Archive for the ‘Fire TV’ Category

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.

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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

===

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! :) 

Kindle Unlimited access to top magazines (and a new Fire TV Stick generation)

September 30, 2016

Kindle Unlimited access to top magazines (and a new Fire TV Stick generation)

This is a great feature for

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

members! We’ve been happy members ourselves since Amazon introduced their subser (subscription service). For $9.99 a month (or we actually have bought it when it’s been on sale on Prime Day, so it’s cheaper than that), we have access to close to one and a half million titles. I’ve read some great books through KU!

We do read magazines, and I read a few on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX (Entertainment Weekly and Fortean Times, the latter of which I read on the Zinio app, to name two).

We have tried subscribing through the Kindle store to other magazines, but they are somewhat expensive.

Well, you can also get magazines through your KU membership:

Kindle Unlimited magazines (at AmazonSmile*)

There are genuinely top titles in here…I’ll list what’s there this month shortly.

There are still reasons to pay for a subscription: for one thing, access to back issues. I also think it will be one issue a month (rather than four, if it’s a weekly), but I’m not sure about that yet.

Okay, here’s that list:

  • Sports Illustrated
  • People
  • Entertainment Weekly
  • HGTV
  • Popular Mechanics
  • Dr. Oz: The Good Life
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Shape
  • Bloomberg Businessweek
  • Outdoor Life
  • Vogue
  • GQ
  • Bon Appetit
  • Conde’ Nast Traveler
  • National Geographic Traveler
  • Sound & Vision
  • Transworld SNOWboarding
  • Shutterbug
  • Baseball America
  • Runner’s World
  • Town & Country
  • Esquire
  • Four Wheeler
  • Transworld SKATEboarding
  • Snowboarder
  • Stereophile
  • Martha Stewart Living
  • Baggers
  • Men’s Health
  • Coastal Living
  • Harper’s Bazaar
  • Sunset
  • Rachael Ray Every Day
  • Motorcyclist
  • Golf Digest
  • W
  • Consumer Reports
  • Automobile
  • Motor Trend
  • Powder
  • Surfing
  • Working Mother

Again, these are some of the really top-selling magazines! People is #1 in the Kindle store, Entertainment Weekly is #3.

These appear to work just like books in KU: you can have up to ten at a time (I think that’s ten as a combination of books and magazines, not ten of each). Now, these magazines don’t work on every device…I checked Sunset, and it works on our tablets and my Galaxy S7, but wouldn’t work on our Oasis or Paperwhite.

I’ll check to see if the specific issues change.

Some of you may also be thinking that you could just get a magazine with a 30 day free trial (it’s not always 30 days, I believe)…but you can’t do the same magazine repeatedly with a sample. My guess is that we’ll have the same titles.

How much money could you save with this?

Just to get the current issue of People would cost you $5.99.

So, in KU you can sight read books, listen to text-to-speech (unless blocked by the publisher), get audiobooks, and read magazines…works for me. 😉

Bonus story:

In this

press release

Amazon announced the new version of the

All-New Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote | Streaming Media Player (at AmazonSmile*)

It now comes with the voice remote (which includes Alexa…greatly improved recently) for $39.99. This will be one of their top sellers at the holiday season…but they have a special offer if you activate it by October 31st:

Activate your All-New Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote by October 31st and receive 1 month of Sling TV, 2 Months of Hulu (Limited Commercials), and a $10 Amazon Video Credit.

We pay for Hulu without commercials each month (which we love). Hulu has current TV (not all of it, but a lot of hot seasons), movies (usually a handful of recent well-known ones), and older TV (I’m currently rewatching My Favorite Martian, for example).

The new Alexa control includes controlling playback, searching by title or genre, and more. You don’t need the new one for that, though…my 2nd gen does it now…actually, my Fire TV does it now, haven’t tried it on the Fire TV Stick, but I think it works.

I’m debating whether or not I’m going to bring the Fire TV stick with us when we go on a quiet vacation at the beach with our dogs soon. I’m thinking not…but I can see situations where I would.

Amazon’s really refining their hardware…and still expanding our content options: nice!

Oh, and they picked up the new live action Tick as an Amazon TV series…my favorite Tick version is the animated series, but still… 😉

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* 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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

The Fire TV Buyer’s Guide: September 2015

September 19, 2015

The Fire TV Buyer’s Guide: September 2015 edition

On September 17th, Amazon announced a new hardware line-up (I do think there may be more yet to come this year).

The question for most people right away is, “Should I buy one?”

In this post, I’m going to give you some guidance on that for the Fire TV family. I’ll follow up with a post on the new Fire tablets. Now, realize that I haven’t had hands on with these yet (they haven’t been released at the time of writing). However, I’ll be able to make a pretty good assessment about how it will compare to what you might already have, or to a smaller extent, what you may be considering.

If you have additional questions, I’d love to hear them!

The Fire TV Family

This is the second generation of Amazon’s TV content device.

There are essentially two items here. One is a small device, about the size of two fingers side by side, which plugs into the HDMI (High Definition Media Interface) port on most modern TVs.

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

The second one is larger, more like the size of your hand with your fingers laid flat (these are very approximate). You can get the same device with and without gaming accessories.

“Why do I want one of these things?” (for people who haven’t had a TV content device)

We have one TV where a Fire TV Stick is the only source of what we see on it. It’s how we get TV shows and movies. Another TV runs off both a Fire TV and cable (running through an old Tivo).

Basically, it takes what you have available to you and displays it on the TV…it’s not purchasing videos or subscribing to a service.

It’s going to work best if you already subscribe to something. We are

members ($99 a year…about $8.25 a month), so we have Prime Video available to us (Prime has other benefits…see my post from What can you do with Amazon Prime? for some basics).

We use this…you can go through whole TV series (including older HBO shows), watch movies, and see original content. You can download some of the videos, although that doesn’t really matter here…that’s for phones and tablets.

We also have Hulu Plus…there’s a lot on Hulu, but it’s big attraction for us is current shows. We have the current season of Master Chef on as I write this. 😉 I’ve also watched older shows, like The Time Tunnel.  You can pay $7.99 a month, or do what we do: $11.99 a month for no ads. For me, that’s glorious: current TV shows without having to think about skipping through commercials! I never watch TV without doing something else at the same time (exercising, writing, reading), so being able to let it just stream is so much nicer.

Finally, we have Netflix. We pay $8.99 a month…you can pay $7.99 without HD, $11.99 for Ultra HD (and the ability to watch on four screens at once…it’s one for the cheapest plan, two for the middle one). The movie selection here is strong, but original content is also a big attraction…I’ve watched the Daredevil series, for example.

So, we pay about $30 a month for those three services, and I really feel like we have a lot of options.

That’s not all the Fire TVs do, though.

They also have apps and games…a lot of them. Amazon Underground makes many popular games free.

I use some apps pretty heavily: YouTube, Watch Up, Sky News, NBC News…those are common.

You can play games on any of the devices…the remote can be use as a basic game controller. Fancier games need the game controller, which is sold separately (or you can get it in the new gaming bundle). Are these like Playstation/Nintendo/Xbox games? No, they are more like the games for your phone, for the most part.

For the casual gamer, this is great! So many free games, and the fun of watching them on TV.

You also get music…both Prime music, and music you’ve uploaded to Amazon.

Another feature we use? Seeing our pictures. I have a Fire Phone (now apparently discontinued), and when I take pictures with my phone, we can see them right away on the TV through the Fire TV.

Will this let you be a “cable cutter” and drop cable? It certainly could…the biggest concern you might have is your local TV channels.

One option on that is using an antenna. No, not old-fashioned “rabbit ears”. 😉

Amazon suggests this one:

HDTV Antenna (at AmazonSmile*) $23.99 for a 35 mile range

Summing up: this is a way to get entertainment on your TV.

Amazon has just added what I think will be a big attraction: Alexa.

Alexa is the voice service that comes on the

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

You talk to it…it listens and talks back. 🙂

I use my Echo every day. I ask it for the weather, I set timers, I have a lot of fun with its pop culture knowledge.

For more on the Echo, see the

category in my The Measured Circle blog.

Now, for those of you with the Echo, you might be wondering…should I have bought a $40 device (the Fire TV Stick) rather than a $179 device (or $99 if you bought it early)?

They are quite different.

The “parse-onality”, as I like to call it, will likely be the same. It will understand you and talk to you the same way. We don’t know yet if the Fire TV version will do home automation (I can just ask my Echo to turn on and off some lights in my home and it happens), do the timers (I’ve heard it won’t). or if it will have the third party “Skills”, which are like apps you would get for a SmartPhone.  The last on is the future of the Echo, in my opinion, just as third-party apps are a major attraction of SmartPhones.

I don’t see why it wouldn’t do the Skills, though.

What makes the Echo worth it over the Fire TV?

It’s always-on, incredible microphone array, and the Bluetooth speaker.

To talk to your Fire TV, you’ll need to pick up your voice-activated remote.

With the Echo, I can speak in a normal voice from across the room.

If you are buying a Fire TV Stick, paying $10 extra for the voice remote will likely be worth it…although, you can use voice interaction with the Fire TV family with a free app on your SmartPhone. I do that, too. 🙂

My guess is that many people will buy the Fire TV Stick partly to get Alexa…and then will become deeply part of the Amazon universe to take advantage of Prime Video and other Amazon elements on the Fire TV.

Alexa is the software…the Echo is the hardware.

By the way, the Alexa Voice Service is also going to start appearing on other devices soon…Amazon has said pretty much anything with a microphone and a speaker. That’s likely to include other brand SmartPhones and tablets, as well as cars (and perhaps, things like toasters and refrigerators, eventually).

Why pay the $50 more for the Fire TV versus the Fire TV Stick?

More power!

Quad-core versus dual-core processor, more memory, a USB port, an SD card slot, better wi-fi…

The Fire TV Stick is great…the Fire TV is greater. 😉

Oh, I’ve left off a major feature for both…you can mirror devices to them! I can show anything on my SmartPhone or tablet on my TV,  through my Fire TV device. Anything…apps, a PowerPoint presentation (with an app that shows it, of course), e-mail, websites…all wirelessly.

“Do I need to upgrade?” (for people who already have the Fire TV)

Amazon has said that Alexa is coming to generation 1 devices (those you already have) this fall.

What you will get is better quality video: 4K Ultra HD, more powerful streaming, better processing.

I wouldn’t say you need to leap up and buy the new one…but if you want to get another one, this is well worth it. We only have two TVs, but I bought one…I’m planning to replace the Fire TV Stick. If the quality is better, that one will become our main TV…we do sometimes get a tiny bit of buffering, and I’d like to see that go away.

One final point:

Alexa (at this point) is not going to control your Fire TV device, but that may come in the future anyway. However, you are going to be doing the existing Voice Search and Alexa in the same place, holding the same device (a remote or your phone), so it won’t feel much different to you.

I do want to be able to say, “Alexa, showed me the latest episode of Gotham” and have it jumped right to it, but that’s not coming with what they have told us so far.

However…

People do things like “Alexa, open Netflix” by controlling a

Logitech Harmony Home Control – 8 Devices (White) (at AmazonSmile*)

with the Echo.

That isn’t a cheap solution (that device is over $100), and it’s not super simple. Since the apps on the Fire TV move around, it’s confusing the for device…you have to use search. I know someone who has basically a Jetsons home (this person has some physical challenges that make that a more optimal situation) who gave me this link:

https://forums.logitech.com/t5/Harmony-Hub-Based-Remotes/Hamony-Smart-Control-and-Fire-TV-Any-direct-Netflix-workaround/td-p/1381318

However, the voice search can at least find the programs for you (not in all apps), and then you would use your remote or phone to open it.

I suspect we may get the ability to start the programs by voice by the end of the year, but we’ll see.

What about the competitors?

Google has a Fire TV Stick-like device, the Chromecast, which has been very popular. It’s not as full featured as the Fire TV Stick in terms of types of content. It’s a bit cheaper, at $34.99.

Apple just announced a new version of the Apple TV, which will be controllable by voice. It’s a lot more money ($149 to $199), and the tech writers seem to be giving this round to Amazon…here are just two:

Update: Amy Devitt, one of my regular readers, made the correct observation that I left Roku out of the competitors for streaming TV content boxes. I’ve written about my own use of the Roku, more than once, but this was my first comparison of the Fire TV and the Roku:

Amazon Fire TV: first impressions

They have a stick and a box…you can see options here:

Roku search in the USA Amazon electronics section (at AmazonSmile*)

They range from about $47 for the stick up $89.99 for the latest box…well, that’s the price at Amazon: it lists for the same as the Fire TV.

That 4230R Roku 3 does have a great content line-up (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime…and Vudu, which neither Fire TV or Apple TV have, I believe). They claim 150+ news channels, compared to FTV’s 30+.

It also has one of my favorite features: earphones can plug into the remote.I used that a lot when I used the Roku.

You can see Roku’s comparison table (Roku, Fire TV, Apple ((looks like the current generation, not the one that was just announced), Chromecast) here:

Roku comparison table

Oh, looking at it, it looks like the comparison is also the current gen FTV, not the Amazon Fire TV 2 (they say it doesn’t have a memory expansion slot).

Obvious question: why did I stop using the Roku in favor of the Fire TV?

Two main reasons.

Performance is one. The Fire TV loaded things much more quickly…several seconds faster for YouTube, for instance.

The other one is…well, I write about this stuff. 🙂 I wanted to know the Fire TV for that reason.

Oh, and there’s another important reason…it’s connection to photos and videos I take on my Fire Phone is really nice, for example.

Alexa on the FTV will be a new reason. 🙂

The Bottom Line

If you don’t have a streaming device these are great! The Fire TV ito s more powerful and twice as expensive as the Fire TV Stick. If you already have a Fire TV, you don’t need to upgrade to get Alexa…but if you haven’t been satisfied with the performance, or you’ve wanted more memory, or you plan to expand your ownership to more devices, getting one of the new ones makes sense. Amazon has a thirty-day return policy (you’d pay return shipping if it is working as advertised), so you won’t be stuck.

A lot of people will get these as gifts this year…and many will get them for themselves.

What questions do you have? What do you think? 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!

* 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.

Amazon announcement storm: precursor to hardware announcement?

September 16, 2015

Amazon announcement storm: precursor to hardware announcement?

Amazon has put out six press releases (well, okay…two of them were the same, just in different languages) in the last two days.

The last time that happened was in June…when the

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

became generally available.

I checked: there was also a flurry around the time of the announcement about new models last year in September.

Now, this pattern is different…those press releases came afterwards or were concurrent. These are (perhaps only very slightly) before.

However, I think that part of what may happen is that Amazon is arranges deals and creates features to make the release of hardware even more exciting. They want heightened interest in Amazon generally as well at that time, and goodwill.

These announcements also give you options even if you aren’t interested in buying new hardware.

Amazon Prime Members Enjoy Digital Access to The Washington Post for Free

The upshot here?

“Prime members can now enjoy six months of free unlimited access to The Washington Post National Digital Edition, a subscription usually retailing for $9.99 per month. After the first six months of access to world-class national and international news, Prime members can continue to enjoy unlimited digital access with a discounted monthly subscription rate of only $3.99, a savings of 60% per month.”

I did enjoy the Washington Post (owned by Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos) when we got it for free for six months on Fire tablets, which I wrote about it:

Washington Post free on Kindle Fire

Even though I could have continued it at a very low cost, I didn’t. It was one of those things where I have enough to read without it, and it was symbolically challenging for me to pay for it at all.

I figure I’ll read it for the six months, and then cancel it again. I don’t feel like that’s cheating: I’m paying for Prime anyway, and they aren’t asking me to get it only if I think I might subscribe.

Note that this time it is for Prime members (not based on having a Fire tablet), and you can read it on many platforms…including the website.

Oh, this isn’t available for current subscribers, by the way…so I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t sign up before. 😉

Start here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/primeoffer

Now Available: The Complete Sex and the City Series on Prime Video

Amazon started giving Prime Members free streaming access to older seasons of some HBO shows a bit more than a year ago

Round up #255: authors’ insults, HBO ruh-roh

and now they’ve added the complete Sex and the City.

Interestingly, it is available for download for offline watching. The selection of downloadable Prime Videos has gotten much better recently: a lot more well-known titles. This is a way that Amazon differentiates itself from Netflix and Hulu, and it looks like it wants to push that.

Downloadable titles (for Prime members, at no additional cost) now include:

  • Transparent
  • Downton Abbey
  • Extant
  • Grimm
  • Under the Dome
  • American Horror Story
  • Wallace & Gromit: the Complete Collection
  • Curious George
  • Vikings
  • Justified
  • Orphan Black
  • Teen Wolf (the new MTV version)
  • 24: Live Another Day
  • Sons of Anarchy
  • Hand of God
  • Girls

Note that it isn’t all seasons of those, but this is still nice!

Oh, and movies, too, including:

  • Pulp Fiction
  • The Bling Ring
  • Kill Bill
  • Spy Kids
  • Life After Beth
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Under the Skin
  • Sling Blade
  • Spring Breakers
  • The Neverending Story
  • Ella Enchanted

Amazon Fire TV—Largest and Fastest Growing Selection of Any Streaming Media Player

This one was a general Fire TV announcement (and they might be introducing a new version of it, I suppose). That might be in part a response to the new Apple TV announcement…that sounds cool, but it’s relatively expensive. Apple TV will start at $149, as opposed to $99 for the

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

and $39 for the

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

Hey! The Fire TV is unavailable! Very good chance that means an announcement for a new gen soon…before the end of the week I would guess. I know, I know…I didn’t think that was the case with the Fire Phone when I wrote about it yesterday, but this is different…especially with the announcements of new content.

The press release includes these interesting bits:

  • “Popular new titles include AT&T U-Verse, HBO NOW, Pac Man 256, Orbitz, Quiplash, Tastemade, and Tennis Channel Everywhere. FOX NOW, FXNOW, Poker Central, and Turner Classic Movies will be coming to the platform soon.”

If TCM is free (to watch the movies, not just to get the app), I’m an especially happy camper. 🙂

This is also useful:

“Fire TV integrated universal search from the very beginning, and customers have loved being able to easily search across multiple services, including HBO GO, Showtime, Hulu, STARZ PLAY, ENCORE PLAY, and Vevo. Plus, Amazon will be adding over 10 services to universal search by the end of the year, including A&E, HISTORY, Lifetime, and PBS.”

Amazon Continues to Expand its Superfast Delivery Service: Prime Now Lands in Los Angeles Featuring Tens of Thousands of Items from Amazon, Local Store Deliveries Coming Soon

Prime Now is this incredible, two-hour delivery service (you can pay $7.99 to get something in one hour).

They are establishing four (!) hubs for this in Southern California, and will be covering quite a few cities (“Los Angeles and Orange County including areas such as Santa Monica, Redondo Beach, Silver Lake and Irvine, to name a few…”).

Additionally, they’ll deliver from some local stores, like Sprouts. My Significant Other likes an Icelandic yogurt called Siggi’s which we can get at Sprouts…but it’s never a good shopping experience. We aren’t covered by Prime Now (yet), but getting it deliveed in two hours at no additional cost? Yes, please.

Amazon Announces Finalists of Second Indie Literary Contest for Spanish-Language

For a final press release, also available in Spanish:

Amazon Anuncia los Finalistas del Segundo Concurso Literario de Autores ‘Indie’ en Español

we get something that has to do specifically with books. 🙂

Amazon has been taking submissions of unpublished books in Spanish, and they are down to five finalists. See this page for more information:

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

The winner will “have the opportunity” to be published in print, audio, and e-book by Amazon.

The winner will be announced October 15th.

There you go!

In the middle of writing this, I tweeted about the Fire TV unavailability…I wanted to get that out before Amazon made an announcement. 😉

What do you think? Is Amazon about to announce new hardware? What does it mean that they are taking more interest in non-English publishing? Does all of this have to do with new models, or is it just a coincidence and build up for the holiday season? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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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! :) 

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.

 


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