Content will be the end deciding factor as to how successful Amazon is with the service.
Amazon continues to blaze new trails and infiltrate industry after industry. Their latest effort is to continue to grow their market share in the video streaming space. They’re planning to release a video streaming service similar to their existing service, Amazon Instant Video, that is free to end users supported by advertisements. This service is slated to be released early next year.
This poses a serious threat to some of the main players in the space such as Netflix and Hulu. As reported in the New York Post, Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Securites Analyst, stated , “If they do an ad-supported service, they will decouple it from Prime and that is a Netflix killer.” The key to this service would be gaining subscribers. Amazon’s intentions are to bring in new users through the free service, give them a taste of what is available, and then up sell them on Amazon Prime and Instant Video.
While this news is making headlines, it is not the first time this has been done. In fact, Hulu currently uses the exact same model. Hulu was originally a free service that was ad-supported. They then built upon that by offering Hulu Plus which enabled access on a wide range of devices and full seasons of many different television series. If you access Hulu through the website, however, it still remains a free; but with limited content.
Sony owned “Crackle” is another example of a free ad-supported platform. The service primarily offers access to older movies and television and does not offer a paid version. Additionally, traditional television has followed this same model with antennae versus cable.
The historical key difference between paid for and free services has been the amount and quality of the content available. Crackle does offer quite a bit of content, but only a fraction are quality movies and Television that appeal to a mainstream audience. Hulu does offer a variety of decent content on their free version, but the majority is time-limited with expirations; B-rated movies aside.
One of the challenges will be that available content is determined by the owner of the content. Recently Taylor Swift pulled her music from Spotify, which follows the same ad-supported model in the music space, because she did not want their to be a perception that music should be free. Amazon could run into the same problem and struggle to get mass media corporations on board.
Content will be the end deciding factor as to how successful Amazon is with the service. If they can provide enough valuable content to bring in a large number of subscribers and up sell a percentage of them to Amazon Prime, the initiative will be a success.
What do you think about this announcement? Do you think Amazon will struggle to get mass media companies to buy into it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
As reported by CNET, according to an Amazon Spokesperson, those who have already pre-ordered a device will receive it on time. Additionally, traditional retail outlets will also have devices for sale on its release date: November 19th.
We can also validate the demand and interest in the device as our article announcing the new Fire Stick that was released earlier this week has received more pages views than any other article written on TechSmash in the history of time! That’s pretty incredible.
If you missed that article, the Fire Stick is a ChromeCast competitor, allowing you to view your favorite streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu, through a small dongle like device. What differentiates the Fire Stick is that it is a standalone device that comes with a remote, meaning you won’t need a smart phone to use it. (Though you can control it with a smart phone) Additionally, it has exponentially more games, a stronger processor, and 4 times the memory.
It is apparent that these differentiating factors have struck a chord with consumers. You can pre-order your device on Amazon now, or go get in line at Best Buy in preparation for its release on November 19th. (Don’t really do that, demand isn’t that high)
Black Friday is only a couple of days away, and we want to make sure you are fully prepared. With that said, Amazon has cut the prices on their Kindle eBook and Fire tablets starting Thanksgiving Day! This great sale will end November 29th or December 1st, depending on the product. Below are a list of the products as well as the sales prices and dates. Let the Amazon Black Friday savings begin!
Fire%20TV StickFire TV Stick – $24.99 (Thursday November 27th-November 29th)
Amazon does a great job providing savings during this time of year. So far Amazon has Black Friday Deals of the Week, Black Friday Deals, as well as their Cyber Monday Deals. If these deals don’t excite you, check out our Best Black Friday Tech Deals, and let us know what you are most excited for in the comment section below
Amazon made an unexpected announcement today: the Amazon Echo. The Amazon Echo is a voice controlled speaker, or as termed by The Verge, “a servant.” The device, which is set to ship in the “coming weeks”, will be regularly priced at $199; but an exclusive $99 dollar offer will be made available to a select number of Amazon Prime members by invitation only. Individuals selected will receive an invitation via email. Currently, that invitation is the only way to order the device.
The most exciting aspect of the speaker is its ability to be a virtual assistant. Her name is “Alexa.” Alexa can do a number of things such as schedule calendar appointments, add items to your shopping list, and check the weather. Additionally, she can act as an “information fountain” allowing you to ask a number of questions such as, “how many teaspoons are there in a tablespoon” or “What day is Thanksgiving this year?” She will even keep you up to date on the latest news and sports scores.
While I’m sure you’re thinking, “Siri/Google Voice/tons of other vocal recognition technology services out there already do the same thing.” The key here is convenience. According to Amazon’s product page, “Tucked under Echo’s light ring is an array of seven microphones” that enable “far-field voice recognition.” What does this mean? Hopefully it means you can be cooking on the other side of the room and ask for conversions or recipes and have them recited back to you with ease. This would prevent trips to the Genius bar due to flour getting stuck in your home button.
The Echo will also be always connected to the cloud and have a number of dedicated apps meaning you can stream music and media without the need of a smart device or PC. Apps to be supported at launch include: Amazon Music Library, Prime Music, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio. That list is likely to grow with time. The speaker will also support bluetooth 2.0 enabling you to stream high quality audio from all of your Bluetooth enabled devices enabling the likes of Pandora, Spotify, and more.
Additionally, the speaker is advertised to deliver high quality audio from its revolutionary reflex port. According to Amazon, this port “enhances the woofer’s output for deeper sounds without distortion.” The hardware includes a 2.5 inch sub-woofer and a 2.0 inch tweeter. While certainly not the biggest speaker on the market, speakers such as the Beats by Dre Pill have demonstrated how advancements in technology have increased the sound quality and amplitude of sound from smaller speakers.
What are your thoughts on the device? Do you think the vocal recognition function as a gimmick or do you think it will be useful? Let us know in the comments below.
Amazon, one of the largest purveyors of web services to business and consumers alike, has announced that it will be adding machine learning integration into its web services. Over the years, the company has gotten quite good at suggesting products to you based on your past purchases using their machine learning algorithm. Additionally, Amazon has used machine learning to make Amazon Echo one of the best voice assistants on the market. Now, organizations that utilize Amazon Web Services will have access to a powerful tool to enable them to take their businesses to the next level and increase their bottom line.
Machine learning is used by banks to verify purchases and by retailers to suggest new products on individual sites and through emails
We are on the cusp of a technological revolution poised to change the way we interact with technology and how products are marketed to us. Indeed, we may soon find ourselves in a shopping experience akin to what we saw in Minority Report. Our ability to create new data points via new products (such as the Echo) and services has allowed us to create and continuously improve data models and consumer products. Since 2010, the term Big Data has seeped into the collective vocabulary of more than data scientists and programmers. Innovations like Hadoop have allowed us to process large amounts of data at speeds never before imagined. But then came the question: what on earth do we do with it all? That is where machine learning comes into play.
While machine learning may sound complex, it is actually simpler than you may think. Machine learning algorithms consist of a set of possible models, a method for testing the models, and also a way to find the best model by running the fewest number of tests. A good example of this is trying to find the best restaurant in an area without going and trying food from each of them. In this example, you would use the menu, prices, the geographic location, and other data to create a prediction. Then, that prediction is tested. The true art of this science actually lies in just how much data to use, for too much data can both slow down prediction and introduce too much bias or error. Though that explanation may be a bit simplistic, the 50 billion predictions that Amazon produces weekly help its customers solve problems and make connections that would have otherwise been buried in petabytes of data.
While this may not initially affect us consumers directly, businesses already using Amazon Web Services will now have access to add machine learning immediately. This will allow those who classically would not have had the resources necessary for that level of data analytics to better predict what you want to buy and/or how to keep you interested in their products.
Are you ready for more companies to have grocery store-quality data tracking and analytics? Let us know in the comments.
Attention all Apple users! AllCast, a media streaming service, is now available on iOS. Those who own a iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch can now enjoy the services of AllCast. This discovery was first spotted by Engadget, and has since been topic of discussion amongst Apple owners.
AllCast is a great addition to iOS and will allow Apple owners to have a great streaming service without having to buy Apple TV. While I am sure that AllCast will be a little buggy in the beginning, rest assured knowing that AllCast will do all they can to fix any issues users may experience. At least that has been my experience using AllCast on my Android device.
Check out the video below to see AllCast in action!
Now I have to disagree with the guy int the video, AllCast is nothing like bacon! Come on, there is nothing in the world like bacon! With that said, AllCast does have some great features and it is easy to use.
What are your thoughts? Are you as excited as my partner in crime Ryan Egan is to mess around with AllCast? Once you have had the chance to use AllCast tell us all about it in the comment section below.
Remember the Segway, that awkward looking personal vehicle that Weird Al references as the culprit of his “White and Nerdy[ness]?” Of course you do, and you’ve probably only ridden one on a scenic tour where everyone had the opportunity to look awkward together so that nobody is embarrassed. I want you to do me a favor as you read this review, don’t compare the Airboard to the Segway in any way. Despite some technical similarities, the Airboard outpaces the Segway in too many ways to be compared; the most important of which is in style.
I can define the Airboard in two words: intriguing and exhilarating. This stylish skateboard/segway combo captures the attention of anyone that sees it. When we first received the device, I posted a quick video to my social media account. The response was surprising. Friends I haven’t spoken to in years suddenly want to “hang out” because they want a turn with the Airboard. While the Airboard is certainly intriguing, does its performance match its “wow” factor? Read on to find out.
Ease of Use
One of the main questions I received on multiple occasions was, “how hard is it to learn.” I stepped on and was comfortable using the device almost instantly, but I have a background in wakeboarding, skating, skateboarding, and a variety of other balance intensive activities. To get a better idea of how hard it is to learn, I had a number of other people give the device a try while I assessed the learning curve. I’m pleased to say, everyone was able to pick up and feel comfortable with the Airboard within just minutes.
The device is self balancing, so it’s not so much a matter of getting your balance on the device as it is figuring out how your lean controls the device. Leaning forward and backwards accelerates in the respective direction. Stepping on and off the device is the hardest part for beginners. To get an idea of what learning looks like, take a look at the video montage we put together. If you fast forward to 21 seconds, you’ll see Curtis’ first time ever using the Airboard.
While he nearly falls on the first attempt, within seconds on his second attempt he was cruising around the basketball court like a champ; a testament to how easy learning to ride the Airboard really is.
Maneuvering and Transportation
Once you get past the initial learning curve, you’ll find that the Airboard is extremely agile. Not only is it zippy (up to 12 MPH), but it can turn on a dime and even do 360 degree spins. We did learn the hard way, however, that fast turns are the easiest way to get thrown from the Airboard.
The device also has surprisingly good battery life. You can travel between 6 and 8 miles on a single charge depending on how and where you’re riding. Long distance riding is a surprising work out. My longest trip was 2 miles and at the end of it, both my thighs and feet were burning as if I had just finished a P90X workout. You use a surprising number of stabilizer muscles in both your thighs and feet to stay in control. It’s likely that over time you will build up endurance with more use, the Airboard just forced me to use muscles that I haven’t used in a long time. (probably a good thing) As long as you don’t mind getting some thunder-thighs, you’ll love getting around on the Airboard.
From a speed perspective, I was able to travel a mile in around 8 minutes meaning I averaged about 7.5 MPH while comfortably riding. We tested the Airboard’s max speed by riding it next to a vehicle while monitoring speed. While the Airboard can definitely reach speeds of up to 12 MPH, I never felt comfortable going faster than 10 MPH. Any Shift of your weight causes the board to turn. Riding on an uneven street and hitting bumps can cause the Airboard to weave and lose control at high speeds. There were plenty of times where I nearly fell off of the Airboard as a result of traveling at high speeds and hitting an uneven spot of pavement. FOr that reason, I averaged closer to 7.5 MPH in most of my travel. It’s worth noting that my testing of the device was limited to two weeks and it remains unknown as to how comfortable a seasoned rider could become.
It’s hard to put into words what maneuvering is like on the Airboard. Once you get the hang of it, it feels extremely natural. It really says something about how good it feels to maneuver when you spend the first night with the device watching TV while cruising around your living room for over an hour straight. I simply can’t get enough. Even my wife, who isn’t into technology whatsoever, wants to buy one after giving it a whirl.
This sidewalk crack defeated me on multiple occasions
It’s safe to say that the Airboard is an incredible travel experience, however, it’s not a perfect one. I’ve already mentioned the challenges of high speeds and uneven pavement. The Airboard also does not do well with large bumps. The airless wheels are made of a hard rubber material that don’t absorb very much shock. There were a few times that a severely uneven sidewalk crack threw me from the Airboard. Thankfully, jumping straight forward and running off your speed is relatively easy. Despite all of my “falls” I never went down on the pavement.
Overall, travel on the Airboard is a great experience. Don’t expect to travel a consistent 12 MPH and be careful when going over bumps to ensure you don’t get thrown from the device.
Design and Durability
Design and durability rarely go together in the same category, however, with the Airboard, they are closely related. The Airboard is designed to look very futuristic. The glossy black paint, blue LED lights, and stylish wheels make for a pretty package. In fact, many people who saw my initial videos thought I was actually hovering from the illusion created by the blue LED lights.
These scratches are inevitable
The Airboard’s strength in design is also one of its weaknesses. The glossy black paint is prone to scratches and trust us, you’re going to scratch your Airboard the first time you use it. If you ever have to dismount from the device, the Airboard rolls end-over-end on the pavement and scratches the paint on the wheel-wells. Additionally, there is not a lot of clearance between the ground and the bottom of the Airboard. Simply trying to go up a gutter scratched the bottom of the Airboard. While the device would certainly lose some of its sleekness in style, I would have preferred a more scratch-resistant matte paint job. This way only the deep scratches would be visible.
Paint aside, the Airboard can definitely take a beating. Despite falling off multiple times and enduring a number of people getting past the learning curve, the Airboard never stuttered once. Our time with the device was limited to only two weeks, so our durability testing is not comprehensive.
When reviewing devices we like to look for whether it has what we call the “Smash Factor.” This can be earned by either showing incredible innovation or overall outstanding performance. The Airboard achieved both. While certainly not perfect, between the sheer exhilaration of using the device and its inherent “coolness” factor; the Airboard definitely earned the “Smash Factor” award.
You can purchase your own Airboard here for $850 US dollars. If you want an insider secret, use the promo code walknomore to get a discount on your purchase.
Update: We’ve found that Amazon has various other brands of self-balancing uni-cycle scooters and they are much cheaper than the Air-wheel brand
It’s Christmas eve and love is in the air. But what if love wasn’t in the air? What would you buy for your loved ones then? (It’s an oxymoronic statement, I know) This article is a guide for two different people in two situations. This may be for someone looking for gifts for someone he or she doesn’t like. It also may be a guide to help you know what not to buy for those that you love. Let’s get started.
#DumbestGiftEver! See what I just did there? Mind you, I did it with a regular keyboard on my computer. If you want to talk about solving a problem that doesn’t exist, take a look at the HashKey. I can just hear Mr. Wonderful asking two questions: “Why?” and “How do I make money with this idea?” Somehow 136 individuals have collectively donated nearly $2,500 on Kickstarter for this product. I’m losing faith in humanity if this product takes off….
I’m sure you’re looking at this TV and thinking, “I would love someone to get that as a gift for me.” As would I, because it would be a symbol of a bond that would never break. I’m warning you of this gift because of its price. This TV is $40,000. The reviews on this TV are hysterical with reports of people selling their children into slavery, cashing in on their children’s college funds and putting them into the Army, and selling off organs to be able to afford the TV. One of my favorites (which has since been removed likely due to a visit from CPS) is below for kicks:
My wife and I bought this after selling our daughter Amanda into white slavery. We actually got a refurbished. It’s missing the remote, but oh well– for $10K off, I can afford a universal, right? The picture is amazing. I’ve never seen the world with such clarity.
Amanda, if you’re reading this, hang in there, honey! We’ll see you in a year.
I just wanted to add an addendum to my review. Since posting it, we have received a flood of responses. People have said some pretty hurtful things–even questioning our values. Let me assure you, this was not an easy decision to make, and we made it as a family. Obviously, it’s very personal. But in light of all the second-guessing, I wanted to explain our thinking.
First and foremost, screen size. I really think you can’t go too big. 85″ may seem huge, but you get used to it fast. Second, resolution. Is 4K overkill? Please, that’s what they said about 1080P! More dots = better. Period. And as far as this being a $40,000 “dumb” TV, people need to re-read my initial post: WE BOUGHT IT REFURBISHED. It was only $30,000.
Some of you may think I’m avoiding the “elephant in the room”-the real reason why this was such a heart-wrenching choice. So let’s just get it out there. Yes, the 120 Hz refresh rate is a disappointment, especially on a 4K. But life is full of compromises. And frankly, we hardly notice. All in all, no regrets.
P.S., as for our daughter, NO ONE has the right to question our parenting. Totally out of bounds. Amanda was going into 7th grade, so it was going to be a transitional year anyway. Now she gets to see the world. How many kids her age get to go to Bahrain? I sure as heck didn’t, but you don’t hear me screaming “child abuse.” Bottom line: MYOB! Seriously.
Has it been a year already? Wow! I guess that’s what 8 hours a day of immersive TV will do for you! Many of you have expressed your eagerness for an update. Well, here goes.
Generally, the Samsung has held up beautifully. We have noticed a little bit of lag, mostly in multi-player gaming–but not enough to cost us any firefights. There have been some issues up-imaging low rez content, but that’s to be expected when you early-adopt–we’re still “waiting on the world to change,” as John Mayer would say (gosh he’s talented.) On the plus side, we feel like we are now officially part of the cast of GOT. The other night Peg almost had to open a window to let Daenerys’ dragons fly out!
And you’ll all be happy to know our darling Amanda is back with us, safe and sound. She has changed a little. She’s less talkative than before (though she had some choice words for me when I asked her to clean her room). And she’s started wearing eye make-up, which has Peg a bit concerned. But welcome to thirteen, I guess. We’re just glad to have her home. And she loves the TV. That’s the main thing. In fact, she spends so much time in front of it lately, you’d swear she owns it.
While I’m sure the TV is of decent quality, I’m including this on the list to make sure you don’t accidentally make a purchase without looking at the price… You’re welcome!
This phone used to be all the rage. A one megapixel camera, the ability to play MP3s, a speakerphone, and the ability to connect to a bluetooth headset were all revolutionary in its time. The phones design was its biggest “sexy” factor. Now… it’s a flip phone. Let me repeat, it is as flip phone. The most insulting part about this gift is that it still costs more than a number of low-end smartphones on the market and it’s a flip phone. However, this is the perfect gift for your teenager with attitude who needs a new outlook on life.
Here is a gift that is just plain dumb. This is a keyboard sleeve that goes over your keyboard AND your hands. I just hope you don’t have to use a mouse, because getting in and out of this things looks like a nightmare. There ARE plenty of keyboard silencers that are available that go over the keyboard allowing you to type freely. This is the perfect gift if you’re looking for a way to un-friend someone in real life.
Have you ever wished you could just mount your tablet to your arm so that you can… hold something else? How about three remotes? Your salad? If you answered yes to any of those questions, this product isn’t for you, I’ve actually just got a ticket to the psych ward for you. In all reality, this isn’t an actual piece of tech. This is a part of a series of boxes known as Prank Packs. You can put whatever gift you want inside, but the boxes have terrible looking ideas on the outside.
Some other noteworthy mentionables include the Crib Dribbler, an infant gerbil water bottle; the Bathe and Brew, a coffee maker that also dispenses soap for use in the shower; and many more terrible ideas. I actually recommend these products just for the sheer enjoyment of seeing people’s reaction. Just make sure you have a camera handy when they open the gift.
There are plenty more bad gifts where that came from, but these are a few that we got a kick out of. We hope you did as well. We do a segment in our weekly podcast, The SmashCast, called ridickitech where we find the dumbest technology out there and tear it apart. We recommend you join us in the action sometime.
I hope all you Smashers have a wonderful and safe holiday. You’ve made 2015 a pleasure to be alive.
Have you seen a terrible tech gift idea? Share it in the comments below!