Inoreader Android App), managing email, keeping up with the Delos crew on YouTube, and controlling my multi-speaker Sonos system via the Android Sonos Controller App. My iPad 2 goes largely unused except when in situations where WiFi is not available and its 3G capability keeps me connected.
When my beloved Nexus 7 bricked, the new Amazon Fire 7" called my name. At $50 per unit, or six for $250 (buy five get a sixth free), Amazon hits a compellkng price point for a 7" tablet. It's an impulse buy. A "why not?" A "nothing to loose" and (possibly) much to gain value proposition. But is it?
The specs are promising. The screen is crisp (171 ppi / 1024 x 600). The 1.3 GHz quad-core processor is capable. The 8 GB of on-board storage can be expanded to 128 GB by addition of a micro SD memory card. Lots of storage head-room there. And, in the field, the battery yielded full day use. Yep, lots to like. (For full specifications go here).
The operating system, a variant of Android, is much more Androidish than the first generation Fire Tablet. Amazon's take on the Android OS has a custom launcher that ties the Fire tightly into the Amazon ecosystem. One screen displays recent activity, including books read, movies watched, apps, etc. That recently used page proved useful. Another launcher page displays all installed apps. The remaining launcher screens are devoted to pitching Amazon content (books, audio books, movies, apps, games, etc.). Indeed, on powering up the device one is greeted by a pitch for a app or other goodie available from Amazon. In short, this tablet has a lot going for it. And at $50 a compelling impulse buy.
The Kindle Fire 7" is tied to the Amazon app store. If you intend to consume Amazon content exclusively, that works well. The Amazon app store is stocked with myriad apps beyond Amazon's. However, the collection is unpredictable. And this unpredictability may prove to be a deal breaker (or force purchase of a different tablet). For example, the GoPro app is not in the Amazon app store. Neither is the lovely Wunderground weather app. On the bright side, the Sonos Android Controller app is available from the Amazon App store. And, oddly, the Amazon app store includes the NetFlix app (a direct competitor to Amazon's Prime Video), but does not stock the YouTube app.
The Amazon app store's limitations loom largest if, like me, you are thoroughly integrated into the Google ecosystem. The Amazon app store stocks none, nada, zip, zero of Google's fantastic Android apps. No Gmail, no Drive, no Pictures, no Sheets, no Calendar. No YouTube.
As workarounds, the Amazon app store includes apps that are pointers to full screen browser sessions for Gmail, Calendar and YouTube. While a step in the right direction, these bookmarks are less than ideal if you use Google services.
The Kindle Fire ships with native email and calendar apps. The email app lacks the email sorting functionality that make the Gmail app so useful, and renders email a useful tool. The email app that ships with the Kindle Fire 7", because it lacks the magical email sorting functionality that Gmail and Inbox execute so well, managing daily email, given my typical volume is not possible. The calendar app that ships with the Kindle Fire 7" is serviceable.
How does the Kindle Fire 7" function as an Amazon consumption device? I'm not a big movie watcher and play no games, so no insights are available on those fronts. The Kindle reading experience is, oddly, challenging. I found it challenging to access the menus without flipping several pages back and forth in the process. My Kindle PaperWhite provides a much more satisfying, and less frustrating, reading experience.
After using the Kindle Fire 7" for two weeks, with growing frustrations due to the lack of Google apps, I yielded to the call of an Acer Iconia Tab 8 while making a CostCo run. Early impressions are very favorable. The screen is fantastic! It provides a fairly straight-up Android 4.4 experience. One concerning factor is that Acer is providing no guidance on whether and when Android updates will be available. Having experienced the ugly side of upgrading too soon, I'm currently happy with the rock-solidness of Android 4.4 Kit-Kat. We'll see how it performs over time.
Meanwhile, please share in the comments your experiences with the Kindle Fire 7" or the Acer Iconia Tab 8.
- The "individual mandate" provision is unconstitutional when viewed through the lens of the Commerce Clause. The prevailing justification provided when the law was created and sold to the public was thus deemed out of bounds.
- The "individual mandate" provision is Constitutional if construed as a "tax." SCOTUS apparently applied the "duck test" to reach this conclusion (i.e, if it waddles like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck).
- The determination that the individual mandate is a tax directly contradicts President Obama's assertion that the individual mandate is not a tax and makes clear that the ACA imposes a huge tax increase on much of America (or at least the minority of Americans that actually pay income taxes). One gets the impression that the "liberal" justices, joined by the Chief Justice, were at pains to make obvious the President's lie.
- The court's finding that the mandate is a "tax" reveals that the intent of the Affordable Care Act is to raise revenues for the government; not to make health care affordable.
- The tax determination fits the stereotype of President Obama as a "tax and spend liberal."
- The tax determination will likely afford the Tea Party with renewed energy, enthusiasm, and focus, especially for Tea Party rallys already scheduled to occur in conjunction with Independence Day celebrations.
- A majority comprised of "liberal" and "conservative" justices converged on the decision that the individual mandate is a tax. This "bipartisan" majority has the potential to nullify (or confuse) critics prone to characterize the decision as "partisan politics."
- SCOTUS severely limited powers under the Commerce Clause with regards to provisions of the ACA that would discontinue a state's Medicare funding if it did not comply with federal government mandate.
- Google search for iPad. Love the hands-free voice search feature. Beyond search, this app also provides a portal to all of my Google App services. One negative is that the Google Search app does not afford easy switching between Google accounts.
- Safe Gmail for the iPad. This app provides for easy switching between multiple Google accounts. A real frustration reducer.
- Gmail for the iPad. If/when Google enables quick account switching, this will be my go-to app for email. On the margin, the archieve and trash icons are too close together. It is too easy to trash a message by mistake.
- MobileRSS for the iPad. I keep hoping that Google will publish a reader app that is as convenient as the Google Reader for Android. Until that happens, MobileRSS, is my go to feed reading app. MobileRSS integrates seamlessly with my Google Reader account. It also makes sharing posts via Twitter , email, Facebook, etc. a simple two-tap process.
- Safari. Safari is an OK browser. The recent addition of Chrome-like tabs is a mixed blessing. The tabs use precious screen real estate. I rather liked Safari's previous "view all open windows" navigation scheme.
- WSJ for the iPad. Because of this app, I now prefer to read the Wall Street Journal on my iPad, rather than the dead trees version. Dow Jones is to be commended for this!
- DrudgeReport for the iPad. What can I say?
- Facebook for iPad. This app is better than accessing FB via Safari, but that's not saying much.
- Twitter for the iPad. As with the FB app, the Twitter iPad app beats accessing Twitter via Safari. However it's annoying and confusing to use. Why, for example, is the compose new tweet button located at the bottom left of the window?
- WeatherBug for the iPad. My favorite weather app.
- Google Maps. Gmaps on the iPad is just as useful as it is on the Android platform. Endless fun.
- Google Earth. Ditto. Fun to pinch to zoom and swipe to relocate the earth.
- Netflix. Gotta have it.
- Kindle for the iPad. Essential for accessing and reading our household library of Kindle books.
- Kno Textbooks. Useful for organizing technical reports and other documents in PDF format.
- Email. The iPad makes for an OK email device. Editing typos remains more difficult than with an Android device. Android provides a convenient way to locate an insertion point. iOS does not. The lack of SWYPE for iOS makes text entry more tedious than necessary.
- Reading books and technical reports.
- Reading blogs and news sources.
- Messages (New with iOS 5. I have now clue what it does).
- Videos. Never used it.
- iTunes. Ditto.
- Photo Booth. Huh?
- Photos. Why?
- Music. How different from iTunes?
- Face Time. Google + hangouts and Skype are better.
- Mail. Awkward.
- Calendar. Apple FINALLY added the ability to use swipe gestures to change months, etc. Generally awkward to use.
See my companion post Useful iPad Apps.
Please hold as we route your chat to an Adobe Representative.
Welcome to Adobe.com! My name is Robin. May I assist you with your selection today?
Robin: Hi, How are you doing today?
rob: i'm seeking a chart that compares the various 'suites'
Robin: I'll be glad to help you with that.
Robin: For me to assist you better, can you tell me what kind of tasks would you like the software to help you accomplish?
rob: i have 'cs3 design premium' installed now. curious how the various bundles compare.
Robin: I'm afraid, just to clarify, when did you installed 'CS3 Design Premium'?
rob: don't know an exact date. it's been a while.
rob: the website used to have a link to a chart that compared the contents of the various bundles. it was very useful. i'd like to find it again.
Robin: I'm sorry, you're using older version of the software, Adobe released new version of the software CS5.5.
rob: my question is about cs5.5
rob: is this a turing test fail?
Robin: Let me explain you clearly.
Robin: Rob, CS5.5 Design Premium includes Dreamweaver CS5.5 for web site designing, Photoshop CS5 Extended which will help you in editing photos in more advance way, Illustrator CS5 to create images for printed productions and logos, InDesign helps you to designs and publishes documents for print , Acrobat X Pro to edit, create, manage and convert PDF file and all Flash related software.
rob: please point me to a chart that compares the different CS5.5 suite offerings.
Robin: Please give me moment.
Robin: Please click here
Robin: Did you get the link?
rob: yes, thank you. that is exactly what I was seeking.
Robin: Lets go ahead and placed the order, okay.
Robin: Rob, are we still connected?
Robin: I haven't heard from you in a while. Would you like to continue chatting?
Robin: I'm sorry, we have not heard from you. We're happy to help. However, if you do not respond soon, this chat session gets terminated automatically.
rob: all purchases must go through our purchasing office
Robin: I can understand you're concern, is there any thing else?
rob: and all vendors must be able to articulate the significance of the number 42 in Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide the the Galaxy.
Robin: Thank you for visiting Adobe.com today! Please come back online if you need any assistance. We will be happy to help.
Robin: We'd like to hear your comments. Please click on the 'Close' button in the upper right corner and take a moment to complete a short survey. Thank you! Have a Nice Day!
The convoluted grammar, and the repeated failure to respond appropriately to my specific questions, leads me to wonder: Does Adobe have a strategy of actively discouraging people from learning about and purchasing their products? As I've used Adobe products for more than 20 years, this is very disappointing.
- Purchase ease: Amazon.com provides an excellent shopping experience.
- Safe keeping: Amazon.com stores my ebooks so I always know where to find them.
- Ubiquity: I can read Kindle format books on every digital device I own: my laptop, my netbook, my iPad, my desktop machine, my Droid X Android phone.
- Future proof. I have confidence Amazon will make it possible for me to read my Kindle books on any device I may own in the future.
- Device independent. I can read my eTextbooks on every device I own today or may own in the future; I'm not locked to reading the eTextbook on a specific device.
- Platform independent. I can read my eTextbooks using any OS platform.
- A consistent reading experience across devices and platforms. I want a similar reading experience and suite of reading tools (e.g., search, highlighting, etc.) now matter the device or platform on which I read an eTexbook.
- No connection required. Affords the ability to use materials when not connected to the internet. Yes, internet connectivity is near universal, but it is not universal. I want to know that I can read my eTextbooks anytime anywhere I happen to be and have a device available.