Sunday, December 14, 2014

Amazon activity: #1 in tablet satisfaction survey ... Prime members get 4K Ultra-HD instant streaming at no added cost ... New 'Make an Offer' feature ... New Kindle for Android update v4.8 ... New Single by Patricia Cornwell ... New game from Amazon Studios w/ high ratings ... WHAT is the Amazon Echo ? .... Remaining holiday deals

Amazon tops Apple in Tablet satisfaction survey for first time

JD Power's Yr 2014 Vol 2 Study of U.S. Tablet Satisfaction had Amazon coming from way behind (in past years) to beat Apple out for the first time in the now popular tablet market.

The simple headline in their press release was "Amazon Ranks Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Tablet Devices"

  "The study, now in its third year, measures customer satisfaction with tablets across five factors (in order of importance): performance (28%); ease of operation (22%); features (22%); styling and design (17%); and cost (11%). Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale."

  From what I remember, Amazon, newer to the game, placed 5th or so in the past.  Apple led the field the first two years of this ongoing study.  The study may be of interest to some who are wondering whether or not to jump on the Holiday pricing Amazon has had in varying degrees the last couple of weeks.

  The mantra has always been "Isn't Apple the best?" As ever, if you have an Apple iPhone and love your iOS apps, it makes more sense to stick with Apple.

  Otherwise, you may want to try Amazon's now famous 30-day Full Refund "No Risk" policy on Kindles.  The return policy:
' You can return any Kindle e-reader, Fire tablet or Amazon Fire TV devices or accessories you purchased directly from for a full refund within 30 days of the day you received it as long as it's in new condition and the return is in accordance with our return policy. '
  (Within 60 days, it's an 80% refund, which I didn't know -- and I just noticed they mention buying from even an "Amazon kiosk" in a store -- so I guess store kiosks are now definitely a plan...

  One recommendation: I've long recommended (in the Reference column here), that the 32GB storage-space model be the minimum level chosen, even if it's somewhat more costly, because the more attractive or fun apps are heavily graphics-oriented or complex and take up a large amount of storage space and even will need temporary file space during the running of them.  The 16GB-option guarantees you'll be spending too much time figuring out which apps to swap in and out of the 'Cloud' (Amazon server space for your apps, books, videos, music) to be able to use what you want at a given time.  But if the budget doesn't allow that, then at least you CAN swap out one app to be able to enjoy another one.

Currently (Sunday the 14th), the middle-sized, faster-processor Kindle Fire HDX 7" 32 GB model is $199, a $40 discount, and featured on their pages when I went there tonight to check on pricing.

Amazon starts 4K Ultra HD streaming of video, at no added cost to Prime members
Prime members - US, with the new 4K TV sets will be able to view some movie and TV show videos at the new resolution standard at no added cost.  Here's Forbe's story, with details on which videos already include this.

Amazon institutes "Make an Offer" (similar to EBay's) on 3rd Party Marketplace products, mainly Collectibles and Fine Art
Now, if a 3rd party seller wants to use the new Make an Offer feature, you can make an offer and bargain with that store, in private -- it's not an auction.  Apparently, some vendors have wanted this flexibility, when unsure of pricing attractiveness etc.
' Amazon spokesperson Erik Fairleigh said Make an Offer, which is in pilot testing, is open now to all sellers across Sports and Entertainment Collectibles, Collectible Coins and Fine Art. To enable the feature, sellers can use the bulk template or 1-by-1 to update their items to display the "Make an Offer" tool.
. . .
Offers expire after 72 hours, and Fairleigh said sellers' ratings are not impacted in any way if they don't respond to offers. With each offer, the clock resets at 72 hours. And there's no limit to the number of offers and counteroffers.
. . .
However, the transaction is not complete until the customer checks out. '
And the minimum price for eligibility to use this feature is $100.  I imagine this pilot testing is for more general use of the feature later on, if successful.  In fact, InvestCorrectly writes that
' While the feature is only available for 150,000 items; now, Amazon’s announcement expressed a desire to expand the program in 2015. What this will mean for eBay and the future of online shopping will be interesting to watch. '
You can see what's available currently at Amazon's Make an Offer page

Google Play removes recent Amazon app for Android
Note that Amazon's app (with new mobile-appstore-access) was uploaded by Amazon to Google September 9 and was apparetly fine at the time, but Google updated its policies on September 25 and as of that date, Amazon's app was breaking policy and was removed by GooglePlay and Amazon, which seems fair enough to me.  Amazon then replaced it with the plain Amazon Shopping app, that has no built-in appstore.

Amazon now has a new Kindle App for Android out, v4.8, a couple of days ago.
' What's New
• Use X-Ray for Books and Textbooks to look up places, characters and terms
• Receive push notifications from Kindle - customize your experience in Settings
Improved library search
• Make flashcard sets to review textbook material
Control audiobook playback while reading the Kindle book
• Several experience improvements and bug fixes

About app permissions

  Support '

  If you've never installed the Android app before,
• go to Amazon's Kindle for Android app page
• Select "Download now"
• Follow the instructions to download the app to your device
• After installing the Kindle reading app, you'll need to register it to your Amazon account.

Kindle reading-app Updates - Where?
  . Kindle for Android Phone update page at Amazon appstore
  . Kindle for Android Tablet update page at Amazon appstore
  . or, if Google play was the original source anyway, Android Updates from Google play.

New follow-up Exclusive "Single" by Patricia Cornwell
I tweeted about this when it came out and forgot about blogging it but think some of her readers might be interested in this further investigation of the Jack the Ripper case.

A new game that costs but is highly rated

Saw this a few weeks ago when it was new.

 For a game that costs $6.99, Tales from Deep Space gets unusually high ratings, at 4.7 stars currently.

  However, it's "played [exclusively for now] on 2013 and newer Fire tablets.

Co-op: Play as E and CASI either solo or co-op on two Fire tablets over wi-fi.  Multiplayer co-op available exclusively on Kindle Fire HDX and all 2014 Fire tablets
 For "all ages" but most likely for the younger set.

What is "The Amazon ECHO" ?
I've been following this closely, as it's in a sort of paid pilot testing -- and the 'paid' part is working for Amazon, it seems, because those who've received it tend to be raving about how much fun it is and some would pay more.  Since it's offered for some time on a "By invite" only, to those expressing interest in it, it's not likely to be ready for Christmas release, as shipments seem to have eased.

  I want to do a write-up Monday night on the reception of this unit by actual users with some very funny postings, but until then here are links, from this blog's Reference column, that you can explore:
Amazon Echo - $99 for Prime
   Echo-tests video + discussions Thread 1, Thread 2
    ZDNet actually got one. ZDNet review: "A Perfect 10"

Remaining Holiday Deals
In the meantime, here is a repeat of the holiday and some regular deals, from a blog entry last week, while we're still in the now long holiday season.

DISCOUNTS ON ACCESSORIES Amazon's current pages (some, ongoing) on accessories for Kindle e-Reader and Kindle Fire
  1. Up to 50% (higher discount than usual) on cases for Kindle eReaders
  2. Up to 50% on cases for Kindle Fire (Gen 2) and Kindle Fire HD tablets but NOT HDX tablets
  3. Accessories for all Kindles, with some discounted.

For larger discounts, there are the ongoing pages:
  For US
Goldbox and Lightning Deals which sometimes include bigger one-day sales and
Select-Outlet Deals
Warehouse Deals
Other warehouse deals - more gift oriented
Your Amazon coupons

And since it's still that time of the year, Amazon (and every other store) is having seasonal sale after sale.
12 Days of You Know What -- is now 7 remaining days :-)
  Amazon's "12  7 more Days of Deals" (general) - a page to bookmark if still in shopping mode.  There's also a related [several]-days of Deals that's focused on deals for the home.

  For UK and Canada:
UK - Today's Deals
Seasonal Discounts and Sales - UK
Warehouse Deals - UK

Recently-built Kindle Outlet Store - US
A few months ago, Amazon put together a Kindle Outlet Store to feature their certified refurbished Kindle devices at a somewhat lower cost.

That's it, from my accumulated notes ...

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  1. Another end of year tidbit in the latest issue of the Harvard Business Review:

    Jeff Bezos is ranked as the #1 best CEO in the world, and for some reasons that may surprise some (like me :grin): like increasing shareholder value!!!

    Also the #1 CEO is only #66 in executive compensation -- so he's doing a good job on the (relatively) cheap (:grin)

    1. Thanks, Edward. He's definitely ultra active :-) and I guess he does well enough, to buy the WashPost :-)

  2. The iOS app now has a Book Browser that lets Kindle Unlimited users browse the catalog of KU titles and download them directly in the app. Since it is a subscription, no sale is involved and so Apple's in app purchase conditions do not apply (just as with Scribd, Netflix, etc). I was wondering when they would get around to that. For some reason, there is no way to return books there, however, as you can with Fire, and the Android app. So their work is not yet done. Then BYODictionary (which iOS app has).

    Yes, nice that Android app has XRay now. Next on my list is to enable Sharing options (I mostly just want Evernote, Goodreads, and maybe email sharing, I don't do much Twitter/Facebook, but it doesn't do that, either). Copy/Paste doesn't qualify as 'sharing'.

    1. I saw the announcement yesterday -- was out celebrating my too-many-years birthday so didn't get to blog it -- instead part of the 'celebration' was having to take a DMV written exam (which I read from end to end the night before and into the early morning hours). But it was worth the studying. Thanks for getting us up to date right away on what you've seen. What's the BYODICTIONARY? One with bring-your-own words?

      I like email sharing ... but that's usually last to come...

  3. As for the Amazon Store app in Google Play, I will have to check that later and see when it updated on my tablet and if it still has AIV player in there (I'm guessing 'not' but it depends on how Amazon pushed the update). It was a crazy way of delivering a AIV player in the first place, and I guess they still do not have a separate AIV app for Android, even from Amazon Appstore? The reporting as usual is lacking in the details. It continues to annoy me that they don't simply publish Amazon Instant Video to Google Play (which would not violate any google policies). I'm sure that's what 99% of Amazon customers would prefer over the alternatives presented to date.

    Apart from that, I am perfectly happy to purchase the same app for my Fire from Amazon and for my Android devices from Google (not that I purchase many apps from either of late). No side-loading. That is the best app experience as far as I'm concerned. So these attempts to get Amazon customers to install the Appstore app on their Android devices are just annoying. And even the 'shopping' app does not measure up to the web browser shopping experience (if they added Smile support it might help, but in general the mobile apps don't present enough product detail to inform my purchase decisions), so I don't install those either.

    1. I now use a Windows phone so I don't get to test Android phone features except when I take out my old phone and use it in WiFi, which I still do from time to time and have carried it around for that purpose sometimes.

      But Android phone/tablet users were celebrating that the LAST update this latest one had Amazon Instant. However, it works people liked it. One just has to make sure that the Amazon settings for Amazon Instant are not Silverlight (the default for desktop users).

      I still don't get the issue with 'side-loading' -- the Fires have a *direct* download to the tablet that operates EXACTLY like a download and install from the Amazon app store. There's no "side" process. At least not with 1mobile site and not with one other I used recently. I downloaded several broadcast apps this morning from 1mobile - and they simply download and install smoothly ! I leave my setting on that allows me to install apps from'unknown sources' and it stays that way and there is just no extra work or movements at all.

      The Android app processes are always (in timeliness and features) behind for-iOS software updates. Maybe because the Apple crowd is used to paying for apps while Android users tend to want apps for free...

  4. Other people may mean something else, but to me 'side loading' is the same as '3rd party sources'. I can't be bothered with it any more. If Amazon Appstore doesn't have the apps I'm looking for, I don't care: my Fire is about 90% for reading ebooks from Amazon. Especially since they lifted the embargo on Dropbox, OneDrive, and Youtube (things I used to sideload), and I no longer feel the need to have all sorts of ePub reading apps on there.

    I have my Android phone and iPad for other things.

    Got my $20 Fire Stick. It's very nice for Amazon Video and my Berliner Philharmoniker subscription, with second screen on my Fire. Haven't really explored anything else.

    1. Tom, I love Frequency app on the Fire TV. A lot of people recommend videos they love and I don't have time to watch at the time and they scroll off and I can't find them, but Frequency keeps them to show me and I can choose the usual Watch Later to keep it longer. But they have a lot of sources. Hulu Plus is now searchable with Amazon's Voice Search (so much better) and has a zillion odd channels.

      "Side loading" has meant, in the past, an extra step you have to go through, rather than a straight download but things have improved so extra steps are hardly ever needed. I have always liked choice and have never liked shopping at only one store and now that it's no longer needed to get an apk and save and really sideload it, I am in.

      I like the 3am-6am (on west coast) Morning Joe o MSNBC with all those reporters talking like normal humans in discussions rather than politicos doing their propaganda, and 1mobile had it while Amazon does't yet, but Amazon is growing the store fast lately.

      On my Win phone which is of course behind everyone else in app stores, they have something called TV Series and you can get just about anything to watch to download in TV series. Amazing. It's of course a very popular app. But I do like the Fire TV (or Stick) for watching on the TV and the offloading it via Fling if I want to use the tablet. Amazon's Prime Music is a real boon for me. There's so much on Prime that I like and you can just add them free to your library to hear On Demand, and then there are the lyrics scrolling and highlighted or so much.

      I've downsized to mainly one tablet and the phone when I'm out. Light and beautiful (my 8.9") ... Ah, you chose Berliner Philharmonic. I can't keep up with Medici TV which I joined again once they gave me the 20% discount. Whatta world these days. I mainly watch any TV on the tablet with great (JBL LRS305 speaks) now as it saves electricity during this winter and my total October PG&E bill was $34 total with taxes and fees (2 bdrm flat). So it's now like a game to see how much money I can save that way :-)

      There are currently glitches for some (incld'g me) with dictionaries, book Collections, personal book highlights ,and sound on the Fire OS upgrades to older tablets, but they're putting out updates as they go. I really like the new features of how Photos and personal movies are shown via the same tab and easy full-screen access to both. Also, that when in an app, we can swipe in from the Left and get a choice of apps that we can switch to for awhile, suspending the current app and returning to it afterward.

      Favorites gave us that capability, sorta, for awhile - but this new app-switching is super direct and easy. I also like be able to FIND the tablet and if my Location isn't On, it can Ring my tablet and make it beep. Have not tried the Backup/Restore of tablet features.

      Did try Firefly and it works well. Even ID'd an album that almost no one has anymore and which was a 3rd party buy on Amazon. Response time with that feature was quick but haven't tried it for everyday items I'd run across. Have you?

    2. Re switching apps -- that should have been 'swiping in from the right' (to left) to choose another app to switch to for awhile.

    3. No idea what you mean by 'new app-switching' feature. Fire OS has had that feature for quite awhile (at least since last year's Fires). But yes, Collections are somewhat regressed, the only way to Remove an item it to open the collection you want to remove it from (if you happen to know which ones it is a member of). Oh well, that's why one needs more than one device.

      Medici isn't available on our BluRay player, and while it is a little cheaper than BPhil (with the 40% off deal they have going now), I think BPhil has more that is of interest to me, and I enjoy the continuity of seeing the same orchestra and performers over time (with guest performers and conductors). They have more recent/contemporary music in the mix too, it seems. That said, it is a full meal and live performances are hard to work in on Saturday morning (though very rewarding). If I had time, seems having both would be great though.

    4. Yes, and I just noticed I have a dictionary problem since the 4.5.2 update on my HD6. Where the heck did it go? I tried restarting, nope. Then deregister/reregister. It's taking a little while to restore itself, and seems to have blown away everything I had downloaded. Why do you have to enable TTS, and disable Home recommendations, again?

      But finally the Definition panel is appearing, letting me download dictionaries, and I'm in business again. Did they add support for translation dictionaries? Yep. Is that new? dunno, hadn't tried it lately.

      I read that the Voyage (and I'm guessing PW2 with the latest updates and 'new' basic Kindle) adds Russian dictionaries to your library (as Russian UI language has been added to those devices), maybe even a Russian-English one. But Fire still does not support Russian, so I'm stuck with the only Russian-English dictionary that's available in the Kindle Store, which doesn't even know the Russian word for 'where', or 'women', which you learn in your first Russian class (or maybe some indexing needs to happen, or there's some bug). Fortunately there's the much more capable Translate feature (as long as you are online, which I generally am).

    5. Tom, I forgot the app-switching feature came with my 3rd Gen though obviously I never saw it (though I wrote about it before getting it).
      Re the Collections thing that no long allows us to see which Collections already have a specific book -- that is backwards not to have it, and I'm hoping they bring it back when they also bring back dictionaries and personal highlighting that should show under Notes (both missing from my Yr 2013 HDX 8.9" tablet). I access it via Puffin browser after putting Mirroring On... It works. Response time for mirroring connection seems slower than before the update though.

      You can't beat that 40% discount. Best I could do in a year of waiting was 20%. And it is a REALLY good deal then.

      (I can't imagine not being able to easily access all the other orchestras and performers -- and the back catalog is enormous and fully accessible with the full subscription.)

    6. Tom, the missing dictionaries is a common v4.5.1-v4.5.2 problem. For some people, just moving Wikipedia to the left makes it appear. Others need to do a deregister and if that doesn't work, a factory reset, which I won't do - they said they're working on getting them back in a normal way.

      The manage-your-device&content dictionaries are not compatible with my tablet so I can't just 'deliver' them to it.

      Deregistering means getting rid of your personal customized settings, so the TTS and Home Recommendations have to be reset. Otherwise there's nothing lost.

      The translation feature came with the Yr2013 models. And is on the Paperwhite too. I love that :-)


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