September 2017 is coming: what devices have been around the longest?

September 2017 is coming: what devices have been around the longest?

September is about a month away, and Amazon has often announced new hardware in that month.

Last year, I looked at the current Amazon hardware shortly before that, to give my opinions on which ones I thought might be updated.

Let’s do that again. 🙂

Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers)

All-New Kindle E-reader – Black, 6″ Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $79.99

The most recent edition is from  June of last year, and that’s when they added Bluetooth. They could update that, but they could also just lower the price. That’s a question for me at this point: do they really need four models of EBR now, and do the price points make sense? If the Paperwhite comes down $20 to get under $100, I don’t think they need two between $50 and $100. An under $50 Kindle could be attractive…I’m not seeing $80 as a good price point. I also think that EBRs are in competition with the Fire tablet line…it’s not the same experience, but I think many people are fine with reading on a backlit tablet, rather than having a dedicated reading device.

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $119.99

It’s been more than two years since they updated this one. If someone wanted to buy a Kindle who had never owned one, this is still the one I’d recommend. The frontlighting makes it worth more money than the entry level model. I don’t find that the upgrades to the Voyage are worth the money for most people. If they wanted to update it and keep the price about the same, they could add Bluetooth and water-proofing. I could even see the price going up a bit.

Kindle Voyage (any configuration) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $199.99

Last updated in 2014. There are 12,972 customer reviews at time of writing. The Paperwhite has 47,415. Now, yes, the Paperwhite has been around longer, but I don’t sense the customer engagement with the Voyage. Could they simply drop this model? Maybe. They could also just leave it alone, maybe lowering the price, but I don’t see them doing much development on this.

The Oasis $289.99 (I’m not linking because it can’t be purchased without an animal leather cover)

This top of the line model came out in April of 2016. I’ve seen some very positive reaction to it, but a 4.2 star average isn’t exceptional (the Paperwhite has a 4.5). I don’t see them dropping this model: it’s good to have an EBR positioned as a luxury item. They could even update this one.

I could see this ending up with three promoted models (and maybe a dormant one): one for under $50, one for about $100, and one for well over $250.

Fire Tablets

Fire Tablets (at AmazonSmile*)

The Fire tablets were already updated this year. I don’t expect to hear much about this, unless they introduce a high end with something innovative.

Echo Family

Echo family (at AmazonSmile*)

We use our

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

every day. It’s even going to enable us to take a family member with mobility issues to a wedding…not for the ceremony itself, but at the social events around it. It will mean that people can walk up and talk to my relative, and our relative will be able to see what’s going on. I suspect that will be confusing for people at first, because they probably won’t realize our relative sees them. 🙂

I don’t expect that or the Dot (it’s doing too well) or the Look (I don’t think it’s gotten enough engagement) to be updated. The Tap is already off the family stripe (what the show you at the top of a strategy)…I use ours a lot (taking it to work with me), but I don’t think it’s been a hit, unfortunately.

As to the original

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

which I call “The Tower”, I think it is due.

That’s partially to deal with Apple’s device, so that would mean smaller and with better sound. It doesn’t mean cheaper, although it certainly could. My intuition is that people wouldn’t mind losing the big Tower design…I suppose they could also introduce one which is intermediate to the “hockey puck” Dot and The Tower.

I think there is still a lot of software innovation to come: one thing would be the ability of Alexa to recognize individual voices. In our house, for example, that might mean giving me the temperature in Celsius and my Significant Other the temperature in Fahrenheit, for example. That could also serve as one alternative for “password protecting” purchases (with an option for a number, when your voice isn’t recognized).

In terms of new Alexa devices:

I like the Dash Wand, but don’t use it that much.

A ring, a watch, a key fob…I could see a lot options for a tiny Alexa device (without “always on” technology).

An Alexa specifically for the car would make sense.

Fire TV

Fire TV family (at AmazonSmile*)

I do think these could see a significant upgrade…in addition to recent integrated Fire TV in a television (as opposed to the add on box or stick).

Our Fire TV, interestingly, could use more power. We recently got DirecTV HBO as part of our phone package, so I added that app…and it does seem to be pushing the limits of the device.

Other possibilities:

  • They are doing more branded phone deals, and I think that will continue, with Alexa onboard being the draw. I do still want a fully functional Alexa app for my existing SmartPhones (Galaxy for my personal phone, iPhone for work)
  • I expect Amazon to get into virtual/augmented reality in a really noticeable way this year, and there could be an announcement around that. I’ve started referring to virtual/augmented reality hardware as “auggies”. I’m not saying Amazon would produce a branded headset, but something…that might also wait for closer to the holidays, though
  • It wouldn’t surprise me to see Amazon get into Amazon branded SmartHome devices (plugs, lightbulbs), and perhaps a hub

I have some other thoughts, but I’m interested in what you think. If Amazon introduces new branded hardware in September or August, what would you guess? Do you think they’d keep the Voyage and drop the Paperwhite? Is the Tap on the way out? Are recent unavailabilities of some devices a sign that they are being replaced? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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* 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 you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help! 🙂 

17 Responses to “September 2017 is coming: what devices have been around the longest?”

  1. Phink Says:

    I love the Voyage, which being a Trekkie I call Voyager. It is an amazing e-reader but I agree with you. For newbies I usually recommend the Paperwhite.

    I have wanted the Oasis in a bad way ever since it came out. I look at it for a week every day and eventually say to myself “I am not going to pay that much for an ereader. Just not going to do it.” Then a few months later I’ll look again for a week. This process has repeated itself ever since it has come out. If the price dropped enough I’d have to buy one and be glad to do so.

    I’d love to see that shell in a cheaper Kindle. GIve us the Paperwhite or Voyager with the huge bezel on the edge and auto flip and I’d be as happy as a dog in a butcher shop. But my #1 begged for upgrade is immersion reading on a EBR. Even if it has to be done through bluetooth. I want that even more than the Oasis skin on a cheaper EBR. My 3rd most wanted upgrade is more font sizes. 2nd of course is the large bezel on one side of the EBR.

    • Lady Galaxy Says:

      I named my Voyage “Kobayashi Maru” because it was the first touch screen device I’d ever used and the learning curve for me was very steep! Trying to figure out how to use it seemed like Mission Impossible! Had it not been for Bufo’s help I would have probably sent it back. I’m glad I didn’t. I’d intended to change the name if I ever figured out how to use it, but I left it alone to remind me not to give up on something just because it’s hard to figure out.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thank for writing, Lady!

        Awww! You made my day! 🙂

      • Phink Says:

        I love that name. When Amazon came out with the Paperwhite: Next Generation I named it 1701-D. The next one I named 1701-E. I just sold 1701-D and felt a little sad because the name is now gone as well. Oh well, he loves it and we have one more Kindle fan in the world now and he said he has rediscovered a love for reading. That’s more important.
        Since Bufo calls the cheapest one the Mindle I named mine Mindle Finger. The first touch that came out I named Phalanges.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Phink!

        I do like the names from everybody!

        Well, I did a poll a while back and people didn’t like me calling it the Mindle, so I don’t do that in the blog any more…I do still like it personally, though. 🙂

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      The Oasis certainly looks interesting. If I could get it without an animal leather cover, I’d definitely consider it. 🙂

      Are you going to subscribe to CBS All Access to watch Star Trek: Discovery? I’m a little worried about it…that it will be too cynical. More than four years ago, I wrote about the fundamental difference between Star Trek and Star Wars:

      This is part of what I said:

      “…that’s the dichotomy. In Star Trek, society is good and has lofty goals. The Enterprise crew fights for good. In Star Wars, society at the top is evil and has reprehensible schemes…the rebels fight against evil.

      For good.

      Against evil.

      It’s pretty simple.”

      What I’ve seen of the series makes me concerned they are going to lose that core element, and just have dressing (even if a returning character is exciting to me…I’d suggested that character could appear in the movie series reboot).

      One other little thing: I’ll be interested to see what people use for the abbreviation for it. We have ST:TOS (Star Trek: The Original Series), ST:TNG (Star Trek: The Next Generation), and so on. This one is called Star Trek: Discovery…but I don’t think they’ll follow that pattern. 😉

      • Phink Says:

        I subscribed to CBS all access once and never got past the free week. I can’t remember for sure why I canceled but I think it was because the main reason I subscribed “The Big Bang Theory” did not have many shows. It seems maybe they only had the last 5 or 6 for on demand. I have not seen it in a while and for $6 a month, I think that’s right, it seems high for one channel and limited shows on that one channel. Therefore, I doubt I’ll give it a try. If it shows up on Netflix one day I’ll watch it or depending on the price I’ll buy the digital version at VUDU. It’ll probably be more than I want to pay for it however.
        Bottom line I’ll watch it someday. Just like Enterprise. I think it was cancelled before I ever got to watch it. Then, it was decent at best. I love Voyager and they had the best story’s of any of them. I loved Qwark on DS9 and his brother but there were a lot of very average episodes in my opinion. There were also some great ones. I would say DS9 was the most inconsistent. Great shows and not very good ones as well. Of course Next Gen was excellent. I love Voyager’s crew but with Data, Worf, and Picard they were my favorite crew but I also loved Voyager.

  2. Robert Anderson Says:

    I don’t have a problem with leather,

    I would like to see a Kindle with more storage space, like the Japanese Paperwhite, I like to keep books on the device.

    • Phink Says:

      I was goofy enough to buy the $60 leather case for my paperwhite and love, love, love it. It was a waste of money only because it’s not my go to device. I read it at night in bed. I love the fact it does not have Amazon’s name blazed across the front. I hate that about the Oasis cover. I hate ads on those types of things.
      I like that cover so much it made me think that perhaps I need more leather merchandise.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Robert!

      Personally, I keep very little on my Kindles, but that’s just a personal choice. More storage is honestly not an issue for me. It’s a bit different on my phone, because the “experiences” (apps) for Virtual Reality can be so big!

      • Phink Says:

        Since I sold two Kindles in the last week I now only have 3 EBR’s. One I hardly ever touch even though I love it (Keyboard). The Paperwhite I keep by the bed only has the books I’m reading at the moment. As soon as I’m done with a book it gets deleted from it.

        The Voyage model is my go to Kindle and it has every book I own on it. I do notice it’s sluggish sometimes and at times even has a 3 or 4 second delay if touching it. Not turning pages but other things. For instance, just today I woke it up and tapped the top of the screen in order to bring up the menu. I thought it did not register so I was going to touch the screen again. Apparently 1/4 of a second before I touched the screen the menu popped up but too late for my finger to stop. I touched the shopping cart and instantly the book store started loading. That happens sometimes. I had no idea it might be because too many books are on it.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Phink!

        I have two Kindle EBRs I use every day: a Paperwhite and a Voyage. Admittedly, the majority of my reading gets done in the car via my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX using text-to-speech. Google just decided to tell me how much time I spent in a vehicle in July, and it was “more than sixty hours” (I assume I’m off the scale, the way it was written). I don’t have two hours a day to just sit and sight read, although that would be nice. 🙂

        I would certainly think the numbe of books you have on your device is slowing it down…and as you note, not as much once you are within a book. When your Kindle is first waking up, one of the things it is doing is displaying to you the list of books…not all of them at once, but if it is showing you recent ones, you can imagine how that is harder for 1,000 books than for ten…

  3. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I haven’t any idea what Amazon may (or may not) do for this upcoming holiday season. Instead I’ll focus on a few things that I’d “like” them to do (:grin).
    On the EBR front I think they ought to drop the Voyage. They ought to have 3 kindles: a low priced version (preferably under $50); I don’t have any feel for features at this price point because I don’t play there. They should reduce the price of the Paperwhite to under $100 — I can’t think of any features they could add that would be attractive (Bluetooth? maybe, but my experience with a lot of Bluetooth devices in a simultaneous environment has been spotty — there is a revision to Bluetooth coming that will deal with some of this). The Oasis is my daily driver EBR. The battery life is not it’s all cracked up to be — primarily I think because the cover battery is small, and its energy density falls with repeated charging. My Oasis is used every day for 5-8 hours; it is less that two years old, and it lasts about a day before I get a battery low message. Amazon now offers replacement covers (black only $89) which presumably addresses this. Beyond a stronger battery, It should be offered at a lower price point (especially if they drop the voyage)
    Overall, I think all the EBR’s could do with upgrades to better processors. Performance tends to get a mite sluggish when the number of books resident on the device gets large.
    On the tablet front they are going to need to support the 4K display resolution — given that their Fire devices are mostly targeted at video viewing. This will be a challenge on two fronts: battery life, and price — if they want their existing tablet price points. I would like them to re-enter the high end tablet space following on from the discontinued HDX line — although I really don’t see them doing this.
    On Fire TV I don’t have any feel at all — given the plethora of alternatives. Smart TV’s these days come with built-in apps that can access video from a variety of sources (including Amazon); then there are things like Roku, Chromecast, and (even) game consoles like the PlayStation, or Xbox that can deliver video to your TV.
    On the TV front (and not necessarily having anything to do with Amazon), Samsung has come out with something called the Frame TV that mounts absolutely flush to the wall — just like a picture — it even comes customized frames (White, Black, Wood, etc.). The key thing is that they’ve got an “invisible connection” feature that removes much of the TV electronics and connectors to off-board hub that can be up to 15 meters away from the TV. The connection is a very thin tiny optical cable that can be in the wall (or taped to the wall and painted over — you won’t notice it). So maybe a new product category for Amazon might be a 3rd party “Hub” that can connect to the Samsung Frame with perhaps Amazon flavored features (like Alexa?)> I’m just frothing at the mount here (;grin). Also the Frame can display pictures (it comes with a bunch preloaded, or you can buy more, or use your own camera shots) when it’s not being used as a TV.
    For Echo I’m not sure that we need any more devices — with the Look and Show recently added we’ve got quite a lot to digest. Perhaps the original Echo could do with a style redesign, and perhaps the Bluetooth, and audio cable features from the Dot could be added — all at a lower price point to match the price points of the competitive devices coming from Google, Apple, Microsoft, et al. As I think I’ve mentioned before, they need to clean up the S/W support across all the different Echo devices so there is more feature and UI commonality.
    I think there’s a lot they can do in integrating telephony into the Alexa environment. Some of this may be beyond Amazon’s control, however: the carriers, and coming standards like embedded SIM (e-SIM).
    Initial reviewers of the Show have indicated several areas where Amazon (or skills developers) have to better leverage the Show’s display.
    I haven’t set up my Show yet so I’m going off reviews. Some of the initial dings are things that Amazon isn’t going to fix this holiday season (lackluster display resolution; boring physical design).
    As I was reading one review they likened it to radios that we used to attach under kitchen cabinets. That got me to thinking: could it play Sirius satellite radio? I pay for internet access to Sirius content, and I thought I read somewhere:
    that there is a hidden browser accessible from the Show. If it’s a full browser, that opens up a lot of possibilities — something to research. Getting browser access is convoluted according to the above video — so that’s something that Amazon could add to the Show: easy browser access. A lot of what’s missing with the Show is that most of the existing skills are not cognizant of the screen and its touch capabilities — that will come with time.
    Somehow when watching the above video, my Echo Dot ended up in something called the Alexa social bot which let me carry on an extended conversation with Alexa. Access is via “Alexa let’s chat”. I wonder if that’s a skill or something from Amazon? Conversational access (with some intelligence), dictation, and telephony are all things I’d like to see in the Alexa ecosystem.
    Lastly, I suppose there is always the possibility of Amazon doing something “completely different” a la Monty Python? (:grin)

    • Phink Says:

      I’ve been looking at the Oasis a lot lately because I really want one but with other like new devices in my possession I just can’t pull the trigger. Anyway, you mentioned replacement cases. If I got one I was considering an extra case just for the extra power when traveling and what knot. They have quite a few used cases for $19-$20. After what you said about it not working as well after a few charges would concern me on those however. Still, if I bought one I’d take the gamble and get a used extra cover.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Phink!

        I do carry a power bank with me most of the time, which works well. I have a cable for my Significant Other’s iPhone and one for my Android…although I do really like some cables we bought which can do either (by swapping a small attached adapter). I might get one of those to carry with my power bank. The power bank would also charge a Kindle or Fire, of course.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      I think we’re on the same page…er, screen 😉 on a lot of this.

      The “Let’s chat” thing is the Alexa Prize:

      Amazon’s putting $2.5 million into prize money to encourage development of better conversing bots. I think that’s smart on their part, but I haven’t been impressed so far.

      We use our Show a lot, and are taking it to a wedding with us later this year. It could use some adjustments…the biggest thing for me is the screen angle. I need to stick something under it to get it pointed where I want. Ideally, it will be a screen you could tilt. Even little feet you could adjust would help.

  4. Round up #159: Brian Aldiss, Amazon device sale | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] September 2017 is coming: what devices have been around the longest? […]

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