Amazon Brings Major Update to Fire and Fire TV Lineups

Most major product launches come via some hour long flashy event. Amazon bucks that trend and releases most of their products via press release. That’s exactly what they did with their fall lineup for 2015. There’s a trio of new Fire tablets and a pair of new Fire TVs. If you’re an Amazon fan, they have some great new features that will keep fans happy. Let’s take a look.

Fire HD 2015

Fire-10-2015
For 2015, the Fire HD moves a bit up market in size. The tablets are larger than previous version of the Fire HD line at 8-inches and 10.1-inches in a 16:10 widescreen format rather than the now more typical 4:3. This is due to the Fire’s being aimed towards content creation rather than productivity. The screens are surprisingly low resolution at just 1280 x 800. You’ll have to stick with the smaller HDX tablets if you want the retina-type screen. The CPU is a 1.5ghz dual core part and the front and rear cameras are 5mp. For storage you get 16 or 32GB, but its expandable with up to 128GB of mSD card.

The tablets come with a new version of Fire OS called Fire OS 5 Benilli. It’s based on the Android 5.0 Lollipop AOSP code. This means that Android apps running on fire will have access to the platform’s latest features. It also comes with several Fire-only improvements like an updated launcher, shared family content, and Activity Center giving parents more control over Fire tablets.

The 8″ Fire HD starts at $149 while the 10.1″ is $229. Both tablets ship September 30th

Fire and Fire Kids Edition

fire-2015
The New Fire is Amazon’s more affordable tablet yet. It’s built around a 7″ 1024 x 600 IPS screen with a 1.3ghz quad core CPU. Its got 8GB of internal storage, but its upgradable with another 128GB. The cameras are 2mp rear and VGA front. Like the Fire HD it comes with Fire OS 5 based on Lollipop. Yes, these are very low end specs, but there’s a reason for this. It’s only $49.99 with free shipping. No, that’s not a typo, It’s actually $50. Its so cheap you can buy them in bulk and if you do that, Amazon will sell them in 6-packs with one of those tablets free.

If you have children, the new Fire is also available in a Kids Edition with the tablet, case, a 2 year warranty, and a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited for $99.

Fire TV 2015

fire-tv-2015
The Fire TV was a disruptive device when it came out almost two years ago. It featured an app store, voice search, and way more CPU power than found in the competition. Android TV and now the upcoming AppleTV 4 have caught up and it was time for Amazon to do something about that with the new Fire TV. It comes with a 64-bit MediaTek CPU with two 2.0ghz cores and two 1.6ghz Cores. Graphics are provided by a Power VR GX6250 GPU on the SoC. Amazon says the new chip can offer up to 75% more power than the first Fire TV and it puts that power to good use. The new Fire TV has 4k Ultra HD Output. It also has the Alexa voice assistant that debuted in the Amazon Echo. You can also put on all the apps you want with support for 128GB of MicroSD storage in addition to the included 8GB.

So how much will you pay for the new Fire TV? The same $99 as last year. Its also sold as a Gaming Edition with two games, a controller, and a 32GB MicroSD card for $139.99. An updated and more powerful Fire TV stick is also available for $39.99 or $49.99 with the voice remote.

Source : Amazon 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Tech Hangout 2.0 #18: Fall Apple Event Rundown 2015

[Hosts]

BenRoethig

@BenRoethig

Patrice Brend’amour

@Casual Kitchen

Andrew Rouch

@Montisasquwatch

Big News

Most important news stories of the week

Verizon to Test 5G Wireless

  • Verizon to begin testing 5G technology in 2017
  • 40 to 50 times faster than LTE
  • Speeds on par with Fiber internet
  • will require larger Wireless bands
  • roll out expected by 2020

AT&T and ZTE Bring Mobley Mobile Hotspot to Older Cars

  • AT&T and ZTE have announced Mobley Wifi Hotspot for cars
  • Has a qualcomm LTE modem
  • Uses OBII port on cars built 1996 or later
  • Free on 2 year contract or $100
  • $10 connection fee for existing plans, $20 for 2GB, $30 for 3GB

Periscope Goes Landscape

  • Periscope has added support for landscape broadcasts
  • also introduces tighter facebook integration (owned by twitter)
  • lastly indicated share indicator

Apple

News about iOS, Macs, Apple TV, Apple watch, etc

Apple Watch Updates

  • watchOS 2.0 coming september 16th
  • New collection of stainless steel Apple Watches in collaboration with French luxury brand Hermes with 3 exclusive bands
  • Apple Watch Sport now shipping in Gold and Rose Gold aluminum as well
  • new colors of sport bands including (Product) RED
  • Space Black Stainless with Sport band also now available

iPad Pro

  • New third tier of iPad in iPad Pro
  • 12.9” screen with 2732 x 2048 Resolution.
  • Can support full size iPad apps in fullscreen.
  • New generation A9X CPU
  • 4 speaker array
  • screen has a pressure sensitive screen compatible with $99 Apple Pencil style
  • Also has a smart accessory port
  • $799 for base 32GB, $949 for 128G model, and $1079 for Cellular 128GB

Apple TV 4

  • Completely redesigned AppleTV
  • same footprint as existing model, but taller
  • New iOS9-based Operating system called tvOS
  • shares many APIs including Metal and MFi controller support
  • Has app store with developers able to create custom apps or universal apps with iOS
  • New controller with Siri voice support, touchpad, and CEC control. Bluetooth controlled
  • updated interface that uses remote
  • A8 CPU and 2GB of RAM
  • 32gb for $149, 64gb for $199
  • Existing model stays for $69.

iPhone 6S and 6S Plus

  • New generation of iPhone
  • Same basic shape as previous iPhones
  • same resolutions
  • A9 Chip
  • 12mp iSight camera
  • 5mp facetime camera that uses screen as a flash.
  • 3D Touch
  • LTE advanced support with up to 23 bands including US Band 12
  • iOS 9 ships September 16

El-Capitan Launching September 30

  • No Mac announcements
  • However, OS X El-Capitan will launch September 30th

Discover Coming to Apple Pay September 16

  • US Credit card issuer Discover previously announced it was coming to Apple Pay
  • Will come September 16th with launch of iOS 9 and Watch OS 2
  • Extra 10% cash bonus

Google

News About Google and Android

Android Pay Now Available

  • Android Pay has now launched
  • works on all NFC equipped Android devices running Android 4.4 KitKat and later
  • Compatible with all 4 major card issuers: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover
  • Existing Google Wallet users will gain access to Android Pay
  • other users will use a new App launching this week
  • Similar features and retail support to rival Apple Pay

Apple Unleashes New iPhones, iPad Pro, Apple TV, and More

Time has come for the annual fall iPhone event and man it was a dozy. Apple picked one of the largest venues it could get with San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and the event was big to match. First off, as expected we got the iPhone 6S. Next, the iPad family literally grew with a 12” iPad Pro. Lastly, Just as we had a new development platform in WatchOS last year with the Apple Watch announcement, there is another new platform in the 4th Generation AppleTV and its new tvOS. These new products look to grow Apple’s brand either further in the coming year, but what exactly was in them? Let’s take a look.

Apple Watch

Apple-Watch-Hermes
I honestly didn’t expect much from the Apple Watch at this event, but we got a lot. First off, Watch OS 2 is coming, soon. Like next week on September 16th soon. It comes with full native app support so you’re no longer relying on your iPhone to power the thing. While at its heart, the Apple Watch is still a bit of an advanced accessory, it aides your iPhone in its own right and can take a lot of the load of of its larger sibling. Most importantly, just as we’re reaching the holiday season, mainstream buyers will be receiving the Apple watch as it was intended to be.

Next is a surprising amount of new accessories for the Apple Watch itself. The Sport Band now comes in quite a few new colors including (PRODUCT) Red. There are also new two-tone classic buckles. Existing watches can be ordered with new band options including a more affordable Space Black model with black sport band instead of the link bracelet.

But they couldn’t have brought brand new Apple Watches to the event, could they? Oh they they did. The Apple Watch Sport has received from new style. It now comes in the the same gold and rose gold aluminium finishes as the iPhone line. Apple also partner with noted French luxury manufacturer Hermès on a collaboration that introduces an exclusive new Collection of the Apple Watch with the Hermès style, look, and feel. Included are Single Tour, Double Tour, and Cuff straps designed by Hermès. They will only be sold in select locations. I have a feeling this won’t be the only time Apple partners with an existing watch maker.

In a summer of constrained supply and wild rumors, the Apple Watch ecosystem seems to be coming together this fall.

iPad Pro

ipad-Pro
If I had to place a bet of things I would see, an almost 13” iPad with a stylus would not be on the list. Yet it exists in the form of the iPad Pro. The iPad Pro is based around a 12.9” screen with a 2732 x 2048 resolution. The 2048 isn’t an accident as it’s designed to run standard iPad apps side by side in portrait mode. The new chip is Apple’s third generation of 64-bit Armv8 Systems on chip. While the A8 was an improved version of Cyclone, A9 and this model’s A9X is something completely different and more powerful. Apple is projecting up to twice as fast, but we’ll see later this when real world numbers hit the street. The Pro is also an improved media platform with a four speaker array.

The Pro just doesn’t mean it’s bigger. It’s aimed at Pros, especially graphic design pros and artists. To that end, it’s paired with Apple’s new Pencil Stylus. At $99 its rather expensive, it only works with the iPad Pro, and we’ve seen stylii many times before, but it’s nice to Apple taking steps to make the technology more compatible for those who prefer a stylus. It’s no longer a necessity for controlling the OS, but it’s become exactly watch it should be, a digital writing and drawing tool.

The iPad Pro comes in 3 models in your standard three colors of gold, silver, and space grey. It also comes in a trio of models: 32GB Wi-Fi for $799, 128GB for $949, and 128GB Cellular for $1079. Also joining the fray is a new iPad Mini with with a new thinner design and specs to match the iPad Air 2.

Apple TV 4 and tvOS

Apple-tv-4
I have been waiting for the new Apple TV for Years. The Amazon Fire TV changed everything for me a year and a half ago. It paired flagship phone level hardware with voice search and ushered in a new paradigm of set top boxes. Android TV has followed up with some very intriguing hardware on its own. Neither of them had exactly what I was looking for. The new Apple TV does.

The new box looks much like the old one, but only a bit taller. The small remote doesn’t look anything special, but they are both a far leap forward over their predecessors. The hardware is based upon the A8 Chip from the iPhone 6. This is a gigantic leap forward from the single Core A5 that powered the third generation model. It shows in all aspects of the TV. In fact, it now runs a full-powered fork of iOS 9 called tvOS. tvOS has its own App Store that includes both custom AppleTV apps, the devs have full control of their interface this time around, as well as universal apps that share code. This will make full screen apps like games extremely easy to port. Having the full line of iOS 9 APIs including metal and MFI controller support doesn’t hurt either.

The interface is based upon a new remote. Like the Click Wheel gave way to the touch screen, the new AppleTV remote is based around a TouchPad at the top. of the remote. It has far more buttons than the old AppleTV remote because it does far more. It’s based on Bluetooth 4.0 instead of RF in the old model. There’s a voice button for Siri who is pervasive throughout tvOS, a menu button, the play/pause button, and TV on and volume buttons. Yeah, the new AppleTV has CEC support and can control your tv’s functions so you don’t have to switch remotes. The remote has a three month charge and is charged by a standard Lightning cable. The remote isn’t revolutionary in its feature set, but Apple seems to have implemented it better than anyone else.

Now we come to the content. Siri has the ability to search not only iTunes content, but Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Showtime as well. That’s just the first wave. The search seems quite advanced too with Siri able to find a tv show episode that Edward Norton guest starred in. Being able to quickly play the content you want rather than searching through menu after menu is a killer feature that the Apple TV has lacked. The overall menu is more powerful while being easier to use at the same time. Touch swipes are used for navigation and additional content. This was used to great effect during a demo for the improved MLB at Bat app with the Apple TV brining up stats and easily switching between games. If there is one drawback, the 4th Gen Apple TV is not yet ready for 4k Ultra HD. Its still a 1080 full HD device.

The new Apple TV 4 comes in at $149 for a 32GB model and $199 64GB model. If that’s too steep, the 3rd generation model sticks around at $69.

iPhone 6S & 6S Plus

iphone-6s
The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus look exactly like the models released a year ago beyond an additional color of rose gold. The screens are also roughly the same as the old models. What’s new then? Lots actually. The iPhone is based on the same A9 architecture as the iPad Pro. It promises to be a much more substantial upgrade than last year’s A8. The camera is a high quality 12mp part that brings 4k to the iPhone camera. It also does Apple’s version of living pictures and automatically. The front Facetime camera has been upgraded to 5mp part with the screen wired to be used as flash. These are all great features, but they’re evolutionary. They make it a better version of the 6 and 6 Plus. That’s not everything its got up its sleeve however.

The 6S also has 3D touch. This is more or less iOS’s version of Force Touch. Essentially it adds equivalent functionality to quick peek and the right click on the Mac. This is huge. It means you can get to more functions much quicker. This also means you can perform limited app tasks without having to actually launch the app. This takes the tablet from a more limited environment to something that is more functionally equivalent to a desktop OS.

Rounding out the 6S’s spec list is new LTE chip. Its faster with LTE and it uses pretty much all of the LTE bands. Up to 23. This includes Band 12 which is popular with T-Mobile, US Cellular, and many smaller carriers. Apple has been reluctant to use band 12 prior to this model. The chip also has LTE-Advanced support.

Pricing for the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, is exactly the same as the preceding models. The 5S, 6, and 6 Plus each drop $100 in price. If you want a colorful plastic iPhone, you better it one while it lasts.

For other iPhone owners, Apple announced the iOS 9 will ship September 16th, the same day as WatchOS 2

Wrap Up

This was a good year for Apple. The Apple Watch, iPad Pro, Apple TV, and iPhone 6S look to be very strong products. I can’t wait to get my mitts on them. I have a feeling I won’t be alone.
spacer-2

Tech Hangout 2.0 #17: Tech News on a Nap

[Hosts]

Ben Roethig

@benroethig
BenRoethig.com

Patrice Brend’amour

@casual_kitchen
brendamour.net

Mikel Potts

@twerppoet

Andre Rouch

@Montisasquatch

Big News

Most important news stories of the week

Intel Brings Full Skylake Lineup to Market

  • Intel has announced the full lineup of Skylake CPUs for desktop and mobile
  • will replace current Broadwell chips.
  • Goes all the way from 91w K-Models (Core i7) to 4.5w Core M Y-models where Broadwell launch was mostly dual core laptop chips
  • 500 series integrated graphics with native 4k support
  • Alpine Ridge chip for Thunderbolt 3 support

Tech Giants Combine for Next Gen Video Codec

  • Amazon, Netflix, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, and other have formed the Alliance for Open Media
  • Aims to develop next generation video format
  • New Codec will be royalty-free and published under an Apache 2.0 license.
  • Designed to be interoperable and streamable
  • will have option for content encryption

Apple

News about iOS, Macs, Apple TV, Apple watch, etc

Jailbreak Exploit Leads to 225k Stolen Apple ID’s

  • KeyRaider Malware has stolen over 225,000 Apple IDs
  • Spread through Jailbreak store Cedia repositories from Weiphone
  • found by Security Researchers Palo Alto Networks
  • company has a fix on its website
  • Does NOT affect mainstream non-jailbroken iDevices

Cisco and Apple Partner for Enterprise Deal

  • New agreement between Apple and Cisco
  • Cisco will optimize their networks for iOS devices
  • will also integrate the iPhone with Cisco enterprise environments
  • Cisco is a dominant player in Enterprise network hardware
  • will also work to integrated voice to integrate business iPhones with employee desk phones

Key Beats Executive Leaves Apple For LVMH

  • Best of luck Ian and thanks for all you did.
  • Your reasoning is your own.

Google

News About Google and Android

Manufacturers Release New Smartwatches, Google Updates Android Wear for iOS Compatibility

  • New round Samsung Gear S2. Still runs Tizen
  • 2nd Gen Moto 360 in 46 & 42mm sizes. Thinner & more powerful starting at $299
  • New rugged Moto 360 Sport with GPS and sunlight reflecting display
  • Zen Watch 2. Starts at $129, 1.63” and 1.45” sizes
  • Hauwei watch. New premium watch in 6 variants.
  • Google has also announced Android Wear support for iOS 8.2 and above using an app.

Nest Debuts Third Generation Nest

  • New third Gen Nest
  • Thinner body with large Farsight display
  • automatically detects you and activates the display
  • additional temperature sensors in box
  • can detect issues in your HVAC system (coming to older nests via and upgrade)

Misc Tech

anything that doesn’t fit above

Canon Brings EOS M3 to US

  • New Mirrorless Camera from Canon
  • 24.2mp APS-C CMOS sensor
  • uses EF-M lenses or EF & EF-S with adaptor
  • Wi-Fi and NFC
  • 3.5mm
  • comes in Body only or 18-55mm kit.

TV, Web, and Comics

If something happened in hollywood or print, talk about it here.

Hulu Adds ad-Free Option, Signs Big Content Deal with Epix

  • Hulu has added $11.99 ad free option
  • still includes first run network programming
  • company also signed a multi-year content deal with EPIX after similar deal with Netflix expired
  • includes newer movies from Paramount, MGM, and Lionsgate Including Bond, Star Trek, TMNT, Hunger Games, and more
  • deal with start October 1
  • content will come 90 after pay TV content begins.

Amazon Prime to Offer Offline Video

  • Amazon Prime video will offer offline viewing of video
  • works with both iOS and Android apps
  • feature originated on the Kindle Fire
  • Includes the UK, US, Austria, and Germany

Transportation Tech

Cars, Planes, Ships, Rockets, ETC

Tesla Model S Scores Better than Perfect at Consumer Reports

  • We pretty much all want one.

Picks

Each brings an item, app, device, show, etc they want to talk about

Andrew

Taking a Nap

Mikel

Heavenstrike Rivals

Patrice

Pinterest.com

Ben

Sphero BB-9
spacer-2

Samsung, Motorola, Asus, and Huawei Announce New Smartwatches

For the most part, 2015 has been the year of the Apple Watch with some Pebble sprinkled in. That may change with this week’s announcements with a trio of new Android Wear Watch families from Motorola, Asus,and Huawei and a new Tizen-based entry from Samsung. The announcements coincide with another announcement that Android Wear devices would be gaining compatibility with the iPhone. Let’s take a look at the new watches.

samsung-gear-s2

Samsung Gear S2

The Gear S2 is Samsung’s latest entry into the wearable space. Unlike other members of the gear family, the S2 features a round body which is very watch-like. It comes in two flavors, the S2 with a more modern flair and the S2 Classic for those who want traditional watch styling. Whatever flavor you choose, the features and specs are the same. It runs Samsung’s Tizen OS giving them more control over the platform than allowed under Android Wear. It also allows tighter integration with the Korean device giant’s skinned Android phones.

The AMOLED screen is 1.2 inches and round with a 360 x 360 resolution. That equates to a near-Retina 302 PPI. The CPU is 1.0ghz and dual core. If you were looking for smaller version for more petite individuals, you will not find it here. Its one size fits all, with the exception of whether you want 3G connectivity or not. There is 512mb of memory and 4GB of RAM. All in all, its pretty standard for a mainstream smartwatch.

What sets it apart is its integration with Samsung’s services including Samsung Pay with the watch’s NFC chip. If you’re more invested in Samsung than Android or iOS, this is a strong contender. If not, the next family of watches may be for you.

2015-moto-360

A Family of 4 Moto 360s

For all intents and purposes, the 2014 edition of the Moto 360 was the Android Wear device by which all others were judged. This year’s model looks to carry on this tradition. The 2015 Moto 360 comes in two sizes: 46mm and 42mm with the 42mm coming in both Men’s and Women’s versions. The previous version only came in the 46mm variant. The new Moto 360 is slightly thinner at 11.4″, but not by much. The original Moto 360 had a 320 x 290 pixel display and this has been given a small boost in resolution to 360 x 330 in the 46mm version and 360 x 325 in the smaller size. The single core Cortex A8 SoC has been replaced by a Quad-Core Snapdragon 400. The battery is bigger and Moto promises 2 days battery life. Overall, its a fairly hefty upgrade over 2015. The 2015 Moto 360 is also fully customizable in Moto Maker for a custom watch designed for the wearer.

There’s also a second Moto 360, the 360 Sport. Also running wear, the 360 Sport is designed for those with active outdoor lifestyles. It features a rugged enclosure that will definitely not be welcomed in a black tie affair, but feels right at home in a Kayak. The sport has it own built-in GPS and associated software allowing the wearer to know exactly where he or she is. It display is very interesting being designed to reflect direct sunlight to make the display more visible than a traditional LCD display.

The 2nd Gen Moto 360 will start at $299 and go up from there. It’ll ship later in September. The price and release date for the Sport is TBA.

zen-watch-2

Zen Watch 2.

Also coming in on the sequel path is the Zen Watch 2. This new watch may be the best overall value in Android Wear watches. The Zen Watch 2 is square in design and comes in a pair of sizes. You can add 3 colors: silver, gold, and gunmetal grey and several watch bands. The Zen Watch aims to bring traditional watch styling into the 21st century and like the Apple Watch, it makes use of the crown for the interactive experience.

The Zen Watch 2 comes with 1.63″ and 1.45″ screens with a 320 x 320 resolution.. Specs are similar to the Moto 360 with a Snapdragon 400 CPU, 512mb of RAM, and 4GB of storage. Those are roughly standard for an Android Wear Watch. What isn’t is the price. The Zen Watch 2 starts at an insanely low $129.

huawei-watch

Huawei Watch

Huawei is not known for being a premium watch in the west, but the Huawei Watch may change this. The Huawei Watch tends towards the more premium end of Android Wear watches. It has a 400 x 400 1.4″ AMOLED display. The Hauwei watch has very traditional watch styling and comes in 6 distinct variants. However, non of them in a smaller size.

The base Huawei watch starts at $349 and goes up to $799 for a gold plated version.

Source: Samsung, Google
spacer-2

Hulu Adds Commercial-Free Option for $11.99

Its been a good summer for Hulu. First they inked a deal with CBS to integrate Showtime into Hulu with a discount. Then earlier this week, they inked a massive multi-year content deal with EPIX, just as Netflix’s deal with them expired. They’re not done yet. Hulu is putting the capper on their summer with an announcement that for an additional $4, $11.99 a month, you can get their content add-free. So if ads in your first-run network content annoy you, you can now pay a bit more to watch it advertisement free.

Hulu is also dipping its toes in more credible original programming including 11/22/63 a collaboration between Stephen King and JJ-Abrams and starring James Franco, Difficult people from Amy Poehler, and a few more. Its also picking up the Mindy Project which was cancelled by Fox.

The streaming wars are heating up and this can only be a good thing for consumers.

Source: Hulu
spacer-2