Echo rumors: A new Echo Dot and a British Alexa

dot_aThe rumors have been flying for a bit that Amazon intends to release an UK version of the Amazon Echo tomorrow, September 14th.

The rumors were fueled by the fact that if you asked an Amazon Echo “What’s happening September 14th?”, Alexa would answer some variation on, “I promised I wouldn’t tell, but maybe I should start packing in case I get an invitation. A visit to London has always been on my bucket list”

A press conference has been scheduled for Wednesday, September 14, 2016 for the release of an unidentified device. Many believe that the topic will be the announcement of the UK version of an Echo device. To date, the Alexa-enabled devices have only been released in the United States.

More rumors flew yesterday when Amazon Twitter account tweeted “Introducing the all-new Echo Dot. Add Alexa to any room — now for just $49.99.” The tweet, which was immediately deleted, linked to the old Echo Dot page here. The original Echo Dot sold for $89.99. It could only be ordered through the Amazon Echo or the Fire TV and was constantly sold out. The item was apparently discontinued in at the end of July (there are conflicting stories about that: some customers were told it was discontinued; CNET and other customers were told it would be returning).

A lot of people were extremely upset at the unavailability of the Echo Dot. We use ours a lot and I personally would have bought another one if I could have gotten it before they stopped selling them. At $40 cheaper than the original, if the feature set remains the same or gets improved, this will be a big seller, especially if Amazon opens up the orders to all customers.

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!


Amazon adds Audible Channels, some audiobooks to Prime benefits.

audiblechannels-cropBack in July, Amazon’s Audible launched a new ad-free, short form audio service called Channels. The service offered short form listens that included comedy, news and more. The service was originally offered to Audible subscribers for free and then as a separate subscription service for $4.95 per month.

Today, Amazon has announced free, unlimited access to the Channels service for U.S. Prime members. Also included is a rotating selection of over 50 audiobooks. If you don’t have Prime, Channels is also available to purchase for $4.95 per month ($59.40 yearly).

Programming includes:

  • Presidents are People Too!, a series that transforms U.S. Presidents into real-life people complete with quirks, flaws, triumphs, scandals and bodily ailments, hosted by former “The Daily Show” head writer Elliott Kalan and American historian Alexis Coe

  • Bedtime Stories for Cynics, inappropriate children’s stories for adults only, presented by Nick Offerman of “Parks and Recreation” fame

  • Hold On with Eugene Mirman, in which Mirman pauses funny live stories and gets his special comedian guests, including Jim Gaffigan and “Weird Al” Yankovic to divulge new details

  • Limelight, highlighting the best new standup performances from comedy clubs across the country, with rotating guest hosts such as T. J. Miller, Ron Funches and the Sklar Brothers

  • Lectures from The Great Courses

Channels will also be offering new original programming in the coming months, with some previews and pilot episodes available now:

  • The Butterfly Effect, hosted by Jon Ronson, which explores the question, what happens when we expect things for free?

  • Ponzi Supernova, a fascinating look at Bernard Madoff, the man behind the largest Ponzi scheme in history, featuring exclusive jailhouse interviews with Madoff himself

  • Damned Spot, a series that examines the afterlife of places defined by tragic events

  • West Cork, a true crime series about an unsolved society murder, set on the south coast ofIreland

  • Extra Credit with Neal Pollack, in which the author, musician and comedian takes his 13-year-old son’s education into his own hands, and hilarity ensues

The 50 rotating audiobooks will be offered across nine Prime-exclusive channels. Contents will include:

  • Top-rated audiobooks across a range of genres, such as Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl, Karl Marlantes’ What It Is Like to Go to War, Matthew Quick’s The Silver Linings Playbook, Anne Lamott’s Stitches and Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game Alive

  • Celebrity-narrated classics, such as Scarlett Johansson’s performance of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Rosamund Pike’s narration of Pride and Prejudice, and a full-cast recording ofDracula, starring Alan Cumming

  • Shared listening experiences for the family, including Clifford the Big Red Dog, Winnie-the-Pooh, and The Velveteen Rabbit

If you own an Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or Amazon Tap, you probably already know that Alexa can read audiobooks to you. While today’s press release does not mention Alexa specifically, I am betting that we will see an integration with Channels soon. In Amazon’s What’s New With Alexa newsletter last week, there was mention of two special audiobooks for Alexa to read in September. One of them was Scarlett Johansson’s performance of Alice in Wonderland, so that may hint that Channels my soon be available on the Echo devices.

In order to get Channels, you must a Prime member in the U.S and have the latest version of the Audible app installed.

As a longtime fan of Great Courses material, I really excited to see their content available as part of Channels. How about you? Are you excited about the service?


Daily Links and Deals: I Love Reading Romance Novels, But I Won’t Compromise On These Elements Of A Love Story

daily_links_1Today, an opinion piece on must-have elements in romance novels. Also, Netflix weighs in on data caps, a critical view of the five-year limit on Chromebooks’ usleful life, a retro Nintendo deck and more. In deals, Norton Security Deluxe software.

Daily Links for day, September 13, 2016:

Twitter finally sets date to grow beyond its 140 character limit (The Next Web) Names and links won’t count against your limit soon.

Netflix wants annoying data caps to be illegal (The Verge) Netflix is lobbying really hard to ditch the data caps.

The RetroUSB AVS just replaced my childhood Nintendo (Engadget) Okay. I still have a huge box of original games in the basement that I have held onto for years. #hoarderwins

I Love Reading Romance Novels, But I Won’t Compromise On These Elements Of A Love Story (Bustle) Romance novels are very popular. Here’s a look look at one person’s must have elements list.

Why my older Chromebook has a right to live, even if Google says it’s over (PC World) Google has decided that Chromebooks have a five year life cycle. But what if your machine still functions fine?

Deals of the Day:

Amazon’s selection of Kindle Daily Deals includes The Color of Magic: A Novel of Discworld by Terry Pratchett.

In Today’s DealsNorton Security Deluxe for 5 Devices.

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find is The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss (Dahlia Moss Mystery Series #1) by Max Wirestone. The Romance Daily Find is The Gun Runner by Scott Hildreth.

Barnes and Noble also has a selection of NOOK Books Under $2.99.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is The Wednesday Sisters A Novel by Meg Waite Clayton. The Extra Daily Deal is Crysis: Legion by Peter Watts.

There is also a selection of Great Reads Under $5 and Bargain Reads in Fiction, in Mystery and other genres. The Kobo Aura One and the Aura Edition 2 e-readers are now available at the Kobo store.

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes This Time Together by Carol Burnett.

Google Books has a selection of Big Books, Big Deals (up to 75% off great reads).

(A note on Daily Deals: All prices current at the time of posting and subject to change. Most items marked Daily Deals are good for only the day posted.

Many large promotions have discount pricing that is set by the publisher. This usually means that titles can be found at a discount price across most platforms (with iTunes sometimes being the exception). If you have a favorite retailer you like to patronize, check the title on that website. There is a good chance that they will be matching the sale price.)

Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news. I also post other, different links of interest on Twitter, Facebook, and on the Google Plus eBook Evangelist Page.