Amazon Releases Widely Popular 2nd Gen Echo Dot

2nd-gen-echo-dot-whiteAmazon releases it’s widely popular Echo Dot and added a new color – white. In a surprise move, Amazon made available for pre-ordering the 2nd Gen. Echo Dot. The Amazon Echo Dot was launched along with the Tap and was a huge hit. It quickly sold out and was never restocked. Now we know why. We first found out about the 2nd Gen Echo Dot on a pre-maturely tweet sent by @amazonecho official twitter page yesterday which stole the thunder a bit. In the tweet, it was revealed the updated price of $49.99 which is $30 below the first generation. The tweet was promptly deleted. We don’t know if this prompted Amazon to move up the launch but it is now available for pre-order.

The Echo Dot allows for you to make your Bluetooth speakers ‘smart’. It can also enable you to access Alexa for your Amazon services such as e-reader, Prime library, music library, and streaming services. It can also enable you to access information through Wikipedia and other skills you can add. Without a speaker, you can still add to your to-do list and calendars and set alarms.

Buy one now here:

Local Channels on Fire TV

basic tv networksCan you get local channels such as CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, CW (CBS+Warner Bros.), or Telemundo? These are channels that are widely available by using an over the air antenna for free. In some areas, these channels are not available unless you have a high power over the air antenna. This poses a problem for say people who live in apartments where installing a high power antenna on the roof is not possible. The only means to get access to these channels are through paid subscription services such as cable, fiber, or satellite TV. Cable cutters would love to swap out these paid services and stream.

I tried installing a few apps from the Amazon App store from Fire TV. It was a mixed bag of what is available vs what isn’t available. One thing that was consistent was that no apps provided live content for free. If the app from a major TV network offered live content on Fire TV, it was for people with paid subscription. As for what is available, you have a mixed bag. For example, the NBC app offered dateline episodes for free but America Ninja Warrior and America’s Got Talent required a sign in from a paid subscription.

A possible alternative would be to pay for Sling TV. With Sling TV, you get a handful of popular TV networks for $20/month.

Looks like it is not possible to truly cut the cord if your residence is outside the TV signal area.

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3rd generation Fire TV on the horizon?

There are rumors circulating that Amazon is preparing an announcement of the 3rd gen Fire TV around end of Sept / early Oct 2016. This makes sense as it would position them to max out sales and take advantage of the Christmas gift shopping season. Fire TV is a great gift for people of all ages. On top of this, Amazon will likely drop the price for the current Fire TV stick and 2nd gen Fire TV which will fuel a buying frenzy for people who want that it for their 2nd or 3rd tv in their own room or basement.

This is what I think Amazon will do for their 3rd gen fire TV.
-Improved internal memory from 8GB to 16GB
-Faster CPU
-Better integration and options to manage Alexa
-More home automation integration
-Ability to make purchase using voice remote

What would you like to see in the 3rd Gen Fire TV?

Turn your TV into a Digital Sign – App

I will explain how you can turn your TV into a digital sign using just an app and Fire TV stick. This is great when you want to turn your TV into a sign for a restaurant menu signage, instruction or floor plan, directory of an office building, daily schedule of the day at a hotel banquet all, funeral home, pictures at a dental office and more. Here is what you need.

The app is free for the first 30 days. After, you can sign up for an annual unlimited subscription of SignageCreator. With this subscription, there are over 1000+ templates which you can use to create your sign. Signagecreator have two pricing plans. Standard license is for $100/template for just one use. Unlimited usage is for $30/month.

If you want to make it vertical, you can change the setting on the TV and use the app and set it up the way you want.

digital sign app

Best Prime Day Deals!

Amazon’s Prime day is here and here are the best deals so far.

This is my favorite:

Amazon Echo (the lowest this has ever been!)
Regular: $179.99 but Prime Day Deal $129.99 which is 50% off!
If you have the Amazon Rewards card, you can also bring it down to $99 by using  applying the discount code VISA30.


Amazon Fire TV
Regular Price: $99.99 but with Prime Day deal $69.99 which is 30% off

 

Fire TV Stick with voice remote
Regular: $49.99 but with Prime Day Deal $34.99

Fire TV Stick without voice remote -> Regular
REgular: $39.99 but with Prime Day deal $24.99

Bonus:

Samsung UN55KU6600 Curved 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV (2016 Model)
Regular: $1,247.99 but Prime Day Deal $649.99 which is 48% off

Trigger Alexa with Fire TV remote

fire tv remote alexaIn May, Amazon enable Alexa on its Fire TV remote. This allowed Fire TV owners to use Alexa as you had an Amazon Echo. If you already have an Echo, then this would not be foreign to you.

Movies / TV
With Alexa, you can trigger it to control a movie. You can ask Alexa to play a movie, TV show. It will also search from your active add-on subscriptions as well as third party apps. You can also use it to trigger a certain app.

Examples:
Play the movie [title]
Start playing the TV show [title]
Launch the app [title]
Open the [title] app

Music
You can also trigger music you have on your Prime Music library to simply listen to one of the Prime stations. You can rate a song by saying you like it or do not like the song. This will help Alexa rate the type of song it chooses for you. You can completely skip songs or rewind but cannot fast forward or rewind or change volume. Bummer. This is possible with Echo.

Audible and eBooks
Through Alexa, you can use your Fire TV to read eligible Kindle books in your library. You can even see the title and book cover on your TV. Neat!

News Flash Briefing
One great feature I love with Alexa is that you can ask her to read you the news flash. Go into the Alexa app and select your news source. You can select national, international, local news, sports, and weather source / location. All you say is “Alexa, What’s my news flash?” or “Alexa, Whats my flash briefing?” and it will read a 5-10 min briefing of the latest news from what you selected. I use it when I sit down and enjoy my breakfast. You can also set up your commute location and it’ll give you the congestion condition!

Shopping
No surprise to anyone, you can use Alexa to buy things on Amazon. It is a bit clumsy as you need to know the exact item you are interested in buying in order to buy through Alexa. If you ask Alexa to buy something, it will select the top result for that category and display the item. It is a bit easier to re-order something if it is something you have purchased in the past such as detergent, razor blades, diapers for example.

Weather / Traffic
Asking Alexa for the weather is also another one of my favorites. My kids use this almost every day to determine if they can wear shorts for the day! I don’t use the traffic much as I don’t commute to an office 🙂

Q&A / Jokes
This is kind of an easter egg hunt. You can ask “Alexa, how are you doing today?” or “Alexa, good morning” and she will read back a quote or a comment.

Wikipedia
Alexa also has access to a database of facts. You can ask how far you are to say New York city, ask for conversion such as cooking, time zone, and more. You can ask celebrities or athlete’s age!

Lists (To do / Shopping)
Alexa can aggregate shopping list and to do list. You can use it as a personal assistant to remind you to do something and check it on your Fire TV or on your app later. You can also have Alexa read out your shopping or to do list using your remote.

There are much much more features which you can do with sports scores, movie info, local search, and some features which are voice only where nothing will display on your Fire TV. For all features, check out:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201859020

 

PBS Kids and Amazon Prime TV!

20160630_211552_911217_pressimageCan you watch shows like Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood?
Do you like Wild Kratts?
How about Odd Squad, Dinosaur Train, Nature Cat, and Ready Jet Go!

Well you are in luck. Amazon signed a deal with PBS Kids to be the exclusive premium subscription service on their Prime video service. This is an agreement that will span multiple years. For people with Amazon Prime membership, you will be able to watch PBS Kids on the PC through www.amazon.com/primevideos through a web browser or use the Amazon Video App. I just gave this a try and a quick search yielded 53 TV show results! Some are individual videos and some are entire season series so the actual videos are much much more.

2016-07-02 17.41.13And of course, you can watch PBS Kids through Amazon videos through Fire TV stick, Fire TV, or Fire tablets.

 

 

 

Erosnow available on Fire TV

erosnowErosnow, the Bollywood movie entertainment production group has signed a deal to offer its on demand service to Fire TV. Eros International is a publicly traded company on the NYSE and has been a big player in distribution and licensing of the latest Hindi, Tamil, and other Indian language movies and TV shows across Fire TV users. The huge library of films will be accessible to users across US, UK, and Western Europe.

To access the movies, navigate to the Amazon App store and install the ErosNow app. From there, you will be able to search and watch movies similar to Netflix.
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I browsed a bit and you can watch popular movies such as Bajirao Masani, Piku, Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon, Calendar Girls, Kuch Kuch Locha Hai. You can see the rest of the most popular Hindi movies here.

How much is Amazon Prime’s Stream monthly cost?

Amazon announced yesterday that they will offer a monthly subscription to its Prime video library for $8.99/month. Previously, you had to subscribe to its full Amazon Prime membership to reap the benefit of Amazon Prime video. Now you can subscribe to its video only services without the added on features of Prime shipping, Prime music, and other benefits. This is great for people who found the $99 annual Prime membership to be too expensive or not worth it but interested in the Amazon Prime video offerings.

Currently, you can sign up for a 30 day free trial to test drive the Amazon Prime video library.

If you tried the free trial and still not interested, you can cancel or change your Amazon Prime membership here.

Amazon also announced the option of paying for Amazon Prime membership on a monthly basis at $10.99/month. If you use it for a full year, you end up paying $131.88 which is $32.88 more.

Below is a breakdown between the different Amazon Prime subscriptions.

amazon prime