7 New Products Unveiled by Amazon
Layoffs and canceled projects in Amazon’s Lab126 hardware development division in late August sparked rumors that the e-commerce giant was backing out of the hardware market. But just two weeks later, Amazon unveiled seven new gadgets. Here are their highlights...
Amazon Fires Out New Products
Four new tablets debuted: the Fire HD8 ($149.99) with an 8-inch screen. The Fire HD10 ($229.99) is Amazon’s largest-ever tablet at 10.1 inches. The Fire Kids Edition ($99.99) comes with a breakage-replacement guarantee and a 7-inch screen. The humble Fire tablet costs a remarkably low $49.99 and Amazon even offers a six-pack of Fire tablets for $249.99 ($41.67 each).
All four tablets sport the new Fire OS 5 “Bellini” operating system, an Amazon-customized version of Android Lollipop. The home page is filled with standard apps. Swipe left to page through Amazon product categories such as books, games, video, music, etc. A search box lets you zero in on products of interest. Along the bottom of the screen, Bellini displays related suggestions from one of Amazon’s content services, such as Prime Video or the company’s e-book catalog.
“On Deck” is a new Bellini feature that makes me a bit uneasy. While a Bellini tablet is charging, it downloads videos (movies and TV shows) that Amazon thinks you may want to watch offline. This strikes me as a bit presumptuous, and possibly a security risk. Oh, and I wonder how folks with data caps will like this constant downloading.
“Word Runner” is a new Bellini e-book feature that’s supposed to help you read faster. Instead of displaying a pageful of text, it displays one word at a time at whatever speed you like, sort of like flash-cards. I've seen demos of this elsewhere, and found it interesting. I'm not sure if it trains you to read faster, or if it just forces you to keep reading at a steady clip.
Amazon also offers cases and Bluetooth keyboards for all four tablets, and the usual assortment of memory upgrades.
The Fire TV set-top box and Fire TV Stick have been updated. The biggest change is the addition of Alexa, Amazon’s voice-controlled digital assistant. Alexa is coming to all Fire TV products over the next few months in the form of an automatic software update. Voice-control has always been part of Fire TV, and it’s very popular; Amazon says more than 60 percent of programming searches are voice-controlled.
Fire Up Your TV...
The Fire TV set-top box still costs $99.99. It can stream 4K content, a feature that even the latest Apple TV box lacks. Amazon says Fire TV is now “significantly faster” and has more robust WiFi for stronger performance. New features include Amazon Mayday, the ability to connect to customer support for quick help.
The last new product is the Fire TV Gaming Edition bundle ($139.99). It combines a Fire TV box, a new gaming controller with Alexa search built in, a 32GB MicroSD card, and two free games.
All of these products can be ordered now. Most won’t start shipping until September 30, 2015. The Fire TV Gaming Edition bundle ships October 5.
Your thoughts on these products (or Amazon in general) are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 28 Sep 2015
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- 7 New Products Unveiled by Amazon (Posted: 28 Sep 2015)
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