Kindle Fire HD Features-Likes and Dislikes

I finally had enough free time in my schedule to get around to the second part of my Kindle Fire HD review.  I found a lot of features I liked on my tablet and other features I dislike.  The first feature I enjoyed was the search for keywords option for books.

Similar to a lot of e-readers, the Fire HD allows users to highlight a word or phrase they do not understand and cross reference that with its built in dictionary.  If the word is not in the dictionary, the search options allow one to search either the internet or the more famous Wikipedia site.  Personally, I usually skip over words or items I do not understand so this would do wonders to my comprehension.

Similar to the word/phrase feature, movies on the Amazon store have a feature called X-Ray.  Ever watched a movie and wanted to know the name of an actor from that one scene but you didn’t want to get out of your comfortable seat to search the internet?  You now have the ability with Amazon movies.  While playing the movie, you can access the x-ray menu and look over all the actors in the current scene.  The actor’s biography, information, and other works are cross-referenced on the IMDB website.  Sadly, the x-ray feature is not available on all movies found on the Amazon store.

Some of my dislikes on the tablet begins with the lack of adobe flash.  Adobe flash is often needed for games and video viewing on other video websites different from Youtube.  I personally like to view videos on Twitch TV; unfortunately, I’m unable to view them because my Kindle does not have adobe flash.  The latest Adobe flash is unavailable for the Fire HD and based on the forums I’ve read Adobe doesn’t have any plans for it yet.

I did believe previously that my Dolby speakers had a faulty feature.  I believed every time a song or video was skipped, some of the songs/videos would still play on the screen but the sound would not play through.  I recently learned that this happens only when the Kindle Fire HD is on low power.  When it doesn’t have enough power, the Dolby speakers do not function correctly.

Finally, the last feature that bugs me is the lack of a dedicated camera app.  The Kindle Fire HD comes with a front facing camera useful for front facing chat with others on Skype.  For some strange reason, there is no app or feature that can activate the camera and simply save the pictures on the photo folder of the tablet.  The Evernote app can also take pictures and add them to a photo but I find it annoying to have one extra app between me and my pictures.

What are your favorite features on your Kindle?  Let me know by commenting below.

The Attractiveness of PC Indie Games

More times that I would like to admit, I have spent hundreds of dollars on videos games that once I completed them, left me a very dissatisfied and poorer man.  These games, despite their large budgets, are terrible games that are mass-produced yet surprisingly sell millions of copies.  If this describes you down to a t, then allow me to introduce you to the concept of indie games.  Be warned, the majority of indie games are available for computers and not consoles.  If you are not a PC gamer, you might consider switching to computer games after this.  Indie games are games developed by individual game developers.  Usually, there are only a handful of developers working months on their game; in addition, they are mostly self-funded by their own savings.

What are the advantages of indie games?  One reason to buy indie games would be their low prices.  Rather than pay $60 for a console game, indie games are usually under $15 at their highest and become cheaper as time goes by.

Second, indie games are more pure than mass market games.  By pure, I mean that the gameplay and story is not tainted by too many cooks in the kitchen.  For example, games such as Skyrim and Arkham Asylum often have many software developers contributing to the game.  What often occurs is that the group of developers work on their own part really well but the end result is a chaotic mess of bugs.  With a small group, indie developers can contain those chaotic bugs to a minimum and release the game much faster.

Third, indie game stories are often better written than large developer games.  Indie games cannot compete with the bigger name games in terms of beautiful are and graphics.  In order to combat this, a lot of indie developers make an incredible storyline or add a unique interface.

One of the greatest stories I ever experienced in a video game comes from an indie developer called Freebird Games.  Despite the lack of high-tech graphics, To the Moon is one of the greatest games I have ever seen.  The story is incredibly so incredibly moving and funny that at times I did not know if I was crying from laughter or sadness.  If you have ten dollars and you are bored, visit the site here and buy the game.

If you want to get more bang for your buck, look no further than here.  For the next few days, the Humble Indie Bundle 6 is available for purchase.  The Humble Indie Bundle is an incredible new concept brought on by social media.  Instead of selling you one indie game, the Humble Indie Bundle gives you a package deal of up to ten indie games.  What’s the best part?  You get to decide how much you want to pay for the games.  You can choose to donate $0.01 or you can choose to donate a million dollars; regardless, you still get some nice indie games.  There are some advantages to donating more.  If you donate more than a dollar, you get a free Steam key with each game.  If you donate more than the average donated amount, you get access to all the games; otherwise, you get access to only five games if your donation is less than the average.  In addition, you have the choice of dividing your donation to go towards the developers, charity, and the Humble Indie Bundle team.  Before you buy though, make sure that computer is powerful enough to play these games.  The system requirements can be found here.

Just in case you still want to play the latest games with excellent graphics and complicated controls, the Steam program is your option.  Rather than install your game via CD, you can download your choice of game through the Steam store.  Often than not, you can get the same games on the Steam store for much less than if you buy it for the console, especially during the Steam summer and winter sales.  You can also play with other people who bought the same game on Steam if it is a multiplayer game.  The best feature in my opinion is that once you bought the game, you have that game for life.  If you switch computers, just log in to your Steam account with that computer and download the game again.

If you are more curious about indie games or Steam, just download the Steam program, register an account, and look for more indie games.  Be warned though, you might end up spending all your money on games as a result of this blog.  Let me know what are your favorite PC games by leaving a comment below.

First Impressions on the Kindle Fire HD

When I first heard Amazon’s announcement on the new Kindle Fire HD, I thought to myself, “No matter what, I will get my hands on that device.” Four days later and 200 less dollars in my bank account, I finally have the kindle in my grubby hands. What first impressed me was the slick and glossy display of the tablet. Amazon advertises the specs of the picture quality to be 1280X800 HD pixel display, a bit better than 720p but not as crisp as 1080p. Even at 720p, the video and picture quality is stunning for a small table of its size. Accompanying the beautiful display is the Dolby built in speakers located in the bottom rear of the Fire HD. Pumping at full blast, the tiny speakers filled the small enclosed space of my room with some of my favorite quotes from the BBC series Doctor Who.

A feature that has been introduced only to the Kindle Fire HD is the installation of a dual-band antenna. Most Wi-Fi devices are sending and receiving data on a frequency of 2.4Ghz. This new antenna gives the tablet the option of sending data on either a 2.4 or 5.0Ghz frequency. Because 5.0Ghz is not as crowded as 2.4, devices with a dual-band frequency is able to send and receive data at a much faster rate. If using a dual-band wireless router, the Kindle Fire HD will download the same content much faster than other devices such as the New Ipad or an Iphone 4s.

The processor speed of the Fire HD is running at 1.2Ghz dual core, giving it more than enough juice to run most of the basic apps and games out in the Amazon app market. Speaking of the app market, the one disappointment I have with the Fire HD is the limited amount of apps available in the Amazon App Market. Some of my favorite apps that I can find on the Google Play Store are simply unavailable for my Fire HD. For now, you might have to either wait for the app to become available on the Amazon App Store or wait until someone finds another way to download 3rd party apps.

If you plan on taking full advantage of your Fire HD, one thing you must purchase is an Amazon Prime membership. The cost is $80 per year but it is well worth it. For one, you get free two day shipping on all purchases that are eligible for prime shipping. Second, you get unlimited online streaming on all available Amazon Prime eligible TV shows and movies. Third, every month you gain access to Amazon’s extensive library of Prime books and borrow one book of your choosing. Not only do these titles offer bestselling classics but it also offers many of the latest ebooks.

Another feature I dislike of the Fire HD is the front facing camera. The quality of the camera is okay for Skype calls and the occasional Evernote picture; however, don’t plan on using it to take high quality wedding pictures or portraits. For my purposes though, the camera will do just fine. What really bugs me about the Fire HD camera is that it does not have an easy app for access. On almost all smartphones, pictures can be taken by just pushing on the app and taking a picture with a push of a button whenever you felt like it. The only way to take a picture on the Fire HD is to use an app that has camera capabilities such as Skype or Evernote.

Overall, I found the Kindle Fire HD to be a powerful microcomputer that is well worth the price. Some of the features could be improved on, but for now I find the Fire HD to be an excellent choice for the low cost of $199. I couldn’t go through all the features the new tablet offers, so expect a second part review focusing on the handling and software of the tablet.  In the meantime, I leave you with three videos of my first impressions of the Kindle Fire HD.  What are your thoughts on the Kindle Fire HD?  Let me know by commenting below.

Opening the package

Giving the HD a physical

30 minute video on playing with an internetless Fire HD