Amazon PrimeNow – Nashville

28 11 2015
Screenshot 2015-11-28 at 10.28.59

Amazon PrimeNow

As of November 20th 2015 Amazon now offer their same day delivery service in the Nashville area. This service is available for Prime members only. There is a promotional checkout code GETITNOW that gives you $20 off your first order of $50 or more. That’s a pretty good incentive to try the service, so I did.

2 Hour Delivery Promise

My first impression of the service was that once I place an order with the PrimeNow service I’d get it delivered at my house within 2 hours (1 hour for an additional $7.99). That’s not quite how it works. Orders are delivered in a 2 hour delivery window, time is also added for picking and packing the items. So an order I placed at 8:04 am was available for delivery 10am-12pm the same day at the earliest. So worst case scenario is almost 4 hours from time of order. Still pretty amazing, but don’t think you can get that last minute item delivered in under 2 hours. It is possible to select later delivery windows when placing your order if the first window doesn’t suit you, so there is no need to wait until 3-4 hours before you want an item. There is a reasonable amount of flexibility.

Ordering and Selection on Mobile Devices only

To select and order items using PrimeNow, you must use a specific Amazon PrimeNow application which is for mobile devices only. It is not possible to order via a laptop or desktop computer. I found the experience on my smart phone to be rather limiting. A much better experience can be had on an Amazon Fire Tablet, the app there is much easier to use thanks to the larger screen. I did install the iOS app on my iPad, but the app is made for the iPhone only so is very limited on that device as well. For the best experience use an Amazon Fire Tablet. Amazon really should develop a native iPad app.

If you have a tricky place to find or need to provide the driver with special instructions, that can be done in the app during the checkout process.

Wide selection of items

The Nashville PrimeNow warehouse, located close to Nashville airport, carries a wide range of products. I hadn’t expected items such as Ice Cream and Eggs to be available. I had imagined more durable and non perishable goods. Even though they deliver grocery items, this is a different service to Amazon Fresh. Fresh isn’t available in Nashville, but PrimeNow is pretty close to it.

When you see bulky items such as 50″ TV’s or a smoker offered you realize that this is more than a convenience service. This service could impact Best Buy and other electronics outlets in the Nashville area. If your car isn’t big enough for a large TV, the Amazon delivery maybe quicker than the local stores delivery and you don’t have to change out of your PJ’s!!

Delivery is Free – Sort of

Amazon deliver within the 2 hour window for free. You can’t argue with free. However there is a delivery driver gratuity of 10% added to your order. Amazon promise that 100% of the gratuity goes to the driver. You can alter the tip amount up or down, a tip isn’t mandatory, you could reduce it to zero if you really wanted to.

The odd thing is that the tip is charged when you place the order, not at the time of delivery. Tips should be a reward for good service and the amount set as appropriate. It is possible you’d tip a driver well and he/she be late or rude. That wouldn’t be good. There should be an option to add a tip on your mobile device after the delivery is made.

Drivers are instructed to refuse tips in cash, so giving a cash tip isn’t possible.

Good prices

I purchased 5 items, they were at or below the prices on Amazons main website. One item was $15 cheaper via PrimeNow in two hours versus ordering online with 2 day shipping. The online item that was more expensive was sold through a merchant, not Amazon directly, which explains the price variance.

Before ordering online check the prices of items on PrimeNow, the savings may more than cover the cost of a tip for the driver!!

Uber like tracking of Delivery vehicle.

Screenshot_2015-11-28-09-25-04

Amazon PrimeNow

Using the mobile app it is possible to see the location of the delivery vehicle in real time on a map. This is handy, if the driver leaves early or late you’ll know roughly when to expect him/her. Or if they get stuck in traffic you’ll see that’s the case. I was able to see that the driver was delivering to other homes in our area 30 minutes before he came to ours.

Amazon prefer if you are at the delivery address when the delivery occurs. This is understandable with perishable items such as ice cream. It is possible to opt for items to be left without anyone being present.

1 Hour Delivery only available in select locations.

Screenshot 2015-11-28 at 10.29.43

Service availability is determined by Zip code.

My home is about a 30 minute drive from the Amazon PrimeNow warehouse.  As such Amazon do not offer 1 hour delivery for the extra fee of $7.99 in my zIp code. Not that I needed my items that quickly anyway. Don’t expect 1 hour delivery in all locations in the PrimeNow service area. It would be handy if they had a map showing the service area and delivery time windows available by zip code.

How Amazon select which zip codes are covered is also a mystery. My Daughters home which is about the same drive time from the warehouse is not covered. Maybe it’s based on the number of Prime Members in a zip code as well as distance/travel time. Transparency isn’t Amazon’s strong suit.

Did they turn up on time?

Yes, the items arrived during the 2 hour delivery window and less than 3 hours from time of purchase.

8:04am Order Placed and email acknowledgement received.

10:28am Text Received to say Geoffrey was close.

10:53am Driver arrived with order

10:54am Text received indicating delivery has been made.

Drivers use their own vehicles.

My driver arrived in a saloon car which appeared to be privately owned. I don’t know if drivers get paid for the miles they drive, my guess is not and that gas and wear and tear on their vehicle comes directly out of their own pockets. Amazon hire the drivers as independent contractors. All the more reason to be sure to give them a tip!!

Items packaged in a brown paper bag.

Small items are grouped and placed into a brown paper bag. Much less waste compared to the shipping boxes we have grown accustomed to with mail order. The bag has your address and the delivery time window prominently marked on a large label that is used to seal the paper bag.

 

 

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Netflix stalls on iPad – Problem Resolved

9 02 2011

If Netflix streaming does not play on your iPad it could be a simple fix for an incompatibility with your wireless router.

iPads are quite notorious for having wireless issues, maybe this will be resolved with a future software upgrade for the iPad.

The symptoms I experienced are as follows. After clicking on play the Netflix app would say “Preparing to view….” and the bottom half of the screen was blank cutting off part of the movie cover graphic. Then the app would return to the movie browsing page without starting the movie.

Will Apple allow Tethering to the iPad?

To fix this issue go into the iPad settings menu for your WiFi  network and change the DNS entry to 208.67.222.222

Return to Netflix and the problem should be resolved.

The reason for the problem is that if your router utilizes DNSMasq the iPad/Netflix app misbehaves. By entering a manual DNS server address for OpenDNS service the iPad bypasses your routers DNS Cache which it is incompatible with.

In my case I use DD-WRT software in my router which by default utilizes DNSMasq to speed up your DNS queries. The problem could also be resolved by disabling DNSMasq on the router. Alternatively one could enter 8.8.8.8 into the DNS entry on the iPad wirelsss settings which would use Googles DNS service. Personally I prefer OpenDNS due to its richer feature set.





New Kindle Owner – Week 1

19 09 2010

I placed my order for the latest Kindle 3 with Wifi + 3g on September 3rd 2010 and it arrived a few weeks later on September 16th. I’ve used it for a few days now and here are my first impressions :-

The Unexpected

Being sold out and on back order I resigned myself to having to wait 2 weeks to get the device before I could use it. However as I read up on the Kindle I quickly discovered you don’t actually need a Kindle at all to read Kindle books. Amazon have released Kindle applications for computers and smart phones. Visit this web page for more details.

I was able to install the Kindle app on my Android phone and start downloading and reading Kindle books immediately.  You don’t need to have ordered a Kindle to do this, the software is freely available.

I read HG Wells War of the Worlds. I had seen the TV reenactment of the famous radio version of this story. The book however was both different and delightful. Quite a satisfying read. I was amazed how readable the book was on an Android phone. I had read the entire book while waiting on the Kindle to arrive in the mail. I found the ‘Sepia’ theme to be the easiest on the eyes. I also experimented with the Desktop application on both Windows XP and Windows 7. It worked great and synchronized my reading place between devices across the internet. Amazon refer to this sync feature as WhisperSync. It works remarkably well.

I also discovered that many classic books are free, and some books are offered for free on short term promotions. Many books offer the first chapter for free.

By the end of the first week I had purchased 17 books. 15 free, 2 paid for, for a grand total of $10. I had registered 2 mobile devices and 4 computers to my Amazon account in addition to the yet to be received Kindle.

The Good

The Kindle arrived and I found the reading experience to be much better than anticipated, even given the positive reviews I had already read on the web. The text is very sharp thanks to great contrast. This is my first time to experience ‘e-ink’ and it is quite phenomenal. In bright light I find the readability to be superior to physical books.

Not only were all my purchases available directly upon opening of the box, but all my Audible titles were also available for download. The automatic synchronization between my Kindle and Audible accounts was seamless and the audio books sound great on the Kindle. I was able to pick up reading Stieg Larssons, ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ where I had left off on my android device.

Free 3g wireless for the life of the service/device. What a deal!! No contracts, no fees just download content from anywhere with 3g data. It even works with Edge if 3g isn’t available.

The Bad

The price of e-books. You’ll notice I ‘purchased’ a lot of books at no cost, this sounds great, what can I complain about? The reason I selected free books is that current books are in my opinion over priced, as a rule of thumb, e-books are priced the same as paperbacks, or a smidgen less. Don’t blame Amazon, they wanted to price most e-books at $9.99 or less, but the publishers lead by Macmillan were successful in strong arming Amazon into charging more. Read more here . It is dismaying to see Apple at the center of the price hike as a result introducing the iPad earlier this year. More competition leads to higher prices!?! Am I missing something? I refer to higher e-Book prices that is, thanks to Apple the Kindle price is cut in half, hence my purchase :-)

Click to enlarge image

Amazon advertise the latest Kindle as having 4GB of storage. Well actually its more like 3GB usable storage. I’m accustomed to GB inflation from hard drive manufacturers, but 25% difference? Hmmm….

The Ugly

‘Experimental Features’ such as the MP3 player and Web Browser are not easy to use on the Kindle. The MP3 player is simply a jukebox that plays your MP3’s in the order they were loaded on the device. No controls.

The Web Browser is slow and very difficult to use without a pointing device. Using up/down/right/left arrows to navigate is very frustrating. One good note however, the browser scores 100 on the acid3 browser test and renders sites such as Gmail very well. Why offer a browser at all? To sell books of course.

Summary

I like it. I like it a lot. I recommend you get one even if you already have a laptop/notebook/iPad. This dedicated reading device is very compelling.





Why Amazon’s Kindle vs iPad ‘pool ad’ is a mistake

17 09 2010

Recently Amazon have aired an ad that makes fun of the iPads readability (or lack thereof) in bright sunlight.

In my opinion this is a huge mistake. The two products are complementary not competitive. What Amazon should be doing is comparing their Kindle Library to the Apple iBook Library. Content is king, devices will come and go, ones e-book library will by contrast persist for much longer.

Amazon’s Kindle library can be accessed on a wide range of devices, including the iPad no less. Making fun of a platform that you officially support is rather silly. Do Amazon really want to sell Kindles or do they want to sell Kindle books? Kindles are merely a delivery mechanism for the real product, a book, magazine, newspaper etc.

There are so many great things about the Kindle ecosystem that they could promote, the device isn’t that important. The fact that the 3g model has free worldwide 3g without any monthly cost or commitments is quite frankly amazing, push this and compare to the price of the iPads data plan. Free vs $$$ per month.

Learn more about the Kindle here.





Is it worth Pre-Ordering the iPad on March 12th?

8 03 2010

Now that Apple have announced that pre-orders are being taken for the iPad on March 12th with shipments beginning April 3rd I wondered if I should buy one to see what the all the fuss is about.

The Netbook we have is up for replacement so I tried to list the things we do with the Netbook and if the iPad could replace it. The answer is no, and its not even close.

Here are the uses we put the Netbook to :-

  • Call the UK on Skype. The lack of a webcam or USB port to accept the USB  headset we have is an issue. Would need to buy an adapter for USB devices. Not sure if headset is compatible.
  • Watch shows on Hulu – Hulu use Flash, so that rules the iPad out.
  • Play games on Facebook. Once again Flash is the issue.
  • Browse the web and check email. OK the iPad can do that well most of the time.

Since there are problems with Skype, Hulu and Facebook all being limited or non-functional, I think I’ll look for a Netbook instead that has a decent battery life and is faster than the 2nd gen Netbook we have. When you think of it, the iPad makes a poor laptop device, to get the viewing angle right you’d have to hold it with one hand or sit with your legs crossed. Crossed legs doesn’t work too well with a recliner.

Maybe the iPad 2 will be a more compelling device if and when it comes out.





Multi-Touch for the Droid Starts to Rollout!!!

6 02 2010

Google recently released a new version of Google Maps for the droid which supports multi-touch (aka pinch-zoom). Mutil-touch zooming is vastly superior to the Plus-Minus zooming previously available on Google Maps. This is a great feature upgrade.

The release of this feature has been done very quietly by Google, almost stealth like. I noticed this morning that an updated version of Google Maps was available. I performed the upgrade and it informed me of some new features. Oddly multi-touch is NOT listed as a new feature even though it is present.

The new Features listed for version 3.4.0. of Google Maps are :-

  • Starred Items synced with maps.
  • Search Suggestions from maps.
  • Night Mode for Navigation

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No WiFi? Tether your Droid and use it as a Broadband Modem

30 01 2010

We’ve all been there, you visit a holiday home or a business and no public internet is available. Maybe the Hotel or Airport you’re at want to sell you a full days access just for the few hours you’ll be there.

Tethering computers to your cell phone is one way to overcome this, and with the Droid or another 3G cell phone one can achieve pretty decent data rates. So how is it done?

PDA Net

Click to Enlarge

Visit PDA Net and download their PC/Mac client software and install it. It will prompt you to connect your phone using its USB cable or connect via  Bluetooth when it is ready to install the software on your phone. On Android phones such as the Droid, it is necessary to switch the phones USB mode to debugging mode for PDA Net to work. (Debugging mode is accessible via the phones setting menu, Applications, then Development). The advantage of using a USB cable is that the phone will be charged at the same time you are using the internet on your laptop, giving you hours of use.

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