Thursday, November 15, 2012

Kindle Tips: Tubemate and BSPlayer apps - downloading and playing different types of video. Kindle Fire HD 8.9" with 1920x1200 screen resolution starts shipping today.

Images from Pamukkale - I'll explain why in a bit.

I made some neat discoveries yesterday, thanks to Amazon's allowing Kindle Fire HD owners to install Android apps from "unknown sources" -- meaning sources that are not the Amazon store.
 (AFTER getting files from those other sources, I found that Amazon today has the files I wanted, available again, or finally.)

Allowing installation of apps from other sources is a very cool decision for a shopping store like Amazon's.  Barnes and Noble, while having a good device in the Nook Tablet HD, hampered its tablet enormously by not allowing this capability (unless you 'root' the device, which can brick it unless you know what you're doing) and while holding press conferences saying they're more open than Amazon.  Not.

  The Nook's especially hampered, despite the currently best display on a ~7" tablet, since their app store is  lacking, they're rigid about other app sources, and they also neglected to add a camera for Skype'g, so comparison reviews have tended to ignore the tablet, even though the B&N tablet does include a micro SD card slot.

  However, when you cannot add apps that offer quite a bit, it's a real drawback.  I mention this because people often ask why there are fewer reviews of B&N's good HD tablet.  They also don't yet have a very competitive ecosystem for it (no music and a much more limited video collection).

  And, as one reviewer pointed out today (I'll note a few more, recent comparison reviews soon), no other tablet (except the three Kindle Fires) lets you know what actors are in a current scene when you're watching a movie that's been "X-Rayed" with IMDB information.

About the images above.  They're of an unusual place in Pamukkale, Turkey, which I visited back in 2004, and those are terraced calcium pools or travertines near ancient Hierapolis.  "Pamukkale means "cotton castle" and comes from "pamuk" for cotton and "kale" for castle, which refers to the large white cliff of Pamukkale.  For centuries, the thermal waters there have been considered therapeutic.

The beautiful second image above, from the video, is by Gilbert Jottrand.  This blog entry came about because I came across a Youtube video, by Leen Smit, which used a few of my photos (w/ my OK after I heard the flute-like soundtrack used) as well as increasingly better photos which display after mine -- and the last set, by Gilbert Jottrand, is just breathtaking in the way I remember when there, 8 years ago.  The first photos show what the brown-white 'cliffs' were like when seen from a distance while approaching them, as well as the gorgeous colors of the pools up close.  I decided I'd like to have this video on the Kindle Fire HD tablet.

  With this video, which he made in HD, you can use the gear-wheel at bottom right, to choose 1080p  if you have a fast connection and an HD monitor, and choose the largest rectangle for full-screen.  This ran well on my 24" monitor.  Choosing 720p and the 2nd largest rectangle will be good enough for most.

  If interested in more info on these calcium terraces, I have a page about it at PBase.

Viewing Youtube videos
Earlier, Kindle Fire HD owners had problems viewing some Youtube videos because Adobe no longer supports Flash Player for mobile systems, and especially not for systems on the later "Ice Cream Sandwich" Android operating system version, v4.x ... These include the Kindle Fire HD and the Google Nexus.  Youtube changed something and many files were no longer accessible w/o Adobe Flash Player, for a few days.

    If using Amazon's "Silk" browser with Youtube
With the new tablets and with Amazon's Silk browser: -- Unless you set the browser's "Requested website view" to "Automatic" rather than 'desktop' (although 'desktop' is what most of us prefer to see on a non-phone instead of the ugly, plain mobile website versions that 'automatically mobile' can lead you to), Youtube will often require the Adobe Flash Player which doesn't come with the new tablets due to the Adobe decision.
  So, to be sure Youtube works for you, set the Amazon's Silk browser's WEB menu's setting to "auto" -- then it'll show you an alternate HTML5 page that will run the video.

  (Some of us prefer to use the Dolphin browser along with an older Adobe Flash Player file, to make sure we see flash video on all sites that offer it for Android devices.  The guide to doing that is in this blog article.)

  So, because of the music and the other sets of photos shown, I wanted this on my Kindle Fire HD (KFHD), and found that the Tubemate app (which Amazon had said was UNavailable the last 3 days until TODAY) is at Amazon's app store once again! and does a GREAT job of downloading Youtube videoclips to the KFHD, to play when not connected to the Net.

  If, at the time you look for Tubemate, Amazon's app might not be available (as it was not for the last 3 days), you can try Tubemate's other download-site recommendations page (which is a good list of 3rd party app sites, by the way)  at -- again, it lists a number of 3rd party sites recommended for downloading apps.  We're really not limited to the Amazon store (though uninformed people on many gadget sites like to say so), though it's become a very good source of tested apps for Amazon's own tablets.  So, I am leaving in, here, this quite confusing info on alternative resources.

  Cautions re 3rd party site files
  I am always careful NOT to download a NEWLY-uploaded app file from any 3rd party site (like 1mobile or Getjar) until I see it hasn't given others problems; I wait for reviews to show up.

  That's to avoid possible viruses or non-compatible apps.  Amazon vets its apps heavily for both reasons, but for that reason they're slow to post and don't have as much.  The Google Market or "Play" has had its share of viruses since they don't go through vetting.  Best to wait and let other people take chances. :-)

  I tend to like -- and, as is the usual case, they have a "market" or store of apps you can download to get these apps.  They had too many Tubemate files for some reason, probably because Tubemate makers had a new urgent upload-replacement and were placing the alert everywhere and then various people uploaded it to 1mobile (which eventually clears out duplicates) and so the 1mobile site is not on today's Tubemate's verification list.

  BUT they had the other recommended app I just found and love using during a time when Amazon didn't have it (as mentioned, it's back at Amazon though).  BSPlayer FREE.  When you download it, I think it tells you if it needs an additional 'codec' file for whatever device you might be using, but I didn't need one (from what I remember) for the Kindle Fire HD.

  BSPlayer's own website leads you to Google's Play market, which ignores Kindle Fire users as if we don't exist.  So, during the last few days when Amazon didn't have these files available, I used for files like  this new v1.5.136 version of BSPlayer, called BSPlayer Free there.

  NOW, it's available at Amazon as well, and that's the one you should use.  It's the same version, v1.5.136 though called "BSPlayer Lite."

Why BSPlayer?
The Kindle Fire's built-in video-player officially plays only mp4 format videos.
  And the Mobo Player which USED to be versatile, cannot handle audio well on many of my camera videos, nor can MXPlayer.  But BSPlayer?  No problem with the many files I've tried.  But I've read that those with "MKV" format files have problems with the audio when using BSPlayer.

   BSPlayer supports:
' avi, divx, flv, mkv, mov, mpg, mts, mp4, m4v, rmvb, wmv, 3gp, mp3, ac3... and streaming content such as RTMP, RTSP, MMS (tcp, http), HTTP Live stream, HTTP.

- Multiple audio streams and subtitles.
- Playlist support and various playback modes.
- Playback media files such as videos and mp3's directly via Wi-Fi from your LAN shared drives/folders (such as external USB drives, Samba (SMB/CIFS) shared drives, PC shared folders, NAS servers (Synology and others)) - no need to convert video files and copy media files to SD card anymore!
- Playback files directly from uncompressed RAR files. '
  It's hardware accelerated and works very well with the Kindle Fire HD (I've not tested it on the original Kindle Fire, but Amazon says that it's compatible).
  CAVEAT:  'Hardware rendering" (the default) works well for KFHD, but you need to change the default to "software" decoding on the original first-generation Kindle Fire, which has a different processor and is not High Definition in screen resolution -- it doesn't handle 720p video resolution well.

  Maybe the flash-player problems with Adobe's dropping support is causing no small frustration to tablet buyers re video in general and is leading Amazon to offer more generally good video player alternatives.

  With BSPlayer you can adjust the brightness with a swipe up or down on the left side and can adjust volume with a swipe up and down on the right side, etc.  It has played everything I've thrown at it, flawlessly,  and gives you a lot of file info too.  No other popular video player I tried could play the files from my varying camera video recorders.  If you have HTC devices, read their support notes though.  It's a good idea no matter what device you have, to read an app's support notes, to save some frustration and time.

  With Tubemate, by the way, you can open the "Downloads" video folder and then run BSPlayer from it, and that gives you a nicer overall file-interface as well.  (With BSPlayer, you're dropped into the file system and would need to find the "Video" folder to see the video files.)  But, as ever, when using ANY app, use the rectangular Menu for it and then look through "Preferences" or "Settings" (or both)  to see what needs to be selected.

With TODAY's duo of apps that have been working really well for me (SO much better than Mobo Player), there's no need to use secondary sites.  They're both at Amazon today, so I won't be giving steps on how to install apps from other sources.  But you should get comfortable with a good file-explorer/manager like ES File Explorer  AND,  if you have trouble finding your install (".apk") files, get the Easy Installer, which automatically hunts those down for you (a must-have app).

Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch Tablet Starts to Ship today.
The $299 model with 16 GB storage and the $369 model with 32 GB storage will start shipping tonight, about 5 days earlier than planned.

The 8.9" tablet has a screen resolution of 1920 x 1200, with 254 pixels per inch, and is "Retina" quality, great for reading and HD video.

Unlike other vendors' tablets this has a direct HDMI-out port to any HDTV;
X-Ray for movies, which shows names of actors in a scene, along with bios,
and dual speakers, one on each side of the device when watching videos, with Dolby Plus feature to increase clarity of speech and very good spatial qualities.  No need for headphones or external speakers to hear the output well.

  Other KFHD 8.9" features:
Front-facing camera for Skype; Text-to-Speech; Dual-band, dual-antenna WiFi reviewed as testing more effective for signal strength

The $499 model with 3G/4G LTE cellular network access will ship sometime NEXT week.
These come with 32GB or 64 GB storage

See NOTES to get more details on these two models.

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. I think it is possible to install third party apps on Nook tablets without rooting. Like many Android tablets, they have retained the standard setting for 'Developer Mode'. When that's turned on, you can tether it to a computer running the Android development environment and that will let you install apps (of your own making or otherwise). I don't believe this carries the risk of 'bricking' as with rooting. Of course this is beyond what most people (who are not developers) will choose to do, though it is not technically difficult.

  2. Tom, I'm thinking about regular consumers who choose store- or book store vendor tablets and want something between the ease of Apple and the flexibility of Android with the built-in features.

    I'm sure you're right but I don't know well anyone using the Android development environment (and I don't). I was even thinking of the easier rooting where XDA folks just provide a batch file for buyers who run it off the microSD card though I think B&N made that harder for the HD tablet recently.

    Even with the intrepid explorers in XDA I've seen so many suddenly using capital letters asking for Help when things go wrong. It's just not the stores' target crowd.

    On the forums, many still don't understand the simpler constant explanations of ES File Explorer, Dolphin, and Acrobat Reader and these are dealing with built-in capabilities with just one setting to be made and knowing how to download and find files.

    Easy Installer has made finding APK files so much easier though... Personally I wouldn't touch the B&N tablets because of the intentionally closed system where that makes you have to work to get a simple other-app on your device. I bought the NookColor but when they closed off the system area visibility of books we purchased that was it for me. That attitude isn't one I want to give money toward though I'm a member of B&N's 'club' and want the store to stay here and make enough money for what the store has.

    If Amazon didn't allow the 'unknown sources' choice I wouldn't buy its tablets either. Just not enough time in the world to have to deal with that. Am not THAT much of a consumer when there are perfectly good tablets that don't make you twist yourself into knots to get a simple app.

    I read your post a couple of days ago about your 2nd Paperwhite. Glad that worked out !

    1. I agree. As good as the Nook hardware may be, I would not seriously consider getting one because it is too locked down, and to an inferior ecosystem at that. By contrast, while Apple doesn't let you load 3rd party apps (without jailbreak) you have access to all of the apps that are available, including 'competing' apps like Kindle, Amazon INstant Video, Netflix etc.

      Kobo's tablets include Google Play, but at that point I'd just get a Nexus 7 or 10. I think Kobo is a hard sell in any market where more mainstream Android tablets (Fire, Nexus, Samsung etc.) are an option.

      I'm pretty happy with my Xoom as my primary tablet for the time being. It gets regular updates, accessories are dirt cheap ($20 for speaker dock with HDMI passthrough, $8 for car charger). Works beautifully with wireless mouse when docked (something iOS won't do). The screen is not great, but good enough for what I use it for. I find the 'pure Android' experience continues to improve, and not sure I could tolerate Fire's Amazon-centric UI after experiencing 'total freedom'.

      I have the Android SDK installed, but no time to play with it. But installing it is pretty easy and deploying apks is trivial if you can ignore all the developer-centric foo. Might be a single-purpose tool that does the same thing.

    2. Tom,
      Interesting that Apple's focus on profits from hardware have led to a situation in which its own iBooks are available to read only on its own devices! (and Amazon, which allows its Kindle books to be read on just about any device gets the strange reputation for being 'closed' when people say they want to read their Kindle books on other devices -- which we know they already can, with sync'g capabilities at that).

      Amazon makes its money on the tablets' content so if people read that on iphone/ipad/Nexus/Xoom/Blackerry etc it doesn't matter to Amazon because they hope that content is bought from them.

      As for the old concern re reading DRM'd ePub, now many are aware that these are legally read via Mansanto and Aldiko etc on the Kindle Fire tablets, so we consumers are in a pretty good place.

      As with your Xoom, I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 which they recently upgraded from Honeycomb to Ice Cream Sandwich (their update wiped out all my app placements on the several windows, making me start over on how I organized it all - gads).

      I really enjoy the Samsung 10" and it has BEAUTIFUL saturated colors and brightness though only 1280x800 screen res, but I tend to be besotted by the sharpness of that same resolution on the KFireHD's 7" device and the many great things I can enjoy on it. LOVED that I could download any Youtube video and enjoy its HD on the device so easily and w/o the usual compatibility problems with formats when using the BSPlayer (available for all devices but less robust with some makers like HTC).

      Terrific re the reasonable pricing on accessories with Xoom - good to know when a company doesn't try to grab everything in your wallet for simple add-on's like you know which company and I don't mean Amazon since they include really reasaonably priced 3rd party accessory vendors (though I read they take quite a chunk of the margins this year).

      I looked at my apps and realized I'm not much of an app person! I like movies, TV shows, reruns, unusual videoclips, magazines, periodicals. Apps are the least of my interest, so I have only a few hundred, most of which I don't use ( I especially like one to learn Cantonese though), and my storage areas are still very roomy as a result.

      It amuses me when they say 'only' 50,000 apps are available, but at the same time I would rebel if I couldn't get an interesting app from another source, so I'm very happy with Amazon's decision to make that easy.

      Very forward-looking for a store looking to make its far-lower margins (relative to Apple) on content we purchase. For them the decision is a gamble. And B&N wouldn't gamble.

    3. Tom, a bit more -
      I don't find the Amazon-centric UI a problem at all and I like their organization. Love that I can access the Kindle Fire HD "Favorites" from ANY activity I'm on and then go right back to what I was doing. It's a sort of task-switching. A press of the Star icon leads you to your grid of your favorites, whether a game, a useful app, a book, periodical, personal doc, etc., and then easily back to where you were.

      The HD prime versions of videos are superb on that device. Hypnotic to someone like me who is keen on images and image-quality. I'm looking forward to the 8.9" I'll have next week sometime too.

      No other Android has one of my favorite features. In real life -- on my Cable I'm constantly pausing scenes whether live or 'on demand' to see WHO is in whatever I'm watching and what year it was made + a general synopsis if I just happened to switch to it.

      With X-Rayed movies, Amazon uses its IMDB database to let you see which actors are in the scene you're watching (not just the movie in general) and gives bios and some summary things on the movie ietself when you pause it. That is such a great feature! I'm a consumer at heart probably. I'm not much for games but then got too hooked on Angry Birds so am avoiding that these days! Same thing happened with Crystal Caves in the old days... Can't do anything in moderation.

      Re APKs -- since my Samsungs (a phone also) give me access to Google Play, I just take the file-manager option to back up the apk files on new installs and then I take them and dump them in Dropbox so I can always get them (for myself or others if they're free apps). GooglePlay is too rigid about not letting you get another copy of an app if you've already installed it.

      I'm about to do a small blog entry that includes something about Adobe's PS Touch being available for Kindle Fire now. WELL, I bought it for the Samsung, and went to a demo function at Adobe Headquarters in SF and it is a fun app though I found the results more grainy than I like.

      But I did pay the $10 (very worth that amount) for the v1.2 I got for Samsung. It was not available for iPad 1 which upset others at the function. At Google Play last night, v1.4 was not yet available and Google Play would not allow me to download it direct to the Kindle Fire anyway but I am not going to pay another $10 just to download the update from Amazon of course, to be able to use it on that device. Will check Google Play again to see what they're doing on this.

  3. I am still waiting for the 10" Kindle. Plus, those features you mentioned are already available for the current 7" Kindle Fire HDs.

    1. Shannara, The 7" doesn't have 1920x1200 resolution. As for the other features, they're listed as main features for those who don't visit regularly and don't know what's on the 8.9" one. I also linked to my Notes article so they can compare vs other Kindle offerings.

      It'll be interesting to see how successful an 8.9" one with such a good display is. Good luck on the 10" but there are many good ones to choose from from other vendors. I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and enjoy it though I use the 7" tablet much more...

  4. You wrote:
    Allowing installation of apps from other sources is a very cool decision for a shopping store like Amazon's. Barnes and Noble, while having a good device in the Nook Tablet HD, hampered its tablet enormously by not allowing this capability (unless you 'root' the device, which can brick it unless you know what you're doing) and while holding press conferences saying they're more open than Amazon. Not.
    This is exactly why I am selling my kids' Nook Color and have gotten them a Fire 2 as a replacement. Yesterday I gave the Nook one more try. Searching for apps on the Nook web site is abysmal. And the amount of apps available is pitiful. And there is no way to side load the NC. I was running it with the n2a card for a year, but it was not the best thing. So off it goes to ebay. No more Nook devices in this house!

    1. Anne, What's odd is they're so forward-thinking in other ways - a great display on the latest HD version of their tablet and the added microSD card slot. And yet they left off even one camera, so liked for communication generally (and the only serious tablet I've seen w/o one) and are that restrictive on the apps. I don't understand them. I've kept their NookColor because I still like their Nat'l Geo version, which I'm still subscribed to.

      You'll all have fun with that Fire 2 though!

  5. The information you share is great


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