Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Kindle Tips: Kindle Fire HD Movie X-Ray Feature + Prime HD Instant Video

A little more Hands-On, with the Kindle Fire HD 7" tablet

Yesterday, I read a couple of comments on news sites complaining that with a High-Definition-capable tablet, there were no HD movies that were streamable in Prime Instant Video for the Kindle Fire HD 7" (KFHD 7).  But of course that's not true.

  If you go to the Prime Instant Video main page, you'll see, in "Recently Added Movies in Prime Instant Video," that the HD versions have blue HD strips at the top of the "cover."

If you, instead, see a listing like the one at Movies & TV › Amazon Instant Video › Prime Eligible, these will be identified with "[HD]" at the end of the video title.  This particular listing is sorted by 'Most Popular,' but you can change that, at the upper-right, to "Avg Customer Rating" and other categories.

  Once you've selected an HD video, it launches a special HD display mode, and it really is beautifully sharp on this HD 7" screen, with rich colors; also, the anti-glare lamination works to make it clear from any viewing angle.  The speakers are excellent for their size and better than on larger laptops, with good stereo separation.  This is especially appreciated since I could never even hear the Kindle Fire speakers and had to get little speakers for them.

  Am on Comcast with fast download speeds, and there were no halts.

X-Ray for Movies
 I looked for an HD movie with X-Ray to try, and saw "Rabbit Hole," a frothy (just kidding) film that's beautifully acted and which had a big effect on me though I'd just selected one to 'test.'

  When I first saw X-Ray for Movies demo'd, I thought I had misunderstood that Amazon could use its IMDB database to pull info on a character in a current scene and then decided they must have just pulled general casting info to show, if you tapped the display, pausing the movie, since how would it know who was in that scene.

  As one who stops cable movies to see who's acting and the year the film was made, this is a feature I think is terrific, because it turns out that if you tap the screen to stop the movie, you get pics and bios of just the people in the last scene or two (if one fades into the other quickly).

  Scene-specific info
  While watching, I saw a scene shift to two guys, and I wondered who one of the two actors was because I'd seen him in something else but couldn't remember what.  Sure enough, the pics that came up were of just those two actors, with the choice to see their bios if you clicked on the pic.

  You get back to the movie by tapping the screen again. So, apparently Amazon bought IMDB some time ago, with this in mind all along, since they've left it alone to function as it always did.

  With X-Ray for Books -- when you're on a page and tap Menu/X-Ray, you'll get a list of characters that show up on that page and then the ability to read a short character bio and look at each appearance of the character in the book, via links to each appearance.   No need to wonder "Who's THAT?" and having to flip through until you find earlier appearances.

  But work goes into the X-Ray function then. Data is put together to keep you informed, and to give context or just additional information. Every scene in a movie is given that treatment -- someone goes through and ties data to each scene.

  What is evident with features like this is that Amazon looks for a way to add value to the normal mode.  Jeff Bezos talked about other companies that just sell gadgets whereas Amazon is selling services -- and one of those services is actually providing added content for information-focused readers or viewers.

  I've found this a very creative approach.  Instead of just getting independent developers to do apps for the user, they have staff or teams that work together to share data from one area of the company with another one, to make sure that an added-value feature works well -- information they feel would probably be of interest to the consumer.   With the Amazon software, most news site or gadget reviewers concentrate on generic hardware speed tests or whether there is any waiting time, getting out of sorts when there may be a second or two more wait, but Amazon's software tends to be putting more into place than is normally seen.  This is reading or viewing that is more interactive and with more interoperativity than is seen with other e-readers.  Add syncing everything to work with a myriad of non-Amazon devices, keeping track of place, for each, and a lot is going on.

Hope this helps, as there are so many features to sort out.  Let me know if there are other features you'd like to know more about or any that you find yourself using more than expected.

Current Kindle Models for reference, plus free-ebook search links
Updated Kindle Fire Basic  7" tablet - $159
Kindle Fire HD 7" 16/32GB - $199/$249
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 16/32GB - $299/$369
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 4G 32/64GB - $499/$599
Kindle NoTouch ("Kindle") - $69/$89
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi - $119/$139
Kindle Paperwhite, 3G/WiFi - $179/$199
Kindle Keybd 3G - $139/$159, Free but slow web
Kindle DX - $379, Free, slow web
Kindle NoTouch Basic, UK - £69
Kindle Touch WiFi, UK - £109
Kindle Keyboard 3G, UK - £149
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
OTHER International
Kindle NoTouch Basic - $89
Kindle Touch WiFi - $139
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
  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.

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