Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Misconceptions re Amazon and KindleFire - plus a few facts

In reading the e-reader and tablet news, I often see misconceptions posted to Comments sections as 'fact' and this week I replied to one, which other commenters said has been repeated in comments to several news sites.   Since I see this type of thing often, I thought I'd post a blog version as well and will also post tomorrow some excerpts with comments on a good Q&A article on the Kindle Fire, which I forgot to mention over a week ago

  For one of of the points here, we have a quite thorough response from Amazon support and that's included also.

  I'll preface each misleading statement I read (below) with 'F' for false, and 'M' for Maybe.

F:  Kindle Fire ...is stuck with 6 GB usable internal storage unlike Nook Color that can get up to 32 GB card in.  Kindles are made to be almost like a "dumb terminal" of the past to make sure you're tied up to Amazon's storage on the web (for which you need Wi-Fi connection to get to) and you can only store content you get from Amazon there, not other files.

Not so.  During WiFi browsing sessions you can download video to the Kindle Fire when downloading videos is allowed.

  The tablet is said to be able to hold up to 10 movies if you don't put other things on it besides 80 apps and can also, in place of limited local storage on the tablet, have many stored on the Cloud.  From that Cloud, you can re-download a file at any time if you've purchased a downloadable version; it's like having a portable hard drive with you, as long as you have WiFi available.
  You can also side-load (via USB cable) videos to the tablet.

  Just playing the videos you've already downloaded or side-loaded to the tablet doesn't require a WiFi connection.

  And whatever you don't need for the moment you can just store on the Cloud, whether or not you bought it on Amazon -- the key is whether the storage is free or not, but a video doesn't need to be from Amazon.  If a video is rights-protected by someone else, that's another matter.

  Amazon gives all customers (globally) 5 gigs of Free storage for any type of file per year, from anywhere, but has also offered 20 gigs of storage/yr for $20/yr ($1.67/month).  SOME countries are not eligible for the storage upgrade although all get the 5 free gigs.   The Amazon table at the bottom* specifies which counties are exceptions for the bonus-storage-space at this time ...   At any rate, so to speak, added storage for any of your non-Amazon content is $1 per add'l gigabyte if it's available for your country.*

  And, any video or other content that you buy from Amazon itself, however, is stored free and doesn't count against any of the Cloud storage limits.

F:   Quoting Amazon on Kindle Fire: "Free cloud storage for all Amazon content". Get it, Amazon content?

The thing to "get" there is the free part.  If it's not Amazon-content, it counts against the yearly storage limit you choose, whether it's against the free 5 gigs or 20 gigs.  You CAN, though, store content (in the Amazon Cloud) not purchased at Amazon, vs what was said above.

M:   - Kindle doesn't support eBooks in ePub format that is the most used format in the world.

We're talking Kindle Fire here rather than the Kindle e-Ink e-readers which don't read ePub.  Amazon Android Apps store does carry Aldiko and other ePub readers, which could be used on the tablet then.  Now, whether DRM'd ePub can be read on it depends on whether or not Adobe Digital Edition will be available with this or not, on the tablet. It IS used on regular Android tablets.

  Amazon will be allowing in-app buying for developers, so that will all be interesting to watch.

F:   Kindle app store contains only Amazon approved apps and it does not include (and will not include) Netflix app that iPad has and Nook Color is getting thus again you're stuck with Amazon content only.

This is wrong too - it begins to sound like a wish list of what wouldn't be allowed.  Netflix is partnering with Amazon (as are Pandora and other companies) to have apps for the Amazon Fire.  It won't be in iPad format, of course, but in format for the Amazon Fire.

M:   Amazon confirmed that you cannot download anything to Kindle Fire when traveling abroad.

You probably can't stream media from Amazon's US servers when abroad and can't download a Kindle book as a non-US resident abroad if digital rights don't allow it outside the U.S.  A traveling US resident (and residents of some other countries) can though, if they can download those in their home countries.

  Again, as with the e-Ink Kindle e-readers, you should be able to download Kindle books when traveling abroad, if the books are eligible to you in your home country.

  The Amazon "Silk" browser is different in that it uses Amazon's speedier Cloud processes on servers in the U.S.  You should be able to send a Kindle book as a U.S. resident to your Kindle Fire though.

  See the thorough Amazon response on this last question which Rob Trenckmann received in email from Amazon customer service Oct. 10** (quoted at the bottom of this post also).

M:   I'd recommend waiting for a couple of weeks as Nook Color 2 is rumored to be released by Barnes & Noble.

I'd always be interested in what BN will release.  I have a NookColor 7" and enjoy it.   The update is said to be not that different but the 2nd NC is said to have a different, larger format.

  However, B&N doesn't have the streaming-media ecosystem that Amazon does, and they have had long-time policies like not allowing refunds for e-books that are missing pages or badly formatted, while Amazon allows 7 days for a refund.   Customer service policies should be looked at also.

  AND, Nooks cannot download Nook books to even a U.S. resident who's traveling outside the U.S. (unlike with Amazon) - B&N just doesn't have the digital rights stuff in place. '

From Amazon's Cloud help pages: * The 5 GB free storage plan is available to all Amazon.com customers, however further upgrades to the storage plan are currently unavailable in the following countries:

Austria Belgium Bulgaria
Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark
Estonia Finland France
Germany Greece Hungary
Ireland Italy Latvia
Lithuania Luxembourg Malta
Netherlands Poland Portugal
Romania Slovakia Slovenia
Spain Sweden United Kingdom

** Amazon Kindle Customer Support answers to Rob Trenckmann:
' Hello, I see that you've written to us about seven issues. I'll do my best to provide a thorough answer to each of your inquiries in this message.

1. Using Kindle Fire in Europe:

Currently Kindle Fire can be shipped only to US customers but after purchasing it in US you can use it in Europe.

2. Regarding downloading apps:

Yes, you can use all the apps you've downloaded while in Us but you cannot download apps while you are in Europe.

3. Accessing books:

Yes, you can access all the books.

4. Using web browser and email interface:

Yes, you can use the web browser and email interface as long as your device is connected to wifi.

5. Purchasing books:

Yes, you can purchase and download books successfully while you are in Europe.

6. Using movies or TV features.

I'm sorry you cannot download movies or use TV features while you are in outside US. '

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

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  1. A clarification: there are two apps in the Amazon App Store that use Adobe's RMSDK and which therefore can read ePub and PDF protected with Adobe DRM: Aldiko, and Mantano Reader (I really like the latter of these). I expect more will show up, such as Overdrive Media Console, Bluefire Reader, and perhaps txtr. Adobe Digital Editions is desktop software and is not, strictly speaking, required to create Adobe DRM ePub and PDF files. For non-DRM ePub there's Moon+ Reader, and of course Kobo app is available also (though if it allows side-loading, it is only for non-DRM ePub, since it does not use Adobe RMSDK).

    For PDF, ezPDF is probably the most popular app. I believe it creates actual PDF annotations (that round trip with Adobe Reader/Acrobat). But Fire is supposed to have a 'great' PDF viewer built in according to one Amazon VP.

    I hope Amazon will provide for a TTS engine, even if you have to add it yourself, and they don't use it for the Kindle app when Fire ships. Mantano and ezPDF support TTS, and VOX (also in the app store) is rather good I think (and only about $4 per voice).

    Note that there's also 5Gb free storage for archival of Personal Documents (in Kindle format), which will sync and save bookmarks and highlights (at least I think it will when it is fully implemented). Much more functional (I think) than SD storage alone would be.

    Seems to me the free streaming videos (Amazon Prime) will not be downloadable to the device, since that's not an option more generally. But we'll see.

  2. Amazon App Store that use Adobe's RMSDK and which therefore can read ePub and PDF protected with Adobe DRM: Aldiko, and Mantano Reader (I really like the latter of these). I expect more will show up

  3. Has anyone heard if you can change the background in the reader program on the Kindle Fire? I ask because I'm not sure I want a bright white background "blatting" at me the whole time I'm reading. Yeah, I know you can reduce the brightness, but that can be less than ideal.

  4. Anonymous,
    On the brightness thing, I replied a couple of nights ago but w/o signing in, and it was entered as 'Anonymous' -- I didn't realize it because blogger.com then put what I said to you, into the Spam folder! Same thing happened when I replied to Kindle Family,

    Okay, what I responded:

    On my Kindle for Android app, I can use sepia or black as background and also dim it, but I'll almost always use my eInk Kindle when I need to do some sustained text reading. I hope that helps some."

  5. Kindle Family and Tom,

    Thamks much for that good info!


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