I was thinking for while about buying GPS-enabled cycling computer and Garmin Enge 500 was my favorite. I wanted to try my routes and connect other sensors via ANT+. Obviously Garmin device provides all these features. I can connect cadence and heart rate sensors. I can even upload it to my Bodymedia Activity Manager via Garmin Connect. Then few weeks ago Motorola revealed MOTOACTV device, Android based sports watch with music player. Moreover it has ANT+ and Bluetooth LE so potentially I can use more accessories than with Edge 500. It also has WiFi and FM Radio. Apparently you can also root the device and install some other Android apps. I guess these two devices are hard to compare. Edge is truly cycling computer while Motoactv is a hybrid. I decided to get Motoactv cause it can be used for other activities beside cycling and in theory I can expand it by installing additional apps in future.
Finally, after couple unsuccessful attempts of installing Android Market without rooting my device, I decided to root it. Thanks to The Unofficial Kindle Fire Blog article I was convinced that I can unroot it later.
I must admit I has been trying different apps like crazy, downloading games for my daughter, trying to side load Google Apps, trying if “officially” unsupported apps really cannot run, etc. So far it was pretty nice experience. If something does not work I simply removed it from device.
My first problem happen during when my Thanksgiving trip to Lake Tahoe in Sierra Nevada. Wi-Fi in hotel was slower than mobile connection. I got couple apps stuck in install in progress state. There is no way to stop it, uninstall them or re-download. When I returned home I tried to contact Amazon Customer Service but so far I could find a competent representative. Eventually they asked me to send logs from device. Guess what, their mailbox was overflown with emails and message was returned As a bonus I learned that if you type ;dm in a search box it dumps logs to KindleLogs directory.
Another problem bricked my device for a while. I am using Kid Mode app which hijacks home button so kids cannot go out and do other things. It crashed and after rebooting I got blank white screen instead of Amazon Launcher. Again I had no lack with customer support call. They asked me to fully charge device, reboot and call them back in few hours. In meanwhile I figured out that if I kill Kid Mode app, release Home button from it I eventually got asked to choose default app to be associated with Home button. I chose Launcher and voila I am back. Good thing is that Kid Mode can reestablish child lock when I run it again so everything is back to normal.
Kindle Fire ships with a debugging tool called the Dalvik Debug Monitor Server (DDMS). When you connect device with USB cable you can use ddms utility from Android SDK to take screenshots of device screen without rooting it. If you already have debugging environment set up all you need is to run this utility and take screenshot any time you want. If you do not have it read this article from Pigs, Gourds and Wikis blog.
Hopefully soon we can hear that somebody discovers how to make it on device without debugging it
Thanks to xda-developers forum I got most of Google Apps working on Kindle Fire without rooting a device. Article on the forum keeps changing so maybe later you can find more information.
- I downloded GApps archive from link provided in the post.
- Unpacked files and copied to connected Kindle Fire download folder.
- Using ES File Explorer from installed from Amazon Appstore navigate to where I got .apk files
- First installed GoogleServicesFramework.apk and restarted device.
- Later I was trying different apps:
Maps – worked
Reader – worked
Gmail – worked
Youtube – worked
Street View – installed but there is no app icon to click. Maybe I need to launch it from Maps?
Books – worked
Google+ – worked
- I did not try Talk and Voice cause it makes no sense running it on device without camera and microphone.
- I did not try Market cause I read reports that it would require rooting to make it work
I only briefly run all this apps so there is no guarantee that somewhere down the road some functionality is not working. I have seen few error messages on the way so maybe it’s not as good as it seems
I haven’t had paper magazine subscription for couple years but now I got this new media consuming device so I wanted to try how it works in digital era. I subscribed to two trials of cooking magazines cause it seems like most practical things I might use.
Selection was quite limited so my favorite Cuisine At Home was not available. I chose Bon Apetit and Everyday Food. First impression is that they look quite like real versions. But there is a catch, all this pretty photos take a lot of space and on digital reader space is limited so I hope that there is a way to store everything in Amazon Cloud otherwise if I got couple subscriptions I will run out of space pretty soon. Second, I do like that half of the pages are ads. Did not I paid for subscription? Why I have to still download all this commercial payload? In traditional newspaper model for years people tolerated this double dipping model cause it did not cost them money. When you got newspaper which 20% is actual content you most likely discard unwanted ad pages. You cannot do that with digital file. First it is in one piece, second, it is DRM protected. In result you got crippled product and you have to pay for storage or bandwith. I think publishers need to change their distribution model if they want to be success in digital age. Right now they just repackage their current junk and hope people will buy it as they used to.
I have played with Kindle Fire for two evenings my experience is quite positive. It does a lot of things right but there is a small number of things I wish to be there but I could not find a solution for it so far.
- Some way to group/organize apps. Maybe folders or pages but if typical user downloads a lot of stuff in a first week it is pretty messy. Maybe it is there but I haven’t read manual
- Cloud printing solution. I wish it could be easy to print from this device. Some apps claim support of Google Cloud Print but reviews do not confirm that. I need to do more research on that.
- Screen shots, the best thing would be system wide gesture similar to Print Screen command on Windows. Right now I am not going to root my brand new device in order to check some screen capturing apps.
- Screen mirroring to allow stream my Prime videos on big TV in my living room. Something similar to AirPlay. Tried iMediaShare app andit islimited to it’s own channels. AppleTV support is in Beta and for me only worked with Picasa photos. I was not able to stream movies. On the other hand DLNA support seems to be be pretty good. Worked with my Samsung TV without any problems. I am still waiting for doubleTwist + AirSync update. Right now it is not compatible with Kindle Fire and it is hard to tell if it can mirror screen.
Yesterday I received my pre-ordered Kindle Fire. First I must state that I have no prior experience with tablets or iOS so I am not going to compare my experience with Kindle Fire to anything else.
I was surprised with minimalistic packaging. When you open box that Amazon ships you will find only slate wrapped in plastic and small card. The card describes how to turn device on and how to unlock the screen. That’s it. No user manuals, warranty cards, special offers. You also get small micro USB power supply but I bet you can charge Kindle from any USB port on your computer if you already got this type of cable.
First step shown after pressing power button (I am not sure, but most likely device was only in sleep mode) is Wi-Fi setup. It worked without problems with my router. So far I haven’t seen any connection drops. I got NetgearWNR2200 in 300Mbps mode and AppleTV2 is constantly dropping connections so I was skeptical but KF seems to handle it better. Second step was downloading of OS update and it took a while but no problems to report. At the end I asked about my identity. It looks like it was preloaded with my data so I did not have to enter anything about my Amazon account. It just registered my device.
Finally it shows main screen which looks like bookshelf. Kindle Fire does not have any buttons so most of apps got think belt at the bottom of the screen to activate toolbar. It is not a big deal when you get used to it but some applications not written for Kindle Fire might have part of their screen covered by it. Device comes preloaded with all Amazon Android apps and without any Google apps. If you stay in Amazon ecosystem it might be sufficient. So far I cannot tell when I need to get something from outside. One of the applications I was counting to get was doubleTwist which is not supported yet.
When you looks at your shelf you might noticed that some stuff is on your device but a lot of media is offloaded to Amazon Cloud. I am ok with it. I already uploaded my music to their cloud so I can stream it instantly on this device. All my Kindle books also appeared automatically but when I tried to open Kindle downloaded a book from net. When you buy app from you desktop computer browser it will end up in a cloud too. You have to install it to the device later.
If you are Amazon Prime user and got it turned on you will noticed that it’s extremely easy to shop with this device. It never asks you any questions so I am a little concerned if I can give it to my daughter. She might buy something without even knowing it.
I read reviews comparing this device to other tablets claiming slow performance and limited experience. Yes it is not iPad2 or any high-end Android tablet but if you are only interested in consuming media and you are Amazon customer it could be sufficient. I haven’t tested any games that require a lot of GPU power but for casual gamer mostly playing flash games on internet it was fast enough. There are many things I haven’t touched so far so later I might have different opinion. Right now I think that for average consumer it will be sufficient.
One of my favorite photos, I have been there only two times so far and this photo comes from my first trip. It is two hours drive one way from Ubehebe Crater on a pretty rough road which does not require 4×4 but if you do not have it you would be extremely slow. If you reach it you will see sailing stones a geological phenomenon where rocks move in long tracks along a smooth valley floor without human or animal intervention.
Racetrack Playa is a seasonally dry lake (a playa) located in the northern part of the Panamint Mountains in Death Valley National Park, California.