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Michael Gallagher RSS Feed (Houston, TX)
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Fire HDX 8.9, 8.9" HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB - Includes Special Offers
Fire HDX 8.9, 8.9" HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB - Includes Special Offers
Price: $379.00

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality Tablet and Excellent Video / Screen Display, October 22, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'm writing this review with the benefit of being an experienced Kindle Fire user vs. someone brand new to the Kindle family. In summary, you are getting a great deal on a tablet computer - especially if you compare it to the $500 or more you can spend on a Wi-Fi version of iPad. Overall, if you consider the price and the functionality I think this is a great tool / toy if you watch a lot of video or play a lot of games on your device: the video quality is outstanding. If you are a first-time large-screen tablet buyer, where price vs. value is a key consideration in comparison to more expensive versions, I'd recommend it. If you're comparing last year's HDX model to this version and it is operating fine, I'd say save your money and continue to get your money's worth out of that one.

My review below compares a lot of the features of this version of the Fire HDX to last year's Fire HDX but also some of the features for a first-time user.

Consistent with my experience with setup of previous models of the Fire, setup took a while: despite being a brand new product, the Fire attempted to download and install several operating software updates. You just need to be patient while it downloads and installs.

Screen Display / Video Playback:

This version of the Fire has the best screen display of any previous model of Fire and looking at the technical specs Amazon made some major changes in the display / resolution, and the picture appears more crisp in a side-by-side comparison to last year’s HDX version and my iPad Air (yes, the Kindle guy uses an iPad for work): I compared the viewing experience watching an episode of The Lost Ship. The display on this Fire was one heck of a lot better in terms of sharpness than last year's model as well as the iPad, and is the #1 selling feature (to me) for this model. That may be a combination of some better technology as well as a new vs. year-old screen.

Wi-Fi Connectivity:

After the final operating software update I mentioned above, it was fairly easy to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi. My standard test for trying out new gadgets is to see how fast they run side-by-side with a known piece of equipment doing the same test at the best place of Wi-Fi in my house and the worst place where it drags. In this comparison, I had this version of the HDX sitting next to the last two year’s versions of the HDX, this year’s 7” Fire tablet, and my iPad Air, all just using a Wi-Fi connection vs. cellular connectivity.

My "normal" website test is to hit the mobile websites of FoxNews, CNN, my personalized Yahoo page, Google, and the Houston Chronicle. The ones that were usually slow on the other devices were just as slow, and for the other sites I couldn't tell a difference in speed in comparison to this model.

Sound / Music Playback:

The two speakers are located in the back of the HDX in two not-noticeable ports: both of them are on the right (or maybe it's on the top, depending upon your screen orientation) side of the Kindle. My test of this feature was cranking up Van Halen's Panama to maximum volume (I always want to see if it could really play the guitar licks), and I would alternate covering one speaker up over the other: you have true stereo sound with no degradation of the sound that makes you think you are about to blow the speaker. The Dolby speakers sound really nice and you can really crank up the volume in comparison to previous versions of the Fire: you do get to hear the bass if you install and use an Equalizer app and adjust until it sounds "just right" to you. Mixing the sound with an equalizer app, and using good headphones, is really the way I want to listen to music on the Fire as you not only have a better sound experience but you're also not disturbing others in the room. The X-ray feature is pretty neat as it displays the lyrics on the screen if you are so inclined; if you are not, it is as simple as the tap of an icon to make the lyric feature go away.

Email Setup:

Consistent with previous versions of the Fire, email setup was very easy for my main Gmail account with the software came with the Fire. Amazon has some good enhancements to their email product, so I did not have to install the third-party email app I used on previous versions of the Fire and am happy with Amazon's email client.

New Tabs and Screen Layout:

In addition to the normal tabs Amazon has continued to make tweaks with the look and feel to the overall display such as more things to scroll through to find what you are looking for in an easier manner. Consistent with my experiences with previous versions of the Fire, I purchased the one with special offers and I don't feel overwhelmed with ads. In fact, I don't even notice them.

Reading Books:

Turning pages is pretty darn easy - just tap the side of the screen to go to the next page or back a page, or you can swipe your finger across the screen to do the same. You do have the feature to see the book's description for books on your device like they have with the e-Ink Kindle which is a plus as I can't remember what each book in my digital to-be-read pile is about. You can see previous categories and collections you may have setup on an e-Ink version of the Kindle for your books stored in the Cloud; while that is nice and has been a much-requested feature by Fire owners for years, either that feature is not available with books stored on your device or I’m just not smart enough to figure it out.

Camera:

There are cameras on this model - one facing the back and one facing the front or toward the user / reader. Focusing and taking a picture is pretty easy, and Amazon will by default store your pictures in the Cloud. I'm not much of a picture-taker with my tablet, so I can't really comment on the quality. The icon to turn the camera on is easy to tap as I did accidentally turn it on while carrying the HDX down the stairs last night and snapped a photo of my shoes so watch out for stray taps!

Charger:

Unlike previous models of the Fire, this one DOES include a charger! If you're scratching your head with that comment, in previous models you had to purchase a charger separately for $20 which always seemed kind of silly for Amazon to do.

Other Random Stuff:

One of the setup features in the menu is the ability to turn on a location-based service as well as a find-your-Fire feature in case you misplace it. I also like the location-based GPS feature turned on periodically so I can get a weather update on whatever city I may be traveling in for a particular day – but the paranoid side of me turns it off when I’m not specifically using it.

If you've never owned a larger tablet before, or are looking to upgrade from an earlier model Fire, I would recommend this one if video and apps are your thing - but make sure you purchase the higher memory one vs. the minimum 16 GB if you can afford the extra dollars as you will see better performance. If you're comparing last year's HDX model to this version and it is operating fine, I'd say save your money and continue to get your money's worth out of it. I purchased the one with 64 GB as I wanted the better performance as it is my traveling companion. Kids will love it as they can read books, play games, watch TV and movies, and a whole lot of other things. Adults should like it for the exact same reasons, but while I try to minimize the amount of work-related stuff I do at home with the business apps that are available here in the Amazon App store and other places around the Internet I can also work on Excel and Word-compatible files when I have to without having to fire up my work laptop or whatever the case may be.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 22, 2014 11:01 AM PDT


Kindle Voyage, 6" High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Adaptive Built-in Light, PagePress Sensors, Wi-Fi - Includes Special Offers
Kindle Voyage, 6" High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Adaptive Built-in Light, PagePress Sensors, Wi-Fi - Includes Special Offers
Price: $199.00

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Reading Experience and Quality Text, October 22, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I am writing this review from the perspective of being a long-time Kindle user vs. someone brand new to the Kindle experience. As a point of reference, I have owned and used each model of the e-Ink Kindles and Kindle Fires. From an overall standpoint, and considering everything you get (compact e-Reader, touch screen, lighting system), the Kindle Voyage is a really nice e-Reader, but if cost, quality, and value are your primary considerations the Paperwhite to me is the best option for an e-Ink reader; if you have to have the latest gadget and can afford almost $100 extra, go with the Voyage. To me, this is really the third generation of the Paperwhite.

Opening up the box, included with the Voyage is a micro-USB cord but no power adapter. That's really annoying. Interestingly, and it seems rather chicken of Amazon, a power adaptor has to be purchased separately for $15 if you purchase it at the same time as you purchase the Kindle (or $20 if you purchase it later), so if you already have a micro-USB charger handy I wouldn't order one of the chargers. If you’re going to ask me to pay $269+ for an e-Ink reader please don’t try to gouge me an additional $15 to charge the thing.
Similar to the each new edition of the r-Ink reading experience, I am impressed at how much smaller these e-Readers can become as compared to a "regular" Kindle or my Kindle Keyboard yet still not feel like you're losing anything from a "feels like a book" experience.

To address the reading experience, I compared the current book I was reading side-by-side with the latest generation Paperwhite as I wasn't sure what to expect with the display. The text on the screen is a lot sharper on the Voyage as compared to the Paperwhite with a better contrast: the whites are whiter and the blacks are blacker. Why is that important? It means the text is more crisp while you are reading which is always a good thing (and my aging eyes). While the Paperwhite has a really crisp font / character set but the Voyage is much more crisp. Compared to a regular e-Ink Kindle, the text on the Voyage screen blows it away; just to ensure I wasn't being biased I put the Paperwhite next to a Kindle 3 / Keyboard, and a Kindle DX - all on the same page of a book with the covers removed (didn't want the cover to give an optical illusion or anything) - and you can clearly see a better quality in terms of the fonts. Sure, part of that has to do with the age of the devices in the comparison and the technical specs, but those of you who may be considering an upgrade from an older model like the Keyboard or DX will be really impressed.

Similar to the Paperwhite Reading in the dark is a good experience with the lighting display in comparison to the other versions of Kindle because you don't need an additional light that can get in the way: you won’t disturb someone if you are reading in a dark room; I imagine this will also be very convenient on a plane ride at night as you are able to see the full page of the text vs. a light attachment only reaching most of the screen: there are no impediments to the reading screen. Reading outside is not a problem, either, as compared to some of the display issues you may have with a Fire or iPad tablet outside.

Turning the page forwards is as simple as a simple tap of the thumb on the screen as you hold the device, a swipe with your finger in either direction on the screen, or the new “PagePress” which are actually buttons on each side of the screen. After a couple of hours of reading, I think I finally have the PagePress buttons figured out – it was a pain in the neck to get there- if you hold it too long (say you’re deep in thought while reading), it will skip multiple pages ahead and you have to scroll back and back and back until you find the page you were originally reading. The left-hand button must be designed for lefties: if you push the left-hand button you page turn forward vs. backwards and will need to tap the screen: either I can’t figure out the left-hand button or I will just tap the screen to make it page back.

If you like the text-to-speech feature of previous Kindle models or listened to music with your previous Kindle, please be aware there are no speakers nor is there a plug for headphones.

WiFi setup was easy, Web surfing speed with the wireless is about the same as with other versions of the e-Ink Kindles: slow as Christmas! There’s not a noticeable difference with the 3G option, either. My usual test of the connectivity on a Kindle was hitting the main pages of the mobile websites of Fox News, CNN, and Google. I pushed "go" or "enter" buttons / icons at the same time on each and did not see a visible difference in the load speeds start to finish: I was about 50 yards away from my wireless router at home with a couple of walls in the way for the wireless test, with similar results at my office after the Kindle arrived. I did try to check one of my Google email accounts but it crashed. I learned a couple of years ago to not try and surf the Internet with an e-Ink Kindle because it's so darn slow; besides, I use the Kindle to read a book and I can surf the Internet or check my email on my other devices. For this model, I paid extra for the 3G model as there are areas in the country I travel where WiFi service is spotty, so the 3G was worth it to me: if you have reliable WiFi service in your daily life, you can probably skip buying the 3G version and save yourself $70 on your purchase.

Size matters and, in this case, the Voyage is not too small and not too large and is actually a little smaller than a Paperwhite.
Battery life is supposed to last "...weeks on a single charge" but please note that’s if you have the Wi-Fi / 3G off and only use it half an hour each day. I read more than half an hour each day, and the Wi-Fi is usually on, so if you’re like me you better have a charger handy.

It did take a few minutes to get this model up and running as, in addition to the normal making sure it is registered and going through a mandatory tutorial on which areas of the screen to tap to perform various functions, there is a lot of Amazon marketing you have to weed through: do you want to sign up for Goodreads (an Amazon affiliate), would you like to sign up for Kindle Unlimited (for a monthly recurring revenue stream to Amazon), would you like to link your Facebook and Twitter accounts so your're friends / family / perfect strangers can be voyeuristic on what you are reading (absolutely not for me).
Similar to the other new models of Kindle, you can also sign up for parental controls with this version which I think is a great idea - sometimes you don't want your children to read what you are reading.

One annoying thing (to me, at least) is the automatic import of the various categories / collections you have linked to your Amazon account onto this version and links to the books in the Cloud that you can immediately download in the same category on the new Kindle. If you're replacing an older Kindle with this one that could be handy, but if you have other people on your account / family in households with more than one Kindle, that can be a pain in the neck because, for example, my wife and I generally have different tastes in books - I don't want her books cluttering up my Kindle's screen and she feels the same way about mine. It's not a deal killer, but it does make you wade through a lot of stuff.

If you boil down all of the whistles and bells, the cost of the unit and the cost of additional items (cover, screen protector), plus the elimination of purchasing an external light for reading at night, this is a really nice e-Ink Kindle reader. I don’t see much of a difference from a reading perspective than the cheaper Paperwhite, however, and if cost, quality, and value are your primary considerations the Paperwhite to me is the best option for an e-Ink reader; if you have to have the latest gadget and can afford almost $100 extra, go with the Voyage.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 22, 2014 12:18 PM PDT


Belkin Folio for Kindle Voyage, Black
Belkin Folio for Kindle Voyage, Black
Price: $29.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does the Job But a Little Pricey at $30, October 21, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a lightweight cover that holds the Kindle Voyage pretty snug and secure. Your Kindle fits into a recessed pocket in the cover for a snug fit that you won't have any fear of falling out but please note it takes a little extra "oomph" to get the Voyage to fit into the cover.

The material does feel a lot cheaper than what I am used to with for example a Paperwhite cover as it is made of a type of plastic. It is, however, about the right size and compliments the reading experience with your new Kindle: opened up it makes it seem as if you are reading a small paperback book. As mentioned above, the outer cover is a plastic and you can get it in a variety of styles - I got the basic black.

Unlike the Paperwhite cover or the Amazon-branded Origami cover for the Voyager, there is not a sensor in the Kindle or the cover to allow it to know when the cover is closed to automatically go to sleep or wake up - you need to press the power button on the back of the Voyager to wake it up. For $30 less than the Origami cover, I can learn to press the power button.

Please note this holder only fits the Kindle Voyager and does not fit any other e-Ink Kindle as the dimensions are different.

As I type this review, the price of this cover is $29.99 which seems a little high compared to say a leather cover. I would highly recommend, however, you get a cover in the color of your choosing - you want to protect your investment from drops to protect it and, to me, it helps replicate the feel of reading an actual book vs. going one-handed holding the e-reader.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 22, 2014 12:33 PM PDT


Black Box
Black Box
Price: $0.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Not Really a Short Story, October 20, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Black Box (Kindle Edition)
This is a really short and strange read – I’m not sure I would even call it a story but a bit of rambling that really didn’t have a point or purpose in life. I picked this up for free during a Kindle promotion which adds one star to my review, but even if it was free I would give this one a pass.


Calling the Shots
Calling the Shots
Price: $0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Very Realistic, October 20, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Calling the Shots (Kindle Edition)
This is a really short read - probably less than five minutes - but the author does more in that five minutes to quickly grab your attention, place you in a realistic situation, and make you feel as if you are "right there" in the middle of the action. I could see this expanded from a short story to a longer novel. Great job!

I picked this up for free during a Kindle promotion and as I type up this review I see it is still free: if you are looking for an enjoyable short story to read during a lunch break or whenever you may have a spare moment or two with your Kindle, I would recommend grabbing this one.


Long Eyes and Other Stories
Long Eyes and Other Stories
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Good Compilation of Entertaining Short Stories, October 19, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a compilation of several short stories by the author – some take 5-10 minutes to read and one, for example, took all of 30 seconds. Sure, some were better than others but all in all it is a good compilation that you can read portions of during your work break at lunch. The author also provides commentary at the end of each short story explaining the background or where he was in his life when writing each story which I thought was pretty interesting.

I picked this up for free during a Kindle promotion vs. its regular price of $2.99; being free at the time adds one star to my rating. If you enjoy good short stories, and seeing as how this is a large compilation of good stuff, I would recommend you picking up this compilation.


The Very Best Of: Only The Beginning (US Release)
The Very Best Of: Only The Beginning (US Release)
Price: $18.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Value for Just $5, October 19, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a great selection of Chicago's hits and, for just $5 to download (price I paid during a special) and store on the Cloud forever, it's a heck of a deal: no more worries about losing or scratching up a CD, as I have transferred the songs to a memory stick to also enjoy in my car.


I Told You So - The Ultimate Hits Of Randy Travis
I Told You So - The Ultimate Hits Of Randy Travis
Price: $5.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Selection at Just $5, October 19, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a great selection of Randy Travis’ hits and, for just $5 to download and store on the Cloud forever, it’s a heck of a deal: no more worries about losing or scratching up a CD, as I have transferred the songs to a memory stick to also enjoy in my car.


Classic Brands U-Shape Memory Foam Travel Pillow, Neck Pillow
Classic Brands U-Shape Memory Foam Travel Pillow, Neck Pillow
Price: $9.69
3 used & new from $9.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Deal at $4.99 and Comfortable, October 17, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This arrived yesterday and I took it on a trip today. The memory foam is comfortable and doesn’t put a kink in your neck as other pillows can, and the material / foam on each side of your neck is “just right” which may seem kind of strange unless you’ve tried a travel pillow that was too thin (and uncomfortable). At this price (just $4.99), this is a great deal here on Amazon.


Jack Black True Volume Thickening Shampoo, 12 fl. oz.
Jack Black True Volume Thickening Shampoo, 12 fl. oz.
Price: $19.00
13 used & new from $19.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Pricey for What You Get, October 17, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is your basic shampoo – while it did lather up quite a bit, and a little goes a long way, I really didn’t notice any difference in volume thickening with my hair after taking a shower this morning. There really isn’t a noticeable lingering smell which is a plus to me, but the cap has issues in getting the product out: the flip cap won’t stay open, and you have to press down really hard to keep it in the open position in order to get the shampoo out. It’s a pain in the neck. At $19 per 12 ounce bottle, it does seem a bit expensive for what you’re getting.


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