Thursday, January 9, 2014

Kindle Fire Sale on ALL models to celebrate Amazon voted #1 in customer satisfaction poll. Kindle for iOS update v4.1 - Works for some, not for others. Kindle for Android update v4.3 still not working for some phones using latest Android OS v4.4. UPDATED

Amazon offering a Limited-time offer of $30 off on all Kindle Fire tablets, citing their thanks to their customers for voting Amazon #1 in customer satisfaction.
  "Enter code MAYDAY30 at checkout"

And that code would remind buyers that MayDay is the 24hr video customer-support available on the new line of HDX tablets at the press of a button -- as not only can the rep answer questions on the live (one-way) video (2-way audio), they can show you where on the tablet you should click to get what you want but also do it for you while you're watching.

Note: The budget basic Kindle Fire HD, however, does NOT have the MayDay feature.
  While many might feel they won't need it, most of us know how much easier it is for those new to any tablet and to Amazon's unique Kindle Fire program features (X-ray, parental controls, Miracast, Collections, downloading of free Prime Instant Video for Prime members, etc.) to actually use the tablets they've bought or been gifted.

For easy reference, am repeating the small comparison table, and each product page has one with more details.
  UPDATE - The Yr 2012 8.9" HD with microHDMI-Out port is included in the sale and I've changed the graphic.
   The sale ends Jan, 11, SATURDAY night at 11:59pm PST (See TERMS.)
  See below for added info on Kindle for iPad app v4.1.{End of Update alert]

Regular pricing bases plus Amazon links for the new HDX models and the new basic HD 7"
  ALL have Dolby Audio Dual Stereo Speakers and Dual band WiFi, while the HDX models have dual antennas also.

Starting prices are with special offers that they say will offer more savings than Lighting deals.
Kindle Fire HD 7" - $139
  Basic "family" tablet, HD Gen2
8 and 16GB options
Display: 1280 x 800, 216 PPI
Ram: 1GB    No Mayday
No camera or mic (no Skype)
No HDMI-out: Use 'Fling'- NO Miracast
Dual-core 1.5 GHz processor
Kindle Fire HDX 7" - $229
  'Personal' HDX tablet
16, 32 or 64GB options
Display: 1920 x 1200, 323 PPI
Ram: 2GB
Front-facing, 720p camera
No HDMI-out: Use 'Fling' or Miracast
Quad-core 2.2 GHz processor
Kindle Fire HDX 8.9" - $379
  'Does it all' HDX tablet
16, 32, or 64GB options
Display: 2560 x 1600, 339 PPI
Ram: 2GBfling
Adds 8MB rear-facing camera
No HDMI-out: Use 'Fling' or Miracast
Quad-core 2.2 GHz processor

  (The 1st generation HD 8.9" remains available, normally starting at $229) **.  See why you might want the Yr 2012 HD 8.9" 1st Gen model instead but you'd be missing many new features you might want (info in original new-HDX's blog article).

Today, ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes for Ziff-Davis's Hardware 2.0 area headlined an article that will surprise some but which reflects points made by several articles I cited in December:

  "Why the Kindle Fire HDX is a far better tablet than the iPad"
' Summary: I used to think that the iPad was the king of the tablets, but not any more. It's time to whip the crown away from Apple and give it to its rightful holder – Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX.

...what Apple bought to market Amazon has improved upon dramatically. '

He spells out the usual large pricing difference points as you increase storage size, as anyone who knows how important multimedia files are to tablets will realize.  But it used to be that people assumed the iPad would be superior in capabilities and that the Kindle Fire offerings were just made with less-expensive materials.
  Not so with the Yr 2013 line.  These currently set the standard for the combination of hardware and features now (although those who use Apple apps on their phones and love them will do well to get an Apple tablet to use those same apps on their tablet).  It's just that Apple is not keeping up because they don't feel they need to.

He continues:
' Side-by-side, the display on the Kindle Fire HDX blows away that of the iPad. Not only do colors look superior and more vivid, but also the brightness is better and the way blacks are handled – especially in video – is much more even. '

  He also finds it easier to use outdoors, with less glare in his case, and goes on to give reasons for the other reasons he gives that include:
  "Super-fast Hardware
  "Excellent WiFi range" (for him, it continues working well at the periphery of his system where the iPad starts having difficulties -- and this was true for other reviewers with even the previous HD models vs the Google Nexus tablets, although router-tablet settings sometimes need to be fine-tuned for the various brands).
  "Superior on-screen keyboard"
  "Better Speakers"
  "Better email and calendar apps" (that does surprise me)
  "The Mayday button" (Help "in the palm of your hand"... "when you need it")

Note that he doesn't go into the Kindle Fire line's unique features as shown in previous articles here (and that includes especially useful parental controls and program features in general:
  1. Overview of New Features
  2. Things to Know about the new features

  Those two blog articles have clarifications for some points that have puzzled some.

In another article today, the Salt Lake City Tribune carries Bree Fowler's story for The Associated Press today on "Review: Kindle FreeTime gives parents peace" -- it's a brief one but many aren't aware of how well thought out these features are relative to the other current tablet offerings.  Since AP articles are well-circulated of course, it'll be getting more play today.

Note #2 - The HDX 8.9" does not often go on sale, relative to the smaller ones.  It is decidedly lighter than my 7" HD tablet and is a joy.
  My two favorite electronics (besides non-portable larger HDTV viewing) are the (1) Microsoft Surface Pro 2 laptop/tablet combo that runs ALL full Windows programs in the most speedy way I've ever experienced (but I won't link you to Amazon's 3rd party sellers for these as they are charging too much due to some shortages) and the (2) Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, which I recommend getting with at least 32GB storage.  It's great for both HD videos, including 16:9 format, magazines with reading-view and beautifully enlargeable images (as with the iPad), and two-page reading with larger fonts -- all while remaining very light now.

  I use my phone's "Internet sharing" to give the HDX its 4G used as WiFi when I'm outside and wanting to use my HDX that has no LTE/4G cellular network feature, as I didn't get that model because I already have a good data plan that allows me to share the phone's 4G -- but those who have one of the now popular Family Sharing plans with AT&T or Verizon will find an additional tablet adds only $10 to a current data plan.  LTE/4G capability itself (for the fewer who want it) costs an add'l $100~ on the Kindle Fires and about $130 on the Apple iPad -- that's before you add a data plan for it.

ALERTS on Kindle reader for iPad v4.1 and for Android v4.3
This will be brief, as this blog entry is long enough.

  -- reader for iOS app update, v4.1
The Amazon Kindle Forum has an announcement made on January 6 that the Kindle Reader for iPad, update v4.1 is ready.  However, there are many reports there (and at iTunes) that it is not working for many and causes crashes.  Some have uninstalled it and then re-installed it at iTunes and *sometimes* that has helped.  It does work well for some, so this is just an advisory that if you don't want to reset your device for this app if it causes a problem, you should probably wait for another update, but if you have automated updates, then that's not possible.

  You can read the customer reactions and advice to other customers at the Amazon Kindle Forum's Kindle for iPad update-announcement thread -- AND the listing of feature enhancements is in the opening post.
  ADDED NOTE: I found this added paragraph on the Amazon iPad app page (emphases mine).
' About the Latest Version of Kindle for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch
* Kindle for iOS 4.1 is optimized for OS 7.0
* Features Flashcards for Print Replica Textbooks on Kindle for iPad
Important: iPad, iPhone and iPod touch with iOS 6.0 or greater are able to download the latest version of the Kindle reading app.  Devices running iOS 5.0 will get an option to download the last compatible version. '

  -- reader for Android app update, v4.3
In an earlier report, I had cautioned that many were experiencing problems with the reader for Android update.  That apparently affects those whose Android devices were updated to the latest Android OS v4.4.

  As some know -- Even when there is no startling news, I respond to questions in the Comments areas of the blog entries -- and the Q&A entries are always shown in summary form and linked to, latest first, on the blog's right-hand column (used for information that's ongoing or for reference materials on topics of interest to many who visit the blog.  So check "Latest Comments" (in the info/reference column on the the right side of the page whenever you're curious what people are asking and the responses made.

  Here is a reply I made to a comment in connection with the Kindle for Android app update, after reading an explanation from an Amazon customer rep to one of the customers on this update.  It affects only some phones or tablets with that Android update, but Amazon is said to be working on a fix for those.

That's it for now -- I want to get the Kindle Fire sale information off.

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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  1. iOS does not have automatic updates. You must manually initiate the update process. But there is an 'update all' button, which is probably what most people do. It does download system updates automatically, but again you have to choose to apply the update. I didn't have any trouble with the update on my iPod Touch, but it is running iOS6 (cannot update to 7) and most of the people having issues are probably on iOS7. I do think people are insane if they keep thousands of books on their reading device. It can only cause trouble, for example when their device dies and they have to spend a few days loading up content on a new one.

    The only change I really notice is the 'Notebook Filters'.

    Looking forward to updating it on my iPad, despite the tales of woe, I'm quite confident it will go smoothly. Which is to say if it doesn't it is no big deal since I don't rely on that app very much.

    1. Thanks, Tom. The link to the forum discussion also has a list of the new feature enhancements, which I had not mentioned and I've fixed that in the update today. 'there's also a statement about version numbers, though it doesn't mean much in this case.

    2. The print replica features are not of much interest to me as I don't have anything in that format. Since print replica is PDF in kindle clothing I'm wondering if it works on PDF too (I'm guessing not).

      I installed 4.1 on my iPad (iOS7) and there were no problems.

    3. Also it seems iOS7 does have an automatic update switch (default is off).

    4. Tom, thanks for the updated info on the iOS7 automatic update switch. Very smart of them to have it Off as a default.

      I haven't looked at print replica at all yet.

  2. iOS Kindle update 4.1.1 adds 'stability and performance' improvements.

    1. Thanks, Tom. I read hundreds of notes the last two days on other problems affecting about 5% of users of HDX, Nexus and iPad Air when it comes to routers like the Arris, and assorted other reasons, but this didn't appear on Amazon's own Kindle Forums as of yesterday morning and I've not been back there. And you wrote this 3 days ago. Sorry I've been so inactive here.


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