Amazon Fire TV

Just returned from the United States with the video streaming device from Amazon. First a couple of caveats and observations.

  • You need an Amazon Prime Account ($99 subscription per year) to fully take advantage of the powerful features
  • You need a VPN router to watch the Amazon Prime material
  • Amazon automatically  sets ups your streaming box so all you have to do is connect the box to your network

I already own a Roku 3 and Apple TV (720p) version. So you might be asking yourself why did I need a 3rd streaming device?. The short answer is that the voice command is not available on my other two devices and the Fire TV manages my Prime membership with watchlists and voice commands much better than the Roku device.  The long answer will be coming shortly when I compare the Roku, Apple TV and Fire TV.

It has only been 3 days of Fire TV use but here are my first impressions.

Pros:

  • Amazingly fast
  • Voice command works almost all the time
  • My Amazon photo and music collection is instantly available
  • More apps than the other two boxes

Cons:

  • Not as many channels as Roku
  • HBO Now is presently unavailable

Full review and comparison  coming shortly.

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Hound – Say It, Get It

Move over “Siri”, “Ok Google”, there’s a new sheriff in town and the name is “Hound”, from the folks who bring you Sound Hound, the song identifying app.

“Hound” only runs on Android right now so my IOS friends will have to be patient. It’s also in Beta so you have to wait for an invite. But, the wait is worth it. I’m a big fan of voice command/recognition software. I would rather  say something  then type it on a small keyboard. In my preliminary testing “Hound”was better than Siri and OK Google.  Here were some of the voice commands I gave “Hound” during my testing.

  • How many Colombian pesos in a dollar
  • Show me the best and closest Chinese Restaurants to my location
  • Start a 3 minute timer.
  • How long of a drive from Portland to Medford Oregon
  • What is the physical address of my friend Kevin

Hound shined in all the tests.  To see a video and sign up for the invite of hound click here

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New Smartphone Photography/Video Course

In late July I am going to offer a course on how to take great photos and videos on your smartphone or tablet. The course will offer the following

  • Framing better photos and videos
  • Editing on your smartphone
  • Presenting and Storing your media

I will announce dates, and costs the first week in July. Comment or email me with any questions. Below is a sample of what you can do on your smartphone.

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Walt Mossberg Reviews Google Photos

Walt Mossberg has always been one of my favorite tech gurus. I think it’s because is no nonsense, no technobbable, does it work for the average user approach to technology.

Yesterday, I briefly touched on my first impressions of Google Photos. I was impressed and so was Walt. Take a few minutes and read his review here  and make sure to view his review video.

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Google Photos

Google Photos recently updated its desktop,Android and IOS app.  Google Photos is easier to use, has more capabilities and offers almost unlimited storage via Google Drive. A slight advantage over the IOS(Apple) app where you pay for storage over 5gb on iCloud. By no means is Google Photos a professional editor but for the casual Smartphone user this is a pleasant addition. The desktop version allow you to upload photos from your hard drives and sd cards.

I have two other redundant but very useful backup services. When I take a photo on my smartphone it automatically backs up to Flickr and Amazon Photos. 

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