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Kindle Books More Expensive on Kindle Device than Amazon Web Site?

Browsing some books on my Kindle today, then later on my iPhone, I noticed a discrepancy between the prices on the two devices. I first wondered if it was because I was logged in to Amazon UK with a different account (I have two accounts; long story). But I was logged in with the same account.

I was looking at an edition of Plato’s complete works, which retains for £36.56 in hardcover. On my iPhone, the Kindle version of this book shows up at £18.69. On my Kindle, it costs £28.72.


2014 11 22 21 35 30    Screenshot 2014 11 22T21 36 45+0000

I looked more closely on the Amazon UK website on my Mac. I found that there are two different Kindle editions, one from 1997, and another from 2011, both from the same publisher. The later edition is cheaper. But the Kindle only shows me the older, more expensive edition. Very odd…

Review: Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor

Like millions of people, I need to keep an eye on my blood pressure. You can check it when you visit your doctor, but many people have “white-coat hypertension.” Just getting their blood pressure measured at the doctor’s office stresses them out, resulting in higher than normal readings. All the better reason to check it at home.

A regular arm-worn blood pressure monitor is around $50. So at $130, the Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor isn’t competing on price, but rather convenience. Saving money doesn’t matter if you don’t wind up using the device, and Withings’ version makes checking your blood pressure a lot easier.

Read the rest of the review at Macworld.

How Much Media Content Does a 16 GB iPad Hold?

In a recent article, I did a test to see how much free space was left on a 16 GB iPad after installing iOS and all of Apple’s apps. Taking into account the “Other” space that’s always lost on an iOS device, I got a bit more than 8 GB to store music, movies, photos and other content.

Today, I tried another experiment: with the base iOS installation, and no other apps, how much content can it hold? I did this in part following a Twitter conversation with Jim M. who pointed out that the idea of selling music in lossless formats was problematic with so many 16 GB devices.

So, I wanted to find out how many hours of lossless music a 16 GB iPad would hold, taking into account a variable amount of “Other” space lost; in my case, between 1 and 1.5 GB. The answer is around 48 hours.

Lossless music

Lossless music is not all the same bit rate. It compresses differently according to the type of music. It varies from around 400 kbps to as much as 900 kbps, but, on average, comes in around the middle of that range. Though if you want to copy a lot of, say, harpsichord music to your iOS device, you’ll get fewer hours of music than if you sync music that takes up less space. In my test, the average was almost exactly 512 kbps.

The next step was to see how much music I could get on my device at 256 kbps, the bit rate the iTunes Store uses. I managed to squeeze just over four days’ worth of music, or 96 hours, almost exactly twice the amount of lossless music:

256k

How about movies? I managed to sync two Die Hard movies in HD with some free space; two Harry Potter movies; one Lord of the Rings; a bit more for movies I ripped from DVDs. For the latter, since they come in around 2 GB each, I can get 5 movies comfortably.

I recall taking a trip a couple of years ago, and bringing this iPad mini with me. I was re-watching Breaking Bad, at least the seasons that had already aired at the time. I was able to fit about five episodes, as they are around 2 GB each. (I used hotel wifi to download others.)

All this is a thought experiment, designed to point out that with a 16 GB device, there’s not much space for anything. Once you start taking a lot of photos and videos, you’ll eat up free space; when you add apps, that’ll take up room. What’s left isn’t much.

This is yet another suggestion that Apple shouldn’t be selling a 16 GB device; and that users certainly should not buy it. You may only use your iPhone or iPad for a few apps, and not sync media; if so, then the 16 GB device will be big enough for you. But once you start syncing content to the device, it will fill up very quickly.

Paying the Pono Premium: Neil Young’s Exorbitantly Priced Hi-Res Music

I’ve been following the Pono story on this website. For those not familiar with it, Pono is a Toblerone-shaped digital music player backed by Neil Young, which is designed to play high-resolution music. It’s started shipping recently, and, curiously, I haven’t spotted any reviews or even comments of any depth on forums. Also, the Pono music store is not yet open.

But audio equipment review Andrew Everard spotted the pricing for one upcoming Neil Young album in Pono format. Storytone, listed on the Warner Bros Records Store site, is selling for $32.99. To be fair, this is a double album, but you can get it from the iTunes Store for only $15. Even better: get it on CD from Amazon.com for just $12. (Though on vinyl – which many audiophiles think is as good as high-resolution digital files – you’ll pay $70.)

Storytone high res

Neil Young would say that the high-res version is better; many people disagree. High-res music is priced higher than other digital files, but a difference of that magnitude is quite surprising. The Pono premium is $20 for this two-album set. To be fair, we don’t know what a standard single album will cost yet, but it won’t be cheap.

For Pono to have any chance at success, it not only has to bring high-resolution music files to the masses, but at an affordable price. It most likely will not do so, at least based on this first example.

The Committed Goes Deep on Wearables

The Committed Podcast Icon 1400x1400 01Do you use a wearable device, such as a fitness tracker? On this week’s episode of The Committed podcast, Ian Schray, Rob Griffiths and I go deep on wearables, discussing what features we want on our wrists, and how we think the Apple Watch may or may not address these desires. We also look at email productivity; find out which one of us strives for Inbox Zero. And we talk about the new Kindle Family Library, which lets you share your ebooks with your family.

Listen to The Committed, Episode 58: “Big Honkin’ iPad”.

Apple Changes “Free” Terminology on App Store; But Still Uses Free for Top Charts

Apple made a change to the terminology they use in the App Store yesterday. Instead of saying Free on the price buttons for free apps, they now say Get. Apparently – and rightly so – this is because the EU is cracking down on “free” apps that can actually cost a lot of money because of in-app purchases.

Get

Interestingly, Apple still uses the word “Free” in its lists of best-sellers.

Top free

I wonder if this was an oversight, or if they’re planning to change the charts as well; because those apps – or at least many of them – are not “free.”

Note that Apple has applied this change across the board to all kinds of content, even that content that does not have in-app purchases (free music, TV shows, books, etc.).

Check Your Netflix Streaming Speed with Example Short 23.976

If you’re a Netflix user, and you have problems with the quality of what you’re watching, you may want to find out exactly how fast your internet connection is. You can do speed tests on various websites, but they don’t show the actual speed you get from Netflix, which may be less if your ISP is throttling the service.

There’s a little-known film you can watch on Netflix called Example Short 23.976. It’s a cinema verité short – just 11 minutes long – that explores the relationship between man and his TV screen. Netflix’s description of the film gives little insight into the existential depth of this work:

“An example of 23.976 frames per second. An example of 23.976 frames per second. An example of 23.976 frames per second.”

What’s useful about this film is that it shows you exactly how fast you’re getting data from Netflix, and at what resolution. Here’s a screenshot. (It’s a bit hard to see, but at the time I took the screenshot, I was getting 3000 kbps, at 1280×720.)

Screen

When you start watching this movie, the bitrate and resolution will be low, and they’ll increase as Netflix figures out how much bandwidth you have. You may need to leave it running for a few minutes to get an accurate reading for your usable bandwidth. But this, combined with speed tests from other websites, can tell you if problems streaming Netflix are related to your overall speed or specific bottlenecks affecting Netflix traffic.

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