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Tag: Kindle Fire

Safe Games for Kids by Toca Boca at The Gadget Show

Posted by Andrew at 12:45 AM on April 16, 2014

Toca BocaAs a a parent with a tablet-loving daughter, I’m always worried that she’s either playing inappropriate games or else building up whopping a credit card bill via in-app purchases. Being tech-savvy, I can easily rectify the latter by controlling the password to my account, but this doesn’t always negate pester-power. The former is still a concern and I’m not alone as these two issues are relevant to parents everywhere.

To help mums and dads, Swedish outfit Toca Boca, “a play studio that makes digital toys for kids” have created a range of open-ended, non-competitive games that appeal to children where the initial purchase cost is the only time you need to flex the credit card. There are over 20 apps available for Apple, Android and Amazon devices, and include games for young hairdressers, chefs, doctors, vets, chemists, scientists and drivers. The themes are very similar to some of the popular “free” games that are out there; the Toca Boca versions usually cost US$2.99 but there are no subsequent in-app purchases.

I chat to Sonia about the Toca Boca apps and how parents can be more confident in what their children playing on their tablets without the worry of an enlarged credit card bill.

DesignMi Stands at The Gadget Show

Posted by Andrew at 4:25 PM on April 14, 2014

Over the years, I’ve seen lots of innovative ways to hold tablets and smartphones at just the right angle for viewing movies or reading tweets and DesignMi continues that tradition with a great range of stands for all tablets and smartphones, plus a couple of models only for the iPhone. I chat with Bhupesh about these solid UK-made stands.

DesignMi Tablet and Smartphone stands

Machined from aluminium, the stands use microsuction pads to both keep the stand stuck to the table and to hold the tablet on the stand. The larger MiStand has a magnetic ball joint that allows the tablet to be positioned at almost any angle and orientation. There’s a range of colours and the Gadget Show stand had exclusive gold- and platinum-plated versions. POA, as they say.

Platinum MiStand

For iPhone 5 owners, the MiDock is incorporates the Lightning connector so the phone can be charged and synced while in the dock. The stands are currently on pre-order for shipping in May 2014. The larger MiStand is £55 and the smaller MiStand Mini is £18. I’m tempted….

Kingston Wi-Drive Review

Posted by Andrew at 1:20 AM on April 8, 2014

Kingston Technology LogoIn the final review of this series on Kingston storage solutions for smartphones and tablets, I’ll be putting the Wi-Drive portable wireless storage through its paces. We’ve already seen the DataTraveler microDuo and the MobileLite Wireless so what’s the Wi-Drive’s niche? It’s definitely the most stylish; let’s take a look.

Wi-Drive in Box

The Wi-Drive is a slim shiny unit that’s very similar to some of the 2.5″ external hard drives that are on the market. It’s very pocketable at around 12 x 6 x 1 cm and it feels just right in the hand – not too heavy, not too light. At the bottom centre, there’s a miniUSB (not microUSB) port for connecting the Wi-Drive to a PC and for charging. On the side, there’s an on/off button that lights up green when on, turns to orange when the battery is getting low, before going red when it’s just about to die. Finally, on the top surface are two blue LEDs that display WiFi and Internet connectivity status. It’s all very sleek.

WiDrive

Connecting the Wi-Drive to a PC is the easiest way to load the drive with media and as usual, it’s simple drag’n’drop once attached with the supplied USB2 to miniUSB cable. It’s only USB2, which probably isn’t a serious handicap – I think most people will upload movies and music occasionally for more frequent wireless use.

The Wi-Drive works very similarly to the MobileLite Wireless. Turn it on, and the Wi-Drive becomes a wireless access point. Connect to the wireless network with your tablet or smartphone and then use the Wi-Drive app to access files and media on the Wi-Drive.  As with the MobileLite Wireless, the Wi-Drive can itself then connect to another wireless network so that connectivity to the Internet is maintained. However, unlike the MobileLite Wireless, I did have a problems connecting to other wireless networks – I couldn’t get a successful bridge connection to either a Sagemcom F@ST2504n or a Netgear WNR2200 router. I did successfully connect through to a Huawei E586.

The Wi-Drive app is available for Apple, Amazon and Android devices and I tested it on a Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″ tablet, a Nexus 10 tablet and a Nexus 4 smartphone. Frankly, the Wi-Drive app is disappointing – it’s like an early beta of the version that was finally deployed with the MobileLite Wireless. While app broadly works and is stable, the user interface is dated, the photo thumbnails are miniscule, the music player is clunky and there’s no use of a tablet’s larger screen. Here are a few screenshots to illustrate my point.

Wi-Drive browser Thumbnails

Music Player Wi-Drive Web Interface

Handily, there is also a web interface for both configuration and for accessing the media, which is great for PCs and Chromebooks; you can see this in the bottom right screenshot. The IP address is always 192.168.200.254 so it’s easily bookmarked.

On the positive side, video playback is smooth and glitch-free, and looked great on the tablets and as with the MobileLite Wireless  you can stream to three devices simultaneously. In terms of video playback, I felt that the Wi-Drive had the edge over the MobileLite Wireless as the latter occasionally stuttered. Battery life was also good: Kingston’s specs for the Wi-Drive say four hours but I was able to get about 10 minutes more with continuous video playback before the Wi-Drive died.

That covers the main areas of the Wi-Drive and to summarise, the Wi-Drive is good-looking and convenient device which is let down in a couple of areas, particularly by the Wi-Drive app. To me, it’s still a beta product that needs the last few bugs ironed out. The 32GB version is available for a little over GB £40 and expect to pay around £70 for the 64GB one.

Looking at all three Kingston storage devices, what are the pros and cons? For a single user with an Android smartphone or tablet that supports OTG, the microDuo is hard to beat as you get lots of storage for not very much money, though it’s going to stick out the side. The MobileLite Wireless will suit those who use SD cards or USB memory sticks as it’s a useful all-round tool for removable storage and although I wasn’t able to test with Apple devices I imagine this might be particularly handy for those owners. Finally, the Wi-Drive is the most stylish and a better choice where children are involved as there’s nothing small to lose or forget. Just get it fixed, Kingston, as it could be great.

Thanks to Kingston for all the review units.

Kingston MobileLite Wireless Review

Posted by Andrew at 8:24 AM on March 26, 2014

Kingston Technology LogoLast week I reviewed Kingston’s microDuo which is a great solution if your smartphone or tablet supports OTG. Unfortunately, many devices don’t and if yours falls into this category, Kingston can still help you with both the MobileLite Wireless and the Wi-Drive. In this review, I’ll be checking out the MobileLite Wireless and will follow up with the Wi-Drive later in the week.

Kingston MobileLite Wireless Box

The Kingston MobileLite Wireless  is described as “Reader – Media Streamer – Charger” and combines a USB reader, SD card reader, media streamer and USB charger all in one. Sounds impressive, so let’s take a look.

Kingston MobileLite Wireless Left Side

As you’ll see from the picture, the MobileLite is a small rectangular unit, around 12.5 x 6 x 1.6 cm. It weighs 98g and it feels a little lighter than it should. On one end is the SD card slot and on the other two USB sockets; one USB2 and the other microUSB. There’s a power button on the side and couple of indicator LEDs on the top. As well as the instructions, a USB-to-microUSB cable and a microSD-to-SD card adaptor is included in the box.

Kingston MobileLite Wireless Right Side

Taking each of the MobileLite Wireless features in turn and starting with “Reader”, the MobileLite can act as an SD card and USB reader. Simply connect the supplied cable from your PC’s USB port to the microUSB port on the device and two new drive letters or storage locations will appear on the desktop. Drag’n’drop, view photos, play movies, all the usual activities, no problem. Obviously it’s only USB2 but right now, that’s no big deal.

Moving to the “Charger” feature, swap over the cable so that the USB connector is plugged into the MobileLite Wireless and the other end into your smartphone or other power-sapping device. The battery is only 1800 mAh, so there’s really only one full charge of a smartphone in there.

Finally, it’s time for the “Media Streamer” feature, which lets up to three devices stream movies and other content from the MobileLite Wireless over WiFi. Which it does. Here’s Todd and the GNC show on three devices, all streaming from the one MobileLite Wireless.

Streaming To Three Devices

The tablets and smartphones have to load a Kingston app to access the media, but the app is available from Apple’s App Store, Google Play and Amazon’s Appstore.  The inclusion of Amazon is great as it means I can use the MobileLite Wireless with the Kindle Fire HDX – it’s the middle tablet in the shot above. However, the app is fairly basic and largely limited to navigating the folder hierarchy, selecting different content types, viewing and playing content plus operations such as email, copy and delete. It’s designed for smartphones rather than tablets so doesn’t take advantage of the larger screen real estate. Definitely room for improvement here. The app does have a couple of introductory pages to operative the MobileLite Wireless which have a cool hand-drawn feel to them.

App FIle Manager

The MobileLite Wireless also presents a web interface which can be used by PCs and Chromebooks to access the same files, though I didn’t seem to be able to upload content. The web interface has additional tools to adjust the wireless settings for greater security. One cool feature is that you can add the MobileLite Wireless to your main WiFi network and once connected up will pass on any requests onto the Internet, so you can browse the internet at the same time as listening to music coming from the MobileLite Wireless.

Wireless Settings

Battery life is “up to 5 hours of continuous use” and I managed a little under four hours playing a film continuously. Your mileage may vary but it’s enough to watch a couple of films.

In summing up, the MobileLite Wireless is a handy little device that I feel will appeal to those who frequently use SD cards and other removable storage. Obviously it would be great for photographers who want to review material on a larger screen but it’s also handy if you need to transfer material to a smartphone or tablet from a USB memory stick as outside of the Windows ecosystem, few tablets have full size USB ports. It certainly works well for streaming video and music too, but Kingston’s Wi-Drive might be a better solution for those who simply don’t have much space on their smartphone or tablet. The negatives are that the app could do with a refresh and a bigger battery would make the charger more effective, but other than that, there’s little to complain about.

The MobileLite Wireless is available on-line for around £35.

Thanks to Kingston for the review unit.

 

Free eBooks From Your Local Library

Posted by Andrew at 8:19 AM on September 13, 2013

These are tough economic times and if you want to save yourself a few pennies, stop buying ebooks, join your local library and borrow ebooks for free. The OverDrive Media Console app lets you download and read ebooks offered by your local library for nothing, and if audiobooks are of more interest, the app can handle those as well. The OverDrive app is available for most common smartphones and tablets, including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Kindle Fire and Nook tablets. If you have a Kobo, Sony or Nook ereader, you can still borrow books from your library but you’ll need to use Adobe’s Digital Editions to download via your PC. If you have a Kindle ereader, you’re out of luck.

The app can be downloaded from most app stores and directly from OverDrive if your device’s app store doesn’t host the app. In the first instance, the app asks you to find your local library via simple search. Poking around I was able to find libraries in UK, USA, Canada, Mexico, Germany, India and Japan, so it has worldwide coverage but I’ve no real idea of how extensive it is.

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For my library, I had enter my borrower number and again I assume it will be similar for most public libraries. Once you are in the system, you can browse for your favourite novels and authors, and then borrow the book you want. Before you can download the book, you’ll need to sign-up for an Adobe ID and put it into Overdrive’s settings. This is all part of the ePub DRM, but getting an ID is straightforward and free of charge.

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Obviously the range of books is entirely dependent on your library but I found a good selection of books available (several of which I already owned!) and once you’ve got your reading selection downloaded, you can swap to Overdrive’s bookshelf to see what’s available for reading.

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As a reader app, OverDrive Media Console is good. There’s a bit of delay when opening a book for the very first time, but after that it’s snappy. All the other usual features are there – typeface selection, font size, line spacing, colour schemes, animations, but overall it’s well done. Reading books is easy and a pleasure.

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So, if you don’t want pay for ebooks and you’ve a tablet or smartphone, download the OverDrive Media Console, join your local library and start saving money. It’s a no-brainer!

Which is it? $99 Amazon Kindle Fire or no?

Posted by Alan at 12:58 PM on March 20, 2013

amazon rumored tabletTwo major tech blogs seem to be warring today over Amazon rumors — to save problems I will not even bother naming or linking to either because it is honestly not even important to the whole story here. The subject in question is if Amazon has a $99 Kindle Fire HD in the works or not.

While there are sources claiming this product is in the pipeline, an Amazon spokesman claimed it “does not exist”. Honestly, while its hard to believe “unnamed” sources, it is also hard to believe Amazon would tip its hand on something like this, so we really are left to guess for ourselves and go with instinct.

Regardless of who is right and wrong in this little internet spat, there is one thing that I feel I can be certain of — Amazon can afford to do exactly this. The company has no need to profit from the hardware — it displays ads on the device, sells apps and sells music, movies and TV shows. The profit comes on the backend.

Honestly I have expected such a move for sometime, though I assumed it would come as a Kindle Fire discount offered to Amazon Prime customers. Prime already offers tremendous value to its users, and it does so because of the aforementioned backend.

So what does Amazon really have in store? Will there be a $99 Kindle Fire HD? It certainly would jump over the competition and could actually serve as a “game over” move against tablet rivals, including the Nexus 7. And it would do so all while using Google’s own mobile operating system as a weapon against them. Check mate.

Amazon Shows Off New Devices in TV Ad

Posted by Alan at 4:47 AM on September 6, 2012

Amazon is expected to release a new line of Kindle devices when they hold their big Santa Monica, California event later today.  Rumors seem to indicate not one, but two new Kindle Fire tablets, as well new versions of the Kindle e-reader.  All of this has been expected for a little while now, especially when Amazon mysteriously announced last week that the Kindle Fire was “sold out”.

What wasn’t expected was the ad that aired during last night’s NFL season-opener between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.  The ad, which was a full one minute in length, showed the new devices, but gave no information on what exactly they were.  However, on closer inspection, there appears to be a larger version of the Fire tablet, perhaps a 10 inch, shown.   That would be the biggest bombshell, since it has been reported that Amazon would announce two 7 inch tablets.

What appears to be a 10 inch tablet is shown around the :35 mark of the ad (posted below, and every geek should appreciate the inclusion of the George R. R. Martin book).  Amazon has been rumored to be working on a larger version ever since before the original 7 inch was announced, but we have been led to believe that they had deemed it not marketable enough for release.

There have also been some recent leaks of an updated Kindle Touch reader, with a higher-resolution screen.  Electonista reports that “The most important change, however, will be the integration of an LED backlight, supposedly combined with battery improvements that allow the unit to go for weeks on a charge, a major selling point over tablets for e-reading purists.”

We will find out later today how close any of this speculation has come to actual reality.  The Amazon event kicks off at 10:30 am PDT, 1:30 pm EDT and will be streamed live on the web.

Amazon Set to Announce 2 Kindle Fire 7′s?

Posted by Alan at 6:06 AM on September 3, 2012

Rumors have been flying lately around the new Kindle Fire that everyone seems to know is coming, but has no proof of.  Those rumors were compounded last week when Amazon announced the the tablet was “sold out” and no longer available.  Many of the rumors have surrounded a 10 inch version of the tablet to complement the current 7 inch, but now c|net is reporting that, in fact, there will be 2 Kindle Fires, but both will be of the 7 inch variety.

2 tablets that are the same size may sound strange at first, but it really isn’t – after all, there are multiple versions of the iPad that are all the exact same size.  According to the report, Amazon will announce an updated version of the current model, along with a brand new, higher-end model.

The upgraded current model will likely have a new user interface, but it’s unclear if there will be any hardware changes.   On the other hand, the new higher-end model will (supposedly) contain a faster processor, camera, a physical volume control button and an HDMI port.  The Verge recently posted a possible image of the new tablet.

One rumor that has not yet surfaced is pricing.  It’s generally assumed that the updated current model will come with a new, lower price tag – perhaps as low as $149 to undercut the biggest competition, the Nexus 7.  There is no speculation for pricing on the high-end model.  An announcement from Amazon should be forthcoming this week.

Polkcast Creates Your Personal Cloud

Posted by Andrew at 9:00 PM on February 24, 2012

Polkast LaptopPolkast thinks that it’s better to have your files in your control in your home or office rather than the nebulous cloud. Andy talks to Dave from Polkast on how they do this but still give you access from your smartphone.

Polkast consists of two components, a server app that’s installed on the PC or Mac where all the documents and files are stored. A client app goes on your smartphone or tablet, and both iOS and Android devices are supported, including the Kindle Fire.

The client app is much like any media player interface with icons for music, photos, videos, documents and so on. You can browse for the media you want and show photos or play music.

For a single PC or Mac, Polkast offer a free service, no matter how many client devices connect. For multiple PCs or Macs, the premium service costs $4.99 per month (though this option doesn’t seem to be available on the website yet).

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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inCarBite iPad and Kindle Fire Car Mount

Posted by Andrew at 9:04 AM on February 1, 2012

inCarBite iPad car mountThese days, in-car DVD players are old hat – a tablet is where it’s at. Andy talks to Linda at inCarBite on how their car mount can keep up with the Joneses.

The inCarBite tablet mounting system is available for the Apple iPad 1 & 2 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which is gaining in popularity as an entertainment device. The tablet mount fixes onto the headrest stems of the front seats using a neat clamp, which is detachable from the mount itself to make fitting easier. Power is provided from the car’s cigarette lighter socket so the tablet is charged while it’s in the mount.

And if that’s not enough, there’s a matching home dock with surround sound which takes the same mount so the device can be easily switched between the living room, kitchen and car.

It’s available now for the iPad from $79.99 to $159.99 depending on accessories. The Kindle Fire version is coming soon.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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