Tag Archives: Gadget News

Verizon’s Nexus 6 could arrive very soon

Are you a Verizon subscriber holding out for a Nexus 6 on Big Red? Well, your wait might be over pretty soon. Leaked in-store marketing materials are starting to float about and Verizon auto-uploaded a promo video for the handset (now made private) to its YouTube channel, as spotted by Phandroid. Apparently those banners and related items are set to display come March 11th with the device releasing the next day. What’s more, Phandroid‘s sources say that when the launch does happen, Moto’s big-screen device’ll pack Verizon’s enhanced LTE service (voice over LTE) and Lollipop 5.1. In case you’ve already trained yourself for handling the phone’s massive size, Game of Thrones‘ fourth season recently hit Blu-ray should you need something else to occupy your idle appendages. You know, if you haven’t pirated it already.

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Nexus 6


Motorola Nexus 6 thumbnail image

Motorola Nexus 6

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/02/27/verizon-nexus-6/?ncid=rss_truncated

Adult Themes: The rise and fall of America’s first digital brothel

If someone forced you to describe RealTouch Interactive in just two words, you’d probably call it a “digital brothel.” And rightly so, as the North Carolina-based business specializes in teledildonics, wearable gadgets that let people “have sex” through the internet; a technology that lets paying customers connect with consenting partners online. In 2012, RealTouch was on the rise, getting featured in HBO’s Sex/Now documentary series and Amazon’s original comedy series Betas. But despite the positive press, the company’s fortunes took a nosedive. RealTouch found itself unable to sell its hardware and, what’s more, it is now catering to a dwindling group of existing customers. It wasn’t the moral majority, however, that pushed the sex-tech outfit to the brink of collapse. It was patent licensing.

The Backstory

RealTouch launched in 2008 as a subsidiary of the Adult Entertainment Broadcast Network, a service that streams thousands of movies from its own site and also owns the popular video site PornoTube. The company’s initial teledildonic hardware, simply named the “RealTouch,” consisted of a male masturbator — a motorized sleeve placed over male genitalia in order to simulate sex, designed to work in sync with a set of specially modified movies from AEBN’s back catalog. For example, if you watched a movie where a male performer was penetrating another person, that thrusting motion would be replicated by the device. If that performer were to then quicken (or slow) their pace, the device would follow suit in real time. It wasn’t the most elegant of connected-sex solutions, though, since it required its own USB “mini tower” and power supply to connect with a desktop PC.

The biggest challenge RealTouch encountered with its foray into connected sex toys was ensuring that video and motion data remained in sync for the users at home. To overcome that hurdle, the company had to abandon existing streaming-technology solutions in favor of a proprietary one built by an in-house engineering team. Instead of transmitting two separate streams (one for video and one for the device’s motion data), RealTouch’s patented technology combines them, ensuring that the onscreen action remains in sync with the hardware.

The Online Cathouse

In 2012, RealTouch added a dildo called the JoyStick to its stable of connected toys. The JoyStick had a capacitive exterior that could be used to sense any form of touch. When I spoke to “EJ,” RealTouch product manager and one of the figures behind the business, he told me that producing a capacitive surface that could handle the sensory input proved difficult as liquids (in this case, lube and bodily fluids) confuse capacitive touch devices — much like how your smartphone goes haywire in the rain.

With the JoyStick, RealTouch launched its Interactive division, a business segment wherein webcam “models” could perform sexual acts to the JoyStick for a fee. Those sensations would then be relayed, along with the live video, to paying male customers from around the world. As for the pricing model, EJ says RealTouch “tried to empower the models” as much as possible by letting them set their own rules and price structure. That means models get to individually determine how much to charge for specific sexual acts on a per-client basis, control what they will and won’t do on camera and even what’s said to them. To give you an idea of how this bears out, the current rate for oral sex from a RealTouch Interactive model ranges between $30 and $60, with something involving penetration costing roughly twice as much.

RTI’s current stable of models are entirely female, this heteronormativity seemingly at odds with the limitless reach of the internet. EJ said that when the site first launched, it had both male and female models, but “the gay crowd just wasn’t interested in it,” leading those performers to lose patience and depart. It certainly wasn’t an exclusionary choice, since the technology was originally designed for same-sex interactions as well, but for some reason “it didn’t seem to appeal.”

Even without the support of a gay male customer base, RealTouch was starting to scale new heights, and it wasn’t long before the company began to flirt with mainstream recognition, landing mentions on (at the time) unaired shows from HBO and Amazon. It was at this point, however, that the wheels began to fall off. When RealTouch launched, the company had to license some minor haptic-interaction patents for its teledildonic tech since they covered any sort of internet-based touch events; licenses set to expire in 2013. But when RealTouch offered to re-up the agreement for a similar amount, the company was rebuffed. In fact, EJ claims the owners of those haptic patents wanted “far more [money] than what was realistic.”

The Fall

The clock was ticking, for both researchers who were working on the second generation of RealTouch hardware and the factories that were preparing to manufacture the fifth run of the original. The licensors strung out their negotiations beyond the hard date AEBN would work to, forcing RealTouch to shut down. An agreement was eventually reached with the licensors, but by the time AEBN had signed on the dotted line — and for something close to the original price — it was too late for RealTouch.

The timing could not have been worse. Shortly after the shutdown, Amazon’s Betas and HBO’s Sex/Now both aired, sending mainstream interest in RealTouch’s products through the roof. By that point, however, the company had no choice but to exit the market. The backers had pulled out; the factories had moved on; and all RealTouch could do was continue to support its existing customer base with hardware troubleshooting, but not product repair. “Customers break their devices through wear and tear, but we don’t have the ability to replace them,” said EJ.

AEBN has, so far, refused to throw more money behind the project, and with no cash available to build replacements, RealTouch now sits on a slow train to oblivion. The company still has a few treasures gathering dust on its shelves, however, including nearly finished second-generation versions of both the JoyStick and RealTouch.

There’s also the company’s unreleased “couple’s product,” a device designed for the internet generation’s sexual habits. EJ wouldn’t comment directly, but it appears as if RealTouch intended to create a connected-sex-toy version of Chatroulette — the once-popular site that lets people initiate random conversations with total strangers over webcams. In this case, people of either gender would be able to engage in casual cybersex with the first person that tickled their fancy.

EJ remains hopeful that a deep-pocketed investor will arrive just in time to rescue the company from the doldrums, but the prospects remain dim. Mainstream investors aren’t too interested in adult brands, and there are few companies within the adult entertainment industry wealthy enough to put up the million-plus dollars it would take to resume production. RealTouch, for its part, would welcome a deal to sell or even license the teledildonic technology to another brand in a heartbeat, but so far none have shown interest. For all its innovative promise pioneering the connected adult entertainment industry, RealTouch, it seems, is destined to exist as a footnote in the history of technological sex.

[Image Credits: Amazon Studios (Betas), RealTouch Interactive]

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/02/26/adult-themes-digital-brothel/?ncid=rss_truncated

WSJ: YouTube isn’t making money, even with a billion viewers

Despite “Gangnam Style” having over two billion views, hosting countless other viral clips and netting over a billion users per-month, YouTube can’t seem to turn a profit. How’s that? Well, after paying for the infrastructure that makes Google’s video empire possible (and its content partners), The Wall Street Journal says that YouTube didn’t contribute to Mountain View’s earnings. The culprit, apparently, is that most users arrive at videos via links, rather than daily visits to the YouTube homepage where Google could charge a premium for ads. WSJ also reports that the site’s reach isn’t very wide either, with one source’s estimate that nine percent of viewers account for a whopping 85 percent of online-video views. That makes it a much less appealing audience for advertisers than traditional TV programming, despite the outfit’s increasing investment in original content.

Google’s hoping that things the Music Key subscription service can hold the tide of red ink back and turn that sea black. Another method is with targeted ads, so you can get inundated with sales pitches for stuff you’ve recently browsed on Amazon. WSJ‘s sources say that those might be a bit harder to add than Google previously expected, though, and thankfully could take some time to roll out. At least there’s some form of silver lining here.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/02/26/youtube-no-profit/?ncid=rss_truncated

Withings Activité activity trackers are beautiful, but limited

Forget notifications, forget apps, forget all of the noisy little distractions masquerading as help — sometimes a wearable is at its best when it stays out of your way. As it turns out, that’s just what French hardware house Withings had in mind when it built the Activité ($450) and Activité Pop ($150). In addition to that, though, these fitness bands have something perhaps even more important going for them: With their round faces and classic dials, they don’t actually look like activity trackers. Indeed, they’re not quite traditional fitness devices, nor are they full-on smartwatches, and I sort of love them for it. Just know that one of them probably isn’t for you.


If you’re looking for a wearable that’s as much a status symbol as it is a piece of gear, consider the $450 Withings Activité. The entire thing is hewn of premium materials (think stainless steel, calfskin leather and sapphire crystal), but its lovely looks are offset by its inability to do anything beyond tell time and count steps. You won’t feel embarrassed wearing it, but you will feel poorer.


Don’t be fooled its the lower price tag — there’s nothing the premium Activité can do that the less expensive Pop can’t. There aren’t any high-end materials here, but the end result is a wearable that looks great, tracks steps with ease and won’t make your wallet weep.


The Activité is by far the pricier of the two watches, at $450, with two versions available. Our review unit came with a black, calfskin leather strap and a black face, offset by a few red-orange touches like the secondary step-counting hand. Not quite your style? There’s also a model with a brown band and surprisingly handsome blue trim. (This is the one I would buy; the white face and blue accents look great together.) Both versions are better suited to strutting around town than tearing up a treadmill, but the included silicone strap helps them pull gym duty when needed. I’m glad Withings included it, but two things kept me from using it more: The default leather band looks way sharper, and my wrist tended to get uncomfortably moist under the plastic band.

If the Activité aspires to the elegant, understated charm of a Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie or a Piaget Altiplano, then the Activité Pop falls squarely in Swatch territory. That’s hardly a bad thing, per se; it does everything the premium version can, just in a less expensive, more colorful body. The Pop trades the leather for a utilitarian silicone strap, which pops on and off with the same dead-simple latch system. That downgrade in build materials is all that sets the Pop apart from its stablemate; the body is made of a darker, PVD-treated stainless steel instead of the Activité’s shiny alloy, and the hands are made of plastic. As for the glass dome covering the face, the Pop’s is made of mineral glass, as opposed to scratchproof sapphire, which you’ll find on the higher-end model. All told, the Pop was a little less comfortable to wear for long periods of time, largely thanks to that silicone strap, but you’ll be fine if you don’t suffer from Sweaty Wrist Syndrome.

Withings Activité and Activité Pop review

The Activité’s raison d’être is that colorful second hand perched under the primary one. As you go about your day, it’ll slowly sweep around a smaller dial to show you how many steps you’ve taken so far. Your baseline goal is set to 10,000 steps by default, a target you can change in Withings’ companion app if you’re feeling ambitious. That’s really it. The Activité aspires to very little, but Withings (rightfully, I think) cares more about execution than dazzling you with superfluous features. There is one neat little addition, though. To check what time your alarm is set for, just double-tap the Activité’s face; that’ll prompt its hands to dance around the clock and stop at your chosen time. It’s a lovely little touch that floored everyone I showed it to… when it decided to work, anyway. Sometimes a couple pokes with my index finger was enough to do the trick; other times I had to knock it with my knuckle. On several occasions it didn’t work at all, which made me look just brilliant in front of my friends.

When the first images of the waterproof Activité started making the rounds, I hoped for a big, beautiful Moto 360-sized dial breaking down my day’s movement. What we actually got was a pair of watch faces just over an inch in diameter, which made them feel a touch delicate on my slim wrists. This is a totally minor annoyance; Withings made the decision with both genders in mind, but I can’t help but think a larger, more substantial design would have been awesome. C’est la vie.

You’d expect a fitness-friendly wearable to come with some sort of clunky charger, but Withings managed to sidestep that little necessity. Both watches are powered by a humble button-cell battery, the sort that used to be RadioShack’s bread and butter before RadioShack stopped being a thing. Withings promises the battery can last through eight months of use before you need to schlep out and buy a replacement. I’ll update this review if that turns out not to be the case.


Since the Activité and Activité Pop don’t do much by themselves, it’s up to their companion app — Withings Health Mate — to pick up some slack. Think of it as the display the watches themselves don’t have. Once you’ve programmed your height, weight and fitness goals, you’re dropped into a timeline that neatly combines all your heart rate, movement and sleep data into a single feed. It works well enough, but the whole thing can be tough to parse at a glance with all the numbers and tiny graphs filling up the screen. Then again, if you fancy yourself a data-visualization nerd, you’ll find plenty to like here.

Speaking of data, the Activités try to collect plenty of it. By far, Health Mate’s neatest trick is using your iPhone’s camera to check your heart rate. It’s actually an ingenious little feature: With a bit of help from the LED flash, the app detects your pulse through the skin of your finger when you stick it on top of the camera. Out of curiosity, I pitted the feature against the Microsoft Band to see how it stacked up against a wearable with a built-in heart rate monitor. The results: The race was surprisingly tight. Microsoft’s wristband gave me an up-to-the-minute readout of my pulse that was always just between one and three beats per minute off from what Withings’ app reported every time I tried them. The problem is, since it requires the brightness of the flash to penetrate your skin, trying to measure your pulse in a bright room doesn’t always work. Your environs don’t even need to be that bright to throw things off: I tried this feature on a New York City subway under some middling fluorescent lights, and still had no luck.

Withings Health Mate app review

Part of me bristles at the idea of wearing something on my wrist while I sleep, but the Activités mostly did a fine job of tallying up my restful (and restless) hours in bed. My sleep schedule has been all kinds of terrible lately: I’ll sleep for three or four hours in the middle of the night, only to pass out again when I’m done working for the day. Still, it somehow never fully sunk in how terrible my sleep quality was. In fact, the app sometimes seems a little too pessimistic, which led to inevitable questions about accuracy — some nights I could’ve sworn I got more sleep than what the app was reporting. (How restful it was is a different story). After a while, a sort of philosophical dilemma arose. Does it really matter if a device/app combo like this isn’t accurate all the time? After all, broad strokes are more helpful than none at all, right? Your mileage might vary, but in my case, the app just reinforced what I already knew: Sleep more, idiot.

Before I start to sound too forgiving, know all is not well here. A couple of design decisions seem misguided. You earn badges for completing certain unseen challenges (like walking the equivalent of a marathon), but they only appear in your timeline — not the profile page where you’d expect to see all your accomplishments laid out nice and neat. Fine, that’s a minor one. Then there’s the alarm clock. When you try to set an alarm for the watch, you do so by dragging a bar up and down the screen to select the time it’ll go off. At first it’s neat, but if you have to set an alarm for, say, eight hours from now, you have to carefully drag the slider to the edge of the screen and wait for it to cycle through the hours until it finally lands on the time you want it to. A text box wouldn’t have been hard to implement, and it would’ve been so much easier. Withings may have made some lovely watches, but Jawbone and Fitbit still lead the pack when it comes to app design and stability. Bring on the updates, people — you can do better.

The competition

Withings’ two-pronged approach might seem savvy, but it’s not the only one with a wearable for all-comers. Fitbit may be the biggest example, and it’s nipping at Withings from all sides with devices like the Flex and the Surge. If you’re the sort who just instinctively reaches for a phone when you need the time, the $100 Flex might be up your alley; it’ll track your steps and sleep like the Activités will, but its more ho-hum design and lack of a meaningful display help keep its price fairly low. Meanwhile, Fitbit’s new Charge HR (which will or won’t give you a rash) packs a built-in heart rate monitor and caller ID into a sleek bracelet that costs just as much as the Pop. Willing to shell out a little more? We loved the $200 Basis Peak, which rocks a slightly more traditional watch form factor, displays smartphone notifications and can automatically tell when you’re working out or have gone to sleep.

Then there’s the Activité. For the price it commands, you could splurge on a fancy Android Wear device; the LG G Watch R and Moto 360 both cost less and do plenty more, including step count. They’re both some of your more stylish options too; though, the former definitely has a more masculine feel than either the Activité or the 360. The thing is, Withings is still working on Android compatibility for both watches so it’ll be a little while before those are viable alternatives. The get-up-and-go types reading this might prefer Adidas’ miCoach Smart Run, but let’s be real: It’s hardly a looker. If anything, the Activité’s closest rival just might be the base-level Apple Watch, which is slated to start at a lower price of $349 when it launches in April. Both wearables put a premium on design, though the Apple Watch’s ability to do more makes it a potential Activité killer if ever there was one.


I love the Activité, but man is it a hard sell sometimes. If we take a moment to zoom out, it’s exactly the sort of wearable I think people — regular people — would embrace. It’s simple — elegant, even. You can set it up through your phone and, in theory, never again touch the app (which could use some work, by the way). It adds just enough to a regular watch to be meaningful, without getting in your face about it. That said, the Activité isn’t really meant for the average schlub. Watch nerds, aficionados, fetishists — people who care deeply about what they put on their bodies and what it says about them — might find its balance of quality and performance worth the $450 price. That’s what makes the Activité Pop such a compelling option. It does everything its more expensive relative does and with a design that’s (almost) as fetching, for a fraction of the price. It still might not do enough to satisfy people on the bleeding edge of tech, but it’s a lovely place for the average person to start.

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Withings Activit thumbnail image

Withings Activité

    a href=”http://www.engadget.com/products/withings/activite/pop/”


    Activité Pop


    Withings Activit Pop thumbnail image

    Withings Activité Pop

      Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/02/25/withings-activate-review/?ncid=rss_truncated

      AMD’s next laptop processor is mostly about battery life

      AMD Carrizo

      Intel isn’t the only chip giant championing battery life over performance this year. AMD has revealed Carrizo, a processor range that’s focused heavily on extending the running time of performance-oriented laptops. While there will be double-digit boosts to speed, there’s no doubt that efficiency is the bigger deal here. The new core architecture (Excavator) is just 5 percent faster than its Kaveri ancestor, but it chews up 40 percent less energy at the same clock rate — even the graphics cores use 20 percent less juice.

      Not that this is the only real trick up AMD’s sleeve. Carrizo is the first processor to meet the completed Heterogeneous System Architecture spec, which lets both the CPU and its integrated graphics share memory. That lets some tasks finish faster than they would otherwise (since you don’t need as many instructions), and it could provide a swift kick to both performance and battery life in the right conditions. You’ll also find dedicated H.265 video decoding, so this should be a good match for all the low-bandwidth 4K videos you’ll stream in the future.

      The new chip is pretty promising as a result. With that said, its creator will undoubtedly be racing against time. Carrizo is expected to reach shipping PCs in the second quarter of the year, or close to Intel’s mid-year target for its quad-core Broadwell processors. You may find shiny new AMD and Intel chips in PCs at around the same time — that’s good news if you’re a speed junkie, but it’s not much help to AMD’s bottom line.

      Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/02/25/amd-carrizo-processor/?ncid=rss_truncated

      Algorithm determines which rappers have the slickest rhymes

      Inspectah Deck from the Wu-Tang Clan

      The days of arguing over the worth of your favorite rappers might soon come to an end. Data mining student Eric Malmi has built Raplyzer, an algorithmic program that gauges the average length of a rap or hip-hop star’s multi-syllable rhymes (the key to the “dopest flows,” Flocabulary says) and ranks that person accordingly. Based on this math, the champions are a mix of veterans and relative newcomers. Wu-Tang Clan’s Inspectah Deck is on top, while big names like Rakim, Earl Sweatshirt and ASAP Rocky are near the front.

      Malmi is quick to admit that this computer-driven charting isn’t perfect. It’s only looking for standard American pronunciations, so it won’t reflect accents or purposefully skewed words. Also, it assumes that multi-syllable rhymes are what you’re looking for — Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and Snoop Dogg sit near the back of the chart, but few would doubt their impact on the rap world. Still, if you’re tired of having to explain why you think MF Doom is better than Kanye West, you now have some evidence to help settle that dispute.

      [Image credit: Coup d’Oreille, Flickr]

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      HTC Rhyme thumbnail image

      HTC Rhyme

      1. 8

        Looks like this is called the

        Looks like this is called the “Rhyme” now

      2. 6

        What's with the creepy commercials?

        What’s with the creepy commercials?

      Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/02/24/raplyzer/?ncid=rss_truncated