New Amazon Kindle Fires

Big announcement from Amazon last week about their new Kindle lineup. Here I will just focus on the Kindle Fire because that’s where I think the future of the device is and that’s the most exciting part for me. The new 7″ Kindle Fire is $159 with 8 GB of storage. It is similar to the 1st generation Fire except with some updated hardware making it faster.

The other new Fires include an HD display, better sound, and faster Wi-Fi thanks to MIMO. The 7″ model similar to the first generation Fire sells for $199 for 16GB and $249 for 32GB. Amazon also released an 8.9″ model of the Fire. The cheaper one is similar to the 7″ HD model and sells for $299 for 16Gb or $369 for 32 GB.

The most exciting HD model is also the most expensive one. It is 8.9″ with the same features as the other 8.9″ HD model except that it comes with 4G LTE making it a true anywhere device. It is $499 for 32 GB or $599 for 64 GB. For $49.99 per year you get a 250 MB per month 4G data plan. This scared me at first, but then I read they also offer 3 GB and 5 GB monthly data plans.

Check out all the new Kindles (including the e-ink models) at Amazon.com.

Samsung Galaxy Note

I read a review of this phone in PC World and immediately decided I needed it. I had been using the iPhone 4, but felt the screen was too small for some things like remote access. I loved my Galaxy Tab 7″, but it was a little bulky and I rarely carried it around. The Galaxy Note has a 5.3″ screen and is billed as a phone/tablet. I figured if the phone was big enough to act as a tablet, that would solve my problem of having to carry a phone and a tablet (which I kept forgetting to carry). Also, my wife had just bought me a Kindle Fire so the usefulness of the Galaxy Tab was shrinking. My theory was I could buy the Galaxy Note to replace my Galaxy Tab and have the Kindle Fire for things I needed a larger screen for like books and movies (plus Hulu was not available for Galaxy Tab but is for Kindle Fire). Things worked out pretty much this way.

One thing to know about the Galaxy Note that was mentioned in the PC World review was that the phone is very large and might be a little difficult to hold for long periods. I totally agree with this – in the beginning. At first, going from an iPhone to the Galaxy Note was a huge deal (pun intended). My hand became weary from holding it. But now I don’t even notice the size and haven’t had a problem using it for long periods of time.

I have used the included pen a little and was impressed with the handwriting recognition. You can use it to send text messages (slowly, but it works). I also bought a drawing app but haven’t tried it yet.

The size is great though. VNC is much easier to use as is surfing the Internet. Even reading a book on it is ok (I can’t believe when I see people trying to read books on an iPhone). Oh and it’s also 4G (unlike the iPhone currently).

If you want the biggest phone around or want a phone and a tablet in one, check out the Galaxy Note.

TiVo, DirecTV to release new Satellite HD DVR in 2009

I’ve been waiting for this news for a long time.  As a TiVO subscriber since 2003, I have loved the service since day 1.  We currently have 3 TiVos around the house and could not live without them.  The annoying thing is now with HD, TiVo only supports cable card.  If you subscribe to satellite, you are out of luck from TiVo.

Since we have an HD TV, a new HD receiver and up-to-date dish from DirecTV, and subscribe to the HD package, it would be nice to be able to watch TV in HD and at least be able to pause/rewind/etc. live TV.  It is to the point that I started looking at DirecTV’s HD DVR receiver as an option;  of course I was afraid it would not be as easy to use or feature rich as TiVo (some of the online posts I have read confirm this fear).  Luckily, this news saved me from potentially making a mistake and switching to an inferior DVR.

The only bad news to this is that it will be about another year before this product is on the market.  But at least there’s light at the end of the tunnel.  I only hope this product has all of the current features standalone TiVo’s have (from what comments I read concerning this story, it sounded like the older DirecTV TiVo DVRs were not as good as the standalone TiVo products).

Anyway, check TiVo’s offical press release for more information.