gadgets

Standalone Kinect For Xbox One Will Go On Sale October 7 For $149.99

Starting October 7, consumers who opted to buy an Xbox One without a Kinect will be able to snag one for $149.99.

Microsoft unbundled the Kinect device from the Xbox One in a bid to lower the price of its current-generation console. Since then, according to the company, Xbox One sales have increased by more than 100 percent.

The Xbox One is part of Microsoft’s larger Windows strategy, utilizing part of the shared Windows core. Its success or failure isn’t therefore merely a gaming play for the software company; the stakes are higher.

The Kinect device will come bundled with a game entitled ‘Dance Central Spotlight.’

Kinect itself, when introduced to the Xbox 360 console in an earlier form, became one of the fastest selling gadgets of all time. Microsoft stapled an updated version of the Kinect to its third-generation Xbox console, pushing its price tag higher than that of the competing PlayStation 4. Sales dragged in the wake of that product choice.

It will be interesting to see what impact selling the Kinect by itself will have on the larger ‘spend’ that the Xbox One generates.

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Apple May Reveal A Wearable Alongside New iPhones In September

Apple should have a very busy schedule for its (yet-to-be-confirmed) event on September 9: Re/code is now reporting that it will show off its wearable device on that day alongside new iPhone hardware. The report from John Paczkowski says that Apple’s wearable will incorporate HealthKit, the upcoming software found in iOS 8 that adds fitness and health tracking features to its mobile platform, and that it will also have HomeKit features to help it somehow work together with connected home devices.

This report counters previous claims that any new Apple wearable device likely wouldn’t break cover until 2015, but it’s possible that Apple will reveal the hardware design and still launch the wearable at a later date, in the same way that it gave us an early preview of the new Mac Pro desktop computer long before getting it out to the buying public.

Including its new wearable in its September event is said to be a late-stage change in plans by the new Re/code report. The most credible claims thus far regarding the iWatch (or whatever it ends up being called) suggest it’ll be a sensor-laden device that can measure things including blood pressure, hydration, heart rate and steps, and that it should feature smartwatch functions like notifications of incoming messages, too.

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Fly Or Die: Sex Toys

This episode of Fly or Die, focused on two different sex toys, may seem straightforward, but John and I actually learned a lot. We realized that not all sex toys are created equal, especially when you’re weighing sex toys for girls against those for boys.

In this particular episode, we look at the AutoBlow 2, a blowjob machine that launched on Indiegogo earlier this summer, and the OhMiBod BlueMotion NEX 1, a panty-insert vibrator that connects to your smartphone.

While both are surely effective in their intended goals, we noticed a very glaring difference between the two products that is representative of a larger trend. Boys sex toys kind of suck.

For instance, the AutoBlow 2 only has one speed, feels generally plastic-y and cheap in real life, and must be plugged in to work. Essentially, you’re making love to a thermos as you cower near an outlet.

Meanwhile, the OhMiBod is a beautifully designed, full-featured product that has Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity alongside an iPhone app.

In short, this is a call to all the entrepreneurs out there building sex toys for guys. Step up your game.

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Philips Hue Lux Review: Smart Lighting For Less

If you’ve been eyeing the Philips Hue connected lighting series with keen interest but are also unwilling to spend the big bucks the current series demands, now’s your chance to get on board: Philips has kicked off pre-orders for the Hue Lux line of bulbs, including individual units and a starter kit including two bulbs and a base. The Lux trades programmable colors for a cheaper price tag, but most consumers won’t miss the extra features.

The Philips Hue Lux retails for $29.99 per bulb, which is half the price of the standard Philips Hue and Hue Downlights and Spotlights. The Starter Kit retails for $99.99 U.S., which is $100 cheaper than the starter kit for the standard color-changing bulbs, albeit with one fewer bulb included in the kit. The trade-off is that they only offer up a soft white light, which isn’t changeable, but all other Hue features are included, including times, geofencing, scene compatibility with other Hue apps and remote brightness control.

The Lux is a 750 lumen bulb at max brightness, which is roughly equivalent to a 60 watt incandescent lightbulb. The original Hue and the Hue Downlight produce 600 lumens and 630 lumens respectively, so theoretically you’re getting brighter maximum light here, but the softer light might appear less bright than a more pure white you can get out of the adjustable rest of the range.

Overall, the Hue Lux is a good option for those looking to supplement their existing Hue setup with bulbs for their desk and floor lamps, and for other installations where they just need basic lighting without all the fancy extras like color changing in sync with media playback. If you think about the fact that you can kit out a kitchen’s worth of six overhead sockets for $180 instead of $360, that’s going to make a big difference. The Lux bulbs also use 80 percent less power than a traditional incandescent bulb, and should last a lot longer, too, with estimated life span tapped at 22 years, adding to the overall value proposition.

It’s about twice the price of the non-Hue 60W equivalent Philips of the same design, but you get the connectivity in the mix, which really increases its overall versatility. If you’re a Hue system user, or if you’ve been curious about the Philips smart bulb range, this is a great new addition to the lineup. It’s available for pre-order now through Amazon and the Apple Store in the U.S., and begins shipping in the first week of September.

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The noPhone, Because Smartphone Separation Anxiety Is Real

The other day, as I sat on the couch with a dead iPhone resting on my belly, I found myself wondering why my phone is constantly dead. And I had a revelation: I’d rather have a dead phone within reach than be even a few feet away from it as it charges across the room. It’s pathetic, I know, but absolutely true.

Enter the noPhone.

The noPhone is built specifically to alleviate the anxiety that comes along with not having a phone, and/or work as a substitute for a phone during those moments when you should really be more attentive to what’s happening in your real life.

The noPhone can come with you on a first date so that you can still maintain eye contact and pay attention without having a panic attack. You can also take the noPhone with you when you go camping or hiking, where your phone won’t work properly anyways, to feel that smooth, cool, block of happiness in your pocket.

Or, if you’re like me, you can let the noPhone sit in your lap as your real phone charges on the other side of the room.

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Unlike most phones, the noPhone is toilet-bowl resistant, shatter proof, sand proof, and requires no battery or software upgrades.

To learn more, head on over to the noPhone website.

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The Garmin Fenix 2 Brings The Running Watch Into A Dystopian Future

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You’re in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down and see a tortoise. It’s crawling toward you… how do you train yourself to outrun it? I like to think you’d probably want a $400 Fenix 2 from Garmin.

I’ve used Garmin running watches since their first, bulbous balls of GPS electronics were launched in the early 2000s. Now, after multiple generations and iterations, after the slimming down of most of the battery and a general improvement in GPS connectivity (plus a generous dollop of improved styling) we have reached the apex of the activity watch summit. The Fenix 2 is one of the coolest-looking sports watches you can get and, for once, it’s surprisingly accurate and very, very usable. And it looks like something Pris would wear.

What does it do? Pretty much what you expect from a trail watch and a running watch combined. It features a compass, barometer, and altimeter, easily accessible from the main time screen, as well as heart rate, pace, and distance when it’s in exercise mode. In fact it supports a number of sports including, Garmin notes, “running, climbing, riding, hiking, paddling, skiing or swimming.” I’ve used it primarily for running although it was nice to have the outdoor features on bike rides.

First, let’s talk about battery life. This thing lasted about a week of regular use. I run three times a week for about an hour and, when in exercise mode, there is definitely a visible decline in battery life. As for the sensitivity of the altimeter and compass I saw no major issues and GPS lock-in times were either instantaneous in areas where it had locked in before or, unfortunately, interminable in places where there was little sky visibility or in new areas.

If you’ve read my previous running watch posts, you’ll learn that I never have good luck with GPS lock-in here in deepest Brooklyn. The Garmin Forerunner 15, an entry-level watch, had a terrible time locking in while other watches like the Nike+ Sports Watch and Polar devices suffered from the same problem. In a new location, the Fenix 2 takes about eight minutes to lock in and, once it has connected once it takes just a few seconds to lock in again. That is far superior to any of the other watches I’ve tested.

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Other cool features – sadly ones I couldn’t try out – are the swim and ski modes. From Garmin’s website:

The fēnix 2 isn’t just for outdoor fitness; special feature sets help swim training and skiing too. Borrowing from the Garmin Swim™, fēnix 2 tracks your distance, pace, stroke count and more. You just tell fēnix 2 the size of the pool you’re swimming in and begin your workout. Ski-Board mode puts speed, distance, vertical drop and an automatic run counter (with Auto Pause for the lift line) and more at your fingertips. You can even use your fēnix 2 as a glove-friendly remote, via ANT+™, for the VIRB™ and VIRB Elite action cameras.

In fact, the list of potential sports is so long on the watch it’s almost comical. I’m surprised Salsa Dancing and Bocce aren’t on the list. If you’re like me, a weekend warrior looking for an all-purpose outdoor and sports watch, this is one of the better ones I’ve seen.

It’s also worth noting that this watch is compatible with Garmin Connect, Garmin’s online service that shows you nearly everything you need to know about your runs. I especially like the route setup, a feature that allows you to drop breadcrumbs and set waypoints as you run. This means you can set a beginning and end point and then allow the watch to navigate you towards that point as you run or walk. It syncs with a PC or Mac using a specialized cable – that’s one thing Garmin hasn’t fixed yet – and can connect to Garmin’s own heart rate monitors and other ANT+ and Bluetooth-compatible accessories.

In all, I’m very pleased with the Fenix 2. It’s one of the few sports watches I would actually wear on a daily basis and, barring the need to recharge it every week or so, it could pass for a standard digital trekking watch. It’s dense and dark and cool-looking and it does just about everything a Citizen or Seiko hiking watch can do but with a styling and UI that is instantly agreeable. The GPS and heart rate features, then, are icing on the dystopian cake.

Sadly, though, I’m not certain the Fenix will be able to tell Replicant from human, a major feature that Garmin should add in upcoming versions.

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Original post: The Garmin Fenix 2 Brings The Running Watch Into A Dystopian Future

Evermind allows you to keep tabs on a vulnerable relative from afar

Launched last week by Nashville entrepreneur Dave Gilbert, Evermind is a smart system that allows you to monitor a vulnerable relative

The idea here is that by using the device, you’ll be able to take a step back from constantly going round to a relative’s house, which can cause a lot of worry.

It’s very easy to get to grips with, simply requiring you to plug each sensor into your relative’s AC outlet and then appliances they use regularly into that.

What will happen then is that when they turn that device on, you’ll be sent a text message straight to your mobile phone, keeping you in the loop.

Prices for the Evermind system start at $199 respectively, with its monitoring system at $29 per month.

 Evermind [Via Gizmag]

HTC One with Windows Phone is only a Verizon launch exclusive, coming to more carriers ‘later this year’

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Xbox One August update starts rolling out today, bringing new activity feed and mobile purchases

Microsoft promised a series of new features would land in its next Xbox One system update, and now users can finally get their hands on a newly-revamped activity feed and mobile purchases, among others.

The update is rolling out starting today and over the next few days. This means users will see the interface of their activity feed change to a single column scrolling list that is “longer and includes more content,” and they can post text to their feed and like and comment on items. Your friends list will also now show how long it’s been since a friend came online.

Mobile purchases are being introduced too — users can remotely buy games and add-on content using Xbox SmartGlass or via Xbox.com, and if the console is already programmed for auto-updates, the purchase will start downloading immediately. The Xbox One is also getting a notification when your controller battery is getting low, the ability to disable notifications during video playback, and 3D Blu-ray support.

Thumbnail image via Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

BBM for Windows Phone comes out of beta

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Best Buy Briefly Lists The Moto 360 Smart Watch For $249

Best Buy may have inadvertently revealed pricing for the Moto 360 smart watch, set to be unveiled at a press event in early September.

The big box retailer put up a listing for the smart watch on their website, which had a full list of specs as well as a $249 price tag. The page was removed shortly after appearing.

Luckily, the folks over at DroidLife grabbed a screenshot of the listing.

According to the page, the Moto 360’s circular face is a 1.5-inch 320×290 LCD display, and the watch is also said to sport a heart rate monitor and a pedometer. The listing also claims that the Moto 360 is powered by a Texas Instruments processor (though which model is unspecified) as well as 512MB of RAM.

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Of course, Bluetooth 4.0 will allow the phone to communicate with the watch. However, as Engadget notes, the listing also mentions Wifi connectivity, which is new for Android Wear.

In other words, the details of the listing may not be entirely accurate, but we can settle the matter once and for all at Motorola’s September 4 event in Chicago.

And if you’re really impatient, you can check out this hands-on video we shot at Google I/O.

See the original post here: Best Buy Briefly Lists The Moto 360 Smart Watch For $249

10 things you need to know about the Dolby Atmos home theatre system

The Dolby Atmos system has been creating a 3D aural experience in theatres since June 2012. Now the company that brought us surround sound is bringing its object-based audio experience into the home and on mobile devices.

The weird thing about audio is that it’s incredibly important to film, but when done well you don’t even notice. You’ve probably already heard Dolby’s Atmos technology in movies like Star Trek Into the Darkness or the best film of the Summer, Guardians of Galaxy. But when you do notice what’s going on with the audio, it’s spectacular.

So Atmos is coming to your TV and phone, but what does it mean exactly? We’ve broken down how Atmos will change home theatre and mobile audio and what it means for you and your ears.

What is it?

The Dolby Atmos system places speakers above the audience. But it’s more than just shoving a few speakers in the ceiling. The actual Atmos system lets film makers place sound elements in a 3D space. With 5.1 and 7.1 systems, when you want to create the illusion that someone is behind the audience you just throw that sound to those speakers. It’s a speaker based system. With Atmos, instead of pushing a sound to a particular speaker, it’s pushed to a place in a 3D space. For example, to create the illusion of  a helicopter flying overhead the sound engineering doesn’t pick which speaker the sound of the helicopter will come out of. Instead, the engineer picks a point in a 3D space and the Atmos system automatically adjusts the sound coming of the appropriate speaker.

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The tiny white line at the top of the cube represents a helicopter flying in a 3D space. The dots on the left represent the speakers. The subwoofer and two left overhead speakers are enabled at this point. 

The result is an audio experience that pulls the sound up from the ear-level speakers of 7.1 and 5.1 systems. With Atmos it sounds like water is falling on a canopy above you in a scene with a storm. When something goes whizzing by your ears it “feels” like it’s actually happening in the theatre. You can hear the system in action in Atmos-certified theatres with recent movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Trek Into the Darkness and The Life of Pi.

How does is work in my house?

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An A/V receiver with an Atmos renderer first takes a room calibration. During that initial setup, the space is mapped out to best create an audio 3D landscape. Whether you use the Atmos-enabled ceiling mounted speakers or Atmos-enabled speakers that point up and bounce the sound off the ceiling, it’s the same result and it recreates the same 3D audio environment found in certified theatres.

How does it work on Mobile?

A hardware encoder in a mobile device takes Atmos-certified content and recreates the object-oriented soundscape with your headphones. Fortunately, you won’t need to buy new headphones, but because it’s simulating the sound coming from speakers above your head, it’s not as impressive as the home theatre system. Still, it sounded pretty cool in the demo.

Do I need to buy stuff?

Yes. For the home you’ll need a new Atmos-enabled receiver with a renderer that takes the meta-data found in audio of supporting movies and pushes it to not only to the ceiling speakers, but also the rest of your home theatre speakers. You’ll also need to purchase at least two new Atmos-enabled speakers.

Screen Shot 2014 08 17 at 11.18.38 PM 220x175 10 things you need to know about the Dolby Atmos home theatre systemIf you’re the kind of person who enjoys drilling holes in your ceiling,  you can buy overhead stand-alone speakers. For the rest of us, you can purchase either new surround-sound speakers that have speakers on top that point at the ceiling. Or, you can buy module speakers that sit atop the speakers you already own. Dolby says you’ll need a minimum of two of these ceiling-facing speakers, but suggests four speakers or modules for optimal sound. If you’re already buying the new receiver, you might as well get all four speakers.

As for Blu-ray and streamers, as long as the device supports Dolby Digital Plus and can pass that information to the receiver, you won’t need to buy a new device. Most new Blu-ray players support the standard. Just make sure to enable bit-stream out. The current Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV all support Dolby Digital pass through.

What about for mobile?

For mobile, you can either buy a tablet or smartphone with a hardware Atmos renderer inside. There’s nothing on the market right now, but Dolby did say that software companies could license the technology to put in their apps. So you might be able to enjoy Atmos on your current smartphone in the future.

What content is available?

There are over 150 Atmos-enabled movies. In addition to the movies mentioned above, The Hobbit trilogy, Brave, Gravity, Ender’s Game, Frozen, Pacific Rim, and the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron are all Atmos-mixed movies. Of course, the studios need to release a home-video version of those movies with Atmos audio enabled in order for the home theatre system to create the same soundscape at home. Fortunately, the same mix used for a theatre can be used at home. So it’s really just a matter of updating the audio mix.

Will there be streaming options?

That’s up to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and the rest of the companies that stream video to our homes. According to Dolby, a 5.1 audio stream takes up 384kKbps and an stream with Atmos meta-data takes up the same space. So all studios need to do is give the Netflix’s and Hulu’s of the world a new audio stream for their movies. Netflix told TNW it has “no plans at present” and Hulu and Amazon haven’t replied to our queries yet. But if Atmos gains wide adoption, expect them all to support the audio feature in the future.

When can I buy this stuff?

A majority of the gear will be available this fall in time for holiday shopping. This includes speakers, speaker modules and receivers from company’s like Denon, Integra, Marantz, Onkyo, Pioneer, and Yamaha. There’s even an all-in-one home theatre set coming from Onkyo.

As for mobile devices, that’s a tougher call. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon Kindle Fire tablet refresh this fall includes Atmos support. The Kindle Fire line has been powered by Dolby technology for two years and frankly it’s made the tablets (and Fire Phone) sound spectacular.

How much?

The Onkyo all-in-one system will set you back $899 and the prices just climb up from there.

Worth it?

If you’re a movie buff and early adopter with a pile of cash lying around, it’s worth checking out the system. It’ll never sound as nice as the theatre, but it’s pretty damn close. But like all technologies the prices will drop as the market matures.

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