Friday, December 23, 2011

Kindle Tips: Kindle Fire/Touch info for new users + B&N closes up Nook Tablet loophole. UPDATED Dec. 25 for added links.


By now, everything's in place for Christmas and the calls to Buy this, Buy that will finally scale back, well, until the day after Christmas.

In the meantime, a few million people will suddenly find themselves with Kindles of one type or another.  So, I'll write a few reminders about the Kindle Fire, about which there has been some misunderstanding in recent news stories.
  There are some tips for Kindle Touch e-readers also.

New Best of Digital page
  Amazon just added a page they call "Best of Digital" -or "amazondigital Deals" (the odd capitalization is Amazon's) which is described as "The year's best MP3 music, games and apps for Android, movies and TV shows, Kindle Books, Audible audiobooks, software downloads, and video game downloads."

Prime Program features
  For the first month, free Prime membership is included with Kindle Fire, though many of us have had that for awhile because it is basically a program to get free shipping within 2 days for almost any purchases from Amazon with no minimum purchase amount, BUT they've now added other features such as over 10,000 free streaming videos and the ability to borrow a Kindle book each calendar month with no library waits and no due date.  The cost of that is $79/yr, or $6.58/mo.

  They recently added current PBS specials and unusual items from the BBC and lots of documentaries if families are into that.  While doing reading for the blog the other day, I had the Kindle Fire behind the keyboard, hooked to external speakers, to watch recent offerings of a current documentary on Steve Jobs by PBS and a special on North Korea (after hearing so much news about their leader's death, and the concern over how this will affect us).  Both were fascinating to me.  They also have seasons full of TV favorites but they'll not be current seasons.  These are viewable at essentially no added cost for Prime members.

That power button
  The NY Times has complained mightily, quickly followed by other news-sites quoting them, about missing features that anyone with a $500 tablet is used to and can't do without.  They've quoted a few with unhappy reactions in Kindle forums while ignoring the rather large majority very pleased with the KFire.

  A power button on the 'bottom' that can put the tablet to sleep (not 'off') if your stomach presses it is a big concern although top and bottom are interchangeable and you can turn what is up(side), down and the speakers (low-powered) are then pointing toward you.  I miss the hardware volume button too, but they've whittled features down to get to the $199 price point.
For $300 difference, what is it that some will find impossible -- that's the key and those unhappy really should get other devices and pay a bit more.

B&N's Nook Tablet and B&N policies
  There is also the Nook Tablet, at $250 plus another $20 for a good microSD card to expand storage space, so that is an additional $70 for what is more expandable hardware by a company that itself doesn't have much for the tablet to use as it doesn't offer its own streaming of music or video, and now it's been found that their latest update no longer allows their customers to use a web browser to work around the fact that B&N will not allow side-loading (via USB cable) of non-B&N apps.  They've closed off that avenue, or loophole.

  And, as most know, they've limited non-B&N files on the internal storage, to 1 gigabyte.  But since their launch emphasized that the Kindle Fire is "not open" the way the Nook Tablet is, I'll talk about that a bit.
  B&N's first odd claim was that they had Netflix and Hulu Plus and that Amazon wouldn't allow that, due to wanting to bind customers to only Amazon content.

  That turned out to be strangely uninformed, since Netflix and other companies were announced as having the Kindle Fire Sept. 28 and working on it.  And, as KFire owners know, Netflix and Hulu Plus were both available for the KFire upon delivery.  As you'll see, most actual KFire users find the video streaming, and the quality of it (if your Internet host is giving you good download speeds and your router is good), a big plus.

Sideloading of non-Amazon store apps
  Amazon, interviewed at the launch, said that side-loading of non-Amazon apps IS allowed, and with the latest update it still is.  Bear in mind that some of these may not be entirely compatible with Amazon's heavy customization of the Android operating system.

  Amazon also shows, with the latest update (v6.2.1) as any Android device will, how much is set aside specifically for app files.  In this case, 1 gig.  I've added many apps, almost daily, and have used up 1/3 of my space for that (including mapping programs), but I don't keep on the device what I know I won't use.

  Server storage of your purchases or even your own non-Amazon files
  If I got an app from Amazon's app store, Amazon still keeps it for me on the servers at no charge and I can re-download it at any time, for use when wanted.
  Many are hoarding the daily free Android apps and when they're not using them, these should be deleted from the device until wanted, as they'll be available to the customer at any time via Amazon's servers which keep records of the 'purchase' even when $0.00.

  These are not charged storage use against the free 5 gigs that all customers globally get for storage of non-copyrighted data from anywhere else.  That's in addition to another free 5 gigs of Kindle-device storage/backup for personal documents (non-Amazon purchased material) that you decide you want backed up on the server and sync'd.
  B&N-purchased material is stored by B&N but they don't provide storage for non-B&N files.

  "Sideloading" non-Amazon apps is explained at the earlier article on how to sideload non-Amazon apps.

  I'll have more info on the more reliable sites to get good non-Amazon apps, in a future blog article.

Android Marketplace, which isn't readily available on either Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
  Neither company allows access to the full, non-curated Android Marketplace.  And those of us who do use the Android Market via our other devices need to be careful about what we get there as malware/virus-infected files are proliferating in the Marketplace because they are not checked, at this point, by Google before being made available to the public. See:
  . Dec 23 article by ZDNet "More Trojanized games enter Google's Android Market app store."
  . Techworld's more-detailed article
  . A list of pulled malware in December, that was targeting Europeans.

  In the meantime, LinuxInsider has a story on Dec 20 titled, "Can Amazon Save Android from Malware Hell?"  They point out:
' Simply put, Amazon tests apps to death before letting them into its app store.  Every app submitted undergoes tests for various aspects of its performance.  There are linking tests, stability and functionality tests, tests on content issues and tests on security issues.

  Each aspect is tested in several ways.  For example, stability and functionality tests look to see whether an app opens within 15 seconds; whether it is compliant with the major carriers' networks; whether it freezes, has forced closings or exhibits other forms of instability; and how it reacts to phone calls, text messages, and alarms.

  Content issue tests look for missing content, unreadable text and incorrect graphics.   They also ensure the app complies with Amazon's content guidelines on offensive content, copyright infringement, illegal activities and other issues.

Security tests include making sure the app doesn't store passwords without the user's content, doesn't collect data and send it to unknown servers, and doesn't harm existing content on the device. '

They add that Apple puts apps through a tortuous approval process also, but adds that
'However, malicious content has slipped through because "the application reviews focus is on the end user experience, not end user security," Sutton pointed out.

Taking a more proactive stance on security, as Amazon has, would help secure Android apps better.

"Providing a known secure source for apps will greatly enhance the overall value of the app store, especially in the Android space where competing app stores exist -- an approach that Amazon appears to be adopting," Sutton concluded. '

Having said that, Amazon is known to be too controlling about what applications can be released, when it comes to whether users might like a particular app and can delay developer efforts by many months, including the time it takes to approve improved apps with features that users have requested, causing the creators to seem non-responsive to customers.

RE tiny fonts on WEBpages
Be sure to read the blog article here on how to enlarge web-page fonts and reflow the text for much more comfortable reading.

WiFi connection concerns
This is already too long, so I'll close this with some info on WiFi connection problems I've done some reading on, and I'll be back within the next day or two with some good new books and software for the Kindle Fire and e-Ink Kindle e-readers, in time for those with newly unwrapped Kindles.

  Common solution to some WiFi problems (from the forums)
' DiabetesDoc says:
Just got my KF, and it recognizes my wireless network, and a bunch of others. But when I try to access my wireless network (using the same cryptic series of letters & numbers as usual), it says "Unable to Connect to Wi-Fi Network" and despite tapping on "Keep Trying", it gets the same screen.  I've tried from 3 feet, 10 feet, and 30 feet from the wifi base, all with same results. What should I try next?

Addendum, 11/16/2011: My KF is now working fine. I turned off computer, modem, router, then back on (a trick mentioned to me by CS [Customer Support] and the KF came up w/o problem.

  [ and the next one from another message thread ]
Dec 17, 2011 6:23:13 PM PST
Old **Bah Humbug** Rocker says:

I had the WiFi issue 2 days ago and resetting my router did the trick. '

  NOTE: WiFi problems were seen by the thousands with the first iPad and then with the first NookColor.  It's often a combo of many factors, with a new device suddenly not connecting easily as the other devices had.

  A recommended router
 In my case, my Kindles had worked fine with the WiFi router but my NookColor would not connect most of the time and when it did it would drop out all the time.   I decided to try a new router and bought a Netgear N300 (mid-$-range type) and I've not had a problem since.

  There are better, more capable routers out there, but this was a relatively inexpensive one that works well for me, and I've not tried others because I've not had reason to look for one.
  For instance, there are dual-band routers that will isolate the two currently popular speeds so that slower ones won't slow down the newer type devices.

Important tips for navigating both Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire models
  . Tips for using Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire
  . Notes & tips on Kindle Touch
  . Browse the list of borrowable Prime Kindle books that new Kindle-device owners can download (only one per calendar month) without waiting and without due dates.  This is part of Prime, and new Kindle device customers get one month of Prime free.
  . Kindle Fire cases and a sleeve I like for the Kindle Touch + a GREAT mini speaker for the KFire.

Free Kindle Books guide
This blog's guide to finding free books for your Kindle from Amazon and elsewhere, plus prepared searches filtered by non-public-domain books (and vice versa) and sorted on published date, or bestselling, or highly rated.  It includes a way to find the lower-cost books also.

Articles or forum threads on the Kindle Fire
  . Kindle Fire Owners Love Their Tablet, Flaws and All.
  . Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!
  . Taking Amazon's Kindle Fire on vacation
  . Kindle Fire's Volkswagon Moment
  . 12 things that kinda suck about the Kindle Fire
  . Is Fire's touchscreen responsive?
    I enjoyed one post that merely said, re the lighter touch that should be used,
    "B.Hart says:
"I have to keep reminding my husband it is a touch screen, not a thump screen. The lighter touch seems to work better."
  . A motorcyclists forum discussion about the Kindle Fire

VIDEO Demos that are especially illuminating
  (Kindle-Edition subscribers need to go to to click on video links - see entry for December 24.)
  . Video of MobileTechReview's thorough hands-on review/demo of the Kindle Fire
  . Video by reviewer djramsey shows how responsive the Kindle Fire can be with a lighter touch (and that was before the software upgrade).

Kindle Touch 3G   Kindle Touch WiFi   Kindle Basic   (UK: KBasic)   Kindle Fire
Kindle Keybd 3G   (UK: Kindle Keybd 3G)   K3 Special Offers   K3-3G Special Offers   DX

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

  *Click* to Return to the HOME PAGE.  Or click on the web browser's BACK button Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
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