Posts with tag amazon
Amazon thinks they can do it better
Amazon has certainly made a big name for itself in the handheld computing realm with the likes of the Kindle and the Kindle Fire tablet, but things just got a whole lot serious for the marketplace. Amazon has just announced what they’re calling the Fire Phone; a 4.7-inch smartphone with a whole lot of cameras – including an impressive 13-megapixel shooter on the backside with optical image stabilization.
The Fire Phone comes packed with a 2.2 GHz Quad-Core processor, 2GB of RAM, and Amazon’s Fire OS platform that they’ve built and honed over the last couple of years for both their Kindle Fire line of devices as well as the recently released Fire TV. It plays nice with all of Amazon’s partners, of course, meaning the likes of IMDB support in X-Ray, Spotify, Pandora, so on and so forth – the usual suspects. There’s also a new feature called Firefly, and get this – it allows the Fire Phone to detect labels, bar codes, QR codes – practically whatever – of products and bring you to the appropriate Amazon Marketplace page where you can buy or rent that product. You can literally point your camera at a jar of Nutella and have the Nutella storefront page appear on your phone in an instant – which will lead to even higher sales for the online marketplace, I’m sure. It’ll even work from a distance – see a passing billboard? Click the Firefly button, point your phone in that direction, and get out your debit card.
What’s beat for developers is the possibilities Firefly creates. Amazon has created a new API developers can tap into to enable Firefly technology. Anybody will be able to use the camera recognition functionality to create enhanced camera enabled applications – one example Amazon gave being MyFitness Pal, who required only a day to get Firefly working on their existing application to enable better, faster, more powerful product recognition. Point your camera at a Cheetos bag and boom, it’ll he added to your calorie counter. Quite a bit easier than fumbling for that barcode.
Mayday is here as well, first seen in the company’s latest lineup of Kindle HDX devices. Surely at this point you’ve seen the commercials. Have a question or need help figuring out how to do something? Click the Mayday button and you’ll be connected to a live, anonymous video chat with an Amazon Customer Service agent. As per the usual, you’ll be able to see them, but they’ll only be able to hear you – enabling Mayday usage on some prime toilet opportunities.
As for all those other, front facing cameras, Amazon likes to say that those enable something called Dynamic Perspective. Think iOS 7’s Parallax home screen and you’ll be on the right track – the cameras track your eye movement and figure out where you’re looking to created an faux 3D effect and give the impression of depth. It’s a neat trick, but still a trick – the Fire Phone doesn’t actually have a 3D screen after all. The cameras are also used to allow scrolling without ever touching the screen, similar to the eye tracking technology found on Samsung’s more recent phones.
As for the operating system itself, there’s pretty much everything you’d expect here. We’ve got the Fire OS launcher with widget support, which has become the norm on most recent devices (including the iPhone, starting with iOS 8), Amazon’s usual suite of applications, high end “console like” gaming (which was a point of focus on the HDX). The extra camera sensors should help create some pretty innovative gaming as well, I can imagine.
The Fire Phone will be available soon on contract for $199, which gets you 32GB of storage, or $299 for 64GB. Unfortunately for most of us, the Fire Phone is slated to be an ATT exclusive, though given the state of the market I’d be shocked if it stated that way in the long run – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says that they’ve “always done an amazing job” for Amazon.
(Photo credit goes to Engadget.)
6 cameras ought to be enough for that perfect selfie
There have been some rumors saying that Amazon is working on their own phone. It looks like the rumors were right because what you see above is reportedly a prototype of Amazon’s upcoming and unannounced phone.
As is the case with many upcoming phones, this prototype is in a decoy shell so that we can’t see what the hardware underneath looks like. A similar method was used by Apple back during the infamous Gizmodo iPhone 4 leak. Nonetheless, this is what is supposed to be Amazon’s phone as it stands right now.
According to BGR, this device will run on a Qualcomm Snapdragon and 2GB of RAM and come with Amazon’s own fork of Android similar to what they use on the Kindle. The screen is a 4.7″ 720p display which is a bit low-resolution in this world today. Finally, as far as specs are concerned, this phone comes with no less than six cameras.
There’s a 13-megapixel camera on the back and a “standard front-facing” camera on the front for your selfies but it also comes with four additional cameras in the front of the device. These four extra cameras are special infrared cameras which are used to track the user’s face. These special cameras are being used to run a glasses-free 3D display similar to that of the Nintendo 3DS.
With all that power under the hood, you’d expect it to have a pricey tag on the outside and you’re probably right: although we’re still a ways away from the release date, BGR reports that the device seen here is the high-end device with an as of yet unseen low-end device coming later.
Kindle on TV
Amazon has just today announced a new set-top box entertainment initiative that’s positioned as an Amazon powered alternative to the likes of the Apple TV and the Roku. The Fire TV is a small black box that physically greatly resembles both the Apple TV and the Roku lineup – just a little bit bigger than a pack of playing cards, the Fire TV will fit in just fine with any entertainment center out there – unless you’ve got a thing for all white hardware, I guess.
Inside the black box, the Fire TV is a little power house – it’s got a powerful quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and software powerful enough to run as fast as the impressive hardware can take it. Amazon will of course be relying on its own entertainment ecosystem to get content onto the device, however partnerships have also been established with a couple of the biggest names in the industry – Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, Vimeo to name a few, and for you sports fans MLB.tv, and the NBA.
But that’s not all – the real reason behind that impressive hardware? Amazon is pushing this thing as a full blown gaming console, and will offer a gamepad for those interested in making this a full video game console for $39.99. It doesn’t come out of the box, which means that it’s definitely not the focal point of the device, but it’s there, and that alone is something that should make the Xbox Team, the PlayStation 4 team, and the folks at Nintendo just a little nervous.
The FireTV is available now from Amazon for just $99 – interested? Pick up yours at the link below.
Beating a dead horse
The Nook lineup was a failure. I know it, you likely know it, and it certainly seems like Barnes & Noble knows it – even if it isn’t ready to throw in the towel quite yet. Business Insider is now reporting that Barnes & Nobles has laid off what appears to be its entire Nook engineering staff – likely signalling the end of the Nook lineup of e-readers and tablets, at least on an internal level.
Barnes & Nobles has been struggling lately to compete with the likes of Amazon and their Kindle lineup, which essentially controls the entire e-reader marketplace as the Kindle lineup is unofficially the best selling lineup of e-reader devices of all time (Amazon doesn’t publish official specific figures). In fact, such a move is actually of little surprise – competitor Sony pulled out of the American e-reader market just last week after failing to compete with Amazon, and that was Sony – a company with a far greater range of resources than Barnes & Nobles.
Update 2/10/2014 @ 4:00 PM EST: We have just been in contact with a Barnes and Noble representative who is now claiming that the Business Insider story is incorrect, though the company has undergone some job eliminations across the organization. We have received the following statement from Mary Ellen Keating of Barnes and Noble.
We’ve been very clear about our focus on rationalizing the NOOK business and positioning it for future success and value creation. As we’ve aligned NOOK’s cost structure with business realities, staffing levels in certain areas of our organization have changed, leading to some job eliminations. We’re not going to comment specifically on those eliminations. We believe we have a strong management team in place at NOOK, having recruited significant new talent. The new NOOK management team is focused on managing the business efficiently so that it becomes financially strong while at the same time aggressively moving to drive revenue growth.
Source: Business Insider
Not too shabby
Amazon is having a killer year with amazing Kindle sales and an all new lineup of Kindle devices, and now they’re adding onto that with the announcement that the online retailer has had their best Christmas season yet, with sales up by a significant margin over last year’s Christmas sales. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos claimed today that Amazon sold over 426 items every second at its peak on Cyber Monday.
To make the pot even sweeter for Amazon, Mr. Bezos also announced today that Amazon has added over 1 million customers to their Amazon Prime program this season, joining the “tens of millions” of existing customers. Amazon Prime, of course, is Amazon’s Benefits Program which allows customers access to a wide library of movies and television shows streaming over the web, free Kindle books on loan, and free shipping on all orders – all for $79 a year.
If you don't like it, send it back
Amazon has apparently begun reaching out to some customers, inviting them to test drive the Kindle Fire HDX or other Kindle models totally free of charge. The promotion, which appears to be fairly limited in scope at the moment, is refreshingly consumer friendly – Amazon wants you to try a Kindle Fire HDX, and they’re willing to send you won with zero charge on your account. If you don’t like it, Amazon allows you to send it back free of charge – they’ll even pay for shipping. But if you decide to keep it after the thirty day trial, like Amazon hopes you will, only then will Amazon charge your account the price of the Kindle. Simple and easy.
We’ve yet to see an invitation from Amazon to participate in the program on any of our accounts, so we can’t say exactly how widespread this promotion is just yet – but if you’ve received an email, feel free to give us a shout and let us know how your experience went!
Source: The Verge
"But, I thought there was no post on Sunday!"
In the age of the internet and online shopping, it’s no stretch to say that we’re becoming more and more impatient as a culture, demanding faster and faster shipping times and instant gratification. Amazon is catering to our desire for speed with their new Sunday delivery shipping option, which utilizes a woefully under advertised US Postal Service shipping option that’s available to the general public.
The roll out of the program will be slow, and limited at first – only New York and Los Angeles will be able to use the option for now, however Amazon promises that the program will quickly expand to Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, and Phoenix in early 2014 with more to come at a later date.
So fear not, online shoppers – if you live in New York or Los Angeles and decide to shop at Amazon, that means that your precious Black Friday savings gifts could arrive as soon as Sunday. If you’re lucky.
A set top box for Amazon content
Amazon really wants you to consume its digital content, and they’re hoping to get it onto more screens than ever this holiday season. Amazon’s next big target, according to the trustworthy folks over at The Wall Street Journal, just so happens to be a highly contested area as of late – the television.
That’s right, Amazon is said to be working on a set top box to compete against the likes of Apple TV and Roku with a high definition box capable of streaming Amazon movies, music, shows, and more straight from the cloud to your television without the need for a dependent device, such as your phone. Amazon’s been making quite a splash with their digital delivery devices as of late, beefing up and putting an emphasis on the Kindle Fire lineup like never before with the Kindle Fire HDX. Amazon is also rumored to be working on not one, but two smartphones which are due for release in 2014.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
One of the best, better
Cheap tablets are a dime a dozen, but actual quality cheap tablets are as rare as gold. But if you’re looking for the absolute best deal in tablets today, look no further than Amazon’s newly updated Kindle Fire HD (not to be confused with the higher end just announced Kindle Fire HDX). Even though Amazon has made what was already one of the best even better, bundling the beautiful Kindle Fire HD body with an improved 1280×800 panel and “Fire OS 3.0″ (Amazon’s custom Android skin), Amazon has also lowered the price to an absolutely insane $139.
So let’s take a step back and re-evaluate the competition. The iPad mini, with a lower resolution but larger 1024×768 display, starts at $329. The beautiful new Nexus 7 with a higher resolution, though smaller (4:3 in the Fire HD vs. 16:9 in the Nexus 7) display starts at $229. The New Kindle Fire HDX 7″ has the new 4:3 higher resolution display, the fastest processor ever to appear in a 7” tablet, and enhanced gaming capabilities starts at $229. Sure, the competition may be marginally more powerful or “better”, but the Kindle Fire HD is already more than good enough for 99% of the population and it’s now at an unbeatable price.
Game, set, match. The new Kindle Fire HD is now available for pre-order and ships October 2nd.
Not just HD, HDX
No spectacular event, no build up, no fanfare. With nary a significant leak in sight, Amazon has done the impossible and announced their new Kindle Fire lineup to the surprise of nearly everyone. Introducing the Kindle Fire HDX, a family of 7″ and 8.9″ (the same sizes as the previous generation Kindle HD lineup) tablets with screen resolutions so impressive, they give the new Nexus 7 and the iPad a run for their money.
Check out what’s new after the break.
One small step for Kindle
It’s been a while since we’ve heard any hard news on the Kindle side of things, but we’ve got our first big news to send your way in quite some time today. Amazon has just (unceremoniously) announced a brand new version of their Kindle Paperwhite device, which is Amazon’s flagship e-reader with a built in ambient backlight for reading in any lighting conditions.
The new version, which costs just $119 (with ads) or $139 (without ads) is a small improvement over last year’s already-excellent device, however there are some nice changes to be had. The display has been endowed with higher contrast and quicker refresh rates which should make for a smoother reading experience, while the device itself has been implanted with a quick and speedy new processor.
The main selling point of the book, the built in backlight, has been totally redesigned as well. Amazon says this “guides light toward the surface of the display” making prolonged reading just that much easier on the eyes. The new and improved Kindle Paperwhite is slated to be released on September 30th and can be pre-ordered today.
If you want to move from the 360 to the One
Since the Xbox One has no backwards compatibility with anything the 360 did, many people are going to have to literally throw away their entire library of games and buy them all over again for the One. Amazon feels your pain, so for the low fee of $10, you can trade in any eligible Xbox 360 game for the equal Xbox One version. All you have to do is go to their website and order the Xbox 360 game you want then select an Xbox One title and you’ll pay $10 for the One title when they start shipping. Sounds like a good deal to me.