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Amazon Fire HD10

Amazon Fire HD10 features a big screen on a small budget

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Amazon Fire HD10 features a big screen on a small budget

The all-new Amazon Fire HD10

As the name suggests, it’s equipped with a 1080p, high definition, 10.1-inchwide screen display, making it ideal for all your entertainment needs. For the techies, it displays a respectable 1920 x 1200 pixels at 224 ppi (pixels-per-inch) for maximum enjoyment of the millions of eBooks, movies, TV shows, games, apps and music that you have access to. Stream or download videos from Prime Video and Netflix, or simply watch YouTube.

It also features dual stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos, a built-in microphone for Skype or video calls, and enhanced Bluetooth to connect an optional keyboard or wireless speakers.

Accessiblity features

The VoiceView screen reader provides access to most of the Fire tablet features for users who are visually impaired and use text-to-speech or a connected refreshable braille display. The Screen magnifier enables users to zoom in and out as well as pan around the screen. In addition, there are accessibility settings for closed captioning, font size, high contrast text and colour.

Better than ever

While this is Amazon Canada’s biggest tablet, it’s actually the ninth generation model – albeit its name. It has an updated 2.0 GHz eight-core processor, and is 30 per cent faster than its predecessor. Battery life has been bumped up by 20 per cent to offer you 12 hours of mixed-use. With its built-in PIP (picture-in-picture) function, you now have lots more time to watch YouTube, Netflix or Prime Video, while checking your e-mail at the same time.

It has 32GB of built-in storage (or 64GB), and is easily expandable up to 512 GB (from 256GB) by purchasing an optional micro SD card. The rear camera remains at 2 megapixels, which is good enough for screen resolution. And, the front camera has been bumped up from VGA to standard hi-definition (720p). Another notable change is the use of standard USB-C for charging.

It’s what’s inside that counts

The Fire HD 10 has a robust polycarbonate shell, but it doesn’t have the sleekness, or all the bells and whistles that you might find on an iPad or higher end Android tablets. An entry-level iPad has a significantly more powerful processor, an advanced photo grade 8-megapixel camera and a 1.2-megapixel camera with Retina flash, and it takes advantage of Apple’s full iOS operating system. With millions of apps, it can, virtually, replace your computer.

The Fire HD, on the other hand, runs its own operating system, Fire OS, a customized version of Android 9.0 Pie. It’s designed for functionality as shown above and not necessarily for those who need to be on the leading edge of technology. It offers limited Google Services and a smaller app offering, but is a perfect companion for home or on the road for those who are already connected to the Amazon eco-system – those who subscribe to Amazon Prime or Prime Video.

Even better, it’s also less than half the price of an entry-level iPad.

Amazon Fire HD 10 (32GB) retails in Canada for only $199.99 ($40 more for 64GB). It includes a USB-C charging cable and power adapter. You can find them at your local Best Buy, The Source and, of course, through Amazon. It is fairly large, so to protect it and have hands-free viewing, it might be a good idea to pick up a matching tablet case, that doubles as a stand.

Greg Gazin is a syndicated tech columnist, blogger, podcaster (host and producer), and contributes to canoe.com, Troy Media and Active Life magazine.

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Bells & Whistles - Ford's in-car SYNC 3 infotainment system

Bells & Whistles – Ford’s in-car SYNC 3 infotainment system

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Bells & Whistles – Ford’s in-car SYNC 3 infotainment system

If you combine the words information and entertainment you get ‘infotainment’ – and this is exactly what you’ll get in the 2020 Ford Explorer. The Ford Motor Company has come up with the perfect combination of a car stereo with an information and navigation system – SYNC 3.

Anticipating your needs

Smartphones and tablets are becoming more intuitive and easier to use with each new generation. Up until now, infotainment systems have often seemed like an after-thought, and operating them seemed counter-intuitive.

Not only do these systems need to be secure, functional and seamless to use, but they also need to keep you, and your family, safe while driving. “The SYNC 3 has been based on customer feedback – by the same people who are driving and interacting with their Ford vehicles every day,” says Chuck Gray, director of electrical and electronic systems engineering at Ford.

This is the first version to be fully designed in-house at Ford, and was recently unveiled at the company’s high-tech Connectivity and Innovation Centre (CIC) in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata.

More than good looks

The SYNC 3 might seem familiar to use, because it’s based on Blackberry’s QNX operating system. It’s no longer a scavenger hunt to find functions, and you’ll immediately feel connected.

It has a thoughtful, common sense layout. You can identify things clearly and navigate efficiently. You can also adjust the screen’s brightness and font size to help avoid squinting, so that you never have to take your eyes off the road for too long.

Minimized multi-tasking

The number of steps that are required to complete a task have been minimized on the SYNC 3. Many functions can also be accessed via voice control. Some controls have been moved from the console cluster to SYNC 3. Everything is easier to find, and if you’re not sure how something works, there’s an animated visual indication or a video to explain it to you – no manual required.

All your radio audio presets (AM/FM/XM) appear on the main screen, regardless of the media stream. You can switch from an AM news channel, to a rock station on the FM dial, and then to the Beatles channel on SiriusXM.

SiriusXM radio enthusiasts will appreciate the smart favourites and tune start features. The former buffers the last 30 minutes from your XM favourites as soon as you turn on the engine, and the latter ensures that the song begins on the first note when you switch to your favourites.

A first on the 2020 Ford Explorer’s platinum trim package, is the 10.1-inch, high-definition, portrait display. Other models have an eight-inch-wide screen. It’s positioned vertically on the dashboard, at a height and an angle, that makes it easy to see.

Always improving

With the customer’s consent, the SYNC 3 can capture analytics in terms of how its being used. Real-live testing and improvements are ongoing. At Ford’s Accelerated Life Test Lab, the software stability team simulates the software running in a vehicle in order to detect any pain-points.

When hitting the road, it’s comforting to know that the practical application of ‘infotainment’ is as reliable as the technology that we’ve come to expect in our homes.

Greg Gazin is a syndicated tech columnist, blogger, podcaster (host and producer), and contributes to canoe.com, Troy Media and Active Life magazine.

GadgetGuy.ca


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