Gadgets :: August 2, 2017

Gadgets :: August 2, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

The Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet with Alexa is a great little tablet, especially combined with an Amazon Prime membership.

Since I’m a longtime iPad owner, I’m familiar with the Apple app store and I was happy to see The Amazon app store works much the same and just as easy. I download a few apps I use on my iPad to see if they worked the same and they do.

The Fire comes pre-loaded a great selection Amazon apps to play, shop, read, listen and watch. You can purchase music, videos, books, games, all through the pre-loaded apps on Amazon and with a Prime Membership you’ll have lots of free options.

The tablet has a built in web browser (Silk), parental controls (FreeTime) and apps for photos, calendar, camera, documents, contacts, maps, clock, weather, and email. There’s also a Shop amazon and Amazon offers app as well as Alexa which lets you ask the tablet questions and get answers without having to type or search yourself.

Reading is my thing so I started with the Kindle Books app. If you already have some ebooks they can be loaded them but since I am new to the Fire I just went to the Prime Reading and found hundreds of free books to choose from in the Prime Bookstore and even more available to purchase.

Movies, TV shows, music, and games work the same way, with many available for free with Prime and others available for purchase.

I used the tablet to read books and watch videos on a 4 hour flight and barely made a dent in the battery power. It is rated for 12 hours of battery life, has a vibrant 8-inch HD display, a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 1.5 GB of RAM, and Dolby Audio.

The Fire is available in with 16 or 32 GB of internal storage and has a microSD slot for adding up to 256 GB of expandable storage. It is available in Black, yellow, red and blue. 16GB – $79.99, 32GB – $109.99

Creative’s Sound BlasterX Katana multi-channel gaming sound bar sound system is marketed for gamers but instantly after hearing the sound quality I’d use it for gaming, music, TV, movies or anything you want to hear in great quality and room filling sound.

If you’re not familiar with sound bars, they are a speaker built with a long slim profile.The five-driver Katena is 23.6-inches long, 2.40-inches high and just 3.1 inches deep, making it perfect to keep under a computer monitor or even attach to some TV wall mounting brackets. Regardless of where you chose to keep it, the sound will be nothing short of outstanding.

A black front facing grill covers two up-firing midbass drivers and two high-excursion tweeters. On the back is your connections, including USB, MicroUSB, 3.5 mm, optical or use it wirelessly with Bluetooth 4.2.

What makes it a complete system is the subwoofer, which houses the fifth driver, referred to as one long-throw. The subwoofer (5.1-by-11.8-by-13.1 inches) can sit in full view or hidden behind furniture, either way you’ll get the boom-boom sound effect.

As for the sound, this system goes to head-banging loud levels and while I’m not one to blast my sound, during testing I had this cranked up. Beware, If you’re in an apartment your neighbors won’t be happy if crank it up to the high volume levels.

I’m not a gamer so I tested the sound out with different presets on my receiver ranging from theater to gaming to surround sound, with each one had a different tone. There’s no right or wrong, it’s whatever is comfortable to your ears. I like a deep bass so it took some tweaking, which is how great sounding audio should be achieved.

The included wireless remote comes in handy for volume control, song selections

A really cool feature is the 49 programable LED lights from end to end on the bottom/front of the speaker. With a combination of 16.8 million color combinations you can customize the light show to you’re liking or use some of the presents. While the lights have no bearing on the sound, there’s something about them, which caught my attention and my eyes for some time.

I’ve been a sound bar fan for sometime and the Katena has shot up to the top of my list with great sound, looks, versatility and easy to use. $299.99