The Tech News Blog

September 8, 2014

Amazon Fire Phone Now Only 99 Cents

Amazon Fire Phone

Amazon's Fire Phone didn't quite reach the fever pitch the e-retailer hoped, and now the two-month-old handset is available for a fire-sale price of 99 cents.

That's right: You can go online or walk into an AT&T store with $1, and walk out with a 12-month Prime membership and a new 32GB phone (plus two-year contract).

The deal includes unlimited cloud storage, as well as the exclusive Dynamic Perspective, Firefly, and Mayday features that launched alongside the device in June.

Mayday's live customer support option also exists on the Kindle Fire HDX tablet. Identification service Firefly and 3D component Dynamic Perspective, however, are new to the Fire Phone, which arrived this summer. Amazon launched SDKs for the latter two, hoping to gain developer interest, as well.

But those bells and whistles weren't enough to set Amazon's offering apart from rivals like Apple and Samsung.

February 3, 2014

Teen Reportedly Burned After iPhone 5c Fire

Burnt iPhone 5c

A 13-year-old Maine eighth grader on Friday was treated at a local hospital for burns she suffered after her iPhone 5c caught fire in her back pants pocket.

According to Middle School of the Kennebunks Principal Jeff Rodman, the teen arrived at her first class at 7:40 a.m., and "heard a pop" when she sat down; other students reportedly immediately seeing smoke coming from her rear.

Her first reaction, Rodman told Seacoast Online, was to "stop, drop, and roll," and remove her pants. Assisted by peers and teachers, the girl was treated first by emergency crews, then at a local hospital, where her burns were described as "moderate." Together, the students' and teachers' quick thinking saved her from further burns or injury, according to Rodman.

The phone, pictured above, was visibly burned; no official cause of the fire has been revealed. EMS Division Chief Andrew Palmeri, however, told Seacoast Online that when the teen sat down on her phone, the handset's battery "shorted out," causing a spark and the fire. Palmeri warned all phone users to be wary of placing their device in a back pocket or anywhere else it could be crushed and cause an electrical short.

November 18, 2013

Amazon Fire OS 3.1 Integrates Goodreads, Second Screen

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9"

Amazon on Monday morning released Fire OS 3.1, a free software update for the new Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HDX.

The free, over-the-air update will automatically be delivered to users in the coming weeks, or you can visit Amazon's website to download and install it starting today. It brings a number of new features, including deep integration with the online reading community Goodreads, second screen capabilities, Cloud Collections, enterprise support, wireless printing, and more.

"The response to our new family of Kindle Fire tablets has been fantastic, and we're excited to add new features we think our customers will love," Amazon Kindle Vice President Peter Larsen said in a statement.

For the first time, Goodreads - which Amazon acquired in March - is now integrated directly into the Kindle reading experience, meaning you won't need to leave your book to open the Goodreads app. Readers can easily capture and share quotes with Goodreads friends from inside a book, see what friends are reading, and add books to a "want to read" shelf.

You can also now rate and review a book you just finished and immediately share it on Goodreads, as well as import all the books you've purchased from Amazon into your account.

June 26, 2012

Report: Amazon Kindle Fire 2 Coming Next Month

Amazon Kindle Fire

Are you in the market for a Kindle Fire? You might want to wait a little longer to buy one, because a new report indicates that Amazon is putting the finishing touches on a new version.

According to a Monday report from CNET, which cited a "credible source," Amazon is gearing up to unveil its second-generation Kindle Fire this summer. The online retailer is reportedly eyeing July 31 for a Kindle Fire 2 launch event.

Amazon announced the original 7-inch Android-powered Kindle Fire last September, and it began shipping in November. While it could maintain a similar timeframe for its next-gen Kindle Fire, a summer launch is more likely as it would allow the device to compete with other tablets like the iPad during back-to-school shopping, the report noted.

Amazon will likely follow Apple's lead by adding features and design and performance improvements, but keeping the same price, CNET reported. The Kindle Fire currently sells for $199.

Rumors about new Kindles have been circulating for some time. Digitimes, which has a spotty track record when it comes to tech rumors, recently reported that Amazon is considering launching a new $199 7-inch tablet with a higher resolution 1,280-by-800-pixel display. Digitimes put the launch at the beginning of the third quarter.

March 27, 2012

Report: Amazon Plans Three New Kindle Fire Tablets

Amazon plans three new models of the Kindle Fire, according to a report from the China Economic News Service.

The service, citing reports from suppliers, claims that Amazon plans three new models of its popular tablet: three new models, a low-end 7-inch, 1,024-by-600 model; a midrange, 7-inch model with a higher 1,280-by-800 resolution; and a high-end, 8.9 inch tablet with a 1,920-by-1,200 display.

Hon Hai will join the ranks of ODMs, assembling the 7-inch, 1,024-by-600 low-end model. Qunata will manufacture the others, the report said. Chimei Innolux will supply the 7-inch flat-panel displays, while Prime View will source the 8.9-inch display.

CENS claims that Amazon expanded its partnership with the Tainwan ODM industry, a traditional route to lower costs. The tightly-knit network of suppliers also leaks many tidbits of information, as supplier talks to supplier. In other words, there's reason to believe that the report may be true, although the ODMs may also be disclosing preliminary talks that may not be completely fulfilled via contract.

January 5, 2012

Report: 7-Inch Google Tablet to Compete With Kindle Fire

Google in June threw its hat into the social-networking ring with the launch of Google+. Now it's rumored that Google wants to start competing in the tablet market too.

Citing sources from Google's upstream supply chain, Digitimes is reporting that Google is prepping a 7-inch tablet that will compete not with the market-dominating iPad, but rather the number-two Amazon Kindle Fire tablet.

The Taiwanese site alleged that the Google-made tablet will undercut Amazon's already affordable $199 Kindle Fire with an even lower price. It said the device will run on Android 4.0 (a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich) and debut in March or April.

Corroborating previous rumors, Digitimes also said the tablet could be a part of Google's Nexus brand.

But is there any truth behind this tidbit? While Digitimes frequently publishes unverified rumors and has a spotty record of accuracy, Google chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt said last month that the company will produce an Android tablet of "the highest quality" within the next six months.

December 3, 2011

Kindle Fire Is Number Two Tablet, But No iPad Killer

Amazon Kindle Fire

The Kindle Fire isn't the purported "iPad killer" some positioned it to be, but according to IHS iSuppli, it's already the number two tablet on the market.

ISuppli predicted that Amazon will ship 3.9 million Kindle Fires in the last three months of 2011 to secure 13.8 percent of the market. Apple will hold fast to the majority of the tablet share, shipping 18.6 million iPads for 65.6 percent in the fourth quarter.

While that projection doesn't put the Kindle Fire tablet anywhere near unseating the iPad, Amazon's device has handily left every other tablet on the market in the dust and nabbed a larger share than other iPad competitors. The closest tablet to the Fire is the Samsung Galaxy Tab; iSuppli predicted Samsung will ship 1.4 million tablets for a 4.8 percent stake by the end of the year.

A recent Changewave report also noted that rather than steal from the iPad, the $199 Kindle Fire is eating at the market share of other non-Apple tablets.

A recent report from Digitmes corroborated iSuppli's estimate. Digitimes on Friday said "industry watchers" were reporting shipments of 3-4 million Fires from Quanta, Amazon's supplier in China, which is expected to reach 5 million by the end of December or the beginning of January.

November 30, 2011

Apple iPhone Battery Case Recalled Over Fire Risk

Rocketfish RF-KL12 Mobile Battery Case for Apple iPhone

Best Buy said Wednesday that the company has recalled a Rocketfish battery case for older Apple iPhone models, as the battery inside may overheat, posing a fire risk.

Best Buy recalled the Rocketfish Model RF-KL12 battery case for the Apple iPhone 3G and 3GS in conjunction with the U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission. The CPSC said that there have not been any incidents of fire, although 14 reports of overheating have been filed. There were also three reports of minor burns to consumers and four reports of minor property damage, Best Buy and the CPSC said.

The Rocketfish site notes that the RF-KL12 has been discontinued.

Unlike some bumpers and cases, the Rocketfish battery case contained its own battery, promising a total of twice the battery life of the one installed inside the phone itself.

November 29, 2011

Australian Plane Crew Extinguishes Smoking, Glowing iPhone

Burnt Apple iPhone Australian regional airline Regional Express (REX) said Friday that a passenger's iPhone had glowed red and begun emitting dense smoke after the plane had landed.

No one was injured, REX said, and the "red glow" was successfully extinguished. REX posted a picture of the iPhone in question (left), but didn't identify the model of the handset. The incident reportedly occurred on Flight ZL319 operating from Lismore to Sydney.

The matter has been reported to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) as well as the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for investigation and directions, the agency added.

Apple has previously investigated battery issues associated with the iPhone 4, although those have been totally unrelated to safety concerns. Consumers had previously complained about a bug in the battery in the iPhone 4S draining faster than they expected, prompting Apple to release an update, iOS 5.0.1. Some consumers weren't convinced, however, and Apple continues to look into battery issues with its latest smartphone.

November 21, 2011

Kindle Fire Eating Up Tablet Share, But Not Toppling iPad

As soon as Amazon announced the Kindle Fire tablet, it was positioned as the first device with real potential to knock the iPad off its throne. A new study from Changewave shows that while there is significant interest in the Kindle Fire, Amazon's tablet is swiping market share from other tablets rather than the iPad.

As reported by RegHardware, Changewave polled 3,000 North American consumers to find that 19 percent of them are thinking about buying a Fire. That breaks down to 2 percent who said they'd already ordered a Kindle Fire, 5 percent who said they were very interested in the tablet, and 12 percent who claimed they were "somewhat" likely to buy the device.

Apple's iPad still reigns supreme, but the Kindle Fire is gaining momentum. Changewave said 65 percent of respondents reported that they want an iPad. Nearly a quarter (22 percent) picked the Kindle Fire and just 4 percent chose the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Changewave noted that "no other manufacturer is garnering more than 1 percent of future tablet demand among consumers."