The set-top box market has basically exploded over the past couple of years, with companies like Google, Roku, and Amazon leading the way. The good news is that there's no indication it's going to slow any time soon; in fact, it keeps getting better. Amazon's Fire TV stick is the perfect example of that – it's essentially a Fire TV crammed into an HDMI stick, but at a fraction of the price.
Want to stuff a couple of stockings for the holidays? Here's a cool suggestion from Amazon: the Kindle Fire HDX 7" 4G LTE. This is last year's Kindle Fire generation but still the newest HDX 7" available — Amazon didn't update the HDX 7" line when it released the new HD 6, 7, and HDX 8.9" this past September. The 4G LTE models are being discounted 50% today only through Amazon Gold Box, while the regular Wi-Fi only models have kept their regular price.
A few weeks ago, Ryan and I tag teamed the Kindle Fire HD 6 and 7 in a review that left us both pretty dang impressed with what Amazon has cooked up in its newest budget-friendly tablets. Since then, I've been playing with the Fire HD Kids (6" - $149; 7" - $159), Amazon's attempt at entering the kids' tablet market. I'm using the six-inch model for this review, but the tablet is also available in a seven-inch model.
The best thing you can do for Black Friday is nothing: those discounts aren't worth the indignity of getting clobbered by an octogenarian's purse while she hunts for a Frozen doll. But if you swing by this promotional page for Amazon's Appstore, you can pick up no less than 40 free apps and games, worth a combined $130 at full price. Amazon does these promotions on a regular basis. There's no reason not to get them all, but if you'd rather not clutter up your Amazon account, here are some notable picks:
- Bejeweled 2 ($3)
- Sonic Jump ($3)
- Perfectly Clear ($3)
- Angry Birds Seasons ($1)
- Photo Editor+ ($1)
- WiFi Explorer Pro ($1)
- Docs To Go Premium ($10)
- Quell Memento ($3)
- A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving ($5)
- Alarm Clock Pro ($2)
- Symphony of the Origin ($3)
- Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary ($24)
- EDGE Extended ($3)
Some of the apps are duplicates, like the Kindle Fire-only Angry Birds (the one above is fine for non-Fire devices).
We take a lot of jabs at Verizon here at Android Police, and not without good cause. But we can't deny that the company's current Connection Day promotion, in conjunction with an Amazon partnership, is offering some sweet free stuff. Right now Amazon is giving away a bunch of paid apps and music via its Appstore and Amazon Music portals, compliments of Big Red. You can add them to your Amazon library whether or not you use Verizon for home or wireless services.
Amazon was forced to concede that its much-anticipated Fire Phone was not a big seller when AT&T dropped the price mere weeks after it was released. When the retailer's quarterly results were announced, we learned the scale of the screw up. Now Amazon is washing its hands of the whole mess. It's unloading unsold 32GB Fire Phones unlocked for $199 off-contract. The off-contract price at launch was $650 and AT&T charged $199 with a 2-year agreement.
The Fire TV Stick is a slimmed-down version of the Fire TV streaming device, and Amazon's answer to the Chromecast. It's also sold out until January 15th on Amazon.com, no doubt due to the massive amount of Amazon Prime users who have taken advantage of the 50% off promotion. But if you're hunting for one for yourself or for a present, Best Buy has it in stock right now, and at a significant discount.
Until now, Amazon's Kindle and Fire devices have lacked one important feature that sets them far behind their Android counterparts: porn. Wait, that's not true, there's tons of porn on Amazon, you can hardly look on the bookstore without seeing self-published Harlequin-style short stories. But if you want to browse a bunch of sites on the less savory side of the Internet on your Kindle Fire without leaving a trail, you're out of luck.
Now that Amazon has consolidated most of its Android offerings into a single Play Store app, the company will need to keep it updated and relatively interesting to remain relevant to users. The first major update since the redesign does just that, making sure that the Amazon app is compatible with the new Android 5.0 devices and software builds. But wait, there's more! The updated app now includes support for Android Wear.