Archive for the ‘Fire TV’ Category

Why Disney+ may be great for Amazon

May 23, 2019

Why Disney+ may be great for Amazon

I think Disney’s Disney+ streaming subscription service, launching November 12th, is going to be a giant success, and not just because this feels like a turning point year for Disney, what with their movies including the Avengers and the new Lion King and the “Star Wars Land” opening,

For about $7 a month (all information here is for the USA), subscribers will (eventually) get access to Marvel movies, Disney movies & TV shows, 20th Century Fox (sorry, I still like the old name) movie and TV shows, National Geographic…it’s hard for me to see who wouldn’t want it. 🙂

Of course, not everybody buys everything they want, but I’m sure lots of people will get this in addition to other streaming services they have, some will get it as their first streaming service…and while I don’t think it will be a big percentage, some may drop current subscriptions and switch to Disney+.

Among those competitors hypothetically at risk?

Amazon’s Prime Video.

Two others? Netflix and Hulu, the latter now mostly under Disney control.

So, you might think Amazon would be worried about Disney+…people who pay for Prime Video as a standalone are paying more than Disney+ ($8.99 a month). but I would guess the vast majority of people who was Prime Video do it through being members of

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

where it is included along with a lot of other benefits, but they’ve offered Prime Video separately for long enough that we can be comfortable that it is there is a market for it

However, Amazon doesn’t just have a streaming service.

It has the hardware you can use to watch it on your TV!

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

While I still sometimes encounter the mythology that Amazon is a “closed garden”, that it doesn’t want you to get anything from anywhere else, that’s easily refuted and has been from the beginning. That doesn’t mean you can get everything: you couldn’t buy Barnes & Noble’s Nook books for your Kindle when that was a hot and heavy battle.

But, if you want to watch HBO, Starz, Showtime, CBS All Access, and a whole lot more, you can pay for them through your Amazon account and have them show up on your Fire TV..

That’s what I think will happen with Disney+. I’m very confident that it will be available that way…why would Disney pass up a market which is now

bigger than Roku (Motley Fool article by Adam Levy)

?

It’s also possible that they will just have the app available to run on your Fire TV. That’s how we watch Netflix and Hulu…we pay those services directly, but still watch them on Fire TV.

In the same way that comedian Milton Berle (“Uncle Milty”) is credited with having doubled TV shows in the 1940s, Disney+ may increase Fire TV sales.

What do you think? Will you get Disney+? Will you drop something else…including Amazon Prime? Do you pay for Channels now from Amazon? Feel to let me and readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

* 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.

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Amazon introduces IMDb Freedive ad-supported videos…but Prime Video loses some content

January 12, 2019

Amazon introduces IMDb Freedive ad-supported videos…but Prime Video loses some content

Amazon has recently introduced

IMDb Freedive

This is a fascinating development, and a real step into a new market!

IMDb (Internet Movie Database) is a site that I probably use daily, and have done so for many years. It is, in my opinion, the best movie (and TV) reference site on the web. I use it as a measure…”I wish I had an IMDb for books/commercials/and so on”.

Amazon bought it in 1998 (it had launched in 1990). At the time, we could see interesting possibilities for it. Some people were concerned that Amazon might commercialize it in a different way, or filter it (to drive people to Amazon). However, my experience is that when Amazon buys a company, it is often buying the philosophy and leadership of that company, not just the assets. It was some time before Amazon’s presence was even easily detectable on the site. That has changed, with links to Prime Videos, for example, but it isn’t overwhelming.

I believe it was January 11th (yesterday) that IMDb Freedive was launched, offering ad-supported movies (some well-known and recent) and TV series (some with strong fandom) for free viewing.

Why did they do this?

Well, one reason is undoubtedly to sell more of the

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

While you can watch IFd (that’s my new abbreviation for it…I figured I’d follow the IMDb precedent of making the last letter small and the last part of a compound word) on a computer, I’m sure the majority of people will want to watch on media streamers. Just as Roku has content which leads people to purchase that device, this may lead to the same thing happening for Fire TV devices.

Is the content tempting?

Yes!

At launch, it includes:

Movies

  • Awakenings
  • Foxcatcher
  • Memento
  • Monster
  • Junebug
  • Look Who’s Talking
  • Lords of Dogtown
  • Johnny Mnemonic
  • Short Circuit
  • Drive
  • The Mask of Zorro
  • The Fisher King

Just for movies, that means there are recent movies, Oscar-nominated movies, geek-friendly movies, cult classics…there don’t appear to be a ton of them (I’ve only listed a few), but free, right? That’s if you are okay with ads.

TV

  • Fringe
  • Heroes
  • The Bachelor
  • Without a Trace
  • Caprica
  • Kitchen Nightmares
  • Warehouse 13
  • Giligan’s Island
  • Dallas (the original)
  • Lexx
  • The Rifleman

While these aren’t the type of current shows you can see on Hulu, they can challenge the some of the older content you can see there, on Netflix, and on the similarly ad-supported Tubi.

I do use Tubi, and I think they may be the most immediately challenged of the streaming services by this development.

The ad experience isn’t bad, and is also similar to Tubi. They seem to have been reasonably careful about where a movie cuts to a commercial (actually, usually more than one). The ads are current: the Clark series were the pest control employee encounters supernatural creatures, for example.

I would love to see a more sophisticated discovery method, but that’s been true for me for Prime Video as well. For example, I want to just be able to see all titles listed alphabetically…seems like that would be as easy as ABC. 😉

Speaking of Prime Video, that is the one significant negative to the launch of IFd that I’ve found.

I went to watch Gilligan’s Island on it, partially to test it out…weirdly, it didn’t automatically want me to start with the first episode, but it let me switch to that. That could be because I’ve binged it on Prime before, though…maybe it was picking up where I left off.

However…

I couldn’t find a way to switch it back to Prime…watching with commercials was the only choice I was being given.

I wanted to confirm what that seemed to indicate; that some videos had left Prime and migrated to IFd, taking something away from Prime members.

I used Amazon’s very nice chat help, and here’s how that went:


Me: IMDb Freedive is certainly interesting! I do have a question: there are videos (like Gilligan’s Island) which I have watched on Prime. When I find them now, they only give me a choice for watching on IMDb Freedive with ads. Is there a way to select to watch them with Prime still, or is watching them with ads the only choice now?
You are now connected to [Amazon rep] from Amazon.com
[Amazon rep]: Hello, my name is [Amazon rep]. I’m here to help you today.
Me: Great!
[Amazon rep]: Bufo, I am sorry the IMDb Freedive titles contain advertisements that run during playback of a title.
These advertisements cannot be skipped with your Prime subscription.
However, I’ve forwarded your message to our IMDb Freedive business team.
We’re constantly working to improve our digital video experience.
Me: Okay, just to confirm: some videos have been removed from Prime Video and added to IMDb Freedive instead?
[Amazon rep]: Yes, you’re right.
It’s upto the content owners agreement.
Me: Thanks! I appreciate the prompt and concise response.
[Amazon rep]: You are very welcome. Can I help you anything else?
Me: No, that’s it! I’m going to share that information with other people, and I’m sure they’ll find it helpful.
[Amazon rep]: Thank you for contacting Amazon and wish you a great day! Take care, bye!​


It makes sense that it is up to the rights’ holders as to which service has their content…I suppose it’s possible that some companies will make it available both ways, but I’m sure this was part of how Amazon got the content for IFd: “You already have it available through Prime…you can put it into IMDb Freedive, and get a share of ad revenue.”

This seems somewhat unusual to me: Amazon usually really wants to promote

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

membership…that appears to be the economic driver of their consumer retail business (at least from the customer end). This, hypothetically, makes that a bit less attractive…but I suspect very few Prime members will realize it, and I’d be confident that almost no one would drop Prime over having to watch ads (ad-supported Kindles and Fires have usually been more popular than their full-price equivalents, but then you were getting a discount. We aren’t going to get a Prime discount because of this, although if it’s very successful, I suppose it might slow the need for Amazon to raise Prime prices).

On the other hand, this makes the Fire TV family of Amazon devices considerably more attractive…and since they have Alexa, it may be a way to get Alexa into more lives, a key Amazon strategy.

Definitely an interesting move!

What do you think? Had you discovered IMDb Freedive already (there was a banner ad on our Fire TV Cube)? Were you aware of IMDb? How do you feel about ad-supported video? Do you think this content will get more people to buy Fire TVs? If you are a Prime member, does it concern you at all? If you don’t have a Fire TV, will this get you to check out IMDb on a computer or mobile device? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

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

* 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

 

Fire TV Cube: 1st impressions and menu map

June 25, 2018

Fire TV Cube: 1st impressions and menu map

I’ve been using the

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

for about a day now.

It’s Amazon’s new streaming device/home assistant…for most people, the shorthand is that it combines an Echo and a Fire TV.

However, I have multiple Echo devices and two Fire TVs in this room (I was only currently using one), and it does things that none of them do (but also doesn’t do some things that the Echo does do).

Let’s hit the high level first.

It is a quantum leap forward in TV control. It doesn’t completely eliminate our remotes (we have a fancy Logitech Harmony Home Control – 8 Devices (White) (at AmazonSmile*)), for one thing), but for most simple operations, it is a new, simpler way to do things.

However, it’s certainly imperfect, and I expect to see big improvements in the future. Nowadays, that doesn’t necessarily mean waiting for a second generation of hardware…a lot of it could be done with software updates.

If you get one, you are an early adopter…but it’s a more mature technology than, say, the first Kindle.

My first actual impression on opening the box was that it was a lot smaller than I expected. Maybe the size of two Echo Dots stacked on top of each other, or your two fists side-by-side.

Second, set up was easy. One of the biggest things it does is use infrared to control your devices, and your remote probably does. I didn’t have to tell it what brand and model my TV was (as I do with my Harmony)…it just detected it. I did need to know my wi-fi password, but even though it’s long and random, I have that memorized (I’m cool like that). 😉

You plug it into the HDMI port on your TV, plug it into power, and then just run through the prompts.

Oh, that brings up the biggest headscratcher!

They give you two cables you may not need: one for a cabled connection (as opposed to wi-fi) to the internet, and one to improve the infrared connection if you keep a device inside a cabinet. That’s nice of them, although I didn’t need either.

Weirdly, though, they didn’t include a cable you absolutely need: an HDMI cable to connect it to your TV. I used the one from the Fire TV it is replacing, but I can see a lot of people making the plunge into streaming/SmartHome with this, especially as a gift, and not having one.

Amazon sells their own branded, six-foot cable for $6.99: even if they ended up charging a few dollars more for the device, it seems like it only makes sense to have it usable out of the box for just about everyone. I would guess there are people who would return it when they realized that wasn’t included, again receiving it as a gift. Here’s that Amazon cable, but there are a lot of options: AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable, 6 Feet, 1-Pack | 4.6 stars out of 5 | 15,490 customer reviews at time of writing.

One interesting thing: during the guided set-up, it did suggest Hulu for my homescreen…but not Netflix (we use both, in addition to Prime video and Tubi). You could still download Netflix, it just wasn’t one of the first options.

It appeared that apps that were compatible with our 2nd gen Fire TV were compatible with this, so I just had to download them again…and sign into them, in some cases.

The one big issue we’ve had with apps is that Hulu has failed to launch…repeatedly. It eventually does, but that’s not a problem we had before. I’m guessing an update will come that will resolve that.

As to the voice control: I was generally impressed! When I asked to watch a program, it took me to where I was watching it before…and started with the right episode. We have more than one Netflix profile, as one example, and it appeared to know to go to the one where we had last watched that show (rather than picking a different profile and starting at the first episode).

One thing I thought it was going to do was turn on the TV if needed to watch something…it hasn’t been doing that, so I do ask it to both turn on the TV and then to find the show.

The search is a bit…kludgy. Not bad, but for example, when I asked for “science fiction movies”, it showed me a lot of science fiction TV shows, too. Minor thing, but it should know the difference.

I do end up using the remote some (and I set up the Harmony to work with it…it’s important for my Significant Other that the option be there for everything to work just the way it did before. I’m eager to learn new ways with tech, and my SO is less so). The remote that came with it, the Harmony, and voice control are all working with the new device, and I don’t have to tell it which one to use each time. Also worth noting: my Bluetooth headset (I use a currently unavailable inexpensive SoundBot pair) also paired with no problem. That means that I can do all the Alexa stuff it does hearing it in the headset. Since you can whisper to an Alexa, that means I can keep things pretty quiet if I’m awake and my SO isn’t.

Similar to our Echo Show, it will display some things on the TV screen, which is really nice! When I use the Jeopardy skill, I like to be able to read the questions, not just hear them…and they looked great on our TV! Similarly, asking for the weather gave us some visual information in addition to an audio response.

I would really love for it to be able to do videocalls on our TV, but it doesn’t do calling at all (and doesn’t have a camera…that might be solved by having it link to another camera. That’s a big limitation compared to other Echo devices…it can do home automation, the weather, Prime music (sounds good on our TV), and so on.

Important to note: it actually sounds pretty good when you aren’t using the TV. Much better than an Echo Dot.

It hears pretty well, but I think I’ll follow their recommendation and move it further away from the TV. It’s about a foot from it now, and sometimes we have to call its name twice for it to hear us. It may learn our voices better later and get better at discriminating them from the TV…

Let’s do a quick menu map (just looking at the Settings):

  • Notifications (these are notifications from Amazon…you may have nothing there, but it told us that a package was coming that day…not when it actually arrived)
  • Network: that’s how you join a wi-fi network…you do have options for WPS PIN or Button
  • Display & Sounds
    • Screensaver (you have it show your photos)
    • Display
    • Audio (in addition to sound style, you can turn off the navigation sounds here, which I always do)
    • Second Screen Notifications
    • HDMI CEC Device Control
  • Applications
    • Collect App Usage DAta
    • Appstore
      • Automatic Updates
      • External Market Links (since you can use browsers now)
      • In-App Purchases (important as a form of “parental controls”)
      • Manage My Subscriptions (for now, this suggests you go to Amazon)
      • Notifications
      • Hide Cloud Apps
    • Prime Photos
      • Allow Guest Connections (hm…this says guests can connect to your TV to cast photos and videos to your screen.  I have to learn more about this! Is this the return of mirroring, or something more limited?)
      • Access Prime Photos (on or off)
    • GameCircle
    • Manage Installed Applications (very useful…I sometimes end up force-stopping an app if it’s “misbehaving”)
  • Equipment Control (this is a new menu compared to the old Fire TV)
    • Equipment Control
    • Manage Equipment
      • Add Equipment
      • TV
        • Volume Increments (we definitely wanted to change this one! By default, it jumped up 5 when we said we wanted it louder, which was too loud. We changed the increments to 1)
        • Infrared Options
        • Power Controls
        • Change TV
        • Restore TV Defaults (after I’d changed the increments)
      • Fire TV Cube
      • Advanced Settings
        • Power Timing
    • Set Up Equipment Again (I may do this at some point…I don’t have it controlling our cable box…which we almost never use. It wanted me to use the remote at one point, and it didn’t seem to recognize our Harmony for this…I don’t know where the original remote is right now)
  • Controllers and Bluetooth Devices
    • Amazon Fire TV Remotes (a voice remote comes with it…the hardest thing in the whole set up is getting the battery case open) 😉
    • Game Controllers
    • Other Bluetooth Devices (this was for both the headset and the Harmony…when I set up my Harmony, by the way, it didn’t recognize “Fire TV Cube”, but it worked with “Fire TV”)
  • Alexa
    • Alexa App (yes, you’ll want to have that…I think you can do what you need to do on a computer, if you don’t have a SmartPhone)
    • Things to Try
    • Favor This Device (that seems new…and it was defaulted to On. I noticed that our Echo Show did light up when the TV talked about Alexa during the demo videos…but did not execute the commands)
  • Preferences
    • Parental Controls
    • Data Monitoring (turning it on gives you the below choices)
      • Set Video Quality (who would guess that was here?)
      • Set Data Alert
      • Monthly Top Data Usage
    • Notification Settings
    • Featured Content (this has a marvelous setting that lets you turn off Video/Audio Autoplay when you are searching! I’ve recently been having a discussion at AT&T because the DirecTV Now app now plays something in the background all the time, which means there could be spoilers if they happen to be at a crucial part of the “live” video. I’ve told them I basically can’t use the service unless that changes)
    • Location (you can enter your ZIP code for weather here)
    • Time Zone
    • Metric Units (Yay! That’s what I use, but I’ll leave it on English for my SO)
    • Advertising ID
  • Device
    • About
    • Developer options
      • ABD debugging
      • Apps from Unknown Sources
    • Legal & Compliance
    • Sleep (I thought this would let me choose screensaver timing, but it just put the Cube to sleep
    • Restart
    • Reset to Factory Defaults
  • Accessiblity
    • Closed Caption
    • VoiceView
    • Screen Magnifier (I have used this…it lets you use button combinations on your remote to magnify part of the screen)
    • High Contrast Text (Experimental)
  • Help
    • Help Videos
    • Quick Tips
    • Contact Us
    • Feedback
  • My Account
    • Amazon Account (to deregister and reregister)
    • Sync Amazon Content

Overall? I already walked into another room and wanted to use it on a TV there. 🙂 I have a lot more to learn and to try, and it’s going to improve, but it was already worth it. There’s been a leaked Prime Day of July 16th for this year…I don’t know that they’ll just flat put this on sale, but they might bundle it. We Prime members already got a discount in the beginning…I think they could repeat that discount.

It is the voice control we wanted for the Fire TV from the beginning. It can replace a typical Echo for the most part, but not quite. It can replace your remote for the most part, but sometimes it is going to be easier to use.

One last thing: a few recommendations for free apps (you can get them through your computer and download them from your Fire TV, or get them directly from your Fire TV)

  • Firefox Browser for Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*) (you can also get Amazon’s Silk browser…this multiplies your device’s capabilities. For example, there is a show we want to watch, and we can see full recent episodes at the website. It’s also a way to watch YouTube through your Fire TV)
  • Bookmarker 1 (at AmazonSmile*) (love this one! If you are using the browser, you can use this to launch a saved URL, so you don’t have to go through the awkward “typing” ((using the remote)) every time. This one only saves  one ((and you can specify browser)), but you can also get Bookmarker 2, Bookmarker 3, and so on)
  • Tubi TV (at AmazonSmile*) (this is not the equivalent of Prime/Hulu/Netflix, but we do use it. It’s ad-supported…TV with commercials, whodathunk? 😉 They do have great selections, and they seem to respect them with the way they are cut…the original British Avengers, Fireball XL5, also non-geeky options, including at time of writing Mississippi Burning and A Most Wanted Man. It also remembers where we are nicely from device to device)

If you do want geeky video on a schedule (not on demand), you can go to

Comet TV

in your browser app, and then use a Bookmarker. They have great content for free! It isn’t obvious, but the watch live link is in your top left…and note that the sound may be muted by default. You can then say, “Alexa, launch Bookmarker 1,” or whatever number it is.

Whew! That’s a lot of information for a “first impression”! If you have more questions or opinions, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

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

* 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.

Prime members: $30 off a new Amazon device (Fire TV Cube) through Friday (8 June 11:59 PM Pacific)

June 8, 2018

Prime members: $30 off a new Amazon device (Fire TV Cube) through Friday (8 June 11:59 PM Pacific)

Amazon announced a new device today, and it looks to me like it may be a significant evolution of the Fire TV, giving (most of) us what we’ve wanted all along.

It’s called the

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

The shorthand you are going to hear is that it is a combination of the Amazon Echo and the Fire TV.

That, though, leaves out what may be the biggest thing: control over your TV and other compatible devices.

So, without going through IFTTT (If This Then That) or using a device like we currently do, a Harmony remote, you should be able to have it turn on your TV, raise and lower the volume, change channels…all of that.

Apparently, it will also just figure out when to turn on the TV…if you ask to watch a movie, the TV turns on. If you ask Alexa (it has pretty full Alexa control…although not calling and messaging) what the weather is, it doesn’t need to turn it on (although I like the visuals that go along with questions like that on our Echo Show).

While we are watching our money more, I am going to get one. My Significant Other currently literally has a paper notebook on how to turn on the TV and watch shows, so I’m hoping this solves that. 🙂

The control includes Infrared, which is going to cover a lot of devices (but not all of them).

The list price is $119.99….but Prime members can get it for $89.99 if they order by 11:59 PM Pacific tomorrow (Friday 8 June). You also get a $10 Prime Video credit.

Since it controls SmartHome devices, they have those on package deals…you can buy the Ring Video Doorbell for a bit more than $50 off ($99.00).

I’m going to have to read more about it, but I wanted to get this out for you right away. This release is in the USA, and these are pre-orders for June 21st.


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

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

* 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.

Web browsing comes to Fire TV!

December 21, 2017

Web browsing comes to Fire TV!

Well, well, well!

That’s not what WWW usually means…that’s “World Wide Web”, but both are relevant. 😉

I was quite surprised to see on our

Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD and Alexa Voice Remote (New Pendant Form Factor) | Streaming Media Player (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

that I could download either (or both) Amazon’s Silk Browser and Firefox!

That takes care of Google pulling the YouTube app starting January 1st. 😉

That was the first thing I tried on the Silk browser…and it worked just fine.

I didn’t find the controls quite intuitive, but they worked. You use the Fire TV remote…and if you have the Voice Remote, you can enter search terms by speaking.

You an add bookmarks, and you can request the desktop version, but I didn’t find that necessary.

You can turn off safe searching…I wasn’t sure that would be an option on this device. It does appear you can also delete history and other “evidence”. Hey, some people are going to want to know!

You can sign into Silk.

The settings seem quite extensive.

It basically defaulted me to Bing as a search engine, but by going into the Advanced settings, I could also choose Google, Yahoo!, Ask, or AOL.

You can use parental controls.

This is honestly a complete game changer! It’s going to take a lot more exploring than I have time for right now, but with the current sale price of $54.99, I could actually do away with a computer for some consumption uses. Creation would be more difficult without a keyboard, but that might even be an option with a Bluetooth keyboard (haven’t tried that yet).

I’ll have to see if it works on our Fire TV stick as well…but well done, Amazon!

Update: it does work on our Fire TV Stick (at AmazonSmile*) (currently on sale for $34.99). I also tested it with the Fire TV app on my phone…voice input, no voice remote needed. Importantly, that also does give you an onscreen keyboard, and you can tie a Bluetooth keyboard to a phone. The Firefox app has YouTube right on the home screen, so it’s an easy click to get there.

I’ve seen this pooh-poohed by tech writers…I don’t think they get it. It does give Amazon an end around on Google turning off the YouTube app on the Fire TV on January 1st, and quite an effective one. That’s just one small piece of it, though. I haven’t tested it, but I could definitely see attending a Webex meeting (where I was mostly observing on my TV…and still being able to work on my laptop.

I think some tech writers (many are excellent) think average people want more than they do from innovations…but I may also sometimes overestimate adoption, I’ll admit.

Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think about it by commenting on this post!


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


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

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

* 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.

Round up #166: YouTube, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon device deals

December 6, 2017

Round up #166: YouTube, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon device deals

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

There are still great deals for the holidays at Amazon

I’m quite impressed with the deals this year at Amazon! It doesn’t feel like there is as much luck to it…while the “competition” is fun, it’s also good not to feel like you have to keep hovering over that Buy button. 😉

We are in Day 4 of

Amazon’s 12 Days of Deals (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

They do theme it (today is “For busy little elves of all ages”), but there are always deals in many categories. At time of writing, there are 167 pages of deals.

For Amazon devices, they are doing some interesting things with refurbs (you can get an Echo “tower”, the big tall one, for $69.99, which they say is 58% off). They are also doing bundles: today, you could do a basic Kindle and a Fire 7 for just $94.99! You can get a Fire TV Stick and an Echo Dot for $59.98 (33% off).

You can sort the deals, not only by price high to low or low to high, but by discount. The highest discount I’m seeing right now? 95%…

Toodle-loo, YouTube

Well, I’ll miss ya, YouTube.

It’s not that YouTube is going out of business, but Google is currently blocking YouTube viewing on the

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

(by the way, I was just speaking with someone at work yesterday, and we agree: the Show is our favorite Alexa device at this point), which they’ve done before. When I tried it just now, I got a message saying that YouTube was not available on that device…even though the Amazon piece of it seemed to launch.

While I did sometimes use the Show to watch YouTube, that’s still probably not that big a market for YouTube.

More important for me, and probably for many people, is that YouTube will not be available on the

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

starting January 1st, 2018.

That means, pretty much, that I’ll never watch YouTube again…at least while this situation persists.

A Fire TV and a Fire TV Stick are our sources of TV…we have one in the family room, one in the bedroom, and that’s it.

I was watching YouTube quite often in the bedroom (getting ready in the morning), but that will be done.

Oh, wait! I need to rethink this a bit…there are (at this point) some YouTube videos I really want to watch. There are some great creators whose work is available on YouTube. For that matter, one of our dogs has a video on YouTube (“Treadmill, Elf!” at YouTube). I will still have a place I might watch YouTube: in virtual reality on my Samsung Gear. I usually watch Netflix or Hulu (I’m partway through season six catching up on The Walking Dead, for example), but if I heard about a YouTube video I really wanted to see, I could see it there. Random discovery, though? Done.

So, there’s a question here: will people not buy a Fire TV device because it doesn’t have YouTube, or will they stop watching YouTube because it isn’t on Fire TV?

The answer is probably neither.

People will watch YouTube on phones and tablets (hm…will YouTube continue to work on Fire tablets? Stopping that would be hard…the Fire TV needs an app, a tablet doesn’t), and they’ll still buy the relatively inexpensive Fire TVs.

That’s my opinion…here’s another take on it:

The Verge article by Chris Welch

Amazon is also “delisting” new Nest thermostats from Google, and they stopped carrying the Chromecast some time ago.

As some of my readers can guess from how I felt about brick-and-mortar bookstores (I’m a former manager of one) not carrying Amazon published books, I don’t think it’s a good play (on either of their parts). It’s worse on Google’s part, I think…they are choosing not to let their product be available to people, as opposed to Amazon making someone else’s product not available, but it all results in diminishing your customers’ (or potential customers’) experiences.

Barnes & Noble announces financials…and the stock market responds

According to this

Money.CNN.com graph

Barnes & Noble is down almost 14% in the past five days.

Not coincidentally, that’s since they released their second quarter financial results:

press release

Comparable store sales are down (which they blame in part on no Harry Potter book this year), but perhaps more troubling for their strategy is that non-book categories were also down.

Is this stock market drop a short-term response to a bad quarter because there wasn’t a Potter book?

Um…the stock is down more than 40% year to date, so that’s a no.

Alexa lists have really improved

We use the Alexa lists, and I was very pleased to see really significant improvements to them recently. In one case, they did what I asked (but I’m not saying they did it because I asked it). It’s a simple thing, but they moved the button that deletes all of your completed items. It used to be in the same place as the button that took you to your completed items (so you could, with one tap, put them on the active list again)…therefore, if you tapped twice because you didn’t think it responded the first time, you could accidentally wipe out your history (we did it a couple of times). The new arrangement is much better.

The other thing is that you can create your own lists! We used to just have a shopping list and a to-do list, but I added a separate pharmacy/vet(erinarian) list. My Significant Other really likes having an empty list, and when I put on there a pet med we didn’t need for a month, that wasn’t happening.

The other list we are using right now is a list of “giftees” for the holiday. While we don’t record in it what we got for whom (we do that in a Google doc), it lets us know for whom we still need to shop.

“How’s the book coming, Bufo?”

I am still working on “Because of the Kindle”, and I do intend to finish it…but I’m not quite sure when. I originally wanted it out by the 10th anniversary of the Kindle (back in November), and then I was thinking by December 25th, but it honestly will probably be into next year. It’s just a much bigger project than I originally envisioned…and I started doing some daily things which really take up some time.

I have the Bookish Birthdays, and it can take a half an hour easily to do one. Once I’ve been doing it for a year, that won’t be true, though. 😉 I do get positive response to them.

The other public one is “On this date in geeky history”. That’s tied into  The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip. It definitely is building that, which is good, but again, that takes some serious time.

I also have something I’m currently doing just for work (although I do it on my own time), and that may eventually become public, but that takes some time, too.

I totally understand how those have started taking up my time: I teach time management, I’ve taught project management, and I’ve completed my work for a certification as an “Associate Improvement Adviser”. I can objectively say I’m good at it: I can see the results I get when I train other people in it, and measurement is part of all this. However, it reminds me of a quote which is in my book

The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

“Another romantic lunacy. We assume that a personality problem can be liquidated merely through an understanding of it–as though a man could lift a ,mountain once he admitted it was heavy.”
–Dr. Charles “Doc Bedside” Bedecker
Chthon
written by Piers Anthony

🙂

I’m not saying that this a problem. I suppose that’s one of the advantages of not having a traditional publisher: I’m not being pressured to meet a deadline, and therefore put out an dramatically incomplete work.

My apologies to those of you have wonderfully contributed thoughts for the book that it isn’t out as soon as you thought…and that does mean there is still time to share your thoughts with me for possible publication.

The book is in my plans, though!

Would you watch a video on Amazon for a discount?

This

Quartz article by Helen and Dave Edwards

talks about a new patent by Amazon.

The basic idea is that you get to an Amazon product page, and if you watch an advertising video, you get a discount on it.

I think that makes a lot of sense.

People do a form of that now with

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

One way you can do a giveaway is to have people watch a video (or at least part of it) before they can enter. I’ve done that one myself, so I can tell you for sure that people do it.

Of course, based on an earlier story in this round up, it might not be a YouTube video… 😉

 

I finally did it…

I’ve never cracked a smartphone screen before, but I finally did it with my Galaxy S7 Edge. We were at the dog park, I was wearing gloves, and I dropped it…face down on to rocks. I can still use it, but I do have hairline cracks when I’m watching VR. We’ll need to replace my SO’s phone soon, due to a life change, but we will instead be replacing two phones. 🙂 Fortunately, there are two for one deals around. It’s also possible I’ll try to replace the screen myself…there are kits for about $40, and while I’m better with software than hardware, I can do some of that. Just don’t ask me to put oil in your car…I literally put washer fluid in the oil once.

What do you think? What is Barnes & Noble’s future? Does the YouTube thing matter to you? How long will it last? Can Amazon develop an alternative to YouTube…or would it be more like Amazon’s traditional publishing, where it has a market niche, but doesn’t threaten the tradpubs (traditional publishers)…or do you think Amazon publishing does threaten them? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


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

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

* 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.

The new Fire TV removed one of my favorite features: Display Mirroring

October 29, 2017

The new Fire TV removed one of my favorite features: Display Mirroring

I’m glad I hadn’t written about this yet!

I got the new version of the Fire TV:

Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD and Alexa Voice Remote (New Pendant Form Factor) | Streaming Media Player (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

There were a couple of things I liked about it right away. It’s my favorite packaging probably since the first Kindle. 🙂 I know that’s a little thing, but the package was cool:

I like the way the actual device hangs behind the TV. Our TV isn’t mounted on the wall, but it is an inexpensive flat screen style, and the device is not deeper than the electronics on the back. It does need to be plugged into power, but so does the TV…if you can mask the TV power cord (you might have an outlet directly behind the TV, you should be able to hide the Fire TV power cord.

One reason I was excited to get it is that, since Hulu recently updated their app, it’s been crashing…a lot. We’ll be watching a show, and it just goes back to home…probably at least once an hour. The FTV3 does seem to have fixed that issue: it is more powerful.

This may be subjective, but the image does look sharper to me.

Set up was okay. It did still ask me for my wi-fi password (although that’s supposedly stored at Amazon for me now), and I did need to sign into apps (even though they said they were working on “single sign-on” for a number of apps).

It suggested some popular streaming apps, which included Hulu…but not Netflix. No problem, I installed that, too.

It still had one issue for me: if I voice search for a TV show and it finds it, say, in Hulu, it will start watching it at season 1 episode 1…even if I’ve already seen a bunch of episodes. That’s a wash with how it was before, so that’s fine.

It also, amusingly, still tells me that Hulu has live programming…but it rhymes “live” with “give”, not “five”. In also pronounced CNNGO as “See-Enn-Enn-Gee-Oh” instead of “See-Enn-Enn-Go”…and CNNGO was its name, oh! 😉

The first day, it seemed like it had fixed a major problem, and other things were pretty much status quo, until…

Our now adult kid took pictures at a Halloween event yesterday, and posted them to Facebook. My Significant Other isn’t on Facebook (I’m only on it for this sort of thing), so we got all set to do what I usually do: open Facebook on my Galaxy S7 and mirror it to the Fire TV.

“Mirroring” means that whatever is on my phone’s screen appears (wirelessly) on the Fire TV’s screen.

I use that quite often…not just for pictures, but for websites and apps on my phone which don’t have Fire TV apps.

Amazon really promoted it with the first gen Fire TV, and it’s been present on subsequent gens/devices (the FTV2, the Fire TV Stick)…until now.

I went to where it normally was in Settings, and it wasn’t there.

I looked around for it (with my SO waiting to see the pictures), and couldn’t find it…so I want to Amazon Help:

Use Display Mirroring on Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

It was explicit:

“Fire TV (3rd Generation) does not support display mirroring.”

That was a disappointment! Maybe they had to take some necessary component out to make the device smaller, but that seems unlikely to me.

I went to the device’s Amazon product page…and I couldn’t help but notice right away the low ratings average: 2.6 stars out of 5 with 282 customer reviews at time of writing, and the plurality (38%) were one-star. I think that’s the lowest I’ve seen for an Amazon device, at least with that many reviews.

One of the reviews mentioning having mirrored on it…it seemed like that might have been with an app, so I checked the apps.

Nothing had good reviews, and most casting apps seemed to be for iOS (I have an Android). Most also weren’t free, and at least one was pretty expensive. I’ll look into it more…

If it can be done through a third-party app, it probably wasn’t a hardware reason. I noticed that the Alexa-enabled TV also doesn’t mirror. Why would Amazon make that change? On the TV, that would actually disqualify us from using them at work, since we mirror to TVs for presentations some times.

  • Do they think people don’t want to mirror? Seems unlikely
  • Do they not want people to mirror, in order to channel (so to speak) what they watch? Maybe, but that feels conspiratorial to me, especially since they allow direct competitors like Netflix and Hulu
  • Do they think there’s some other way to do it, like when Apple eliminated the headphone jack? If so, I don’t know what it is…at least, something that isn’t a direct competitor
  • Could it be that they don’t want you to mirror because they want to track what you are watching? That one seems possible. If you watch something on Hulu or Netflix on a Fire TV, the device presumably knows what you watched (it fetched it, after all), although I suppose the app itself could wall off that information. When you mirror, it seems unlikely to me that the receiver knows what you sent.

If I had realized ahead of time it wouldn’t have mirroring, I would have been more reluctant to get it. I’m not going to return it: having Hulu not crash is worth quite a bit. I may actually run them both: we’d watch the the FTV3 most of the time, and have the FTV2 for mirroring.

What do you think? Do you ever mirror to a screen? Do you mirror for pleasure, for work, or for both? Do you know of a free FTV3 compatible casting app you’d recommend? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


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

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

* 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.

 

 

Big software update on my Fire TV stick this morning

September 21, 2017

Big software update on my Fire TV stick this morning

Our

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

but not our regular

Amazon Fire TV 2nd generation (at AmazonSmile*),

was updated with some great new features this morning!

Update: I forced the system update on our Fire TV tonight, by going to Settings -Device-About-Check for System Update (or Install System Update). It took perhaps ten minutes. This version of the software is 5.2.6.0.

My favorite thing was being able to go into Settings and Accessibility and enabling a screen magnifier. While the controls have a noticeable learning curve, it is wonderful to be able to zoom in on images on the screen.

Here’s what it said was new:

  • Prime Members can watch Thursday Night Football live
  • Enter words and phrases into the system keyboard by speaking them…may make passwords a lot easier, for one thing. I haven’t tried that at time of writing
  • During set-up, it’s possible to “bulk select” from a set of 24 apps
  • Screen magnifier is what I mentioned above…I also think the screen reader capability was new. Why would you use a screen reader on a TV? You can do a lot of things with a Fire TV which are designed to be heard, including music, podcasts, and reading Kindle books. Navigating to those would be hard for someone with a visual challenge

I may add to this post later…I think it’s very interesting that this update, when a new model is almost certainly in the wings…and on the Fire TV comparison chart, it lists being able to do 4K, which I think is a leak for that next model. 🙂 We’ll see soon, I’m sure…

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

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.

New! Pair your Echo device with your Fire TV…and get voice control

August 2, 2017

New! Pair your Echo device with your Fire TV…and get voice control

I was very excited to see this! People have wanted it since the

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

was first released.

You can now control a Fire TV device (Stick or not) just by talking to your

Echo family (at AmazonSmile*)

(I’ll give you more of an idea of what works a bit later).

You can’t do everything, but you can do quite a bit.

I first found out about it when I asked our

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

something this morning, and it said I wasn’t connected to a video source.

Then, I got an e-mail from Amazon, which was basically this

press release

In your Alexa app, go to the menu, and then Music, Video, & Books.

You’ll see a choice for FireTV and one for Dish (if you get Dish right now, there’s a deal where they will give you an Echo Dot).

If you have more than one FireTV, you can choose which one to do first. An Alexa device can only be paired to one Fire TV at a time (just like a Fire TV remote). If you want to change it later, you’ll have to first unlink it, then link it again (one which is already linked doesn’t show up as an option).

I was given a choice of all of these types:

  • Original Echo (“The Tower)
  • Tap
  • Dot
  • Echo Show
  • Lexi (that’s an app)
  • Dash Wand
  • Amazon App (on iOS)

You can, by the way, have more than one Alexa device linked to the same Fire TV. So, you can have both your Echo Show and your Amazon App controlling the family room Fire. I can also see where two people with iPhones and no Echo device would want to have them both linked to the same Fire TV.

The linking was easy and ready to go right away.

Now, in terms of what it can do…

If you are talking about Amazon (not just Prime) Video, it’s good. I said, “Alexa, watch The Wizard of Oz”, and it started right away (that was a Prime video right now, so it didn’t have to stop to ask me if I wanted to buy it or rent it). Same thing with Orphan Black.

It did pause when I asked it to do that, and did fast forward. Amusingly, when I asked it to show me X-Ray (I meant the X-Ray feature of Amazon Video), it brought up a movie named “X-Ray” instead.

It also did understand categories: I asked for “science fiction movies”, and that worked. However, again, it didn’t limit it to Prime video…I’d prefer that, and maybe it’s an option, but I haven’t tested that yet.

Oh, another interesting thing: it did not show me my commands in the Alexa app home, which it normally does for conversations.

Another misfire: I asked it to “play Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, since the movie was in the top banner on the screen, and it thought I wanted the music so offered to play me a sample. I think “watch” is going to work better than “play”.

It will also open an app (I tested Hulu and YouTube), but it couldn’t find a show in Hulu.

Bottom line: it works better with Prime Video.

If you do have a

All-New Element 43-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV – Fire TV Edition (at AmazonSmile*)

you can ask it to “Tune to NBC”, for example. You can also turn it on and change the volume.

Does all this mean you don’t need a remote?

Nope.

Once I open Hulu, for example, I’ll need my remote to pick something. If you don’t have the actual TV, you won’t be able to control the volume. Still, this is cool. 🙂

As you play around with it, let me know if you have discoveries and/or questions.

One last thing…

I don’t have one, but I’ve been hearing about the

The Spot Outlet Wall Mount (at AmazonSmile*)

Seems like it would work well for this, although it would also work in the kitchen and other places. It mounts your Dot right on an outlet…you don’t have to screw it into the wall or anything. It has a 4.5 average out of 5 stars, with 135 customer reviews at the time of writing; that’s quite good. It’s $13.99 at time of writing.

This is once again Amazon giving us something more at no additional cost…its one of the reasons I caution people about judging an Amazon device when it is first released based on its capabilities and content at that time.

Thanks, Amazon!

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

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

* 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! 🙂 

Amazon Shopping comes to Fire TV…but you can’t buy Kindle books

June 7, 2017

Amazon Shopping comes to Fire TV…but you can’t buy Kindle books

This was both a very big positive and a disappointment…although that disappointment does bring up what has seemed to me for years to be a simple change Amazon could make.

While they (somewhat surprisingly) didn’t make a big deal about it, the product page for

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

says it was released May 24th. I find that a bit unlikely, since there are only 27 customer reviews at the time of writing (with a 4.3 out of 5 stars average).

This is an app tailored for the Fire TV family:

So, what happens is that you can shop at Amazon…on your TV.

To me, this is actually a big deal.

There are times when my Significant Other and I are sitting on the couch, both looking for basically the same thing at Amazon (we recently had to buy a new vacuum cleaner, for example…the old one broke). I might be on my laptop with it on the arm of the couch, and my SO is on a Kindle Fire.

When one of us finds something, we show our device to the other person…that can be awkward.

If we had the Amazon shopping app up on the Fire, we could easily both look.

It also happens that I see something on a TV show, maybe on the news, but maybe in a documentary or a fiction program, and want to buy it. I might hear about a book, or see some cool toy being demonstrated. 🙂

The book thing brings up my disappointment: I checked several Kindle editions, and it would say, “This item is not available on Fire TV.” I get that you can’t read the book on Fire TV (although that might be nice with a coffee table type book or a kids’ book), but I should be able to buy it that way. I can buy the physical book, just not the e-book.

After all, we can specify a default download device by going to

http://www.amazon.com/myk (at AmazonSmile*)

going to Your Devices, finding the device we want, clicking or tapping the Actions ellipsis (…) and setting it as the default.

A book I bought on Fire TV could simply be delivered there.

However, I have always wanted to option to just books I buy put initially into the Amazon Cloud, without specifying a device.

One argument against that might be that they don’t know if you have a compatible device then (although they do know…they would have to look differently)…but why can’t I buy something for which I don’t have a device now, but might have one later?

It might have something to do with the licensing with the publishers, I suppose.

Outside of the Kindle book thing, I think they’ve done a nice job with the implementation.

The first thing you see (the first time you go in, at any rate…it seems to remember where you were) is a number of panels for special features. I saw (in this order…but you might not):

  • Our Guide to Spring Dresses
  • echo dot (capitalized that way)
  • Outdoor Living (looked like it would include what we call “garden dwellers”…and we do buy those)
  • top 100 TOYS
  • It’s Play Time (dog toys…another thing we buy)
  • New Ideas for the Style Star
  • See life from a new perspective (photography drones)
  • Go Explore (gear up)
  • Smart and Secure (Smart Home Devices)
  • Outdoor Entertaining
  • Discover Peg and Awl
  • Treat your pet
  • TECH toys
  • Yard Prep & Gardening (we recently bought a pole saw)
  • 10 Key Men’s Pieces for Spring (Amazon Fashion)
  • Star Wars Vehicles
  • The Everyday Men’s Suit
  • Snap, Print, Share
  • Capture different (GoPros)
  • PAMPER YOUR SKIN
  • Fill your home with music (wireless and Bluetooth speakers)
  • Music the way it was meant to sound (Bluetooth headphones…I’ve bought a couple of cheap pairs)
  • Pools & Leisure
  • Amazon’s Choice (musical instruments)
  • 1970’s INSPIRED BEAUTY
  • Desktops for all your needs
  • Laptops for all your needs
  • LIQUID EYELINER
  • LUXURY MEN’S GROOMING

This certainly seems to me like it is based on our previous purchases (and browsing), but it might be a massive coincidence…if somebody gets a chance to check to see if they see the same panels, I’d appreciate you letting me know.

Beyond those featured sales, there are two more discovery options.

One is Search. It’s a “click a letter”style, oddly: this seems like a great place for speech recognition. However, if they do port this over to Virtual Reality, it would work well for that (clicking by “eye gazing”, perhaps).

The other one, and this very useful and the work around for the Kindle books, is our Amazon “wish lists”…although, only the ones we’ve made public (but public by invitation). I also get that…they say it is for privacy, and that makes sense, since otherwise, anybody with access to the TV could see it. You might have a wish list for the gifts you’ve already bought for the season, for one thing.

There was also a Settings choice in the top navigation…you couldn’t really set anything there, but it did have the legal terms. The version number of the app is 1.0.0.0, and they gave a feedback e-mail address: feedback-tv@amazon.com. That’s an interesting choice…not “Fire TV”, but just “tv”.

It said, “Hello, Bufo” in my top right corner, and I thought I could perhaps select that to sign in as someone else, but that didn’t appear to be the case. The Fire TV is already signed into an account, and I assume it uses that.

I’m pretty impressed with this, outside of the Kindle book purchase limitation!

Bonus story:

I started writing this one this morning, and then I saw this news. I flipped it into the I Love My Kindle Flipboard magazine, and then not too long afterwards, a reader alerted me via private e-mail (thanks, reader!).

CNN Money story by Julia Horowitz: “Amazon Prime debuts discount for people on government benefits”

Here’s the key point:

“To receive the discounted Amazon Prime membership [$5.99 a month instead of $10.99], buyers will need to have an Electronic Benefits Transfer card. They’ll have to re-register every 12 months, and can do so a total of four times.”

Now, $5.99 still seems like it might be a challenge, but for people at a certain disposable income level, this could be really significant. I didn’t see that you could gift it at that discount, but you could, I suppose, give someone who qualified the money separately.

This is one of those things that Amazon doesn’t have to do. They do get Public Relations benefits out of it, and perhaps, someone who used while receiving benefits might eventually become a full price Prime member (and regardless, might buy things they need at Amazon instead of a brick-and-mortar), but I do think it is nice.

This blog isn’t just about what I think, though. 🙂 I’m curious about what you think: will you shop on your TV? Why does Amazon want us to only buy Kindle books from a device which can read them? What do you think of the discounted Prime for people on benefits? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.


My current Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway for And Then There Were None!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/3e6a60b4814649a3

Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winner.
Requirements for participation:
Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
18+ years of age (or legal age)

Start:May 12, 2017 6:24 PM PDT
End:Jun 11, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

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* 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! :) 

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