phone it also works on iOS and android.

  2. Karen Salmons Says:

    I’m single, and dare I say “elderly”, and eat out most of the time, much of the time alone. I’ve always taken a book to read when I go to a full service restaurant. Life is soooo much easier since the inception of the Kindle. No more using a knife or S & P shakers to hold the book open. And, as you get older and have arthritis in your hands it’s much easier to hold the Kindle than a book, be it paperback or hardcover. No, I’ll never long for the good old days of p-books! I have the original Fire TV with voice remote so don’t think I’ll need to get the new version this time. Also have the Echo and Hue lighting system. Still feels a little like magic to voice control the lights.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Karen!

      Oh, yes, I’ve read a lot in restaurants…and not always when I was alone. 🙂

      I do think it’s cool every time I have Alexa turn lights on or off.

  3. Man in the Middle Says:

    I’m floating away with USB power bricks and micro-USB power cords, so really don’t need any more of either when I buy another device that uses them for charging.

    I have a Photive 50 watt 6 port USB charger at home that works well to keep almost everything charged, plus a high-powered Powergen dual port car charger for the road. I also hang on to all our Apple iPad USB chargers, as they seem to be able to charge about any one thing quickly.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      Interesting! I’ve always looked for direct wall chargers. This looks like an intriguing device: can you compare it to plugging the device into a wall charger? I suppose it might be about the same, since many wall chargers actually just use a USB cable…

      • Karen Salmons Says:

        Cool looking device but I have the wall chargers all over the house and always love getting a new one. I have one at work, one in the laundry room, bedroom, etc. Never far way from juice in whatever area. Also, just had one go bad which I think is a first but not to worry the new HD 8 just arrived! How I love new tech from Amazon day. Read a couple of reviews which were for the most part positive but they thought it seemed cheap looking. Looks pretty great to me and as far as fingerprints on the back go, once my cover arrives I won’t see the back again.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Karen!

        I’m not a big fan of wall chargers…just don’t like the look, I guess. 🙂

        I’ll look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on the HD8!

  4. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I think authors as the epitome of “cool” is not a recent thing — rather each generation have their authorial “stars”. From the 20th century, I can think of Ernest Hemingway (who you mentioned), F. Scott Fitzgerald, JD Salinger (before he got weird :grin), and John Steinbeck — are all authors that have appeared on magazine covers. We forget that for much of the twentieth century, we had a magazine genre that has disappeared. Before People, Entertainment Weekly, etc, we had the “slicks”: Life, Colliers, The Saturday Evening Post which put authors on their covers (and printed a lot of their stories :grin).

    Over the long haul, I don’t think eBooks are going to have much of an impact on reading. There was a bit of an uptick because of the eBook novelty factor, but I think the long term trend is downwards.

    As to accessories (and chargers in particular), I swear by the 5-port Anker power port. This is a 5-port USB charger which dynamically allocates (depending on connected device need/demand) 40 watts (or 8 amps) over the 5 ports (up to a max of 2.4 amps for any one device. Many devices have variable charging needs. For example Kindles or Fires will not generally charge (or charge very slowly — even if the device is off) if the WiFi connection is on using PC USB ports (which only put out .5 amps) Even at 1 or 1.2 amps my Fire HDX 8.9 will only charge very slowly. The more amps a device can take, the faster it will charge.

    I have so many USB-chargeable devices these days, that I have 3 Ankers (15 ports). Anker has recently come out with a 10-port model that distributes 60 watts (or 12 amps) over the 10 ports. This need for USB charging ports is only going to get worse: with USB 3.1 much more power can be distributed over a USB port – so PC manufacturers are doing away with proprietary power “bricks”, and in the future everything will be powered/charged via standard USB connections.

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