Wolverton: Amazon’s new Kindle Fire can compete against Apple’s iPad

San Jose Mercury News tech columnist Troy Wolverton today delivered this column on Amazon’s newly-introduced Kindle Fire tablet, which he says may be the first “worthy competitor” to Apple’s iPad.

Apple, of course, has the big advantage of creating a market for tablet computers like the iPad and being able to deliver a product to its fiercely loyal fan base. Other companies, like Hewlett-Packard, have tried to break into the tablet business but have not been able to knock the iPad from its perch. Hewlett-Packard, of course, made the bewildering decision to cancel its TouchPad tablet this summer, mere weeks after entering the marketplace.

Amazon seems to have been
paying attention to the failings of other iPad competitors. Unlike
previous tablets, the Kindle Fire is not trying to be an iPad clone.
It’s got a much smaller screen than the iPad. It has a much smaller
amount of storage space. It doesn’t have any cameras, so you can’t use
it to take pictures or do video chats. And it only connects the Internet
via WiFi, not the cell phone networks.

But those differences
help make the Kindle Fire distinct — and allow Amazon to offer it for a
much lower price. At $200, the Kindle Fire is in a completely different
league than the iPad and the iPad knock-offs. That price is even $50
cheaper than Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color, a similar device that’s
marketed as an eBook reader. It’s a price that, in these tough economic
times, is going to be a lot more accessible to mainstream consumers.

The San Jose Mercury news is the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and Sun’s sister newspaper.

Angry PC Gamers are still irked over MW2 (and We Love Moon Gravity)


Despite having one of the biggest launches in history and collecting over $300 million in one day, PC gamers are still upset over the feeling of being shortchanged on features, not that it’s going to tarnish the runaway success that MW2 is currently experiencing. This also sent Activision’s stock price surging allowing its controversial CEO, Bobby Kotick, to exercise his stock options netting him a cool $20 million plus in the aftermath.

And now that Amazon has officially opened its rating system, PC players have let their version have it. Surprisingly, several of the top entries lambasting the title make excellent points on why they don’t like it. Some sound as if they have even played it. There’s even a new petition out, although I doubt its success after the first one was basically ignored.

It’s hard not to think that MW2’s massive economic success has closed the door on whatever the PC crowd wants to bend Infinity Ward’s ear over with the game at this point. As upset as many are, it is a business and with that much money in tow along with the millions of sales made in one day for consoles alone, any complaints about dedicated servers will be marginalized.

Still, I’ve already seen posts talking about a tool that unlocks the console and several commands unavailable on the stock version of the title, allowing ways to kick players from games or change the field of view among others. On some days with Xbox Live, I wish I had the option to vote-kick certain players from a game, if only because of the sewage usually streaming across my headset when I take it off mute just to get a sampling of what it’s like to hear everything.

It’s only one game, though id is also considering to not include dedicated server support for their upcoming apocalyptic game, Rage. Whether others follow suit on the PC front remains to be seen, but it is clear that with MW2, Infinity Ward and Activision won’t be losing any sleep over dedicated servers.

Update 11.16.09: Those tools I mentioned earlier? Yeah, it appears that they work. Mind you, this isn’t the only thing that they’re meant for, but it does show off the kind of weirdness that having the freedom to tweak the online experience allows for. Ah, moon gravity…brings back the good ol’ days of beaching a destroyer halfway up Normandy in Battlefield 1942. Now if only they can get more players into the game…

Also, it’s not just one person doing this. Everyone on the server is affected by the rules set up by the admin, so its moon boots and unlimited ammo for everyone!

Modern Warfare 2: One star rating on Amazon


At least according to “customers” on Amazon.com in the UK.

Today’s information saturated world has turned the internet into an open bulletin board allowing anyone with a chip on their shoulder to post their unflattering review of the Transformers in less than three words, accessible to anyone with a browser. But it’s not all off the cuff. Some of that anger is also backed by a number of legitimate concerns.

Amazon is no stranger to this kind of internet vengeance. Last year, Turbotax maker, Intuit, raised the price on its flagship product by $15 and started charging users $9.95 for each additional return made on it. Predictably, this made many upset for a variety of well thought out reasons spanning more than three words. People who quickly downrated Turbotax’s listing on Amazon to one star.

The good news is that Intuit actually listened and reversed the $9.95 charge.

In another example, self-help author, Cooper Lawrence, had stated on Fox News that Mass Effect had “full digital nudity and sex.” which was extremely misleading, sensationalist “SE”XBOX” news header not helping. Mass Effect does have one sex scene, but it happens late in the game and is the kind implied on prime-time television, even for a game rated “M” for Mature (titles like Max Payne 2 or even the original Duke Nukem were a lot more explicit compared to Mass Effect). Of course, to anyone that believes that games are just evil, this is great ammunition…even if it is absolutely wrong.

Gamers quickly protested by hitting her self-help book on Amazon with one-star ratings, indirectly attacking her in the process and questioning the veracity of her own work in their comments. Soon, enough of these were submitted to drive it into the ratings basement until Amazon deleted them, but it did elicit a retraction of sorts from Lawrence a week later.

And now with Infinity Ward’s controversial decision to build IW.Net and remove dedicated server support from their latest game, Modern Warfare 2, moving it closer in design to what console players are used to, PC players furious over the changes haven’t wasted time in making their anger felt. A petition already passing 100K ‘signatures’ is still earning more, Infinity Ward’s response to the furor has only thrown more gas on the fire by simply looking at the comments, and angry gamers have already found its listing on Amazon’s UK storefront.

Interestingly enough, Amazon’s storefront over here has wisely opted not to open up the ratings for the any version of Modern Warfare 2 yet. It’s probably hard not to wonder why.

UPDATE 9.25.09: It looks like Amazon.UK have removed the PC title’s star rating (although the screenshot above shows what it had appeared as), likely because the reviews rating it aren’t from people that have actually played the game. The Xbox 360 version, though, has a five star rating according to one poster. The petition is still going strong, though, now surpassing 150K signatures. Not bad for one week.