New Amazon device announcements!

New Amazon device announcements!

Well, it’s always nice to get one right! 🙂

I said last week:

“We’ve had strong rumors about new Fire TV devices: my guess is we will have the announcement by Tuesday (which is a traditional book announcement day)…”

Here is that Tuesday, and there are announcements!

Okay, okay…they haven’t announced the new Fire TVs at the time I write this, but they did announce in this

press release

they did announce a new

Fire HD 10″ with hands-free Alexa (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and the day’s not through yet. 😉

I haven’t had time to look at this much yet, but I will later (it’s available for pre-order, releasing October 11). The hands-free Alexa part is new: you can turn on a mode when it is on wi-fi that will let you address it like an Echo (but presumably, it won’t hear you as well, since it won’t have those far-field microphones).

One thing I checked right away was to see if it will have Alexa calling and the drop-in feature like the

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

which would have solved an issue for me when that device wonderfully enabled a sibling to “attend” another sibling’s wedding.

How the Echo Show kept our family together at a wedding

Interestingly, they talk about how it is great for Skype calls! My guess is that they will enable Alexa calling on it (it’s wi-fi isn’t different from the Echo being able to do calls) before the end of the year.

I have to run, but I can’t go without mentioning the price, which is only $149.99!

Also, there is this:

“Fire HD 10 also includes For You, a new personalized page on the tablet home screen that makes it easy for customers to quickly get back to reading, watching, playing or listening—and to quickly find what’s next. For You learns what a customer loves to do on the tablet, and then presents personalized recommendations across a variety of entertainment categories like books, videos, songs, and apps to help customers get the most out of their tablet. Customers can also quickly access family photos from Prime Photos and see their local weather right from the For You home screen. The new For You page is also now available for customers on previous generation Fire tablets.”

I think we could still get those Fire TV announcements today…or there may be announcements over the next few days, we’ll see.

If you have comments (some of my readers have really insightful comments when new models are released), feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amaz on 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.

17 Responses to “New Amazon device announcements!”

  1. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Well, it’s not 4K, and it’s not the 2560×1600 resolution of the Fire HDX, but I may buy the 64 GB ($189) one. The cameras are pretty useless (2MP rear, VGA front).

    As to the Skype calling feature, it’s important to realize that the usual Skype call is from an internet connected device running Skype to an internet connected device running Skype using IP all the way — you are not making use of the PSTN (public switched telephone network) at all. Skype does offer calling to PSTN connected devices, but that involves a monthly fee. There are also a couple of Alexa skills that offer PSTN calling. One of these, RingByName, charges $14.95/month for local calls only (24.95/month for USA/Canada). These are not cheap and are targeted at businesses.

    It’s also important to note that the Alexa calling on the Show is Echo device to Echo device only — not Echo device to PSTN. It is this latter feature that would be truly useful. The hangup 🙂 is probably due to carrier and tariffing issues.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Yes, the PSTN is an excellent point. Alexa calling isn’t just to Echoes, though: it’s to (some) Alexa-enabled devices. You can use the Alexa app on a phone (Android or iPhone), although not to Fire TVs (at this point…that may be coming on the anticipated new device).

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Heads up, Edward!

      The Fire TV comparison page now says, for the Fire TV, “Up to 4K Ultra HD”. It’s priced at $89.99, and I’m guessing that’s the yet to be released model…where they list the individual stats, it only says, “2160p up to 30fps; 720p and 1080p up to 60fps”. I think it may be a leak that we can see the 4K part…

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        We’re miscommunicating. the new Fire TV dongle does, in fact, do 4K to a connected 4K TV, but I was talking about a tablet on which you could watch 4K videos (a popular modality these days).
        The Fire HD 10 tablet is only full HD. Clearly, Amazon is designing its tablet devices as affordable consumption devices. Since my Fire HDX 8.9 is dying, and the new Fire HD 10 contains Alexa, (and only costs $150) I went ahead and bought one — it arrived Friday. I spent most of Friday and all of Saturday using it (not the Alexa part yet).
        As a PDF document reader, HD video viewer, and other consumption use cases, it’s fine. I also have a Fire HD 8.9 which I’ve done my initial comparison to. The new tablet is faster, weighs about the same (with the cover attached) as the HD 8.9, and is otherwise superficially similar. One thing: the Amazon app store is really deficient — I was forced to install just to get some necessary apps (like LastPass). The charger that comes with it (1.8A output) was not able to increase the charge when watching a video with brightness set to max (some of the TV shows are too dark otherwise). Thankfully, I have several 2.1A chargers around.
        The arrival of the Fire HD 10 prompted me to set up my Echo Show — as my ultimate intent is to compare Alexa on the Show versus Alexa on the Fire HD 10. I may comment on my show first impressions back on your Show first impressions post.
        Basically, I’m happy with both: set up was incredibly easy for both.
        My fingers are tired — enough.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        I appreciate you clarifying the conversation!

        When an old Fire tablet stopped charging, I got my Significant Other the new HD8…and it has not been well received. 😦 Least favorite device so far for my SO.

        Might be worth trying to HD10, if you like it…let me know.

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        What is it about the Fire HD 8 that your SO doesn’t like? It’s hard for me to recommend the Fire HD 10, when I don’t know what the HD 8 deficiencies for your SO are.

        The HD 8 is $70 cheaper than the HD 10; it has 2 hours more battery life than the HD 10. The HD 10 has a much better display (224 ppi vs 189 ppi; it’s much brighter); it is faster, has more RAM, and more storage. And of course, it’s bigger and heavier than the HD 8. The sound and camera capabilities are the same for both (sound quite good, cameras bloody awful).

        Both have Alexa, but only the HD 10 has hands-free Alexa.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        Actually, based on your prompting, I got some more information and changed a couple of settings. I think it’s mostly that my SO liked the old Kindle Fire HDX better. 😉 I like mine, too…knock virtual wood, it’s lasted quite a while. I’d have to check, but I think I’ve been using it the longest of any of my Amazon devices.

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        Well, I like my Fire HDX 8.9 as well — it’s the best tablet that I’ve ever had. But as I said the screen has badly warped (about 0.5″ above the bezel). It still works, but I’m treating it with kid gloves 🙂 . As I said when I just got the HD 10, a lot of apps I need are not available in the Amazon store. I looked at the apps installed on my Fire HD 8.9, and got the ones I still want on the HD 10 from a 3rd party store. I still have to do the same thing with the apps on the Fire HDX 8.9.

        While the HDX has far better display resolution than the HD 10, the HDX ppi is far above what the human visual system can detect (around 300 ppi if you hold it 6″ in front of your eyes). The HD 10 at 224 ppi is not quite there, but then I don’t hold it 6″ away either. So far text and video seem just as good on the HD 10 (to my unscientific impressions anyway).

        You mentioned a colored line on your smartphone. I had a bunch of colored distortions along the edges of my Surface Book (MS replaced the SB even though it was almost a year out of warranty). They said the problem was due to heat from the battery. I think the warping on the HDX is also from battery heat. I also had a battery problem on an HP Spectre X360 — thankfully that one wasn’t near the display, but when the case was opened the battery was all expanded and had to be replaced. I also have a Samsung ATIV Book 9+ in which the case has buckled, and the touch panel has raised up (it still sorta works).

        In all these situations, I think the problem is with the batteries. I don’t travel much — so all these machines stay on the chargers 24/7 — the batteries are almost never used. I’m thinking that one probably needs to run Lion-powered devices on the battery from time to time to prevent these kinds of problems — bummer.

        There are several other battery chemistries that have a variety of advantages over Lithium Ion (including 2-5x runtimes). Unfortunately, they all have various disadvantages as well. I sure hope the boffins get on a stick, and resolve some of these. Radically better batteries would be a transformational game changer in so many ways — and not just for devices.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        If it is heat, that’s interesting! Using it in VR, it can get really hot…they’ve improved it, but it would get to the point in the past where I’d get a warning (in VR) telling me that it was overheating and had to cool off. I use an app now that will work to cool off the CPU, but it doesn’t overheat in VR any ore.

        The app I use (which is good as a cleaner, too) is Super Cleaner.

        Interestingly, my sibling Scott (I’m doing a giveaway for Scott’s book right now…hundreds of entries so far!) is a physicist (and astronomer) who did some serious research work on batteries some years ago.

        We need true wireless charging, where it happens just as you walk around…that would probably reduce a lot of these problems with batteries, since they wouldn’t need to store as much (for one thing).

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        I was actually more thinking of batteries for cars (1,000 miles on a single charge?), and things like the Tesla Powerwall, but with enough juice to power a whole 3 bedroom house for a week, and with solar panels on the roof, off the grid completely — no more electric utility. 😀

        That latter scenario is very much on my mind after Irma (although I was here in FL for Frances, Jeanne, and Wilma as well — after Wilma we were w/o power for 1.5 weeks)

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        Sorry to hear you were without power! That can be difficult, for sure.

        Battery improvements are definitely coming, although I’m still thinking wireless power is in the future. Another thing is roads that charge electric cars…that’s a lot of infrastructure change, but it’s a real thing.

  2. Joan Huston Says:

    Why no Oasis for sale? Are they coming out with a new reader???

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Joan!

      When I look, in the USA, at least one configuration is still on sale…but they may certainly be coming out with a new EBR (E-Book Reader). 🙂

  3. Edward Boyhan Says:

    A couple of additional comments. With the recent announcement of new Echo devices, they did say that PSTN calling would be enabled. They also announced the Echo Connect, a $35 device, that plugs into a landline RJ11 jack, and lets you use other Echo devices to make calls over that landline — it enables Echo devices to be used as landline-connected speakerphones. Receivers of such calls will see the phone number of the landline on caller id. Also, all the usual landline 911 features are present.
    Since I don’t have either an iPhone or an Android phone, I can’t check out the Echo calling features (you need a smartphone-resident version of the Alexa app to set up Echo calling).
    Getting a new smartphone is on my todo list, but I want one with Alexa integration. Currently, there are three with this: Huawei Mate 9, HTC U11, and Moto (Lenovo) X4. The Huawei is old and their latest iteration (the Mate 10) doesn’t have Alexa. Much of HTC was just bought by Google, and they are no friends of Alexa (witness their removal of YouTube from the Show) — also the U11 is missing some phone features on my carrier (AT&T). The Moto X4 looks good, but Google is selling it on their project FI in the US w/o Alexa. Alexa is available on the X4 outside the US — it’s unclear whether Lenovo is going to sell a non-project FI version of the X4 in the US.
    I’m going to wait a bit to see if other Alexa enabled phones appear. The lack of smartphones with Alexa integration is a big hole in Amazon’s goal of worldwide Echo hegemony (:grin). A paranoid (who me?) would say Google is thwarting them at every turn.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      While Amazon has had other strong competitors, as you observe, Google is probably the one which has actively opposed them. One could argue that for Apple, but that’s always felt to me like…parallel labs. Google is actually parking cars on the Amazon railroad track.

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        Well, great news! I received an email from Amazon today they have made the Moto X4 the latest Prime exclusive phone (phones with “special offers” which we’re familiar with from the Kindle).

        It comes with a $70 discount off the $400 price. And best of all this version includes hands-free Alexa — no need to turn the phone on — Alexa is there for you :-)!

        The phone was announced at IFA in Berlin in early September, and has been favorably received so far. It will be available from a variety of sellers in the US at prices ($400) a bit lower than what it’s going to sell for in the EU. And of course, the Prime exclusive price just blows all that away ($330). For a mid-range price, it packs a lot of punch.

        It’s fully compatible with all the US carriers (the HTC U11 had some limitations on AT&T). I’ll be pre-ordering it real soon now (:grin).

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        Let me know what you think! We may be getting two new SmartPhones in the next year or so. When my SO leaves the current job, that will also be the loss of a phone. My Galaxy S7 has developed a flaw (an intermittent pinkish purplish line…apparently a hardware failure). I think I’ve had it too long for a warranty replacement, but I do have a program that lets me “upgrade”.

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