Archive for the ‘New models’ Category

Hands on…no, hands off…um, let’s see: “Voice on” with the Alexa Microwave

December 2, 2018

Hands on…no, hands off…um, let’s see: “Voice on” with the Alexa Microwave

We just got the new

AmazonBasics Microwave 700W Works with Alexa (at AmazonSmile*) | $59.99 at time of writing | 4.2 stars out of 5 | 193 customer reviews

and I’ve had time to check it out.

For years, I’ve said that one of the most embarrassing things is when I go somewhere to teach people technology, and then they see me in their breakroom, just staring blankly at the microwave. 😉

I think many of us have been there: you can’t figure out how to work the microwave, so you just hit something like a four-minute popcorn button, and then stop it manually when it gets to the minute thirty you really wanted.

Well, Amazon really has fixed all that!

You get this microwave…it’s a decent microwave: 700 watts, .7 cubic feet (about 20 liters), with a turntable.

You connect the microwave (wirelessly) to an Echo device using the Alexa app (probably on your phone…I’m using a Galaxy S8).

From then on, you can just tell Alexa how much time you want, and it happens!

Is this life changing? No. Is it nice? You bet your baked potato!

One of the things it solves is having to clean the buttons on the microwave…that’s one of the reasons why we wanted to replace our old microwave, the buttons were wearing out (the numbers become illegible).

Oh, and that’s definitely worth noting! It does have buttons. My Significant Other is not a big fan of tech, although my SO has been using Alexa more lately**. Having buttons as an option is definitely a good thing.

In fact, this is my one suggestion for Amazon so far: I’d like to have a way to pop the door open (and ideally, also close it, but I know the latter would be harder for the device and easier for me) by voice. Then, I wouldn’t have to touch the front surface at all if I didn’t want to do that.

There is one sort of odd button you might want to use, though…and I misunderstood it at first.

I started out testing the microwave by saying to our

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

“Echo, microwave for a minute and twenty-five seconds.”

I should point out that we use “Echo” as the “wake word” for that device, because we use “Alexa” for our

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

and they are right near each other.

The microwave just started right up with that time, cheerfully telling me that it was using Level 10. I could have requested a different level if I wanted. There are also a lot of presets, where you can tell it to cook a certain type of food…those are listed here:

Alexa Microwave Cook Presets (PDF)

I’m sure they’ll be adding more…and I guess that gives me my second suggestion for Amazon. 😉 We should be able to tell it an amount to cook something and have it remember it. “Echo, remember that I cook MorningStar Farms Breakfast Patties for one minute and 25 seconds”, and then later, I could say, “Echo, cook breakfast patties”, and it would do it.

Anyway, that button…there is an “Ask Alexa” button near the keypad. I thought (without having thought about it much) that it would mean that I could talk to the microwave instead of the Echo Show, but the microwave doesn’t have microphones as far as I know.

What it does is replace saying the wake word…instead of saying, “Echo microwave for 90 seconds”, you can just push the button and say, “90 seconds”.

That might seem silly, but here’s the thing: my Echo Show could do a lot of things for ninety seconds, like setting a timer, so I have to specify. When I push the Ask Alexa button on the microwave, it knows I’m talking about the microwave. I don’t have to tell it to cook…it already knows that’s what I want.

I also think that’s why the microwave doesn’t do the regular Alexa things, like telling me the weather or what time*** it is…it has to be paired with an Echo device, so you already have that functionality. It simplifies things to have a microwave that just knows it’s a microwave. This will be a bit obscure, but it’s a little like the toaster on Red Dwarf…too much intelligence might not be the best thing. I actually wrote a paper in high school called “Optimum IQ”, which addressed this same issue.

I think we’ll see more of this: dedicated Alexa-controlled devices, which don’t do most of the Alexa functions.

I should point out that it would only pair with something that had the word “Echo” in it…Echo Show, Echo (tower), Echo Dot…it wouldn’t pair with our Fire TV Cube, even though the Cube can do weather, time, and so on.

As to the set up…what I had to do was easy, but it didn’t work at first. It didn’t show up in my Alexa app until I restarted my phone. That might confuse some people, but hopefully, it was just a fluke.

Overall? Well worth the sixty dollars! I think the microwave would have been worth that without Alexa, but Alexa really makes it fun, and yes, easier. If you are still looking for a gift for somebody who already has Alexa as part of their household, this is a good choice. I probably wouldn’t get this even paired with a Dot (they sell them that way, as a bundle) as someone’s first Alexa device…I think they would focus on it too much as a microwave, and not realize everything else Alexa can do.

There is something else I should mention, although we won’t use it…it can automatically reorder microwave popcorn for you, if you want. That might be more useful in the future for us if we could tell it what inventory we wanted it to manage. It would count how many times we cooked a particular item, and reorder it before we ran out.

That’s definitely part of the path for Alexa: anticipating what we need on repetitive tasks. That’s for another time, though. 🙂

Update: I used the buttons this morning (my Significant Other was still asleep, so that’s easier) and was very impressed with the button programming! Maybe that’s just because our other microwave was older, and maybe they all do this now, but I loved that I didn’t have to push a button first to tell it I was going to cook. I was putting in twenty seconds (heating a low carb tortilla). I pushed the 2 (without pushing another button first) and it showed me two minutes. When I pushed the 0, it went right to 20 seconds. Three button pushes (not counting opening the door) to microwave for 20 seconds (2, 0, Start)…nice!

Bonus deal: today only (in the USA), you can get an omnibus of

Three James Herriot Classics: All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and All Things Wise and Wonderful (at AmazonSmile*)

for $1.99. That’s a great deal!

Do you have questions or comments? Feel free to share them with me and my readers by commenting on this post.

**While my SO had been using Alexa for timers, the new addition is using it for music. That’s through our Cube. Things like, “Alexa, play rainy day jazz”

***The microwave does tell you what time it is: it has a clock. 😉 That’s actually a nice thing…it sets itself, and will adjust for Daylight Savings Time (taking the time from the Alexa device, which takes it from the cloud.

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

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Amazon introduces new thinner, waterproof version of my favorite Kindle, the Paperwhite

October 16, 2018

Amazon introduces new thinner, waterproof (IPX8) version of my favorite Kindle, the Paperwhite

Just breaking, but Amazon is introducing a new version of my favorite Kindle

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

You can pre-order today with a release date of November 7th…and as low as $129.99.

I’ll write more later, but here is the

press release

It has Bluetooth for Audible books, comes with twice the storage, and (I’ll have to check the terms) six months of Kindle Unlimited for free.

I figure quite a few may be given as gifts this holiday season…

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.

Amazon’s Announce-A-Palooza 2018!

September 21, 2018

Amazon’s Announce-A-Palooza 2018!

Amazon does announce things throughout the year, but September is a special time.

Today was no exception. 🙂

While they didn’t announce a home robot (they could still do that this year…it probably deserves its own event), they did announce a whole slew of new products and features.

Okay, there wasn’t a new EBR (E-Book Reader), or Fire Tablet…although they did just refresh the Fire Tablets about ten days ago:

Was it All About Alexa? Pretty much, but not entirely. 😉

You can see new products here:

Alexa for Everyone (at AmazonSmile*)

I’ve ordered one so far…or, at least, ask for an invitation:

Echo Auto (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s funny, but when I was hearing about possible new models, I thought this one wouldn’t interest me that much. Not because I didn’t think I would want to use Alexa in the car, but because I already do…in the Alexa app on my Galaxy phone.

However, we are only allowed to do a one-tap operation in California when we are driving. I can just drive with the app open and then tap the mic to talk to it, but I don’t want to have to look at the phone to do that. This device is really just a way to access the app on my phone…it does need both of those. What it will do is give me an eight-mic array designed to hear me in the car.

It’s going to have access to apps, including Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Waze…and it will be able to control my home devices. You can also listen to podcasts, like Len Edgerly’s The Kindle Chronicles. Full disclosure: I’ve appeared on The Kindle Chronicles, but I don’t know Len outside of our Kindle coverage (which has extended to XR…virtual/augmented/mixed/merged reality).

It will also take advantage of one of Alexa’s new abilities: location-based routines. You can ask for nearby gas stations…and it can direct you there.

All of this is cool, but one of the things that convinced me? It’s $24.99! That’s 50% off what will be the price. It’s supposed to come out later this year.

Let’s jump from that to something that costs about nine times that much ($229.99):

Fire TV Recast (at AmazonSmile*)

This one also requires a Fire TV (“or compatible mobile device”) and an HDTV antenna. I already have both, but I’m not springing for this now. What does it do? It records TV and plays it back…you know, like a VHS machine. 😉 It actually does a lot more than that, but that’s the heart of it. The less expensive model can record two shows at one, the more expensive one can record four. I think that’s going to be seen as a luxury, but will have some gift value at the holidays.

They’ve upgraded the Dot and the Show, and added a bunch of things to give you better sound.

Things have also gotten a bit more out there.

AmazonBasics Microwave 700W Works with Alexa (at AmazonSmile*) $59.99

Not only can you give it voice commands to set the time, it can also automatically reorder popcorn using Dash button tech. 🙂 You also won’t be telling it just things like, “Level 3 for two minutes”…it will have presets, so you can say things like, “Reheat coffee”.

It’s an Alexa accessory…it doesn’t have Alexa built into it, you use it with an Alexa device. The same thing is true for the new Echo Wall Clock, which will display your timers counting down.

That’s just the beginning! Amazon recently made it easier to add Alexa to gadgets, and the ones that they’ve told us about include a new version of Big Mouth Billy Bass…that will “lip sync” while Alexa talks.

You can sign up for a newsletter to hear about new gadgets:

Alexa Gadgets News and Notifications (at AmazonSmile*)

If you do see something there you want to buy, I’d appreciate it if you get to Amazon by clicking on a link in this blog, of course…

Well, this is about as much as I can do tonight. I did want to mention one more new feature for Alexa…partially because I suggested it about a year ago. 😉

Kids are growing up with talktech being normal

You’ll be able to whisper to Alexa…and Alexa will whisper back! You can whisper now, but Alexa responds full voice. This will be a lot better when I’m up and my Significant Other isn’t.

There’s a lot more (Amazon put out four press releases today), but I’m just out of time. Did something else stand out to you? Do you have questions? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post…and I’ll keep my eye out for that robot!

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.

Amazon refreshes the Fire tablet line…but the big announcement is yet to come

September 10, 2018

Amazon refreshes the Fire tablet line…but the big announcement is yet to come

Ah, September! Back to school, the new TV season, and the return of NFL football games!

Well, those may be pretty fuzzy times now…new TV shows debut almost all year long, back to school sales certainly start before September, and…well, I don’t pay that much attention to the NFL**. 😉 Hm…I think I’m safe to say that September is when Halloween decorations appear in the stores (I’ve seen ’em), but that may start in August or earlier.

As far as this blog is concerned, though, September is also when we typically get new hardware announcements from Amazon. Last year, for example, I wrote this on September 28:

Wowsers! Amazon just blew the doors off with new devices and features!

We have had an announcement already, the new

Fire HD 8 Tablet (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

You can also get it with the charging dock:

All-New Fire HD 8 Tablet with Alexa, 8” HD Display, 16 GB, Black – with Special Offers + All-New Show Mode Charging Dock (at AmazonSmile*)

Pre-order right now for October 4th release, and at time of writing, you can get the tablet and the dock for $94.99 at time of writing. Without the dock, it’s $79.99…the same price as the entry-level Kindle!

I’m really tempted, although for me, it would be a bit redundant.

Redundant with what?

Our

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

You can buy the Show right now for $129.99…$100 off.

Honestly, it seems to me like the Fire HD8 is going to be better for most people. While the camera on the Show is considerably better, and the microphones to hear you are probably better, the ability to make an unplugged video call on a tablet sized device could be really big.

It’s also worth noting that the new HD8 has expandable memory: up to 400GB with a micro SD slot.

While the tablets have had Alexa before, this joins the Fire HD10 with hands-free Alexa.

I do think it’s a significant update…but I think the big announcement is yet to come.

First, the Show may simply disappear…it’s certainly being de-emphasized on the website currently. I would expect the

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

to stick around. I love having one on my desk at work…it’s an unobtrusive videoscreen (about the size of a Magic 8 Ball). Maybe new features and a lower price, but still there.

Audio only Echo devices should also be around, although I’m not sure we’ll see a new version of the tower. The Dot is another powerful and small device…but could it get even smaller? Could, for example, we get an Alexa capable device able to be literally stuck to a wall or mirror? The

Amazon Dash Wand

is sort of like that, at least if you stick it magnetically to a refrigerator, but because it has a scanner also, it’s bigger than what I’m thinking. I’m picturing something a centimeter/half an inch thick at most, and not always listening. You tap it to interact with Alexa…if you want hands-free, you could yell to one of your other devices. Use in the bathroom could be part of the marketing…I don’t have an Echo device there (although I do have a waterproof Bluetooth speaker I like a lot, pairing it with an Echo Dot in the bedroom…my model is no longer available).

I mentioned something quite small last year…a key fob sort of thing, but some sort of wearable (headphones or otherwise) also seems like a possibility.

Alexa in the car will also become more available (mostly through integration with the car manufacturers), but I can still see an add-on device (like GPS used to be) for all cars.

I’m having a hard time seeing something revolutionary in the EBR (E-Book Reader) line…the Kindle. More waterproof models? Sure. Color? Seems unlikely…I’m not sure why. Could a Kindle go under $50? Yes, but there is some advantage in having it seen as a luxury item, even at the lowest price. They have an inexpensive way for you to read e-books…the Fire tablets, which are now cheaper than Kindles.

We really may hear about a revolutionary home robot product from Amazon. It might not be released until 2019, but pre-orders could get it into this holiday shopping season, and it might be limited to Prime members at first.

Otherwise, what we are seeing is Amazon spreading its presence (particularly through Alexa) deeper into other people’s hardware. Amazon doesn’t need to make phones or TVs if they can be on them and let somebody else take the risk on the hardware.

Am I backing off an XR (Augmented/Virtual/Mixed/Merged Reality) device? Something at some point seems necessary (even though I can now see Amazon Prime Video in XR), but it may be a question of an Alexa experience in XR, and again, piggybacking on other people’s devices.

Those are a few ideas. What do you think? What new hardware/announcements would you expect to see from Amazon this year? What things would you like to see? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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! :) 

** That’s not to say that I pay no attention to football. I used to follow it quite closely. I’ve had debates with other geeks in which my postulate is that American football is the most intellectual of the big sports in the USA. It’s the only one where they stop every few seconds to decide what they are going to do next. While some people think of it as just big people crashing into each other, Monday morning quarterbacks don’t say, “We lost because they were bigger than us,” they say, “They shouldn’t have gone for it on third down.” The criticism is about the intellectual part of the game, not as much the physical (if we leave officiating out of it). However, I have heard good arguments for baseball also being a stream of decisions

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.

 

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.

My Echo Spot is here: it’s cute!

December 24, 2017

My Echo Spot is here: it’s cute!

Well, it looked like it wouldn’t be here by the 25th but my

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

arrived at the Amazon Locker today!

Regular readers may notice I said “my” rather than “our”; my Significant Other is not really a fan of Alexa, and this one will end up going to my office. 🙂

First impressions:

It is far more elegant looking than the original

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

While the Echo Show is my favorite Echo device currently, it is kind of clunky…reminiscent in that way of the first generation Kindle, even having somewhat of a wedge shape.

I traveled with the Show to a family wedding so one of my relatives with a mobility issue could “attend”, but it wasn’t that easy.

How the Echo Show kept our family together at a wedding

The new one is about the size of a Magic 8 Ball, I think, and my black one (they also come in white) sort of looks like one…although I believe it is lighter than that liquid-filled toy/oracle. 😉

Yes, the screen is much smaller than the Show, and the sound is not as good to my ear (but it does do Bluetooth and line out).

Picture showing relative sizes of the Echo Spot and the Echo Show

The biggest thing I had to change on it was to make it brighter. The screen is a touchscreen, and you can swipe down from the top to get to settings. There are quite a few settings:

  • Bluetooth
  • Wi-Fi
  • Home & Clock (I changed it to a digital style clock from the analog default style…you know, one with hands)
  • Display
  • Sounds
  • Do Not Disturb
  • Device Options (this is where I changed it to my preferred Celsius for temperature)
  • Restrict Access (you can block Prime Photos and/or Movie Trailers)
  • Things to Try
  • Help
  • Accessibility
  • Legal & Compliance

There are also more settings in the Alexa App (on your phone).

You can do everything you can do with Alexa devices generally.

Watching a video on it is…like watching a video on a phone. It’s doable, just depends on your taste for that.

Where I expect it to perhaps shine at work is bringing it to meetings so a remote person can attend on it. It will fit in my laptop case (although it’s fair to say that I do use a relatively large one).

Set up was easy, but updating took more than ten minutes.

One thing is that it didn’t know my wi-fi password: that seems pretty random to me as to when a new device knows the one I’ve stored with Amazon and when it doesn’t.

There are three physical buttons on the top: volume down, deafen (turn off the microphone), and volume up.

At $129, there may not be massive adoption. However, if it got down to $50, I think we’d see homes with several of these as a video intercom system, and more commercial uses as well. There might be one in each hospital room, for example…allowing guests to visit remotely.

I’ll let you know more after I’ve had it for awhile…family stuff the next few days, so it may be after I have it at work next week (although feel free to ask questions in-between). I’d learn more at more before that, but our now adult kid is visiting…and doesn’t like Alexa listening, so we deafen them all. Makes things a lot harder for me…but I won’t say that my SO isn’t happier that way. 😉

Bottom line: my feeling is that it will become a daily part of my life at work, but that at this price, it won’t be a big hit right away. It’s certainly possible that it will take some market share away from the Show.

One other interesting thing that happened recently: I went to send something to the Amazon Locker we usually use…and got a message that the locker was full! That’s never happened before.


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.

 

 

Hello, future! So many Amazon announcements!

October 25, 2017

Hello, future! So many Amazon announcements!

Every once in a while, Amazon just has a flurry of press releases, a proliferation of innovation, a multiplication of celebration and exuberation! 😉

Just this week, Amazon has announced a number of updates and new directions.

I’m going to include links to older press releases in my next book, Because of the Kindle. I’m really hoping to get your opinions on that for inclusion:

You can be part of my new book, “Because of the Kindle”

I also looked at

Kindle press releases “through the ages”

back in 2011…but rarely have we seen so many initiatives touted in so short a period of time.

Let’s take a look (I’ll comment on the ones most relevant to this blog):

Monday, 10/23/2017

Your One-Stop Shop for Handcrafted Gifts: Amazon Handmade Launches the Handmade Gift Shop

Amazon’s Fall 2017 Half-Hour Pilot Season Premieres on November 10 on Amazon Prime Video

This certainly has some direct impact on Fire tablet users, among others. Unfortunately, the biggest news around Amazon Video lately has been the number of executives leaving. That, in itself, can be seen as a sign of innovation, or at least, reinvention. We don’t know yet what it will mean in the long run, but Amazon is certainly always willing to make changes.

Tuesday, 10/24/2017

Amazon Announces All-New Kindle App—Easier Than Ever to Read and Connect with Friends

The

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

have been a big part of the Kindleer community for a long time now (the Kindle apps for the iPhone and iPod touch were announced on March 4, 2009). It wouldn’t surprise me if more e-books are read in the apps (if we include tablets, certainly) than on Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers).

This update is largely focused on social elements…but only if you have an Apple device (for now). Those features are coming to Android as well.

Amazon is really, really trying to socialize their business…they do quite well with business to business, and with consumers. Nowadays, though, you also need to be part of your customers’ lives even when they aren’t shopping or consuming content. Alexa has done a lot of that: I interact with Amazon devices throughout the day, when I’m not shopping.

I haven’t had time to explore it much yet, but I will say, the recommendations seem much better. they listed Fritz Leiber, Robert Silverberg, and John Brunner books I didn’t know were in

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile*)

for example.

This is far from Amazon’s first attempt at socialization; will this be the one that really catches on? We’ll see, but it is always good to see Amazon making an effort.

Amazon Celebrates 10 Years in Arizona; Employs 6,000 People in the Copper State

Amazon Business Launches Business Prime Shipping in the United States and Germany

Basically, this is Amazon Prime in bulk for businesses. It can be a huge savings: Up to 100 users are $1,299 dollars a year…that’s only $12.99 per person, potentially. There is a $499 level for up to 10 people, and $10,099 for more than 100.

I think this is a very smart move, and will really make Amazon an indispensable part of the infrastructure for many mid to large size businesses.

Qualifying businesses can get a thirty-day free trial at

Business Prime Shipping (at AmazonSmile*)

AWS Announces General Availability for Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL

Wednesday, 10/25/2017

Introducing Amazon Key, a New Level of Delivery Convenience for Prime Members

We had buzzing about this…I wrote a short fiction incorporating the idea ten days ago in this post:

Regular Delivery

The actual implementation is quite fascinating!

Amazon Key (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s only available to Amazon Prime members, first off.

You buy a kit which has a SmartLock and a camera. If you are handy (we aren’t) you can install it yourself, or you can schedule free installation.

It’s a lot more robust than just a simple lockbox and key. You can watch deliveries (live or recorded). You can unlock it remotely to let guests enter. “Happiness” is guaranteed.

There are some limitations as to what can be delivered (fifty pound limit, for one).

It’s initially available in these areas (although you can check your zip code on the page:

Eligible for in-home delivery*

Atlanta, GA
Austin, TX
Baltimore, MD
Boston, MA
Chicago, IL
Cincinnati, OH
Cleveland, OH
Dallas, TX
Denver, CO
Detroit, MI
Houston, TX
Indianapolis, IN
Jacksonville, FL
Kansas City, KS
Los Angeles and Orange County, CA
Louisville, KY
Miami, FL
Milwaukee, WI
Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN
Nashville, TN
Newark, NJ
Orlando, FL
Philadelphia, PA
Phoenix, AZ
Pittsburgh, PA
Portland, OR
Richmond, VA
Sacramento, CA
Salt Lake City, UT
San Antonio, TX
San Diego, CA
San Francisco Bay area, CA
Sarasota, FL
Seattle and Eastside, WA
St. Louis, MO
Tampa, FL
Washington, DC metro area
*In-home delivery is currently only available in select areas, requires an Amazon Key In-Home Kit, and is exclusive to Prime members.

We definitely want this (we’ve had Amazon items stolen), but it is a lot of money in our current circumstances. We’ll think about it. The Amazon Locker isn’t far away from where we work or live…although this is more convenient, and has those other advantages.

There will be a lot of questions…our now adult kid brought up hackability…but I can’t imagine it’s easier to hack this than to kick in a door (which we’ve had happen…well, we don’t know if it was a kick, but a door on the side of the house was broken to gain entry). Still, this is a big deal! I also wonder if law enforcement and first responders will have access…that could be literally lifesaving, but many might object depending on the parameters.

Introducing Amazon Cloud Cam—An Intelligent Security Camera that Works with Alexa for Only $119.99

This is about buying the Amazon Cloud Cam separately from Amazon Key (it’s included, otherwise).

Well, that’s a lot of future in one week! 🙂 Worth mentioning that it isn’t even 8:00 in the morning yet in Seattle…maybe more to come! I also expect more from Amazon this year…

What do you think? I’m sure I’ll write more about these topics going forward, but feel free to ask/tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.



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


My current Amazon giveaway:

Beyond Curie: Four women in physics and their remarkable discoveries 1903 to 1963 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b139e577ee333624

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
    Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Scott Calvin on Amazon

Start:Sep 25, 2017 5:46 AM PDT

End:Oct 25, 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! :) 

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.

Text-to-speech and Audible but no audio onboard…a deeper look at Amazon’s 10th anniversary Kindle

October 13, 2017

Text-to-speech and Audible but no audio onboard…a deeper look at Amazon’s 10th anniversary Kindle

I was excited to hear about Amazon’s release of the

2nd generation, waterproof Kindle Oasis (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which they have tied into the 10th anniversary of the announcement of the Kindle (November 19th).

I’m working on a book about the tenth anniversary myself…and you can be part of it:

You can be part of my new book, “Because of the Kindle”

I didn’t have much time to look at it when it was announced this week…things have been busy. This weekend, I may be going up to Santa Rosa to help. My company has been considerably affected (as have family, friends, and coworkers). They are asking us to be available to support, so I’m not quite sure what my weekend will be like yet. I live about an hour away, and the air quality has been unhealthy here…we can see the smoke around us, and the sun has looked like it was red. I wore a mask walking from my car to where I was working (a few long blocks) yesterday…that was much better. The first morning of the fires, one of our dogs was quite concerned…I first thought there might be a fire in our neighborhood. It’s definitely a difficult situation, so I was happy to volunteer in what small way I can. My Significant Other is an insurance claims manager, and has been dealing with the impact as well.

So, today, I did get some time to take a look at the

Kindle Oasis 2 User’s Guide

The first thing I did was search the document for “text-to-speech” and variations. That’s a big issue for me, as regular readers know. I didn’t find anything on it, even though it does Audible books (an Amazon company which does audiobooks).

Note that there are no onboard speakers: you connect it via Bluetooth to an external speaker.

However, I did get good news!

I chatted with Amazon help, and they confirmed (quickly, easily, definitively) that the new EBR (E-Book Reader) does have TTS!


Me: Does the new Kindle Oasis do text-to-speech?
You are now connected to Nagaranjan from Amazon.com
Nagaranjan: Hello, my name is Nagaranjan. I’m here to help you today.
Me: Hi!
Nagaranjan: I will be glad to help you with information regarding the new Kindle Oasis device.
Yes, Bufo. This device does support text-to-speech.
Me: Oh, great! Not Audible books, but text-to-speech? It doesn’t say that in the Quick Start Guide.
Nagaranjan: You can be rest assured about it. Other than audible books , it does support text-to-speech as well.
Me: That’s excellent! Thanks!
Nagaranjan: You’re welcome.
Is there anything else I can help you with today?
Me: No, that was it. I use TTS extensively. I could Bluetooth it to a speaker to hear it…no onboard speakers on the new Oasis, right?
Nagaranjan: Yes, Bufo. Bluetooth speakers is the only option available for this device.
Me: That’s what I thought…thanks so much for your answers!
Nagaranjan: My pleasure.
Bye, Bufo 🙂
Me: Bye!


 

Great news! For years now, I’ve been doing TTS on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX  7″tablet…but having it on an EBR (E-Book Reader) is a terrific option.

Speaking of the 7″ that’s one of the most notable things about this new model…hm, since it is the Kindle Oasis 2, I’ll use KO2 as a shorthand. I’ll have a hard time not seeing that as potassium superoxide, but that’s probably just me. 😉

Anyway, it has a 7″ (17.8cm) display, rather than the 6″ that almost all Kindles have had (except the Kindle DX, which had 9.7″). The 7″ size has been good for me…it still fits in my voluminous pockets, and I can hold it comfortably.

In this case, it doesn’t massively increase the size, because the “bezel” (the part around the actual display) is smaller than it used to be on Kindles. For comparison, here is the Voyage:

6.4″ x 4.5″ x 0.30″ (162 x 115 x 7.6 mm)

and here is the KO2:

6.3″ x 5.6″ x 0.13-0.33″ (159 mm x 141 mm x 3.4-8.3 mm)

The variation in depth will probably depend on the connectivity you select. You can get it with wi-fi only, or with wi-fi and cellular connectivity. My guess is the additional “antenna” will increase the depth. Do you care about cellular? It’s mostly for downloading books, I’d say, but it could also be for things like Wikipedia look up. It does cost an additional $50, and isn’t available in all configurations right now (actually, for pre-order for Halloween, at least on the main configs…maybe all).

Oh, let me address that, too: if you were nostalgic for the 1st gen Kindle, good news…the price is back! 😉

Just kidding…the original Kindle was $399, and you can pay more than that, by the time you get a cover (the K1 came with a cover). Of course, you get a lot, lot more than you did with that one, but a line graph of the most expensive Kindles over time would show a remarkable boomerang…but the least expensive would have dropped over time. Hm…might not be more if you didn’t get the cellular connectivity, but the K1 had that.

Let’s talk about config options (note that not every combination will be available):

Storage

8GB or 32GB (+$30)

Why spend more? More onboard storage may be important if you put multiple audiobooks on there at once. I don’t usually need much memory on my Kindles, since I store most of the e-books in the cloud. An audiobook could be big…

Connectivity

Wi-fi only or wi-fi+cellular (+$50)

Why spend more? You are often in places where there is no wi-fi. I think that is becoming more unusual for many parts of the country…hard for me to imagine that, in my normal routine, I’d ever be away from wi-fi for more than a few hours, but certainly, that’s different in different parts of the country.

Special Offers

With Special Offers (the default) or without them (+$20)

Why pay more? You don’t want to see ads. I always get Special Offers…I don’t mind advertisers subsiding my purchase to puts ads on the sleep screen (and this one has a banner at the bottom of the homescreen, too). They don’t bother me, and I have bought some things that way.

Protection Plan

None | 1 year +$24.99 | 2 years +$29.99 | 3 years +$39.99

Why pay more? There is a thirty day return policy automatically, but this lets you get a replacement after that even if you accidentally break it. With the three year plan, you get up to three replacements

In addition to those, you may certainly want some accessories. I read with my Kindles in a cover…a non-animal leather, water resistant cover (an official one from Amazon) is $44.99, and comes in three colors. The animal leather one (which may not be waterproof) is $59.99, and comes in three different colors (not the same as the fabric one’s colors).

A wall charger is $19.99…it comes with a USB charger, which will be slower.

They do have a bundle for $309.97 at time of writing, which includes the KO2, a cover, and a charger.

A few other notes before we look at the software:

  • Even in the standard config, it has twice the storage of a Kindle Voyage
  • It has twice the number of LEDs (lights) as the Voyage…12
  • It has page turn buttons…not the page press of the Voyage
  • It comes in graphite color (which is lighter than the black available on the Voyage), and has an aluminum back
  • It is slightly heavier than the Voyage, but lighter than the Paperwhite
  • It has the same PPI (Pixels Per Inch…sharpness, basically) as the Voyage and Paperwhite…300
  • Note that both page forward and page back buttons are your rightside as you look at the device…in the right place for righthanders who use their dominant hands to turn pages, but not for lefthanders (I’m an ambi, myself). I’ll have to look to see if you can flip the orientation

Next, let’s talk about some of the more software features, gleaned in part from the User’s Guide:

  • They talk quite a bit about storing your wi-fi password at Amazon, if want…I think this is a great feature, not new to this device!
  • Airplane mode is two taps (Settings, then Airplane Mode)
  • There is a “tap to share comments” button
  • You can hide the recommended content on the homescreen
  • It uses Bing translate
  • You can browse the web: “Your Kindle includes an experimental web browser that enables you to surf the web and view most
    Amazon web pages. The Experimental Web Browser supports JavaScript, SSL, and cookies, but does not support media plug-ins. You must have a Wi-Fi connection to access most websites.”
  • “Some websites may have books or documents that you want to download and read on your Kindle. You will be asked to confirm if you want to download these items to your Kindle Homecscreen. Supported file types for download include Kindle content (.AZW, .AZW1, .AZW3, and .KFX), unprotected Mobipocket books (.MOBI, .PRC), and text files (.TXT).”
  • It has a “nightlight” feature, which gradually decreases the brightness, which is intended to account for your eyes adjusting to the dark
  • You can invert the colors, so it is white text on a black background

One more thing in a chat with Amazon: I couldn’t find the number of font sizes, so I asked:


Me: How many font sizes does the new Kindle Oasis 2 have?
You are now connected to Vijay from Amazon.com
Vijay: Hello, my name is Vijay. I’m here to help you today.
Me: Great!
Vijay: Glad to meet you, please allow me a minute, Bufo.
Thanks for waiting.
Me: Sure!
Vijay: The font size options range from approximately 8-point size to 36-point size.
Me: Thanks! Do you know how many options there are?
Vijay: May I know the options you are referring to ?
Me: Sure. The font sizes range from 8 to 36, but I assume I can’t pick one for each point (8, 9, 10). If could pick, say, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, or 36, that would be eight options.
Vijay: Thanks for the information.
I’m checking this for you.
Me: Thanks!
Vijay: Thanks for waiting.
Yes, you are correct, the selection will be like 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32.
Me: That answers it, then…looks like 7 options. Thanks!
Vijay: You’re most Welcome!
​Is there anything else I can do for you today?

Me: Nope, that’s it!

Vijay: Thank you for contacting Amazon Kindle support. Have a great weekend!
You can click the *End Chat* button on the top right corner of this window to properly close the chat.
🙂
Bye..
Me: Bye!


 

Hope that helps you make your decision! If you have additional comments or questions, let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Bonus deal: the Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is $30 off making it just under $200. Speculation has been that it might be because we still haven’t seen the return of YouTube videos.


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


My current Amazon giveaway:

Beyond Curie: Four women in physics and their remarkable discoveries 1903 to 1963 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b139e577ee333624

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
    Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Scott Calvin on Amazon

Start:Sep 25, 2017 5:46 AM PDT

End:Oct 25, 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! :) 

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.

 

Wowsers! Amazon just blew the doors off with new devices and features!

September 28, 2017

Wowsers! Amazon just blew the doors off with new devices and features!

“Wowsers”, of course, was an expression used by Inspector Gadget…which may be singularly appropriate here. 🙂 Amazon doesn’t like to call them gadgets any more, they are “devices”.

That makes sense, since some of these are actually practical, or at least can be.

With what was announced today in a surprise hardware announcement (which also had an important feature improvement), had one of the biggest line-up changes I’ve seen. It required Amazon sending out three press releases today. Oh, and they had a fourth one, that BMW and MINI will have Alexa in the car starting in mid-2018 in the USA, UK, and Germany.

I think there will actually be a lot more later this year…it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they tie something big into the 10th anniversary of the release of the Kindle November 20th (I’m working on something as well)…that may be why there wasn’t an update to the Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers) today, but it may also be why we didn’t get Amazon auggies (Augmented/Virtual Reality hardware)…they may think of that as another revolutionary item, like the Kindle.

They announced new (and very different) Echo items, and a new Fire TV (as I’ve been saying they would, based on rumors). However, there were new features, too.

There is a lot to digest, and there may end up being more than one post…but let’s dive in!

Let’s start with what I think is the biggest life changer for people:

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

What is it? A smaller, less expensive version of the Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*).

That means it is an Alexa-enabled speaker with a screen.

Voice-enabled, and you can make videocalls to people with Echo Spot, Echo Show…or the free Alexa App on a SmartPhone.

Having a small, always available screen is going to make it a big part of people’s lives…not just as a baby monitor or to watch the dogs (it does do the “drop in” feature).

However, and this is new, you can now voice call anyone (they do need a phone, but not an Echo) hands free.

You can speak their phone numbers if they aren’t in your contacts.

This will work with most North American phone numbers (although not 911).

What does it cost to call?

It’s free!

Yes, this means free phone calling to just about any phone number.

More details here:

Alexa Calling & Messaging (at AmazonSmile*)

Oh, and you have the choice to anonymize the call…not show your number, but that’s up to you. To be clear, you are not using your phone to make the call.

Obviously, it would be good to be able to call 911 hands-free, especially for people with some challenges.

You can, with an additional device:

Echo Connect (at AmazonSmile*)

That one is $34.99, due to be released December 13th (the Echo Spot is scheduled for release December 19th).

What does it do?

It connects to your phone number, so you can call any number you can call with your phone…911, international numbers, and so on.

There are two more big Echo devices…and then a raft of features I still need to discuss!

The Echo Tower has been redesigned, and the price has been reduced to $99.99!

Echo (2nd gen) (at AmazonSmile*)

There are new colors and new finishes, including an Oak Finish. New speaker tech, new microphone tech, beamforming technology, it’s only about six inches tall, and controls hundreds of devices.

You can save $50 on three of them by using the code ECHO3PACK…details here: Amazon help page (at AmazonSmile*)

However, in the past, controlling SmartHome devices also meant you had a separate hub.

Now, for the last big Echo device, you can get an Echo…with a built-in hub!

Echo Plus (at AmazonSmile*)

For $149.99, you’ll be able to control your SmartHome devices easily…oh, and they throw in (gently, I’m sure) Silver+Philips Hue Bulb (which is only available for a limited time…$14.99 value).

I think this may make some people into SmartHome people who have been afraid to try it.

Speaking of controlling your SmartHome…

There are two new features which will also work with the earlier generation (although they don’t mention the Tap) and the Dot, Show, and Plus. Not right away, though…they say next month.

Alexa Routines

This lets you group activities into one name…and you can invoke it by voice or by time of day and dat of the week.

So, when you usually get up, Alexa can already have the coffeemaker going, start your music, turn on the lights in the bathroom and kitchen, and so on.

That’s a big one!

Hmm…they don’t mention it playing a particular song, but you can see how that could be great…you could say, “That’s what I’m talking about!” and have a triumphant, stadium ready anthem play, lights flash on and off. There are a lot of possibilities.

Improved SmartHome Groups

This is another giant improvement!

You can now assign lights (for example) to a given Echo device. That means that you walk into the kitchen (where you have an Echo), say, “Alexa, turn on the lights,” and just the lights in the kitchen come on.

Innovation!

One more Alexa thing, and this really may add a new dimension.

Alexa Gadgets (at AmazonSmile*)

At this point, you are just signing up to be in the loop.

What they show us as representative is basically a set of trivia game buzzers.

You’ll be able to get two of those for $19.99.

My guess is, though, that we’ll start seeing things like wands you can wave to “cast spells”.

I’m signing up, and I’ll keep you informed.

Echo gen 2 and Echo Plus press release

Echo Spot press release

Whew! That’s enough Echo for this post!

The

Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

is better, faster, stronger than it used to be. 😉

Now it has 4K Ultra HD video (and it’s a bargain for that, at $69.99). It’s got more memory, HDR (High Dynamic Range, better voice control, a slim design (which can hang and hide between the TV)…it goes on.

One I’ll really like: single sign on for a number of services, including CNNGO. What that means is that it won’t keep asking you to verify who you are. I’ve been meaning to write to CNN about that: it’s really disruptive to step out of the shower, soaking wet, trying to get ready to go to work…and have to go down to another room where I have a laptop with the page saved to enter a code. I was going to suggest that they ask for the validation code at the end of a session, rather than the beginning, so I could enter the code when it was convenient for me. Now, though, that might not matter. 🙂

I think the Echo Spot will be perhaps the most popular item out of this list, but the Echo TV will continue to be popular.

I’m going to wrap up here, but it looks to me like they might have also refreshed more of the

Fire tablet family (at AmazonSmile*)

but I’ll have to double-check.

Later this year, I think we could see EBR announcements (again, perhaps tied into November 20th for the ten-year Kindle anniversary), and those Amazon auggies…

What do you think of these announcements? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


My current Amazon giveaway:

Beyond Curie: Four women in physics and their remarkable discoveries 1903 to 1963 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b139e577ee333624

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
    Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Scott Calvin on 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!

* 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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