Consumer Information

New Tablet

Amazon Canada has just released their 8″ Fire tablets in Canada, enabling people to access Netflix, Spotify, Facebook, Kindle, Prime Music and Prime video for 12 hours on one charge for less than $130.

The device has a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor and is available in with either 16 GB and 32 GB internal storage, which can be expanded by another 256 using a MicroSD card. It also has front and back facing 720p HD cameras, though these are 2 MP.

I personally don’t use my tablet for photography so I wouldn’t mind the lower resolution. But I prefer a larger screen, although this compact tablet would be great for those longer train or plane rides. I’d definitely consider one for those trips over my significantly more expensive Samsung tablet, which doesn’t have as much battery life and storage capacity as the Fire Tablet.

Yes, Youtube, Google Play and Gmail will not likely be available via an app on this tablet because of the ongoing issues in-between Google and Amazon. But you should be able to access these services through the tablet’s browser and Plex is available on this tablet, an app that allows people to access media on their personal computer.

Overall, i’d say it’s a great tablet for the price.

Canada Post & Vinyl LPs

It appears that Canada Post may have decided to classify record LPs as fragile items, in essence removing their liability as per their section 12.1.2 (c) of their General Terms and Conditions :

“Canada Post shall have no liability for damage of shipments containing Fragile Items. Fragile Items include but are not limited to ceramic, glass, porcelain, mirrors, crystal, pottery, china, perishable items or items requiring refrigeration or temperature-controlled transportation.”

I have personally never received broken LPs by mail, having last received a rape LP in the summer. But this causes me to be a bit nervous, although i’m sure most retailers will do their best to package vinyl correctly.

I guess I would suggest that you choose a courier other than Canada Post/Xpresspost or Purolator when shipping rare items that are fragile. The later also has a policy removing liability on fragile items and “Collectors’ items”.

Federal Express will insure collectible items up to $100 according to their policies (pdf) and UPS will require prior approval on these items. But shipments originating from the United States may have better coverage through these services so you might want to investigate your options when you order vinyl records and collectibles from abroad.

Parcel Theft : Options

The media has been reporting on the theft of parcels lately so I thought i’d give you a few tips :

1. Signature required. If you’re shipping out gifts you should choose this option, which may cost you about $2 on most shipments. And this option is available from several online retailers, some of which are free.

2. Ring Doorbell Option. Some retailers offer this option or allow people to leave a note to their delivery person to ring the doorbell. Look for this option when placing an order online or consider a small sign instructing the courier to ring the doorbell whenever they deliver a parcel.

3. Delivery Notification. Some online retailers, shippers and courier companies offer this option, which can be sent to you by text and/or email. This will also give you a heads up if you’re at home or on your way home. And if you’re at work, you can always call home to get someone to bring it in after getting one of these notifications.

4. Drop-off / Pickup Points. Many retailers offer the option to pick shipments up at your local store, post office or a dedicated pickup point. In the case of Amazon you can either pick your shipments up at a Canada Post outlet near you or Amazon Locker in Toronto or Vancouver.

5. Security. Security cameras help but unfortunately it’s normal for people to wear balaclavas or other winter face masks during winter in some areas, so some people wouldn’t think twice seeing someone walk off with a parcel or two, even from apartment buildings. It can be a good visual deterrent though.

6. Insurance. Many shippers offer a basic amount of coverage but if you are personally shipping something out, you can always consider insurance on your shipments.

7. Package Guard. This device has been available from Amazon.com for a year or two and sends notifications via an app whenever someone places a parcel on the device. Placing a parcel on the device also arms a loud alarm that cannot be disarmed without the app.

8. Canada Post Options. If you’re going out of town and are expecting parcels via Canada Post, you can always place a hold on your mail, which can be done via this online form. You can also forward your mail and temporarily relocate your mail. And some of these options may be available from other shippers so contact them in regards to their programs.

If I think of any more tips i’ll add them to this blog entry.

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Cyber Monday

Looking through the Cyber Monday sales there still appears to be a few good deals to be had from Amazon.ca, its international counterparts, Best Buy Canada, Barnes & Noble, Indigo, NewEgg Canada, Second Spin, Sonos Canada and other retailers listed on my previous blog entry so i’ll be busy shopping around today.

I’ve already found a significant drop in price for the Deluxe version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tango In The Night” and will be keeping my eye out for other deals. 🙂

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Black Friday Time

It’s Black Friday and the following retailers are of course offering deals that you music collectors will likely be interested in :

Amazon.ca is offering discounts on CDs, vinyl records, concert DVDs/Blu-rays and headphones. So are Amazon’s international stores. I’m personally keeping an eye one of the many boxsets and blu-rays from Queen, Fleetwood Mac, Tears For Fears (Songs For The Big Chair/The Hurting), Bon Jovi and Rammstein.

Animal lovers should note that American retailer Animal Den is offering 15% off their animal themes products via the following code : BF2017

Best Buy Canada has it’s usual door crashers and other deals on CDs, headphones, etc. I’ve already taken advantage of a deal here on a waffle maker. Hey, even people who listen to music need to eat ! 😉

If you’re looking to buy used books, you can always try US Based BetterWorldBooks.com, who are offering a 30% discount on orders that contain 4 books that are shipped from the company itself. The coupon code for that offer is BLACKFRIDAY17

US book, film and music retailer Booksamillion.com is offering multiple discounts on their products, from $10 to $50 off depending on the purchase. Look for the coupon code on the main page.

Looking for security products ? Receive Up To 70% Off Select Products, only at BrickhouseSecurity.com! Use code BLACK17 at checkout. Offer valid from 11/24 – 11/26 only.

Music, television and film themed calendars and other goods are discounted at Calenders.com today : Black Friday Sale – Up to 70% off + 20% off $50 + F/S with code BLACKFRI

Indigo Canada‘s Black Friday sale includes an offer for 25% Off select toys and Beats headphones, along with several discounts on books and tech.

American computer hardware retailer MacMall/PC Mall is offering deals on both Mac and PC hardware, as well as on tablets.

American instrument and music accessory retailer Music & Arts if offering a discount of 20% on orders over US$199 with coupon code BF2017 : Shop Music & Arts!

Musicians and recording artists should note that US instrument and accessory retailer Musician’s Friend has a multitude of coupons for their products.

National Geographic is currently offering 30% off all of the products sold on their official site, including DVDs, books and other nature based products : Shop Now!

Newegg.ca is offering various discounts on its computer hardware, tablets, drones, instruments and accessories.

Stargazers and nature watchers should note that U.S Based Orion Telescopes and Binoculars is also having a sale this year : Black Friday Starts NOW!

If you like editing home or music videos on your PC, Pinnacle’s Black Friday sale is on : Black Friday deals have arrived! Save Big on Pinnacle products

American memorabilia retailer Rock.com has a Black Friday coupon for 20% that’s good up to the 25th : BLACKFRIDAY20

US software retailer Roxio is currently offering discounts on their software, for both Mac and PC : Black Friday deals have arrived! Save Big on Roxio products

American used and new CD, DVD and Blu-ray retailer Second Spin is offering a 30% discount on orders over $30 (with coupon code SSBF17). They’re also offering a 10% discount on vinyl and game orders (with coupon code BFV17).

If you’re looking for sheet music : BLACK FRIDAY CYBER MONDAY SALE! 15% off orders of $50 or more! Use code “SUPERWKND17” Shop Now! For A Limited Time Only At www.sheetmusicplus.com!

WWEshops.com is currently offering various discounts of their wrestling products for Black Friday : Great Savings at WWEShop.com!

American instrument retailer Woodwind / Brasswind is offering a 20% discount on a single item purchase of over US$99 with coupon code BF2017W : Shop at Woodwind and Brasswind

Sonos Wireless Music Player

Net Neutrality Still Under Attack

It appears that Americans will have no choice but to subscribe to services dictated to them by their internet providers. And that Canadians will be up for a fight to retain fast access with the states.

That’s right, not only are these Americans limited in regards to their choice of internet providers but these providers will be able to throttle sites that compete with sites they own or have business relationships with, which include Canadian sites.

Although this is being sold as an improvement to the internet by the Federal Communications Commission in their official November 21st, 2017 statement (PDF), most experts know that this is yet another call for deregulation, a process that eventually results in parties imposing themselves on the consumer, without a means for the consumer to defend himself/herself.

In this statement, the FCC claims “the FCC would simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate” yet nothing is mentioned about the lack of competition is some states or the possibility of fees being placed on accessing certain sites like Netflix, iTunes or even Amazon.com, who also stream content to Americans.

The bill itself calls for the US Government “to prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from reclassifying broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service and from imposing certain regulations on providers of such service” with no information on how it proposes to regulate internet providers that currently hold a monopoly on high speed internet access in some areas or how it would prevent some internet providers from blocking certain competitors or redirecting traffic to their sites.

As Canadians we should also be conserved about these content providers because whatever happens in their primary market can determine how much we pay for their services here. And it appears that quite a few of the content providers are spending considerable amounts fighting the so called “Restoring Internet Freedom Act” because it hinders not only their freedom but the freedom of their customers.

In what way is the average consumer having his or her freedoms hindered by net neutrality ?

The claim that access is being withheld because internet providers are unable to fund their infrastructure is made dubious by the amount of profit these companies release every quarter. They can easily afford expanding but won’t because they want to re-direct their customers to more profitable in house services, whose cable television services have been suffering because of the new content providers.

In other words they’re asking the FCC to give them their cable television customers back by enabling them to throttle and block their competition, which could easily include streaming broadcasts from television networks they do not own. This is a rather vague, slippery slope situation that could be so litigious as to cause subscription fees to skyrocket beyond the inflation rate. And the North American Free Trade Agreement talks won’t help either.

If you have American friends, please encourage them to visit Open Media and to contact their local representatives in regards to this issue.

Thank you.