Limited Time Offer: Free 2-Day Kindle Shipping On All Models

In order to make sure that the maximum number of people are able to get their new Kindle purchases in time for Christmas, Amazon has decided to offer Free Two Day Shipping to anybody who completes their transaction before 8pm Pacific Time (UTC-8) on December 21st.  This offer extends to every model currently available, from the $79 Kindle 4 to the $199 Kindle Fire tablet, and will cover shipping to any location in the continental United States.

The Kindle line, and eReaders in general at this point really, make excellent gifts.  The price has come down to the point of being practically large-scale impulse purchases, and the fact that you can expect ongoing support and content updates for the indefinite future makes a strong case or the practicality of ownership. Owning a Kindle eReader provides access to practically any title on the market today at the touch of a button with no need to worry about shipping, travel, or retail crowds.  This last one is likely to be a welcome benefit for people doing their holiday shopping this late in the year.

Additionally, according to Amazon the Kindle Fire is the most gifted, most wished for, bestselling item on the entire site and has been since before it was even released.  Like the eReader counterparts, it provides users with access to a huge library of content.  In addition to eBooks, you can also draw on a large App Store, all of Amazon Instant Video, and basically any digital content Amazon handles.  Top that off with access to services like Netflix, Pandora, Hulu Plus, and other content streaming services and you have a media consumption experience it is hard to argue against.  Keep in mind that each Kindle Fire comes with a month of free Amazon Prime membership and the access to all the benefits that that entails (free Instant Video selections, free 2-Day Shipping, etc), which means that anybody who gets one as a gift will have a chance to most of its more enjoyable features even without any post-purchase investment.

Keep in mind when considering Kindles as gifts that you can also include eBooks to go with them.  At present, all US customers have the option of choosing to gift a Kindle Edition eBook to anybody with an email address.  This will work as a cheaper gift option for anybody who might already be using a Kindle app for iOS or Android, incidentally.  Also, while I have no personal experience with the feature, you can also apparently also schedule your purchase’s delivery for exactly when you want them to get it.  This could help a lot when it comes to scheduling since, even with instant delivery and a smartphone, it is annoying to be making last second gift acquisitions.

If you’re interested in taking advantage of Amazon’s offer, keep an eye on the clock.  This will certainly not be extended, given their lack of direct control over shipping matters.

Enjoy your holidays!

Kindle Fire Review Roundup

If you glance around the site here for any length of time, it becomes pretty obvious that we’ve had good experiences with our Kindle Fire testing.  Different people will probably assess the quality in different ways, though, especially given the variety of uses that it tries to make available.  As such, let’s take a look at what people are saying over at in terms of the pros and cons when it comes to their new $200 media tablet.  Many of the more helpful reviews are quite extensive, so feel free to click on the links for a more detailed view of what these reviewers had to say.  I’ll be avoiding outright pre-launch reviews and complaints about spec comparisons to the iPad, of course.

Video Viewing


As far as video, I have always disliked Amazon’s Video services. The prices are very reasonable and they now have a huge selection, but obtaining the videos [was] a huge pain due to Amazon’s terrible Unbox player. That changes with the Fire, as everything is native and streams/downloads beautifully.


The video app is real snappy and I had no issues streaming video at home over wifi. I can honestly say that the Amazon video app is as good as the Netflix app on the Ipad.

Billy Radcliffe:

The biggest “unfinished” feature of the Fire is the Cloud integration; the Cloud doesn’t work hand-in-glove with the Fire in the way you think it might. In order to access features like the video or the docs, you basically have to go through a browser the way you would from any other device.


 J. Gower:

Kindle Fire’s weak spot, imo, and the reason I give it four stars. But to be fair, it was never going to compete with my Kindle 3. E-ink really is just that much more comfortable to read versus a (relatively low resolution) LCD screen

Raghee Horner:

I initially bought an iPad with the idea of using it as an eReader but after 15-20 minutes the 1.5lb iPad feels like it’s ten pounds and simply becomes too uncomfortable to hold like a nice light paperback. The Fire is much more realistic an eReader.


Michael P. Gallagher:

Speed of the apps as well as reading a book is VERY fast and responsive. I haven’t tried a a challenging spreadsheet or Word document with the Open Office app yet, but then again I can’t think of too many times where (based on my guesstimated usage) I will be doing those kind of tasks on my Fire: I like to keep my work separate from play.



I put this at 5 stars because it MET MY EXPECTATIONS. I read all about this device before buying it, so I knew exactly what I was getting for $199 dollars. It has met all of my expectations of a small form factor tablet that is intuitive, media friendly, and has great processing capabilities. I did not expect an iPad, so there is no comparison in my mind.


None of the so-called limitations of the Fire detract from my using it. Yes it has limited onboard storage but with the way the Cloud is integrated, I’ve not had any difficulty using that as a way of storing content. Plus, when Amazon stores it, they deal with the issue of backup. I also don’t miss the 3G connectivity. Sure, I’d love to be able to connect anywhere, but I will not pay the prices charged for data connectivity.

Learn how to open BAK file.

Kindle Trade-In Available Now For Those Hoping To Upgrade

As Kindle updates have happened over the years, one of the biggest customer complaints has been that Amazon has completely ignored the existing customers who might want to upgrade to the newest device possible.  This was especially an issue moving from the first generation of the Kindle to the second generation, since it was such an immense improvement and change in aesthetic.  Up until recently, however, the only recourse for early adopters and other existing customers was to either be happy with what you already have or pay full price for the next generation.  At this time, though, if you are a Kindle owner who would like to trade in their existing eReader for credit toward a new one, there is finally an option!

It seems that pretty much anything you have on hand is eligible.  Even first generation Kindles will get you up to $12 depending on condition.  That might not be much compared to the initial purchase price, but using a 4 year old eReader to get 15% off a new Kindle 4 isn’t a bad deal at all, considering all the improvements that have taken place.  Surprisingly, even non-Kindles are eligible.  At this time, a non-touchscreen Kobo or Sony Reader Pocket will get you around $20.  You’ll find any number of competing products to be worth some money if you are interested in switching to the Kindle, or just want some Amazon credit in general (Nook excluded at the moment).

As one cautionary note, be aware that when trading in your eReader you are unlikely to get the full “up to $__” value for your device as this is for a completely unworn product with its original packaging intact.  I doubt many people have hung on to their old boxes on the off chance they might come in handy someday.  The difference between the “Like New” price listed and a “Good” product is generally between $1 and $15, proportional to the value of the device.

I can see this being a valuable move for Amazon in a couple different ways.  Obviously it spurs adoption of new devices.  The Kindle Fire is doing great, of course, but more is always better.  Also, the Kindle Touch is probably where Amazon wants focus at this time as far as eReaders go, so it makes sense to provide an easy way to upgrade.  No matter what device is chosen, there is a good chance that it will be something that Amazon can present ads on, increasing the revenue stream along those lines going forward.  There is also a high probability that, since the Kindle 4 and Kindle Touch are the newer, shiner eReaders at the moment, this will mean fewer devices with unlimited 3G access floating around.  While they have not gotten rid of that feature for new Kindle Keyboard purchases, the restriction on the new device makes it clear that there is an interest in cutting down those ongoing expenses.

Regardless of the motivation for offering the deals, though, this should help some people who want to get their hands on a new Kindle to do so.  It might not be a lot of the price being offset in some cases, but everything makes a difference in the end.

Here is the link to the Trade-in department of Amazon where you can choose any stuff for trade-in transactions. In the “Find the Items You’d Like to Trade In” select “Electronics” category from the drop-down menu and type Kindle in “Search by title or keyword(s)” box. After clicking the “Go” button you will see the options for trade-in transactions.



Kindle Lab Provides Leverage in California’s Assault on Amazon

Buying a Kindle in California might very well be costing slightly more than we’re used to, soon, despite the best efforts of Lawmakers, frustrated by a combination of factors associated with sales tax collection, or lack thereof, have decided to mount a direct and possibly damaging attack on online businesses in order to increase revenue.  The effect that this move has will take a while to become clear, but it might well end up being nothing but trouble for anybody, especially Californians.

There’s some background to the story.  Up until this point anybody buying something through Amazon, whether it was a Kindle, a cabinet, or something more extravagant, would be personally responsible for reporting and paying their own local sales taxes.  Amazon, except in states where they have a physical presence, doesn’t have any obligation to collect it and has been given pretty much no incentive to try to tackle the logistical nightmare of keeping track of every tax variation in the country.  The obvious problem is that most customers prefer to simply forget to report these out of state purchases when it comes time to pay their taxes.  Naturally, the state and local governments find this inconvenient, but so far it has been hard to get around the legalities of it.  Nobody wants to try to start auditing a significant portion of consumers simply for shopping online, so the easiest option is to make the online retailers responsible for it all.  Efforts along these lines have had limited success overall so far. Affiliates don’t count, generally, and any state government that decided to revise their definitions to include affiliates has seen Amazon and many others pull their local ties rather than deal with the additional overhead.

In the most recent news, California has not only made the affiliate connection just described, but has also attempted to make provisions in case Amazon pulled out.  They are saying that Amazon will be legally required to begin collecting tax because their subsidiaries, and Lab 126, have offices in the state in spite of these companies being their own unique entities.  Basically, unless Amazon decides to uproot the entire group that created the Kindle and is now rumored to be working on the Kindle tablet, they’re in trouble.  Assuming that California can get away with it, of course.

According to some analysts, they’re overreaching more than a bit.  This is certain to be settled in court at some point, but either way it doesn’t seem like it will do California much good in the long run.  If they lose, it means a bunch of wasted time and effort in court.  If they win, it provides the right precedent to make putting money into Californian companies a bad idea for out of state investors.  Even the slightest connection would trigger tax collection requirements.  While it is certainly understandable in times of deficit to want this extra tax income, the overall effect on the state economy over the longer term could be quite negative.  Californian Amazon Affiliates have already been let go, from what I’m told, and only time will tell how things will pan out with regard to the Amazon Kindle‘s Lab 126 and its ties to this scheme.


Kindle Tablet to Reinvent Mobile Shopping

While you can definitely grab whatever eBooks you might be interested in reading directly through your Kindle‘s connection to, there is no denying that you can get all the information you need about a potential buy more easily by pulling it up on your computer’s web browser.  Part of that is the E Ink screen, with its associated monochrome display and slow refresh rate.  Apparently this is a big problem across the board with mobile devices, however.  Research has been done that indicates that the majority of shopping is done from desktop computers or laptops rather than more portable devices.  Those tend to be a less successful avenue for sales efforts so far.

This is part of why the Kindle Tablet seems to be such an integral part to the future of Amazon and other online retailers.  While the trend is likely to take a long while, there are indications that we are moving into something of a post-PC marketplace.  At least as far as daily home use is concerned. If you’re on a computer, you tend to be at the computer with a significant portion of your attention directed at it.  With a tablet or a smartphone, you can simply be on the internet while doing something completely unrelated.  Plenty of people already have trouble going anywhere without being connected.

It is hard to pin down precisely why the online shopping experience hasn’t quite kept up for people, but Jeff Bezos had some comments on the subject a short time ago.  He said, among other things, that at present browsing on a smartphone tends to be “a marginal experience in many cases”.  This is a temporary thing, of course.  As smartphones and tablets advance, they get more powerful, more versatile, and generally more enjoyable in every way.  At the same time, web developers are learning more ways to accommodate these browsers and the many non-PC features that they bring to the browsing experience.

The acknowledgement of the situation is important in understanding the potential for the Kindle Tablet.  Yes, it is likely to be placed as something extending the Kindle eReader line.  More important, however, is its extension of the website.  Call it a bridge between the Kindle and, maybe.  There is going to be a huge advantage for Amazon in that they will not only be controlling their own app ecosystem in the form of the Amazon Android App Store, but also offering their entire website in a form that is perfectly compatible with the tablet people are browsing on.  After all, the company itself is involved as every stage at this point so they can make sure it all works smoothly.  They know what the device, or devices, can do.  They know what changes need to be made to make everything show up smoothly.  There is even the possibility of a customized front end specifically for tablet user browsers.  Even leaving aside considerations of a Kindle Phone or any Kindle Tablet option with 3G access and the advantage that Amazon would gain by connecting their users to the site 24/7, this looks good.