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Review: Amazon FireTV

Amazon delivered my FireTV today, and I just have had a chance to hook it up and run through the welcome before watching a show I left off watching on my ROKU a few minutes ago.

The first thing you will notice when you inbox the unit is how basic it looks. Much like the other network streaming boxes on the market there is not much to connect. Since I am on a wireless network and not hooking up to surround sound on this TV it was two cables, power and HDMI.

Once connected to the wireless network the FireTV wanted to update it's software, which took 3 minutes and then the system restarted. Boot up was amazingly quick. It shows the benefits of the quad-core 1.7GHz processor right away.

Playback is smooth and quick, and the voice search which seemed to be just a gimmick actually works very well. The system just like all other Amazon electronic products shipped linked to my account, so there was no need to sign in to Amazon for access to Amazon instant video and Prime video content.

I'll have more after I try more apps and the interaction with the Fire HDX tablet as a second screen.

New Channel available for AppleTV Owners - WWE Wrestling!

Part of yesterdays update to the Apple TV was the addition of a WWE channel, allowing fans of the popular Wrestling network to subscribe to content and access PPV events directly from their AppleTV for a $9.95/month charge directly billed through iTunes.  Follow the link for more info.

World Wrestling Entertainment Channel Now Available for iOS and Apple TV - Mac Rumors:

World Wrestling Entertainment Channel Now Available for iOS and Apple TV

 

Review: Dungeons and Dragons Premium Deluxe Edition - Original White Books

The Classic Edition arrives in a beautiful carved wooden box.In December of last year Wizards of the Coast announced a Premium reissue of the Original Dungeons and Dragons set that started a revolution in gaming for it's 40th Anniversary.  It has been hard to come by due to limited release, but they finally got mine to me today, and it is just as I hoped it would be.

For those of you too young to remember the original Dungeons and Dragons, before there was AD&D with it's modified rules, and even before the simplified "Red Book" set came out was the original "White Book" set released by TSR Games in 1974.  It consisted of seven rules booklets, a booklet of reference sheets, and a set of five dice that literally changed the world.  I know many games and books have made this claim, but there is not a gamer, movie, or TV fan alive that does not owe a part of their entertainment for the last 40 years to this game.  

D & D was the first game that taught our youth that creating stories was just as valuable as retelling them.  It is fitting that it was released by TSR, a company founded as a way for some friends to make money from their hobby of war reenactment gaming.  They had speant hours and hours gaming and at conventions retelling stories of battles throughout history.  Now they had come up with a game that allowed them to write their own stories, and make worlds up out of whole cloth for their friends and family to play their way through;  creating new stories for them to retell their friends.

The Box Set is beautiful, and quite frankly the books are printed on better quality paper than the originals.  The set is a fitting tribute to the history of the game, and a great way to bring a new generation of gamers into the world of fantasy role playing.

 

Review: Typo Keyboard

Today I received the Typo Keyboard, made famous by way of Ryan Seacrest's investment in the company and the lawsuit they face from Blackberry over the layout of their keyboard.

Right off the bat, the fact that the keyboard needs to be plugged in separately from the phone is a killer. The second thing you notice is that typing here isn't nearly as easy as it should be. At least for my thumbs, typing is cramped and difficult to get up to speed even after 20 minutes of practice.

The good news is it adds very little bulk or size to the unit. It feels good in the hand, and is responsive to touch.

If you really need a full time keyboard on your iphone it might be a good try, but for me the short comings make the $100 price tag far too high.

Photo Review: Paper - FaceBook has never looked better

Today FaceBook released a new way for iPhone users to interact with their network, a stunning app simply called Paper.  The design team, led by former Apple designer Mike Matas and the team he brought to FaceBook with him in 2011 when his digital publishing company Push Pop Press was aquired.

Paper is a free download from the App store, and signals a completely new way to interact with FaceBook, bridging the gap between news sources and your news feed.When you first launch the app you are greater by a short video into showing off the application with the simple title screen shown here.

You are then guided through the process of adding additional news sections to your "Paper"The tutorial guides you through the process explaining how the sections relate to each other.There are plenty of preconfigured sections available, and I would guess more will be coming as the application grows.Once you finish adding sections, you are taken to your news feed. As you use the app, blue pop-over dialogs guide you through using the program.

Adding a post has the same elegance of the rest of the app. They did this thing right, and it shows they didn't miss a trick.News sections are just as clean and easy to navigate. Swiping up takes you deeper, swiping down takes you back out closer to your timeline.Once you've tapped on an article to bring it up, swiping up "unfolds it", taking you to the website that is the source of the original article.

Photos on your timeline display full screen, and pan when you turn your phone if they are wider than the phone.Re-posting a photo looks just as clean as anything else in the app. These guys really did a great job.

Conclusion

The folks on the Paper team have done what they were asked to do - try and disrupt FaceBook from the inside before someone outside had the chance to.  Drawing on every design element Apple gave them to play with in iOS 7 this team has put together a smooth application that after just a few hours has replaced the regular FaceBook app on my iPhone, and I'm sure it will on yours as well.  Trust me, once you spend a little time with it you will never go back.