Tag Archive | "amazon"

Testing DIAL, DLNA and Miracast on Windows 10

Ever since I watched the Windows 10 casting presentation at BUILD 2015 I’ve been quite excited about some of the possibilities that a universal Windows 10 can bring to media casting. Look at the $99 Windows dongles and think about Windows 10 Mobile sticks that could challenge Chromecast and Amazon’s products. WiDi and Miracast are improving and there’s DLNA to consider too.

Screenshot (14)

I’ve done a few tests on Miracast with Windows 10 and the results look better than before but today I took the time to drill down into DIAL and DLNA. It’s good news and bad news at the moment.

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Coming soon: Amazon Fire TV Stick + Windows 8.1 Miracast support.

The Amazon Fire TV stick was looking like the best Miracast option for Windows 8 PCs; A real no-brainer.  The problem is that it isn’t working. Owners are reporting that it’s showing up as a remote display on Windows 8.1 but no-one is reporting a successful connection. Does this mean it’s a no-go? Fortunately not because Amazon have recently indicated that Windows 8.1 support is coming soon.

Update: I’ve reviewed the Fire TV Stick now and put a focus on testing Miracast.

Fire TV Miracast for Windows support coming soon

Fire TV Miracast for Windows support coming soon

April 2015 Update: A recent firmware update is helping but big issues exist. Source: Thurrot.com

It seems that a number of owners aren’t happy  with Amazon FireTV sticks they bought for Windows and Miracast use. I’m not happy either as in my eyes, Miracast support is Miracast support and not ‘a subset of Miracast devices support.’

Quite how long we’ll have to wait for Miracast on Windows 8.1 with Amazon FireTV sticks is another question but at least Amazon is on the case and have committed to doing something.  Keep your eyes on the product page, this forum thread and firmware updates.

Note that Miracast isn’t he same as WiDi although a WiDi compatible device works with a Miracast receiver. WiDi has more features than Miracast and is now up to version 5.1 with 4K support.  I’m not aware of any products that have it yet.

Amazon Fire TV Stick does Miracast too for just $39

Every Windows 8 tablet I’ve tried recently supports Miracast but I rarely use it because it’s never plugged into my TV. I’ve thought about getting a cheap stick I can leave in the living room TV but never really got round to it. Now that the $39 Amazon Fire TV stick has been announced though I think the solution will be a no-brainer.

Amazon Fire TV Stick

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$100 Gift Card Deal at Amazon.com Ends on Saturday. Here’s Chippy’s Choice!

Amazon.com have been running the $100 Gift Card Promotion on Ultrabooks for a while now but it ends on Saturday the 21st July. It’s a good week to buy though because there are some new 2nd-gen Ultrabooks in stock now. If you’ve been waiting, strike now! UltrabookGiftCard_SummerSale

Chippy’s Choice

I’ve spent some time going through the offers available and I’ve come up with a selection to suit different types of buyer. Take a look below… Here’s a link to all the Ultrabooks available in the promotion right now.

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New Asus Zenbook UX31A, UX32A, and UX32VD Available Through Amazon US and DE

The much anticipated UX31A and UX32VD Ultrabooks from Asus are finally available from Amazon US and . The UX31A, which starts at a very reasonable price, is being marketed by Asus as the ‘Zenbook Prime’ which we’ve been hearing about over the last few months. According to Asus, a Zenbook achieves the ‘Prime’ denotation as long as it has the 1080p IPS display, SSD, and a backlit keyboard. The UX32VD is thus being marketed simply as a Zenbook because it lacks the SSD.

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Latest Ultrabooks at Amazon.com this week.

Three new Ultrabooks have appeared at Amazon US in the last week. The Lenovo U310, Lenovo U410 and Acer Aspire S5

3 ultrabooks

Starting with the Acer Aspire S5-391 you can pre-order for $1399.99. [Amazon link] It sounds expensive but as is often the case, the high-end version is being made available first. Core i7-3517U at 1.9-3.0Ghz with 4GB RAM and a healthy 256GB SSD. Be aware though that the screen is 1366×768. At this price it could be a difficult sell don’t you think?

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Amazon Kindle Fire: Owner’s Impressions and 13 Apps for Getting Things Done

I have only had my Amazon Kindle Fire for about four days. I have admittedly spent a lot of that time in my Amazon account on a PC setting up my account to access more services and content channels than I have been using in the past. I have also not had much time to put a lot of these apps through their paces on the Fire, but my initial checkouts indicate that they are as useful as they are on my other Android devices, so we wanted to make sure that other users or potential Kindle Fire buyers know that they are out there.

A bit of preamble as to why I have this thing in the first place. After a brief recovery, my iPad’s critical display fault resurfaced, rendering it useless. There are a few options out there for replacing it for $299 and up; mine is a 1st generation 64GB 3G + WiFi model. In order to replace it at the same level of capability, the options move to the higher end of the price spectrum. Truth is, I felt like right now was a bad time to replace it with either a refurbished 1st gen iPad or an iPad 2, with a potential iPad 3 within six months of announcement. Perhaps more importantly, as I surveyed the other gadgets at my disposal, I questioned whether I needed another 10″ tablet in any flavor of mobile OS. The Kindle Fire was an inexpensive choice, and I had already fallen in gadget-love with my Kindle 3 that I had picked up over the summer. At $199, the Kindle Fire is just outside the impulse buy window. Picking one up meant not giving up much in terms of any future purchase opportunities.

For initial setup, I used a method that I typically employ in using another device already in my mobile kit as a reference configuration. In this case, I used my Spring HTC Evo 3D, and spent a couple of night after work plumbing the Amazon App Market for all of my Android Apps or suitable substitutes. I could have tracked down the .apk’s for each app, but I do not know that doing so would have been any less time-consuming than searching for them on Amazon. And while side loading the apps would have been a good way to exercise my freedom, I wanted to at least make an attempt at using the device as Amazon envisioned. If I can use it with the vendors constraints, than general consumers should be fine with it, and enthusiasts can determine how much they will have to go over in order to tailor it to their needs.

I have 56 apps loaded on the Kindle Fire right now. Here the top productivity and utility apps that I felt were essential to have onboard. Where pricing information is indicated, it is always in reference to pricing on Amazon:

13 Kindle Fire Productivity Apps

AK NotePad [free] – AK NotePad does not do much other than act as a no-muss, no-fuss text editor. I do a lot of writing in this app, anywhere from starting my blog posts to simple notes on home maintenance projects and sysadmin projects. I use this app on every Android device that I own, and was quite happy to find it available on Amazon for the Kindle Fire.

Battery Percentage Status Icon Alert [$0.99] – I always insist on being able to see my battery percentage without having to drill all the way down into the Settings menu on an Android device. This app does not implement the status view as optimally as I would like. In my other Android apps, the percentage is visible in the alert area of the display. On the Kindle Fire, you have to open the Alerts menu in order to see it. Still, that is a single drill-down versus the 3-step process to get to it via the stock Android method.

CalenGoo [$2.99] – In the wake of making my decision to procure the Fire, I have been on a few boards and seen comments on debating the value of the Kindle Fire. One of the big ones is the Blackberry Playbook versus the Kindle Fire argument, and I have seen Fire proponents claim the Fire’s advantage of having native email, calendar, contacts, and notes. Well, for calendar and notes, I do not know what native apps were supposed to be on my Kindle Fire, but I did not find them before I decided to just get CalenGoo. The app syncs with my Google Calendar and even syncs with my Calendar Task list. It also displays both my personal calendar as well as the one my wife and I share. In fact, it has several display options that the stock Android Calendar apps (both the Gingerbread version and the Honeycomb version) do not provide. I will likely be switching all my Android devices over to this app for my Google Calendar needs.

Colornote [free] – I suspect that just about every Android user is familiar with this app, as it comes pre-installed on many Android devices. Of particular note is that the recent updates have added a calendar view for your notes so that you can make them specific to a date. The big advantage of that feature is to then make a date specific widget on your homepage, but, admittedly, the Kindle Fire does not allow widgets on the homescreen. Still, this is a great app for making checklists and taking general notes.

Documents-to-Go Full – There are a couple of reasons why you will need an office suite on your Kindle Fire if you are going to use it for document editing on the go. The main reason is, well, so that you can do document editing on the go, if you feel that is a use-case you need the Fire to fulfill. The other reason is because Google Docs and DropBox do not exist in the Amazon App Store. So I put Documents-to-Go Full on my Fire, as I do on every Android device. I needed it anyway to meet the first need I mentioned. But I also use it if I need to access my Google Docs from the device. (the Main App which only allows you view documents is free; $14.99 for the full version, and I could not find a way to use my registry key that I have for the license that I purchased from the Android Marketplace to use on the Kindle Fire, although I did not spend a lot of time trying and I reckon that there’s some way).

ES File Explorer [free] – Surprisingly, it is compatible with the Kindle Fire and appears to work the same as it would on any other Android device. I half expected that Amazon would not want you to have visibility on the Fire’s folder structures, but that is thankfully not the case. ES File Explorer is an essential utility if you want to store files in areas other than the defaults that other apps select for you.

Evernote [free] – I have not signed into my account on the Fire yet, but this app was available on Amazon, and indicates that it is compatible with the Fire. I tend to keep my online research notes in here, article ideas, thoughts on tech and any forum posts I write that I think might be good content for a later article.

Note Everything [free / $3.99 for Pro] – I do not know that we will ever see anything like the desktop version of Microsoft’s OneNote for Android, but in its absence, Note Everything does a decent job of allowing you to organize notes and encapsulate them in different folders to reduce your in-app clutter. (Free for the baseline app; $3.99 for the Pro version; I normally run the Pro version, but I am not certain what the differences are between it and the base version I am running on the Kindle Fire yet)

Office Calculator [free / $1.69 for Pro] – Another thing that the Fire is missing is a built-in Calculator. This one does the trick. (Free – I am running this version; $1.69 for the Pro version)

QuickOffice PRO [included / $9.99 for Pro] – The non-pro version comes per-installed on the Fire. The Pro version can be used to access your DropBox account. (Free or $9.99 for the Pro version)

Read It Later [$1.49] – A Kindle Fire client for accessing your Read it Later account.

SpringPad [free] – As important to me as Evernote; possibly more so. I primarily use this for some of the same duties that I mentioned I use Evernote for. But sometimes, Springpad is faster, and so there are some notes and files that I retain there.

The Weather Channel and AccuWeather – I counted this as one for purposes of the title, because I am pretty sure that one of them was pre-installed on the Fire when I bought it. There is nothing much to say about either of these apps, other than that they both do what they need to, which is admittedly not much!

So that is the quick and dirty…grab these apps if you plan on doing anything more on your Kindle Fire than just consuming content. I will admit that not being able to attach an external keyboard puts a dent in my gadget M.O. of trying to see how much productivity I can achieve out of any device. I will also admit that my current assessment is that the Kindle Fire, for me, will be an uber-eReader or uber-PDA, falling short of full tablet utility. Without being able to attach keyboards, mice, and external monitors, the Fire will be the center of my reading experience, but only short duration productivity stints. I would not take off on travel like I did for the Thanksgiving break carrying the Kindle Fire as my productivity device; the lowest end I will go to for that would be something like my Acer Iconia Tab A500, which is what I took along with a USB keyboard and wireless mouse. However, I am completely confident walking out of the house for a day trip or with a laptop stuffed in a bag knowing that I can work and read from the Kindle Fire while in transit and leave the laptop to rest until I get to my destination.


Let me close out with a few words on a couple of the controversies surrounding the Kindle Fire. On the debate of Kindle Fire versus the Nook Tablet, I was driven by my poor experiences with the Barnes and Noble website service layer and its linkages to the Nook, a component of that term that everyone keeps using…ecosystem. During the time that I owned my Nook, I was locked out of my account 3 times, and in each instance, I received no indication from the website that the reason I could not log in or make a purchase was because my account had been locked. When this happened for the third time (and when I was on travel to-boot) I lost my patience for it. It will be a long time before I am ready to tether myself back to my Barnes and Noble account and a corresponding device. On the choice between Playbook versus the Kindle Fire; I was very interested in the productivity I could get out of the Playbook. However, I was not confident in the level of app support and being able to find everything I needed. I was also not confident in the degree of support RIM will be able to provide at all. Spending an extra $100 to get a Playbook (my local stores are out of the 16GB for $199 model), that may or may not ever see the 2.0 OS update or BBX, was a sketchy proposition. As a long-term investment, I felt confident that Amazon was not going to cast aside the Kindle Fire and remove support for it any time soon.

For my other thoughts on other debates surrounding the Kindle Fire, I am attaching my comment post to a Boy Genius Report article that ran near the end of last week. The article reports on a study conducted by a market analysis firm, which tracked ad impression counts for the Kindle Fire during the weeks covering its launch through the week ending after the Thanksgiving holiday. Because the number of ad hits dropped off during the days following Thanksgiving, the firm drew the conclusion that most buyers of the tablet had become unenthusiastic about the device after the initial purchase window. The analyst further goes on to say that, because the Kindle Fire does not have all of the same features as the iPad, that it cannot compete in the tablet market, and that consumers want devices that have the same feature-set as Apple’s tablet. My response frames a lot of how I perceive the utility of the Kindle Fire, and what type of user I think the device is good for.

Comment Response to Amazon Kindle Fire already cooling off, study suggests:

 “A very questionable study with conclusions drawn based on very limited data points. And what else besides price-point would “fall inline with consumer demand”? If it was features or specs, then it would seem that a lot more Android devices would be getting sold. I believe that tablet vendors have tried to compete with the iPad by going toe-to-toe on features and specs, or by even trying to clearly exceed the iPad on features and specs, and have encountered very little success. As one commenter indicated below, this a classic case of drawing a conclusion from a single metric and then extrapolating its relevance as if it was conclusive evidence of a definitive trend.

In the first few days with a Kindle Fire, I have spent all of my time in apps and pulling down content locally to the device and consuming it there. I have not spent anytime in the browser, yet I have essentially used no other mobile OS devices but the Kindle Fire. So I have expended many hours of usage, none of which would have contributed to this metric.

My belief is that users are employing the Kindle Fire as a device that receives all of its content through Amazon and in-app data streams. I believe users are more likely to buy digital magazines or newspapers than go to those publications’ websites via the Silk browser. This allows them to consume that content on the go, in an entirely encapsulated experience, without continuing dependency on connectivity once the download is complete. I also believe that Kindle Fire users are using the devices to do very specific things in very specific apps, and are not plunking down on a couch and engaging in general web surfing sessions for extended periods of time. A 7″ display would seem to lend itself to relatively brief surfing sessions of somewhat constrained and previously bookmarked websites.

I do not believe that ad impressions is the right metric to estimate Kindle Fire usage. It is designed to meet a different overall CONOP than other tablets. Just because it is in a slate form-factor does not mean that its degree of attraction to consumers can be measured using the same metrics and subjective assessments that can be applied to other slate form-factor devices. I do not believe that trying to compare the Kindle Fire to the iPad is an apples-to-apples comparison (no pun intended); a perspective that a surprisingly large portion of the tech analysis and tech media population seem to not be considering.

A more effective metric I think would be to look at the amount of content being purchased from Amazon either directly from Kindle Fire units, and/or the amount of sales growth in the Amazon App store, regardless of point-of-purchase (I have selected a lot of apps for the Kindle Fire via my PC, and then sync’d and installed those purchases to the Kindle Fire).

And I think the original analysts ending conclusion is just way off. Amazon is not trying to “truly compete in the tablet market”; at least not in the way it has been defined so far this year. And basing the win-lose assessment on what perceived consumer demand is…I do not know how anyone could assume to define this effectively. There was little to no concrete demand for a slate-style, media consumption device before the iPad’s arrival. There were a very small number of us who used TabletPCs and UMPCs, and the rest of the world who looked at us and the slate form-factor in general like we were crazy. Most consumers bought the iPad in droves without being able to effectively articulate how they were even planning on using it, or what use-cases they thought its capabilities would satisfy. What I think the Kindle Fire is trying to do is to provide a low-cost device, that has above crap-tablet level specs, and provides a 1-stop, integrated, homogeneous consumption channel for content. I can do pretty much everything that my Kindle Fire can do on my iPad, Xoom, Iconia A500, or ThinkPad Tablet. But in order to do it I have to have several different accounts, launch multiple apps from different vendors that get updated in different increments…you get the point…those experiences are very non-cohesive. And once I start moving, many of them become dependent on continuous connectivity.

I have an iPad, my wife has one, and our friends have them. But the way I use mine is vastly different than the minimal use-cases they employ theirs for. I believe that 80 – 90% of the use-cases that the average consumer would use an iPad for, can be met with a device like the Kindle Fire that provides that 1-stop shopping experience, that is highly reliable, and provides support and reach-back if you make a purchase and encounter problems, and can act as a single trusted-agent. Metrics that define those experiences are the ones that I think would be more relevant to look at than ad hits. You cannot make sweeping, broad, all encompassing assessments based off of singular data points.

I think if analysts are going to assess the indicators of Kindle Fire purchases and their impact, maybe one angle that needs to be looked at is how many consumers will see the $200 Kindle Fire as meeting their minimum need and preventing the need to step up to a $500 iPad? Certainly an argument can be made that the $500 iPad is more capable, but the more relevant question seems to be whether or not consumers perceive that they need that extra $300 worth of capability, or if the $200 package will be good enough. My regrets for voicing an opposing opinion.

– Vr/Zeuxidamas.”

Acer Aspire S3. Amazon Pre-Order for €799 in Germany, Italy

Acer-Aspire-S3-951-20_rfv_open1We reported last week that the Acer Aspire S3 had turned up for pre-order in Italy at €799. As expected, it’s Aspire S3 available for order in other countries too and for those of you that like to order through Amazon, it’s now available in the German and Italian stores. Again the price in €799 which undercuts the cheapest Apple MacBook Air model by at least €40 but there’s still no availability info.

One thing we found out this week that there are no Ethernet or VGA ports on the device despite many specifications lists, including some early Acer specification lists, highlighting this capability. This could be important to you. [Confirmation comes directly from Notebookitalia who kindly took our query to their local Acer contact.]

I’ve linked Amazon on our the Acer Aspire S3 information page for those of you visiting from Germany or Italy. As I find other Amazon country availability, I’ll link the relevant stores in so check the database regularly.

ASUS UX21, UX31 Pre-order available at Amazon Germany. Pricing Error?

ux21Amazon are usually a reliable source of true specs and recommended retail price so when new devices go into their system, we take note!

Today we see the ASUS UX21 and two variants of the ASUS UX31 at Amazon Germany now available for pre-order.

The UX21 11.6”, the cheapest of the three models (KX004V) is now available for pre-order for €999 That’s more than we expected. €200 more than we expected. For €999 you’re getting the Core i5 with 128GB of SSD , 4GB of RAM and Windows Home Premium.

The jump to the UX31 will cost you, well, we can’t tell because the pricing is all messed up right now with the Core i7 + 265GB (UX31E-RY010V) costing €999, less than a UX31 with Core i5 and 128GB!

Given the errors we’d say wait for a day or two before they get the information sorted out. Or, get in there and try and order a Core i7 with 256GB for 999!

Update: Amazon.de have removed the Asus Ultrabook products. Maybe we should have kept it quiet!

You can track some German pricing for all the models here. (Geizhals)

ASUS UX21 information page

ASUS UX31 information page


The Amazon Tablet — An Ecosystem Move


On Friday (isn’t that when all big tech news comes out these days?), TechCrunch’s MG Siegler detailed the now long-rumored Amazon tablet that is due to launch this fall. Despite it being a Friday afternoon leak on a three-day weekend, many of the tech media streams picked it up, including James Kendrick, founder of jkontherun and now a blogger for ZDnet, who compared his own earlier predictions with MG’s “leak”. My own personal take-away is that this is an ecosystem move by Amazon, and could therefore have less of a direct impact on the tablet market-proper as many of us may think of it. If the Amazon tablet takes off, it may be another case, much like the iPad, where a new vertical market is created where there is a demand for the Kindle Tablet, but not necessarily increased demand for tablets in general.

Amazon will have some obvious apps pre-installed on the device, and, when looked at holistically, they pretty much cover most basic functions that I would think most tablet users want/need:

  • A version of the Kindle App for reading ebooks
  • The Amazon Cloud Player for music and other audio content playback
  • Amazon Instant Video for video content
  • Amazon’s Android Appstore for apps

For content, these four apps cover everything that Google includes as part of the Android base-install for content consumption. Despite the fact that Damian has found a tablet useful as a productivity outlet, and the fact that I insist that any tablet I own be used for some productivity applications, the fact is that the average user applies a tablet for media consumption. Amazon is planning on putting several hooks in place to encourage buyer’s of its Kindle Tablet (the popular name the media is applying to this device; not officially announced or endorsed by Amazon) to use the four apps mentioned above and others to consume their fair share or more.

MG claims that the device will come with free access to Amazon Prime. Which, to me, it is a lot like Playstation Plus; you subscribe, and for your trouble, you get some free perks, and several deals on a continuous, rolling basis. So will all of this work? Yes, and here are some pretty obvious possible reasons why:

  • I do not think that the average consumer “gets” tablets as a product category. Very few consider picking up a tablet from the productivity standpoint, increased connectivity and awareness, or leveraging the advantage of a third screen in their mobile/IT setup. For most, they decide that they want an “iPad”. Not “I want a tablet so which one should I get?”
  • My own link to Amazon does not take me to the homepage, so it is not that often that I get reminded of how the front-page can visually mug you with a Kindle assault. “Flagship device” is a term that does not do justice to what the Kindle represents to Amazon. At the expected pricing (supposedly to be $250), there will be a chunk of consumers in the market for the high-end Kindle 3G, currently selling for $189, who will see it making more sense to get the more capable device for $250
  • People like bundles. The average consumer may not be as technology averse to gadgets as they were 10 years ago, but the wall that keeps a lot of them from going over is the threat of having to monkey with a device to get the stuff on it that they are supposed to use it for. The concept of a device that basically has everything on it that they want to use it for, and a pre-configured means for getting more of it, will be a factor that brings a lot of the stay-aways over the wall
  • Why will Amazon’s bundling hook people who have not taken the iPad plunge yet? Because some of the stay-aways still see iOS devices as luxury items at their current price points. Also, despite the relative ease that most of “us” handle an iOS device or other tablet, a part of the non-techcentric consumer population of America still does not get the tablet paradigm.
  • Why will Amazon’s bundling be any more effective than Google’s that comes stock with Android? Because you have to be invested in the Android ecosystem already before you understand what is available. Google’s services are not a storefront. Unless you are already an Android user, you do not go to the Android Market website on your laptop or desktop to window-shop. You only get there because you already have a device and you are using a desktop environment to manage it. Ditto for iTunes and the AppStore; places you do not normally go unless you already have an iOS device. Even if you use iTunes, I do not think people go to the AppStore section just to see what might be available on an iPad if they had one already. But millions of people go to Amazon everyday, and the Kindle Tablet and its bundles services will be front and center.

There has been some discussion among the technoratti as to whether or not the Kindle Tablet will be a premium device that will compete with the iPad and other, higher-end tablets. But I also do not know how much that matters. The fact is that most people who have iPads do not need them. And when I say “need”, I am saying that from the perspective of someone who has already decided to buy a tablet and buys an iPad. I mean that if they are only using the tablet to surf the web, read email, and take in an occasional eBook, they could have purchased a less expensive device and been ok. But a lot of people are averse to devices that are not from a big-name brand, and do not market themselves based on simplicity. Most of the Android devices on the market are being marketed on the basis of their power, and the average consumer doesn’t have a good understanding of what a more ‘powerful’ device really means, or how it benefits them directly.

The Kindle Tablet will reportedly run a forked and skinned version of Android 2.2. And that is skinned to the point where the average user will not be aware that they are running Android, and therefore may potentially not get turned off to the device on that factor. Most consumers will likely buy this because it is an Amazon tablet, not because it is an Android device. The presentation layer will be in-your-face Amazon, and its services will be the hub around which the user-experience revolves.

Who will not want this device? Those of us who want/need the other Google Services (Gmail, the Android Market, Gcal) that will not be natively on the Kindle Tablet. Also those of us who want the stock Android GUI, or an ability to load our own chosen launchers, as the Kindle Tablet will only run the Amazon Appstore. Of course, I am sure someone will hack the device eventually, but we are talking about the device running its stock install.

The point is, whether or not the Amazon Tablet is a premium device may not matter. I am not convinced that there is a defined tablet market for strata of devices based on price anyway. My own feeling is that there is an iPad market and a very limited premium Android market. I am saying that there are not strata within the market in North America because there is not a lot of consumption of budget-Android devices here. People are either buying an iPad or an Android device that is in the $499 MSRP range (sometimes as low as $349 with some of the recent sales).

The current tablets are being positioned as an alternative to the laptop with a minimum comparative savings for increased portability. In other words the strategy is “You don’t need a laptop, you can use a tablet that will accomplish most of what you need and comes in a little cheaper than a capable laptop”. I am simplifying this part of the assessment in order to not get entangled in the minutia (the value of cheap laptops at less than $499  in comparison to their capability compared to laptops that are only a skosh more and their reduced portability in comparison to a tablet).

The Amazon approach is positioning the tablet has an outgrowth of the eReader. The “in other words” here is “For a skosh more than our 3G eReader, you can get this device that does a ton more, comes with a free Amazon Prime account, and, incidentally, does everything that eReader you were going to buy does anyway”. I think this is a story that the average consumer is more likely to buy into, and will start pulling buyers away from the iPad potential buyer population. When Amazon presents a device that costs half-as much, does everything that most potential iPad buyers want to do, and will be supported by an ecosystem that is manageable from a desktop browser and that many of them are familiar with, it will be clear that Amazon does not need to deploy a premium device to compete with the iPad. If the Kindle Tablet goes over well, we will have an example where the value of the service infrastructure that a tablet product plugs into might be more than important than the tablet hardware itself.

Amazon is also attempting to put deals in place similar to the 3G service that is available on their high-end eReaders now. If Amazon locks this in, and if, while seemingly impossible, they are able to lock this service in as either part of the Amazon Prime subscription, or at a very reduced rate and the buyer never has to interface with a carrier — that could be the factor that allows the Kindle Tablet to eat every other tablets’ lunch.

Right now, the Kindle Tablet will reportedly only launch with a WiFi version, so the 3G advantage may not come into play until later. Linked below is to the original TechCrunch article. Join the conversation below, as I am sure there are plenty of opposing views to the ones I voiced here. As always, this assessment is just my own opinion based on my own experiences. Feel free to present a differing perspective; that is kind of the whole point in us posting this stuff anyway!


Three Ways That Amazon’s Rumored Tablet Could Stand out in a Sea of Cookie-cutter Devices

amazon tabletA growing body of evidence is suggesting that Amazon will be moving into the Android tablet market sometime in 2011. The question on my mind is: how can Amazon’s tablet differentiate itself from the rest of the pack?

Amazon is already involved closely with Android (and even iOS) thanks to a number of applications that the company has developed. Let’s have a look at the list, shall we?

  • Amazon.com [app] (Android)
  • Amazon.com [webapp] (multi-platform)
  • Amazon MP3/Amazon Cloud Player (Android)
  • Amazon Appstore (Android)
  • Kindle (Android/iOS)
  • Amazon Mobile (iOS)
  • Price Check by Amazon (iOS)
  • Amazon Deals (iOS)
  • Windowshop (iOS)

Now here’s the thing. Every Android tablet or iPad already has access to these applications. Amazon has effectively given up what could have been exclusive software offerings by deciding to go multi-platform early on.

So how is Amazon supposed to make a tablet that will stand out against other devices that already have access to Amazon software? The company still has some tricks up its sleeve – there are several areas where the company can bring something new to the tablet arena:

Battery Life (efficient screen)

Amazon already has plenty of experience with E-Ink displays thanks to their work with the Kindle. The Kindle can last one month on a single charge, thanks in part to the screen which requires no power when the visuals are static. Sure, an eReader is obviously much different than a tablet, and has components that don’t require nearly as much power, but the display is usually the top-offender when it comes to power consumption on devices these days.

CPU makers can continue to reduce power consumption, but we’re at a point where optimizing such a small portion of the overall power footprint doesn’t have any significant impact on the battery life of the device. If Amazon could reduce display power consumption to 50% of what the standard tablet uses, users would see a big jump in battery life.

That’s not to say that they can just slap an E-Ink display on a tablet… but they are in a good position to develop (through partners) some new screen technology that would meet the criteria for a tablet (color, quick refresh, capacitive input, etc.) while reducing power consumption. Perhaps we’ll see a dual-mode screen which can switch to E-Ink when reading e-Books and doing other work where the screen doesn’t need to refresh often.


One of the defining features of the Kindle is the free Whispnet service that it uses to access and download content without the use of WiFi and without signing any contracts. Amazon has worked out a deal to let the Kindle use Sprint’s 3G service; on the customer’s end there are no fees and no contracts — you just start browsing and buying books (you can even surf the web!).

Using Whispernet, Amazon could capitalize on it’s pre-existing software ventures and regain some functionality from them that could be advertised as “exclusive”. That is, an Amazon tablet could use Whispernet to connect and transfer content from any of the Amazon applications with no fees and no contracts.

In this way, an Amazon tablet with the Kindle app would work just like the Kindle in the way that it offers users no-setup/no-fee connection to downloading books, but this could also be expanded to shopping with Amazon.com app, and even for downloading apps from the Amazon Appstore.

This makes sense because it would help Amazon push their core services, which is undoubtedly where they are making the money: If you’re out of a WiFi hotspot and you’ve got a Whispernet connection that will let you browse the Amazon.com store, then you will definitely end up shopping there more often than a competing site that wouldn’t be accessible through Whispernet. If you can access books from the Kindle app anywhere, users will likely use that over Google Books or another eBook service. Whispernet would even give Amazon a chance to cut out the Android Market in favor of the Android Appstore by giving customers access to it where they wouldn’t be able to access the Android Market.

All of those scenarios would mean money in Amazon’s coffers instead of someone else’s.

This would make an Amazon tablet unlike any other one currently on the market, and Amazon has already shown that such a model is possible with the Kindle.


While there are certainly some exciting Android tablets currently on the market, these devices are only starting to compete with Apple’s iPad 2 entry price of $499 (and they’ll need to not only compete, but beat that price by a lot to get significant tablet traction). For instance, the WiFi-only Xoom will run you $599 while Asus wants you to fork over $550 or so for the Eee Pad Transformer sans the keyboard dock.

Amazon, on the other hand, is clearly willing to cut deals to bring the price down for customers. We’ve seen the company repeatedly slash prices on the Kindle. They’ve recently even announced an option to purchase a kindle with sponsored screensaver ads, dropping the price by $25 for customers who choose this option.

Innovative strategies like this could lead to an Amazon tablet that undercuts Apple’s iPad 2 – an important factor in getting this device out to the mainstream.

If Amazon were to combine these three aspects in a tablet, they would have a truly unique and useful device that wouldn’t’ be like every other 7-10” tablet running Honeycomb with Nvidia Tegra 2, and they’d have a chance at unseating the current king of tablets (by sales volume), the iPad 2.

Google Working on “Digital Newsstand”, Kindle Coming to Tablets


Vic Gundotra, VP of Engineering for Google, explained at Google I/O last May that Google intend to deliver a whole lot more than just applications on the Android Market by demonstrating a Android music download service. It seems Google don’t plan on stopping with just music downloads as a recent report in The Wall Street Journal explains that Google are trying to lure publishers into supporting a “digital newsstand” service for Android.

Sources say that Google’s newsstand service will provide apps from publishers that allow Android users to view newspapers and magazines on phone and tablet devices. With Android now activating over 300,000 Google branded devices per day it seems only inevitable that publishers will eventually jump on-board.

Google are supposedly in contact with Timer Warner, Condé Nast and Hearst, three large publishers, regarding the service however “details of the newsstand venture and its timing remain vague”. Apple already provide publishers with the ability to sell periodicals through their iTunes service so expect competition to intensify if Google can get their newsstand product off the ground.

Amazon also made a big announcement today with their Kindle service as they intend to launch Kindle applications for both Android and Windows tablets. Amazon previously announced that they have a Windows Phone 7 Kindle app in development and already have a Android app that is designed for smartphones but the applications announced today specifically target tablet devices.

Sources: WSJ, Downloadsquad

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