Category: Tablet Computers

All-New Fire HD 8 Tablet Review (6th Generation, 2016 release)

All-New Fire HD 8 TabletAs a background, I am a retired Information Systems professional and I am writing my first impressions of the NEW Fire HD 8 released on September 21, 2016 from the perspective of being a long-term Kindle user. I have all the current e-readers and Fire devices from Amazon including the basic Kindle, the Paperwhite (2013,2014,2015 models), the Fire HD6, Fire HD7, Fire HDX7 and Fire HDX8.9 (3rd and 4th generation), the old Fire HD 8 and the Fire HD 10. Here is a summary of my initial impressions of the new Fire HD8.

Amazon has replaced the original HD 8 released in 2015 with an “All-New” HD 8. Amazon is also removing the Fire HD6, which is a shame as it is a great little tablet.

The new HD 8 differs from the old version as follows:

BEST NEW FEATURE:

The price has been reduced! The 16 GB version of the old device cost $169.99 with special offers (ads). The new 16 GB version costs 89.99 and you can get a 32 HB version for $30 more.

SECRETLY REMOVED:

Amazon has removed the ability to mirror your display on Miracast devices such as TVs. Now that feature is now only available on generation 4 and 5 Fires including last years HD 8. However, you can still cast Prime videos to a FireTV or Fire Stick.

WHAT COMES IN THE BOX:

The HD8 Fire, a short 3-foot USB cord and a power adapter so you can charge and use the device right out of the box.

SIZE:

The new HD8 is a fraction thicker than the 2015 HD8. Leather cases for the old HD 8 will fit the new HD 8 but hard shell cases will not. However the auto wake feature of some older cases won’t work.

One complaint I had about the earlier versions was that the back was very slick and slippery to hold without a case. The new version is finely matted or textured so it is much easier to hold without dropping it and is no longer a fingerprint magnet on the back.

DISPLAY:

The resolution of the screen is the same 1280 x 800. However, the new HD 8 seems to have darker blacks with more contrast when compared to the older version. The display is nice and bright but still barely readable in bright sunlight. Amazon has added adaptive brightness to the new 2016 HD 8. When enabled, the brightness of the display changes depending on the level of light in the room. Practically speaking, this is only useful indoors when adjusting for night time reading because it is difficult to see the display in bright outdoor sunshine.

I do like that you can choose your own wallpaper! It comes with 9 stock images and if you don’t like one of them, you can choose your own image in your Amazon Photos folder.

PROCESSOR:

Both the new and old HD8 use a System on chip (SoC) platform where the CPU, GPU and Bluetooth are integrated on one chip platform. The new HD 8 has a faster MediaTek MT8163V/B 64-bit quad-core processor advertised as running at 1.3Ghz. Tests show that this processor operates with a CPU frequency of 1300 MHz max and 600 MHz min.

The old processor was a MediaTek MT8135 32-bit processor which was advertised as having one quad-core processor operating at 1.5GHz. Tests reveal that operating speeds were 1200 MHz max and 364 MHz min frequencies.

The GPU (graphics processing unit) on the new HD8 is an ARM Mali-T720 versus the older PowerVRg6200. Overall, the newer chip operates faster than the old chip.

BLUETOOTH:

Bluetooth version has been upgraded from 4.0 LE to 4.1 LE.

STORAGE:

The HD8 is now available with 16 GB and 32GB instead of 8 GB and 16 GB and Amazon still has a slot where you can insert a microSD card. The 2016 HD 8 accepts a MicroSD card up to 200 GB instead of the maximum 128 GB on the 2015 HD 8.

I recommend purchasing the 32GB version instead of ordering the 16 GB and adding an SD card. You will probably not need an additional card with the 32 GB version, but if you find that you are running short of space, you can always add one later. If you do add an external card, I do not recommend installing apps on an auxiliary card for several reasons. 1) Some apps WON’T install on auxiliary cards and those that do, use space on the internal drive as well as the microSD card. 2) the Fire apps seem to run faster on the internal drive. 3) If your SDcard goes bad, you are going to have devote some time reinstalling all your apps and resetting your settings.

RAM MEMORY:

More importantly, the new device has 1.5 GB of RAM versus 1.0 GB. Because of these upgrades, the new HD 8 is much snappier than the old version.

WEIGHT:

It is heavier: 12.0 ounces vs 11.0 ounces thanks to the larger battery

BATTERY LIFE:

The battery life is a big improvement. The new battery has been sized up to 4,750 mAh from the previous version which had a 3,210 mAh battery. The older model was rated at 8 hours but the new model is rated at 12 hours of mixed use. My biggest criticism of the old version was the battery which ran down very rapidly. I just kept the thing plugged in all the time because I could only use it for about 5 hours, not 8 hours, without being plugged in. The new version is definitely improved and it seems to last about 50% longer than the old one. Your own results may vary from mine depending on use.

WIFI CONNECTIVITY:

Sadly, Amazon installs a single antenna and has removed the 802.11ac wireless protocol from the new HD 8. What does this mean? In a nutshell, speed.

802.11 ac WiFi is much faster, but its peak speeds are not really the selling point. Its speeds at long range are. The AC protocol factors in “beamforming.” Beamforming is a “smart signal” which detects where connected devices are and increases signal strength specifically in their direction. So the performance as well as higher speed of 802.11ac are maintained far better at long range. Speed is not a factor for really short actions such as downloading books but if you plan on downloading movie videos, plan on taking a long lunch break.

When testing both my old and new HD8 devices from a far corner of my house, the new 2016 HD 8 connected at 65 Mbps but the old 2015 connected at 433 Mbps.

As you can see, the results show how much faster 802.11ac operates.

CAMERA:

The new HD 8 has been reduced to the same camera specs as the basic Fire. The camera quality is not as good on the new HD 8 as the old HD 8. Instead of maintaining a 720 HD front-facing camera with a 5 MP rear-facing camera with 1080p HD video recording, the new HD 8 comes with a VGA front-facing camera with a 2 MP rear-facing camera with 720p HD video recording. The quality of the new camera is obviously inferior and it shows when taking pictures. The image inferiority is really obvious when used in indoor settings. There is no flash so the pictures often come out very grainy when used indoors.

SOUND:

This is where the HD 8 shines. Amazon includes Dolby Atmos and dual stereo speakers. The HD 8 has one of the best sounds, both in quality and loudness, as any tablet I own.

UPDATE October 14, 2016. I need to clarify my comment about the sound. The speakers are terrible on all the Fires, including this one. This has become so second nature to me that I always use headphones, bluetooth speakers and occasionally even pair up my device to my Amazon Echo. When connected to an alternate speaker device, the sound quality is excellent.

The volume buttons are placed along the top of the HD 8 along with the power button, the headphone jack and the power receptacle. So all the buttons you would touch are on top. No buttons are on the sides or bottom.

The nice feature of the volume buttons is that they are “sensitive” to the orientation of the tablet. So if you are watching a movie in landscape mode with the volume buttons on the left, the upper button increases volume and the lower button decreases sound. If you flip the tablet 180 degrees so that the buttons are now on the right, most devices will use the same buttons for volume but in order to increase volume, the button you will need to press is now the LOWER button. The Fire HD 8 is smart enough to reverse the functions so that the upper button still increases the volume.

Atmos is a surround sound technology, developed in 2012, that expands upon the current 5.1 and 7.1 set-ups. With Atmos, each speaker has its own feed, enabling new front, surround and ceiling-mounted height channels. I was watching a movie with cheap headphones and thought I heard helicopters fly by my house. It took me a minute to realize that the sound was from the helicopters in the movie. It really sounded like they were coming from the left and moving to the right OVERHEAD. Wow, I was impressed!! (Note: I used Bluetooth headphones to test the Atmos quality of the sound.)

GPS:

The new 2016 HD 8 location services are only WiFi-based. Some older Fires such as the HDX 7 and the HDX 8.9 also included GPS and a-GPS. Assisted GPS (a-GPS) significantly improved startup performance of a GPS satellite-based positioning system.

What this means is that location services in the new HD 8 really does not exist because there is no GPS location service utilizing satellites. Instead, the device approximates your location based on your WiFi IP address. When WiFi is turned off or not available, apps that utilize location services such as mapping apps do not work. This is a real bummer because I use my older devices in the car while traveling with downloaded maps and would like to replace them with the HD 8. The older Fires work so much better than my phone because of the larger screen size. This was a feature I really miss in the current Fires. I could connect to my car Bluetooth to listen to music and Audible books and receive driving instructions at the same time. I could also set my HERE map app to let me know when I was driving over the speed limit to ensure that my foot didn’t become a little too heavy.

CURRENT OS:

2016 HD 8 is Fire OS 5.3 based on Android 5.1.1, API level 22. 2015 HD8 is based on Android 5.1, API level 22. Effectively, the settings menus are slightly different.

FINAL IMPRESSIONS:

I like the new HD 8. It is a good basic tablet for those who love the Amazon experience. Even though it has some features that have been degraded, overall it is a snappier and brighter tablet at a very reasonable price. I cannot evaluate the Alexa enhancement nor On Deck for Prime members feature as they have not been released for any Amazon Fire yet.

The 8-inch size seems a good balance for those who want only one device. It is slightly larger than the basic Fire but not so cumbersome as the HD 10. If you only want one Amazon tablet, I would recommend this one, especially if you are an avid Amazon prime customer. If you have the older HDX 7 or the 2014 HD 7, it is probably not worth the upgrade unless you are running out of storage space.

If you want a device to read books, I recommend that you get the Paperwhite or the Voyage. They can be read ANYWHERE, even in bright sunlight, have incredible battery life and have a few features specific to reading that are not available on the Fires.

There are some default settings that I change for personal use. All changes are done from the Settings menu. For those who want to know what I prefer, some of the more important changes are:

1) I change the wallpaper. Amazon has some nice pictures but I like my own better.

2) I set the display sleep to 10 minutes instead of the default 5 minutes. I get sidetracked too often so need the extra time so that my display doesn’t go into sleep mode.

3) I set the “Find Your Tablet” to “ON.” You never know if it could be stolen or if you do stupid things like leave your tablet at Starbucks. :-}

4) I turn “Collect App Usage Data” to “OFF.” If you play a lot of games or use certain Amazon Underground apps that require it, you might need to keep this on.

5) I disable auto-correction. Under Personal->Keyboard and Language->Fire Basic Keyboard Settings->Text Correction->Auto-Correction, I select Off. I hate it when I am typing and I don’t catch it when the tablet changes my words because the auto-correction decided on something totally irrelevant.

6) I change my search provider from “Bing” to “Google” under Apps & Games->Amazon Application Settings->Silk Browser->Advanced settings->Search engine

7) I change my Email group into conversations settings. Go to Settings->Conversation Settings->Group Messages Into Conversations and set to “OFF.” Too many times, I can’t tell if I got a reply because it’s buried in the conversation.

8) I also change my “After delete, go to” setting to “Older message.” When I am reading an email and delete it, I prefer to go to the next message instead of back to the list of messages.

9) Under Home Settings, I turn Home Recommendations OFF as well as turning Show Apps on the Recent Page OFF. This helps to remove clutter.

10) On the Home screen, I move my more frequently used apps to the top so that I don’t have to scroll down to find them. The less used ones, I arrange alphabetically so that I can find them as I scroll down.

CAVEAT: The Amazon Fire tablets do not use Google play so many Android applications such as Google maps and a lot of games are not available. There are ways to get around this but I don’t recommend it unless you know what you are doing. I also noted that a few apps on my old tablet do not show up as available on my 2016 HD 8. I use HERE WeGo which is an excellent replacement for Google Maps. Now I don’t have Google maps or HERE. Amazon has its own Map app but it is inferior to the other two.

TAGreat.com offers you a wide array of the latest and best Fire HD 8 2016 Cases.
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Top 2 Best Kindle Voyage Cases

Textured Leather Origami Case for Kindle Voyage – The Thinnest and Lightest PU Leather Cover for Amazon Kindle Voyage

  • Origami Stand Design, Could set your hands free during your reading. Only 2.8 oz, protect your device without adding unnecessary bulk or weight
  • Wake or put your device to sleep by opening or closing the cover. Magnetic clasp ensures cover is securely closed, secures your device without straps covering the front
  • Full access to all features without removing the case from your kindle Voyage
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Leather Origami Case for Kindle Voyage

This is a great product. The quality is acceptable for less than $15 dollars. It holds the Kindle Voyage in portrait and landscape mode very well. Sometimes the reading angle in portrait is too steep depending on how I sit. If I need a less steep angle (maybe 40-45 degrees?), I take the Voyage out of the case and then shoehorn it back in upside down. Then carefully stand the Voyage back up in portrait mode with the text right side up. You may need to skew the top fold a bit to the left so Voyage isn’t standing on a tilt. It’s a workable solution but ensure you don’t let the Voyage go to sleep (power button hole doesn’t line up).

Click to check the current prices: Best Kindle Voyage Cases

Cartoon Printing Series Case for Kindle Voyage – [The Thinnest and Lightest] Protective PU Leather Cover with Auto Sleep/Wake for Amazon Kindle Voyage

  • Ultra slim lightweight protective hardback with premium quality PU leather. The no-scratch microfiber interior adds comfort and an additional layer of protection
  • Premium protective edition. The exterior provides a true leather feeling to the touch. The thick shell of this case heavily guards your device from damage
  • Wake or put your device to sleep by opening or closing the cover. Magnetic clasp ensures cover is securely closed, secures your device without straps covering the front
  • Available in a variety of bright and fun colors.
Cartoon Pattern Leather Cover for Kindle Voyage
Cartoon Pattern Leather Cover for Kindle Voyage

I LOVE this thing so far.

Fits my Kindle Voyage perfectly and the Origami folding means it will keep it standing in both portrait and landscape reading mode. As should be, the front (magnetic) cover turns the Kindle off/on as you close/open the lid. Great cover that also feels great when you are reading.

As an on the side funny positive, I found out by accident, that this thing turns your Kindle into a large refrigerator magnet.. 🙂 Maybe not unusual these days, but I did not have magnetic covers for my older Kindles. The whole cover, including the back, is magnetic, so it sticks (quite hard) to flat surfaces. Stick it to the refrigerator while cooking and you can read on the run.

Mine stuck to the side of one of my desktop computers by accident. On a black metal casing it later took me a heck of a time to find the now camouflaged Kindle after forgetting about it. 🙂 )

It glues on so hard than you can probably stick it to the side of your car and take it for a spin down the road. 🙂

Click to check the current prices: Best Kindle Voyage Cases

Top 5 Best Amazon Fire 7 Cases (5th Generation)

As a lucky buyer of the Black Friday 2015 Fire 7 for $35, I needed a very handsome and strong case to protect my new toy! Below slim shell cases give the proper protection and support for my tablet, for a minimal price. I liked the different color choices.

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1. England Flower Flip Cover for Amazon Fire Tablet 7 Inch

Excellent fit, stand-up feature works smoothly, nice magnetic cover.

The basic black at $10 is excellent value if dull for Project Runway fans – the more colorful and complex versions are more like $19 and are so fine that discerning eyes cannot decide which is best.

Haven’t tried controlled drop tests, but 11 year-olds may be a found experiment. The former base 7″ Fire broke once (no case) and SquareTrade promptly replaced – but with the case on we’ve had no problems, even in a backpack to and from middle school.

Haven’t counted lately, but we have at least 4 with one more in the mail.

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2. Cartoon Deer Flip Cover for Amazon Fire Tablet 7 Inch

This Case is Absolutely Marvelous! I love it! I have 2 tablets and an ipad…this cover exceeded my expectations. Other reviewers said they did not feel it would protect their 7 inch fire. ??? That seems to be a very strange remark about this case. It’s has a hard shell on the bottom which gives better protection than any other case I’ve ever seen or used. It certainly protects better than a slide in padded case and better then the thicker bulkier leather cover I have for my 10.1 tablet. Ok if you want to throw your tablet across the room no cover will protect it. I really appreciate the invisible magnet on the cover that goes over the screen. It’s very much like the cover on a surface or an i pad but better and stylish too. I wanted a smaller tablet to slip into my purse everyday but I needed a cover that would protect it yet not add lots of bulk. This cover fits that description. It has a nice pebbled texture leather like feel. The texture makes the case much less likely to slip out of my hand. Have it next to my bed for end of the day reading or a quick check of something in the internet. I expect to order another one soon to go with a 7 inch tablet I’m gifting for Christmas.

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3. Colorful Plaid Flip Cover for Amazon Fire Tablet 7 Inch

This is a great looking case! The Fire 7 snaps into the case which fits the tablet perfectly. It has perfect sized openings for all buttons, speaker and memory card slot. It’s not leather, but it sure looks like it. The 2-tone front cover, to me, looks classy! This is exactly the kind of case I was looking for. Flipping the cover back and rolling it up, you can prop the tablet up in landscape mode for video viewing. The case offers very good corner protection. It also protects the screen well. In a couple of test drops (not on anything too hard…), the front cover stayed shut thanks to the two magnets. The materials seem to be good quality so far (a couple weeks of use). The openings for buttons, ports and speaker line up just right. I definitely recommend this case.

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4. Sunflower Flip Cover for Amazon Fire Tablet 7 Inch

What I really like about this case is the Fire snaps right in and is completely snug with all the ports easily accessible. This is a big plus because I really hate those other covers that lock the unit down with those thin bungie-like things. That just looks cheap, and sooner or later those things lose their snap, leaving you with a loose fit.

As others have mentioned, when you close the cover, the fire does not turn off, but I believe that’s by design of the fire and not of this cover, so I take no points away for that. You can’t blame the manufacturer of this for something out of their control, and really, it’s not that hard to hit a button, am I right?

The cover, when closed, stays closed. It has a little bit of weight to it (maybe magnets? I don’t know, I’m not a scientist), and won’t flop open when it’s in your bag.

The kickstand is surprisingly sturdy. When I first folded it over, I figured the weight of the Fire would just knock it back, but not here. That sucker held up just fine.

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5. Stand Cover Case for Amazon Fire 7 inch Tablet

This is a great cover for the 5th generation Kindle Fire 7″!

The design feels very sturdy and there are two separate angles you can rest the kindle at (I don’t really ever sit the Kindle down; I basically always just hold it if I’m using it or watching anything on it). The shape is perfect for the Kindle: it fits snugly in place and none of the buttons, outlets (mircoSD slot, headphone slot, mini USB slot) or the speaker on the back are blocked in any way. Additionally, the case adds very little to the overall size of the case/Kindle combo. It is very compact. The fit is so accurate that it seems as if it was made by Amazon!

Can’t really comment on durability, because I’ve only had it for a week, so that aspect hasn’t been tested yet.

The magnets that keep the kindle closed seem sufficiently strong to keep it from coming open, but not too strong to where the cover slams shut.

The only thing that I don’t love about the case is that it DOES NOT put the Kindle to sleep when you close it. My previous kindle case for an older Kindle did do that, and I found that to be a very nice feature. As I’m getting used to this, I do find myself closing the case without pressing the power button to put the Kindle to sleep. But, all I have to do then is press the button after I close the case lid, so it’s not a huge deal. However, I can’t take away a star for that because I knew that when I bought it.

Overall, I would highly recommend this case. it’s very slim and fits the Kindle perfectly in all ways. It stays shut due to the magnets, but it doesn’t put the Kindle to sleep.

Fire Tablet 7″ Display Review

After spending quite a bit more time with the device, I would give it a 4.5 due to a few specific gaps that are a bit annoying. However, you are still getting an amazing 7″ tablet, with front and rear facing cameras, a gorgeous interface, fairly snappy performance and durability, all for under 50 bucks! I can’t imagine not buying these for myself and my whole family, but not a primary tablet for a techie adult by any means. For background, I have every Kindle, a couple Fires, and multiple tablets from Apple, Microsoft and Samsung. Note that my review with 5 stars considers the value equation, not just performance and how that may or may not compare to other tablets – if you are expecting this to compare to a tablet costing several times more, don’t bother. But if you are looking for a great entry level tablet that does most of the things people want, this little tablet definitely delivers the value!

PRICING/CONFIG: I prefer this tablet with ads and no accessories to keep the costs down. You have the option to spend more money, but I recommend against it. You can easily see the specs online, so I won’t do you the discourtesy of simply cutting and pasting those here. Here is the price breakdown:

– 49.99 base price – what an incredible price point! Or buy 5 and get a sixth one free! This puts it into reach of schools and non-profits.

– No sponsored screensaver ($15) – big deal that each time you turn it on it shows you something interesting you might want.

– MicroSD card ($19.99 for 32GB) – you probably already have one laying around somewhere. Beyond that, there is memory in the device, and you are using the cloud for storage mostly anyway. If you end up needing this, just buy one off Amazon, it certainly won’t be more expensive. Also, the SD is likely less useful than you might think, since it is currently a bit limited in what can be stored on it.

– Amazon Fire Case (24.99) – it is supposed to be 2x the durability of an iPad. No case needed.

– Accident Protection (9.99) – who wants to spend 9.99 to insure a $49 device? During your install, they will give you another chance, and you can get the two year for 15.99 if you like. But to me, insurance is for catastrophic things, not a <$50 tablet. UPDATE – after looking into the accident protection, if I were giving it to kids, I might get the insurance. You can get a 1 year pretty cheap as long as you are in the US, and it covers everything from dropping it off a building, running it over with the car, or accidentally hitting it with a baseball bat. As long as you have the pieces, you are good, and there are no back and forth shipping charges to pay.

– That is a total of $119.97, or almost triple the price. If you’re buying this device, you’re probably a bit price sensitive – if you aren’t, you’re buying a different device and this review is somewhat irrelevant.

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Fire Tablet, 7″ Display

GETTING STARTED: Here is some timing for me to get started with this device:

– 1 minute – open box and read instructions

– 18 minutes – download and update to latest Fire software. If you are giving it as a gift, it is simply good form to turn it on first to get the updates done, even if you are not setting it up under your own name.

– Battery started at 65%, so I had plenty of time to connect, download, and play around with the device.

– I ordered it without my account being integrated, just as if I were buying it as a gift, unregistered. However, it came pre-configured with all of my information. If you are giving them away, I would double check this.

– Tutorials are super simple and quick, and well worth doing if you are unfamiliar with the Fire interface. It is really nice that they integrate your own data into the tutorials.

– HINT: While setting up, go to settings, select security, and take care of adding a passcode to your device. If you ever lose it, someone can cause some havoc if you don’t.

APPSTORE: Appstore Underground is fantastic. Simple to use, lots of great apps. Nice to know I won’t get gouged here for other fees since everything is included. I have not yet explored the quality of apps available here, so more on that in a later update. Had all my critical apps – LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Skype, etc. However, as noted, you cant use apps from the Android store, so you have to wait for them via Amazon. Not too big of a deal for me, but others might find it a problem.

EMAIL: Email setup was a breeze. In less than 3 minutes, I had my Office 365 account, yahoo account and gmail all set up and flowing perfectly. The interface for switching accounts is one of the easiest I have ever used.

CAMERA: The camera and video functionality were easily accessible, and I liked the quality. Not quite the same experience as using the iPhone, perhaps, but it may be that I also don’t have the apps yet installed that make it look so great, so more on that later as I experiment. The camera is 2MP, and the video is 720 HD. If you need something higher res, the Fire HD has 5 MP camera and 1080 HD. But then you don’t have a $49.99 tablet ‘ Same goes for the added speaker and lack of Dolby sound – this is a single speaker that sounds OK, but it is certainly not the same as the Fire 8 or an iPad. UPDATE: Have played around with the camera a bit more, and added a composite image – the first picture you’ll see that it does a very poor job in low light conditions. As the light increases, you get some more detail, and brightly lit is not a bad picture at all, with good detail. This is not the same level of camera you will get on an iPhone or Lumia, so don’t expect that, it is fine for casual photo, selfie, Skype, etc.

OS: The new OS is fantastic. It is simple to use, even for my fat fingers, and makes sense. Just as advertised, it puts the things you are likely to want to do front and center, makes it easily accessible to find new TV shows and the like, and just overall is a super clean and simple interface. Rotation responsiveness is immediate, unlike many other tablets, and I found the Silk browser on this to be quite snappy in performance. Watching video I found absolutely no lag when I streamed my Prime TV shows.

FORM FACTOR: This is light and easy to hold, with smooth, rounded corners that don’t dig into your hands if help for extended periods. It is heavier than a kindle – if you are used to reading on a Kindle, it is not a replacement for that. Given the lower resolution on this device at 171ppi, I will DEFINITELY keep my Paperwhite for extended reading sessions, and would not recommend this tablet if your primary purpose is reading books, and you do quite a bit of that. I included a screenshot, along with comparison to one of our phones, and you can definitely tell a big difference when looking at fine print, and brightness does not compare. I did enjoy the fact that during several hours of use, I never accidentally hit any buttons, something that always drives me nuts on other devices, so button placement is one of the most convenient out there.

SD CARD: Note that I saw in another review that you can have all of your music on an SD card, you just have to download it through your laptop first. I have not personally tried this, but I imagine that several things with the SD card will change in future updates to make it more broadly valuable, and Amazon has said this in support interactions. I don’t have any view of when that update might be coming, however.

OTHER: Have to love all the kid-friendly (or rather, parent-friendly features) that this comes with. Again, buying a pack of these things for the fam is definitely a no-brainer. Charging is not fast – I ran it to zero, then charged for exactly 30 minutes, which brought it to 11%. Doing the math, you’re looking at somewhere in the 4.5 – 5 hour range to fully charge.

SUMMARY: There is plenty more to say about this, but basic summary is this is an amazing product for the price, and delivers much more than $50 value, especially if you have a Prime account. I have absolutely no hesitation recommending this enjoyable product. This is my go to tablet for just carrying around in my car. I will still keep my Paperwhite for reading, and I have another more expensive tablet for really watching movies, doing actual work, extended email sessions, etc. But this makes a great 3rd device, and I far prefer it vs trying to do similar activities on a phone. It is perfect for Skype, games, Facebook, browsing, watching videos, emergency reading, etc. There is tremendous value in this device.

NOTE: There are 3 attached pictures/videos. First is one of the Fire next to my cat to show the nice size. Yes, the cat is huge and I only had seconds before he covered it with his massive body – why do cats do that? The second is a screenshot comparison between the Fire and my phone – big difference in text clarity. The Third is a video showing my 3rd drop test, with no cracks, fractures or other damage. I am now done dropping it, rest assured, it seems quite durable.

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3 Best Cases for the Kindle Paperwhite

The TAGreat Case sports a simple and classy design. The back shell is made from durable polycarbonate material so you do not need to worry about any damages. It offers an easy clip-on application. The cover is designed to fold back, so you can read comfortably with just one hand. Our innovative cover was designed to specifically fit your Kindle Paperwhite and secures your device without any hinges or straps. Thin, lightweight, and durable, this cover is perfect for taking Kindle Paperwhite wherever you go. The TAGreat Kindle Paperwhite Case comes in a variety of bright, fun colors, the widest selections to suite your taste. Product may be available in a different size, colour, scent, version or platform.

1. Bear Case for Kindle Paperwhite

5d149425080406cf1637de7e22a3efad-image-220x264This case looks very elegant and it has the look as if it were an agenda or a book. I think it protects very well your kindle and for the price it is a very good purchase, because the official Amazon case is much more expensive. The Kindle recognizes when you open the case and when you close it, and it protects your kindle, so at the end it does the job for a cheaper price. The only thing you have to be aware of is that you have to make sure that the magnets in the case match the edge of it, so that the Kindle can recognize that you have closed the case and enters the sleep mode. Appart from that it is a good choice for a Kindle case.

2. Eiffel Tower Case for Kindle Paperwhite

f63c65f5f94b3cbdcf84e4c02de9d311-image-220x264This is a great little case for my new Paperwhite. Lightweight and will protect it when I travel or just toss it in my purse. The only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is because the Paperwhite sits in it crooked. I finally gave up playing with it, trying to get it so that it was straight. I have seen other comments about this. One wonders how hard it is to make the case so that the device it was intended for sits in it properly? I have cases for other devices (iPad, NOOKS, iPods, phones, and another Paperwhite) and have never encountered this problem with any other case. I decided to keep it and ignore the crooked factor because of the cheap price and fact that other than that, it performs just as I wanted it to.

2. Colorful Plaid Case for Kindle Paperwhite

4255bdaa3be05ec41f43fe7f5a1764ae-image-220x264i knew I liked the way this case fit my Kindle Paperwhite and magnetically opened and closed it. However, the other night at the beach I became busy with other things and forgot to retrieve my brand new Kindle which had been left on our deck. Overnight, we had terrible thunderstorms with deluges of rain. When I realized where I had left my Kindle, I was almost afraid to go look at it. Thankfully, this case had kept it dry. Kindle powered right up. I had to remove it from the case so the case lining could dry, but it’s all good now. Highly recommend. P.S. It’s also keeping the blowing sand from harming the Kindle.

Kindle Paperwhite Hands on Review

I finally broke my kindle keyboard reader and went to order a new one. I choose the paper white because of the addition of the back lit screen. I like the size and I like the screen clarity. I am getting use to not having buttons but I think I will like it once I acclimate. I feel stupid for not checking but I never thought moving up to a newer more expensive kindle would take away functionality.

kindle-paperwhite-2

I could never justify purchasing a stand alone e-reader as I’ve always just done my reading on LCD screens via the Kindle app (on an iPad and iPhone 6+). I got distracted on my iDevices with constant notifications interrupting my reading. Holding my iPhone / iPad with one hand was also uncomfortable after time. Reading outside with the iDevices wasn’t ideal with all the glare.

When the infamous (cough, cough) “Prime Day” sale came around I was finally ready to take the plunge and buy my very first Kindle – the new Paperwhite. But low and behold, no Paperwhite device ever went on sale. Disappointment ensued ….. so 2 days later I bought one anyway.

After a week of use, here are some observations from a Kindle newbie.

PROS

1) First and foremost, it feels so good reading one hand with it. It is perfect for one hand use: perfect weight, perfect size, perfect grip. I like the feel of it so much I just can’t put a case on it. I purchased a sleeve for it when it’s not in use.

2) The screen is beautiful. Being able to read either in complete darkness or in direct sunlight is a thing of beauty – especially coming from an iPhone.

3) I love that I can rent all my library books via Overdrive and have them delivered to both my Kindle and my iPhone and have them both in constant sync.

4) My 8 year old has fallen in love with reading on my Kindle and the Kindle FreeTime feature is wonderful for parents – it allows you to set daily timed reading goals for your child. The only downside is actually trying to pry the Kindle away from said child long after the goal is met.

5) I use a “read later” app called Instapaper on my iPhone and iPad. I love that Instapaper sends me my saved news or web articles right on my Kindle to read. Fantastic integration.

6) The battery just lasts and lasts and lasts. I plug it in every few days whether it needs it or not, mostly out of habit from coming from the iPhone world.

CONS

1) I wish the screen had a bit more contrast. It seems like the Voyage might excel here but for the price difference I’m still satisfied.

2) The screensavers. I bought the “special offer” Kindle version and was fully prepared to purchase the $20 fee to turn off the ads but after seeing what the default screensavers will be I think I prefer the ad version of a book screensaver. I wish Amazon would let you either select your screensaver (even if it was just the current book cover you are reading) or purchase additional screensaver packs via the Kindle store.

3) The smudge factor. It attracts fingerprints easily (on the black / back). I know putting a case on the Kindle would take care of the smudges but I just love the feel of it too much to cover it (so far) and I’ve been able to easily clean it with just water.

4) I find myself wanting more settings to truly personalize the device: a selectable screensaver, a timeout setting, a contrast setting, the ability to “hide” Goodreads if you don’t use it, the ability to search or display the book covers differently. Ultimately, I do realize the beauty of the Kindle is the simplicity of a Kindle.

Overall, I love my new Kindle. I bought it thinking I would keep it just at my nightstand and now I find myself taking it with me everywhere. It truly is a beautiful reading device and I would recommend it for anyone who loves to read. For the price, it’s a definite buy.

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Amazon Kindle Voyage E-reader Review

Amazon’s Kindle Voyage ereader has been out for a while now, and my initial reaction to it was not positive. Frankly, I thought it looked hideous with the new PagePress lines and dots on each side of the bezel. It also seemed too expensive for what it had to offer compared to earlier Kindles. But I could not have been more wrong about the Kindle Voyage and I’ll tell you why in this post.

Why I bought a Kindle Voyage in the first place

Let me backtrack a little bit before I tell you why I love the Kindle Voyage. I had initially decided not to buy one, partly because I didn’t like the way it looked but also because I had fallen in love with Marvin on my iPhone.

Unfortunately, my love affair with Marvin had to be tempered because I missed reading on an e-ink screen. While there’s nothing wrong with reading on an iPhone, I found that I really needed the comfort of an e-ink screen after staring at computer screens all day. I can and still do read on my iPhone if I’m out and about and just want to grab a few quick pages, but for long reading sessions (especially at home) I prefer an e-ink screen.

I have a Paperwhite 2, but I really wanted a higher resolution screen. So I decided to give the Kindle Voyage a shot, and I’m very glad I did. The Voyage improves on some of the weak spots of the Paperwhite 2 such as the sunken-in screen, weight and size, and the power button on the bottom.

Which Kindle Voyage to buy?

kindle-voyage-300x289After deciding to get a Kindle Voyage, I had to figure out which one to buy. You can get the Voyage with 3G or with Wi-Fi only, and you can also opt to pay $20 less if you don’t mind ads being shown to you on your device. The Wi-Fi only model without ads is $219, with ads it’s $199. The 3G model with ads is $269 and without ads it’s $289.

I have no need for 3G so I opted to buy the Wi-Fi only Kindle Voyage. I had 3G on one of my earlier Kindles, but I rarely used it to download books. I usually have at least fifty or sixty books already downloaded and ready to read on my Kindles, so paying extra for the 3G version of the Kindle Voyage just didn’t make sense to me.

I also decided to pay the $20 to get rid of the special offers (ads) that come with the cheaper version of the Kindle Voyage. The “special offers” appear only as screensavers on the Kindle Voyage, you don’t actually see them while you’re reading. But I just prefer not to see ads on my ereader at all.

I was glad to find that all of the Kindle Voyage models come with 4GB of storage. But frankly, I never even got close to using all of the 2GB that my Paperwhite 2 came with when I bought it (more recent models of the Paperwhite come with 4GB). Still, it’s nice to have the extra storage if I really needed it.

And so here are the five reasons why I love my Kindle Voyage ereader.

5. Weight and size reductions

The Paperwhite 2 was significantly smaller than the Kindle 3 that I’d previously owned. But the Voyage goes even further and slices off some of the size and weight of the Paperwhite 2. Here is the weight and size information for both models:

Kindle Voyage – 6.3 ounces (180 grams) and 6.4? x 4.5? x 0.30?

(162 x 115 x 7.6 mm)

Kindle Paperwhite 7.3 ounces (206 grams) and 6.7? x 4.6? x 0.36? (169 x 117 x 9.1 mm).

So the difference between the two models isn’t huge when you look at the specs. But it is definitely noticeable when you pick up one then the other, or if you hold one in each hand. The Voyage is definitely easier and more comfortable to read with one hand or while walking around.

Yes, I like to read while walking around sometimes. I hold the Kindle Voyage and just pace back and forth. I do this because I spend a fair amount of time sitting at a computer and that’s not good for anybody’s health. So pacing while reading is just a way for me to get some movement instead of being plopped in bed, on the couch or in a chair.

It will be very interesting to see if Amazon can take the size and weight reduction even further with the next version of the Kindle Voyage. The lighter, the better as far as I’m concerned.

4. The screen is even with the bezel

On the Paperwhite 2 the screen is sunk down a bit rather than being level with the bezels. I’ve always found this to be slightly irritating. For some reason I kept noticing it from time to time while reading on the Paperwhite 2. It just looked weird to have the text seem lower than the rest of the Kindle device.

The Kindle Voyage eliminates that problem and I think it makes a significant difference since you don’t feel like the text is distorted by appearing lower than the bezels of the Kindle. I don’t know how many other people will really care about this, but for me it’s a significant improvement. I’m glad that Amazon fixed this with the Kindle Voyage.

3. Power button is round and on the back

One thing that I’ve always hated about the Kindle Paperwhite 2 is the small button on the bottom to turn it on or off. Ugh. It’s in such a bad place, and the thin rectangular shape of it makes it harder to press it to turn the Kindle on or off. It’s probably one of the least comfortable things about the Paperwhite 2 in terms of the hardware, and I’ve always thought it was a pain in the ass to deal with when I wanted to turn my Paperwhite on or off.

The Kindle Voyage now has a round button on the back to turn it on and off. It’s much easier to feel it back there and press it. I hadn’t expected it to be so much better but as with many such improvements, you don’t notice it until it’s been added to the product. Ironically, some Kindle Voyage owners have complained about the power button as they preferred it on the bottom. Go figure, I guess you can’t please everybody. But I’m certainly happier with the round button on the back of the Kindle Voyage.

2. PagePress is fantastic

Earlier in this post I mentioned that my initial reaction to the page turning haptic feedback sensors on the Kindle Voyage was very negative. This was mainly due to some screenshots of the Kindle Voyage that had the page turning sensors looking much more noticeable and brighter than the actually are on the Kindle Voyage.

So I’m happy to admit that I was totally wrong. The page turning dots and lines on the Kindle Voyage are very easy on the eyes. You hardly notice them at all when looking at your Kindle Voyage. And, frankly, I’d forgotten how nice it is to leave my fingers on the bezel and just squeeze to turn a page. It’s much faster and more comfortable than reaching over to tap the screen.

This is another way that the Kindle Voyage provides a better reading experience than my iPhone. With the iPhone you have to tap or slide your finger on the screen, and that gets old after a while. Once you get used to simply squeezing the bezel, you won’t want to bother having to tap or slide your finger across the screen like you have to do on an iOS device.

You can also easily change the PagePress settings. Go to Settings then Reading Options then PagePress. You can change the level of feedback you get when you turn a page, and you can also change the amount of pressure required to turn a page. I opted to go with the default since it seems to work well for me.

I think PagePress is one of Amazon’s best innovations on its Kindle ereaders. I can’t imagine bothering to tap the screen to go to a new page. It’s just much faster and easier to squeeze the bezel to go forward or back in a book. And the haptic feedback is noticeable but not intrusive at all, you can feel it when you press but it’s not something that would distract you while you are reading.

1. Higher resolution screen

The screen on my Paperwhite 2 is fairly easy on the eyes, but the Kindle Voyage screen is significantly better. The Paperwhite 2 offers 212 PPI and the Kindle Voyage has 300 PPI. While it might not seem like a huge difference, I noticed it immediately when I got my Kindle Voyage and opened my first book. I was shocked at how much clearer the text looked, and also at how much better the contrast was on the Voyage. Black text looks…well…blacker than it did on the Paperwhite.

You can particularly see the difference between the two Kindles if you shrink the font size way down or if you blow it way up. The text on the Voyage screen just looks sharper and never seems fuzzy whether you make it larger or smaller. I also think that the higher resolution screen can make a significant difference if you read for long periods of time. It’s just easier and more comfortable to see the text of your book.

The onion in the ointment: Kindle Voyage screen problem

One thing that I want to mention here is the problems with some of the Kindle Voyage screens. Some buyers of the Kindle Voyage reported problems with their displays. I can see that the top of my Kindle Voyage screen seems to have a slightly more yellowish tint to it than the bottom (which is whiter).

So it looks like some of the initial screen problems are continuing or I unluckily got one of the earlier models. Frankly though, I didn’t even notice it until I went into a very dark room without any other light. In regular daylight it was hard to see unless you looked for it. You have to turn the brightness up too to really notice it much.

I contacted Amazon about having it replaced. They will be shipping me a replacement model. I talked to their customer service department in a chat window, and they were quite nice about it. So while having my Kindle Voyage replaced is slightly annoying, I still love using it. The screen problem isn’t enough to put me off reading on it at all while I wait for the replacement.

Here’s a pic from the thread at Mobile Read that will give you an idea of the screen issue:

This is obviously a quality control issue for Amazon, and it’s something they should have fixed by now or avoided completely. It’s too bad that it happened in the first place as it has given an otherwise delightful product a bit of a black eye among some of Amazon’s customers. But at least Amazon’s customer service department seems to be handling the problem well by offering to replace the Kindle Voyage models that have the screen problems.

But is the Kindle Voyage worth the money?

Let’s face it, the Kindle Voyage is not a cheap ereader by any means. The Wi-Fi only model’s lowest price is $199 with ads, and then it jumps to $219 without any advertising. The 3G models cost even more. So is it really worth it to pay so much for an e-ink reader?

For me the answer is yes, and that’s because reading is one of my creature comforts. It’s something that I love to do and I want the best possible experience I can get when I do it. Reading relaxes me and gives me a chance to unwind after a busy day. I’ve always got my nose in a book, and it’s something that I look forward to each day. But your mileage may vary in that regard, and it’s something you should think about before making a buying decision.

If you are a more casual reader then the Kindle ($79) or the Kindle Paperwhite ($119) might be better choices than the Kindle Voyage. It all gets down to what your budget is and how much reading matters to you. The other two readers are also quite good and will work very well if you opt for them instead of the Voyage.

My advice is to visit Amazon’s site (I linked each model in the preceding paragraph to its page on Amazon) and check out each Kindle and then figure out what features you’ll actually want and need when you read. Buy the one that fits your budget and that does what you need it to do.

For my part, I’m glad I got the Kindle Voyage. For me it was well worth the money despite the minor issue with the screen. But don’t take my word for it, check out some of the reviews on Amazon by other folks who’ve bought the Kindle Voyage. As I write this post there are 2468 customer reviews, and the Kindle Voyage is getting an average 4.5 out of 5 star rating. That’s a very impressive achievement for an ereader, particularly one that costs as much as the Kindle Voyage.

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Cute Cartoon Cases for Kindle Paperwhite

I really balked at buying the Amazon branded cover for this device. It is nigh on 30% of the device price. So I noticed this case had great reviews AND you can get it for a song if you choose the lowest-priced color. I figured if I didn’t like it I was out eight bucks and I can always buy the Amazon case. My flower pattern one was $15.99 and the dog pattern one is a ridiculous $9.99 right now. I think I’m going to order it just as a backup.

Click to check the current prices: Best Cases for Kindle Paperwhite

hd-printing-leather-case-book-cover-for-kindle-paperwhite
Kindle Paperwhite Cases

I ordered the “Folio classic,” having read in the product description that it’s the “thinnest Paperwhite case available.” On my previous Paperwhite (which I gave to my wife), I had the official Amazon case, so it was easy for me to compare them. Long story short: the Folio Classic is *considerably* thicker than the Amazon case — at least two or three mm, which makes a big difference in how it feels in your hand. The official Amazon case is sooo slick and light and pleasing to feel. By comparison, the Folio Classic is big and chunky. It seems relatively high-quality, and everything works as promised, but I couldn’t abide the thickness and weight, so I’m sending it back.

I like it. It looks exactly like the manufacturer’s pictures. It behaves exactly like the manufacturer says it will. The on and off feature works perfectly, always, the very first time. I have Amazon Prime, so for $6 and free shipping it simply doesn’t make sense to at least try it before laying out 35 bucks plus tax for the genuine Amazon one. Having said that, I have a Visio 8″ tablet with a Amazon-type case which uses clamps to hold the device in rather than the style used on this case. Assuming the Amazon is as good as the Visio, I would probably prefer it because absolutely nothing impinges on the top of the device. Whereas this cover has a full fake leather surround. It does not, however, ever impinge on the actual screen. Those way more expensive cases with stretchy elastic across the corners are a ridiculous design. Also, if you want a completely zippered cover, this is not for you. By the way, the fake leather is just fine.

Finally, they manufacture millions of these, okay hundreds of thousands, and some very few are going to have a glitch. From what I have read, the manufacturer responds quickly and without question. Email them they send you a new one. Unless money is no object, there’s simply no reason not to at least try this case if you’re looking for an automatic on and off open and close kind of case.

Okay, writing this review I am definitely going to order the red one. I just remembered I got a three-year extended warranty from Square Trade, so I might need it. BTW, do not buy any extended warranty from Amazon by just clicking on the one especially for the Paperwhite. Call their (Square Trade) 800 number and they will walk you through ordering a super deal. Again, I wasn’t going to spend 30% for a three-year extended warranty. It was less.

Oh yeah, the Paperwhite has in my opinion reach nearly the pinnacle of industrial perfection. I mean sure, if it was thin as construction paper and equally foldable, cost $5, and turned the pages according to the movement of your eyes that would be better. But for reading text without diagrams it is indisputably currently state-of-the-art.

For many Kindle owners, a solid case is a must-have accessory. And you could find great deals on TAGreat for Tablet Cases.

Amazon Kindle 8th Generation vs. Kindle Oasis

Kindle 8th Generation

Sometimes, a brand name becomes utterly synonymous with the actual product. Just like Kleenex, Q-tips and Slurpees, the All-New Kindle has become the name for the product category it represents. If you’re in the market for a new e-book reader, there’s a good chance you’ll be shopping for a Kindle. And now you can pick up the newest addition to the family with the all-new Kindle e-reader for 2016. Now in its 8th generation, the entry-level e-reader boasts a few new features while retaining the same affordable price.

Kindle 8th Generation

What’s New with the 8th-Generation All-New Kindle?

The 8th generation Kindle was announced earlier this summer, promoted as “brand new” when not very much has actually changed. The 6-inch e-ink display still lacks a backlight (or front light) and it’s still the lower 167 ppi resolution, but it’s still a touchscreen. The same Kindle experience carries through the entire lineup. And it’s still cheap and cheerful.

As I pointed out in my unboxing and overview video earlier this month, the newest All-New Kindle is thinner and lighter than before, it comes in white as well as black, and they’ve doubled the memory for improved performance. The biggest difference is the inclusion of Bluetooth audio, which will appeal to some and be practically useless to others.

For all the book club people, there’s Export Notes. This features enables you to export your notes and highlighted portions as a printable PDF, delivered via e-mail. Again, some people might like it and other people could care less.

First Impressions

After getting spoiled with the much more expensive Kindle Oasis, the new All-New Kindle feels decidedly cheaper in the hands. The cheap plastic shell pales in comparison even to the only slightly more expensive Kindle Paperwhite. With the latter, the soft touch materials make for a more comfortable reading experience.

That being said, you can invest in the official protective case, as seen in the picture gallery below, for $29.99. It’s a little spendy for a protective cover like this, but it does make the Kindle more comfortable to hold. If you’re willing to spend an extra thirty bucks on a case, though, you might not be looking at the cheapest Kindle. The cover comes in your choice of black, blue, magenta or white/grey.

The otherwise Spartan and uninspired design of the 8th-generation All-New Kindle is typical for being the cheapest offering in its family. I was provided the black version for the purposes of this review, but you can get it in white for a small dash of personality. As before, the only button you’ll find is the physical power button and the only port you’ll find is the micro-USB port for charging. Everything else is accomplished through the touchscreen.

Kindle 8th Generation

The Reading Experience

Build quality issues aside, I had two primary concerns when approaching this new Kindle as compared to the more premium Kindles that I have been reviewing recently. First, this cheaper Kindle comes with the lower resolution 167 ppi display, compared to the 300 ppi display on all the other e-readers in the lineup. Second, this is the only Kindle in the family that does not have any lighting whatsoever for the screen.

Based on my time reading through a couple chapters of Spell Or High Water by Scott Meyer, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions based on those two primary concerns. First, the lower resolution screen is not as big of a deal as I had anticipated. If all you’re doing is reading text, you’re probably not going to notice much of a difference. The words may not be quite as crisp, but it’s still fine. And even on a higher resolution screen, viewing graphics on e-ink has never been stupendous.

The lack of the built-in light, however, is a real deal breaker for me. I do most of reading in bed just before I go to sleep. I keep a very dim lamp at my bedside and have grown accustomed to the light on the other Kindles. You may or may not need the adaptive light sensor of the Kindle Voyage or the 10 LEDs of the Kindle Oasis for “enhanced page consistency.” But you will want to have a built-in light and this Kindle doesn’t have that.

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