Unlimited Mobile Cell Phone News and Reviews

  • Switched On: Battling for the Bronze

    Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about consumer technology.

    DNP Switched On Battling for the Bronze

    Apple and Google, the latter riding on a Samsung partnership, continue to play an escalating game of units versus revenues to determine which is the top dog in mobile operating systems. However, two companies that were early players in smartphones, but late to revamp their operating systems, look on, seeking to establish themselves as solid third-place entrants, at least as a beachhead.

    A couple of years into the re-emergence of Windows Phone and its slow crawl up the market share mountain, the company formerly known as RIM has released BlackBerry 10. Both operating systems lie somewhere between the cathedral of iOS and the bazaar of Android in terms of their tradeoffs between integration and flexibility, with Windows Phone offering a broader range of hardware since it is licensed and has been in the market longer.

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  • Cloudrobot hands-on: robot pugilists throw bombs, drop jaws

    Cloudrobot hands-on

    Cloudrobot is, potentially, the worst name we’ve ever heard for a product. Thankfully, if this robotic pugilist ever does come to market, we’re pretty confident it’ll be under a different brand. These fighters are not nearly as cute or pocketable as the Battroborgs that punched their way through the Engadget compound recently. In fact, these guys are down right intimidating. The product of six developers and engineers based out of Budapest, the 16-inch tall bots pack 21 motors, controlled by an AVR chip, that allow them a stunning range of motion and precision. The movements themselves are passed to the bot by a computer, which is currently running a crude simulation / video game. The punches, blocks and footwork are all triggered by a standard gamepad connected via Bluetooth.

    Rather than risk serious damage to these expensive machines, their all metal bodies are protected from blows by Everlast-branded boxing gloves. And, in fact, they rarely come in contact with each other (at least in their current form). For now points are counted in the virtual environment, rather than in landed hooks and jabs. Which might not be bad since the bots gain quite a bit of mustard on their shots thanks to electromagnets in their feet that keep them anchored to the ring. Primarily those magnets are for stability, so that the occasional glancing blow doesn’t send them toppling over, but it also lets them “sit down” on their punches, just like a real boxer. The company is currently looking for an American partner to help them produce and market the robots. It also has a rather ambitious target price of $300 per combatant, which may have them making some tradeoffs in the final design. The best thing we can do, though, is let Cloudrobot speak for itself, so check out the video after the break.

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  • NERF Rebelle hands-on: foam arrows and AR for secretly vicious little girls

    NERF Rebelle hands-on

    Look, we loved what Mattel did with Lazer Tag last year. But, let’s be honest, that thing was pure testosterone. We’re not saying the ladies couldn’t get down, but the alien-blasting AR solo games weren’t exactly designed with little girls in mind. Rebelle ditches the lasers for NERF arrows and slaps a supposedly female-friendly coat of purple and pink paint on the whole thing. While the blasters still operate without the optional Mission Central App cradle ($15), it’s once you get the whole kit together that things really start to fall into place. The attachment lets you drop in an iPhone (4, 4S or 5) and fire up the free companion app. (And don’t worry Google fans, an Android version of the app along with a universal mount are also in the works.) Rather than focus on solo games and individual competition, the Rebelle Mission Central app encourages kids to form squads and compete not just for supremacy over their friends but also for in-game perks, like accessories for their avatars. Those virtual personas can be completely customized, allowing girls to fully embrace their secret agent fantasies.Of course, you can also document your foam-arrow battles and share them.

    The blasters themselves are pretty standard NERF fare and all some basic variation on a crossbow design. The rotating barrel Crossbow ($25) has a pump-action and a rail for installing the cradle, a feature that’s not on some of the smaller models like the pocketable, single-shot Sneak Attackers. The other model currently slated for cradle compatibility is the Heartbreaker Bow ($20), which sticks with a more traditional bow and arrow design and has a dash more wickedness to the design than some of the other blasters. The whole Rebelle line is expected to hit shelves in the fall — so little brothers beware.

    Edgar Alvarez contributed to this report.

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