Archive for the ‘Home Entertainment’ Category

It’s Official – New Kindle Readers and Tablet from $79 – $199

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
Kindle Fire, Kindle Touch, and Kindle

Introducing three new Kindles. Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Amazon just announced not one, but four new Kindle devices. The keyboard is gone, and three of the four feature touch screens, including the new Kindle Fire tablet. Pictured above, you can see the Kindle Fire, Kindle Touch (3G version also announced), and the new basic Kindle without touch. Amazon loaded all of them with features.

The Kindle uses a new feature called “X-Ray” to provide helpful information with the book, on top of traditional dictionary searches. Wikipedia entries and other relevant content is included with the book upon download. Unlike some other devices (including older Kindles), there will not be a page turn button on the Kindle Touch. There will be a thin column of touchable space on the left and right where you can tap to move forward or backward. Amazon has two price points for the new readers, with ads or without. You can also now check out Kindle books from a library.

Kindle

The latest Kindle is pocket-sized, according to Amazon.com. It weighs 5.8 ounces, and is 18% smaller, and turns pages 10% faster. It is the same 6″ screen you may be used to. For $79, Amazon may have finally hit the price point to keep e-readers relevant. The Kindle is available today. Don’t want special offers? The ad-free version is $109. Still not a bad price. Check it out at amazon.com/kindle.

Kindle Touch/Touch 3G

The Kindle Touch is 8% lighter, and 11% smaller, and features a multi-touch screen. It includes the new X-Ray technology so you can read about relevant content in addition to your book. All your books are stored in the cloud, and feature Whispersync so you can pick up where you left off no matter what device you are using. The Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G are available for pre-order, and will ship November 21. The Touch is $99 with Special Offers, and $139 without. Check it out at amazon.com/kindletouch. The Kindle Touch 3G is $149 with Special Offers or $189 without. Check it out at amazon.com/kindletouch3G.

Kindle Fire

The Kindle Fire rolls the best of Amazon.com into a single package. Movies, Music, TV shows, Books, cloud storage, and an Android app store are all part of this package. For $199, this tablet is set to sell. Quickly. It features a dual-core processor, 7″ multi-touch display, and 8GB of internal memory. The screen resolution is 1024×600, and the display can show 16 million colors. The Fire has free cloud storage for all Amazon products, which explains the smaller storage. It also comes with a free month of Amazon Prime. Unlike the readers, this one does not have two price points. It will ship for $199 on November 15. Check it out at amazon.com/kindlefire.

So, there you have it. Four new Kindle readers, or three if you don’t count the Touch 3G separately. Amazon has thrown down the gauntlet on pricing, both in the e-reader and tablet arena, so things should get pretty interesting in short order. Even though I don’t like the idea of ads on a screensaver, the ads are not too intrusive on the Kindle. Given a reasonably long expected lifetime of the product, is it worth a $40 savings? Maybe. I would probably spring for the ad-free version. Amazon did not disappoint today. The e-Ink Kindle that we have come to know over the years continues to be relevant, and now there is a tablet ready to shake things up. What do you think? Did Amazon show you something you’re excited about? Let me know in the comments.

Android Market Now Rents Movies

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Google’s annual IO conference began today, and Android was a highlight of the keynote. Among the more notable new features, Google is now offering movie rentals through the Android Market. Movies range from $1.99 to $3.99, and have similar terms and expiration policies as other services. I am still looking for the $1.99 selection. There is a good mix of newer and older titles available, from “The King’s Speech” to Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life”.

Browsing through the movie selection, there are a number of features available. You can watch a preview with YouTube, get critic reviews or user reviews, tweet about the movie, read a synopsis, and find out general information about the movie. Movie ratings, length, and contract terms are available as well. Once purchased, the rental is valid for 30 days if the movie is not watched. Once playback begins, the timeline drops to 24 hours. This is comparable to the PlayStation Network and Dish Network’s pay per view options.

I think this service is poised to give both Netflix and Amazon a run for their money. The layout is clean, easy to follow, and conveniently connected to your Google account. This means you can watch on your Android phone or your computer, no matter where you are. There’s even a feature to watch the movie offline if you don’t have a consistent connection. This is done with a “pin” feature, and can take a good chunk of time on a tablet such as the Xoom. Google posts download times as 45-90 minutes for HD and 30-60 minutes for SD. Streaming is instant, so you might want to do that if your data plan isn’t unlimited.

The service is currently available only in the United States. Google suggests you download the movie before leaving the country if you want to use the service elsewhere. An Android app is available on the Xoom, and requires Flash. The app should be available for Froyo and above soon, but you can browse for movies at market.android.com/movies.

I think this feature will be getting a lot of action in my household. I’m looking forward to spending some more time with it. This weekend’s road trip should provide ample opportunity to play, so I’ll post my experiences next week.

A Few of My Favorite Things

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Now that procrastination shopping time is in full swing I figured it was time for a gift guide of sorts. This isn’t a comprehensive list, and it may not cover everyone on your shopping list, but these would certainly make my Christmas merry.

First up, the Sony Reader Daily Edition. Any of the Reader line will do, though the Daily Edition is my favorite of the bunch. The Sony Reader offers the best selection in content options, thanks to public library partnerships and Google Books among other perks. The touch screen is fast and responsive, and the book is light enough to take anywhere. There are certainly other quality e-book readers out there but Sony’s really stands out among the rest. I’m holding out for a black version of the Daily Edition, since the silver doesn’t do much for me. For $300 it should be attractive, right? If I were to receive it in Silver I doubt I’d complain though, especially as there’s been no announcement of an intent to offer additional colors.

Next up is the Sony Internet TV. I really like the Logitech Revue as a Google TV option but I am in the market for a new TV, making the Sony’s offering rise to the top of my wish list. I have absolutely no interest in 3-D TV, so the fact that the Internet TVs are cheaper is another perk. The Sony Internet TV is a decent TV even without Google TV, and as I just mentioned, the price is attractive. In my review of Sony’s Internet TV I noted that the remote is more geek-friendly than user-friendly. This would be a good choice for your favorite geek.

At this point I’m aware that it looks like I only want or own Sony products. The fact that the PlayStation Move from Sony is next on my list is purely coincidence, I assure you. The Move was a very welcome addition to my PlayStation 3 gaming experience. I’ve spent many hours with Sports Champions, and even got the Platinum trophy for my efforts. I think the Move’s precision lend to a more realistic gaming experience, especially for sports. Playing Table Tennis and Disc Golf on Sports Champions really felt like the real thing. The Move is far beyond the pale of comparison to the Wii. It does what it needs to, every time. I’ve been pretty frustrated with the motion detection offered by the Wii, so the Move really hit the spot for motion gaming. Incidentally, I don’t have too much against the Kinnect for Xbox, but the available games are not to my taste at this point. The Kinnect’s value is in the video conferencing capability as well. This helps the Move stand alone in its genre.

Android has come a long way this year. There has been a constant stream of updates and improvements, and even a few OS versions along the way. The Android Market is maturing both in usability and in quality and number of available apps. Even with AT&T doing its best to stall upgrades on its Android powered phones in order to bolster iPhone sales it has continued to thrive. Android has grown from phones into tablets. I am looking forward to seeing where Android goes in the coming year. All indications are that things are looking good. It will be nice to see the Android Market made available on a wider variety of Android devices. Hopefully this is an option. I think it will go a long way in supporting Android’s rising status.

There are a few video games that I’ve really enjoyed this year. The Force Unleashed II is among them. I’m currently playing Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, and am almost to the Platinum trophy. The X-Men Arcade game I downloaded last night was pretty fun too. I have a few on deck that I’ll be enjoying during my Christmas vacation including Transformers:War for Cybertron, Assassin’s Creed 2, and God of War III. On my wish list is Call of Duty: Black Ops, Goldeneye, and Uncharted 2 to name a few. I think it’s been a pretty good year for gaming. NExt year has some promising titles as well. Batman: Arkham City, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Infamous 2, and Uncharted 3 are definitely on my radar.

There you have it – a few of my favorite things. There were some gadgets I wanted to cover that didn’t make it into this post, so a follow-up might be coming in the foreseeable future. What about you? What are some of your favorite gadgets/tech this year? Let me know in the comments.