Xgimi’s H1 is a powerful, portable all-in-one home theater projector

To project or not to project, that is the question.

For a growing number of individuals who are happy using their smartphones, tablets and notebooks for the bulk of their media consumption, a projector makes a lot of sense vs. a traditional TV for occasional big-screen viewing, and Xgimi’s new H1 is an even better fit than most for the mobile generation.

The Xgimi H1 is currently available for pre-order via a funding campaign on Indiegogo, but the review unit the company sent is definitely already production-ready. The projector is about the size of a medium-sized Bluetooth speaker (and it doubles as one as well), but provides a screen of up to 300-inches in size with true 1080p output, better sound than you’ll hear from far more expensive projectors, and a built-in, Android-powered computer that means you really don’t need any other devices to get a full home theater experience.

A simplified screen, with some limitations

Projector setup can be frustrating, especially when it comes to getting the angle right. The Xgimi H1 has automatic keyframe adjustment, and it’s effective enough that I was able to get a clear, aligned picture working pretty much out of the box with minimal fuss. That’s a huge advantage, especially when the total package is small enough that you can see yourself moving the projector around frequently to use it indifferent places (more on this later).

The picture quality is good – crisp and clear, with bright, vivid colors. It’s not the kind of projector that can contend with a whole lot of ambient light, however, so don’t expect to use this in the middle of the day with the windows unblocked by curtains. It’s 900 ANSI lumens are still effective with reasonable measures taken to prevent too much light getting in, like thick curtains or whenever used in the evening, however – which is true even for most home theater projectors that cost $500 to $1,000 more than the H1.

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My only real qualm with the Xgimi H1 in terms of its projected image is that size adjustment and vertical angle are entirely manual processes. Unlike other dedicated home theater projectors, the H1’s only means of increasing the size of the picture is what I like to call “foot zoom,” which means you have to adjust its physical distance from the projection surface. Others offer an optical zoom on the projection lens itself. Likewise for the angle of the lens – many competitors will offer physical “feet” which can adjust the tilt, but the Xgimi has to be placed at the proper height to hit the projection surface with a screen where you want it – which can be tricky depending on your available mounting options.

Android onboard

The Xgimi is unlike other projectors in another, much more positive way; while smart TVs have loaded in operating systems, apps and access to services, most mainstream home theater projectors are basically just output waiting for cable connections to other devices. The H1 has its own processor, 3GB of RAM, and an Android-based OS that provides direct access to content-filled apps like Netflix and Plex.

The interface isn’t native Android TV; it’s Xgimi’s own flavor of the mobile OS, reconfigured for big-screen use. Android TV is a little more visually rich and user-friendly, but the Xgimi interface is very usable, especially with the included Bluetooth remote/gaming and motion controller the company includes int eh box.

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To be clear, the H1 still has plenty of inputs and outputs, including two HDMI ports, one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port, and an Ethernet port, for connecting to external devices. But it’s also completely self-sufficient, with built-in Wi-Fi, meaning you can plug it into power anywhere you have a data connection (or stored local media) and get to viewing, without needing the other components of a typical home theater setup.

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It’s sort of like having a media PC right at your fingertips, but with more out-of-the-box support for mobile games and the apps you’re suing on your smartphone typically anyway.

Standalone sound

In addition to being itself media source, the H1 is also a standalone speaker, with Harman Kardon-branded audio. The speaker runs the length of most of the height of the projector, and its grill and the Harman Kardon branding are among the first things you’ll notice about the outside design of the H1. It’s actually very reminiscent of the look of a Sonos Play:1 speaker, which is actually a good thing because it blends seamlessly into most decor, just like the Sonos does.

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The speaker itself is pretty good, too. I wouldn’t put it quite on the level with Sonos, which manages to deliver terrific sound for its size and weight, but the H1 can definitely hold its own and offers very clear dialogue for TV and films in addition to rich music playback. It’s far better than the typical built-in speakers offered on much more expensive projectors, and it’s definitely capable enough to act as its own Bluetooth speaker for your smartphone – which it can do, with pairing as easy as it is for your average dedicated mobile sound system.

Having a capable speaker onboard is a huge reason why the H1 seems like a complete, portable package. Even your average pico projector typically requires an external sound device to be worth anything in a group setting, and yet the H1 is good for both movies and standalone tunes wherever you set it up.

Take it with you

The Xgimi H1 is a bit big in terms of devices that I’d typically classify as “portable,” but in this case the moniker definitely applies. It’s not heavy, despite its size, and it’s basically the size of a small muffin tray or a large Bluetooth speaker, both things you’d definitely pack for a friendly visit or a road trip.

Xgimi even offers a carrying case through its Indiegogo campaign, but you can probably transport it fairly easily without. And an integrated slide-over lens cover should help ease your mind in terms of damaging the optics.

The H1 is almost small enough that I’d feel comfortable packing it in a suitcase for use in hotels, but that’s a bit extreme. It’s definitely road-trip worthy, however, and paired with an external power source like a backup car battery, and a bed sheet, you could definitely use it to make yourself a mean little camp-side movie theater.

Bottom line

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While the H1 isn’t quite as good as some of the more expensive dedicated home theater offerings from big brands like Epson and Benq when it comes to image quality, it’s a far more versatile device, with IQ that’s close enough most people probably won’t appreciate the difference. It’s important to note that while the Xgimi team uses 4K in their marketing materials, that just means it can interpret and downsample a 4K signal intelligently – output is 1080p, but it does manage that with sharp definition even at large sizes.

The choice about whether it’s right for you will probably depend on what you want to do with it; if you’re looking for a flexible, bright big screen you can use in a number of different settings, the Xgimi H1 is a great all-arounder and almost certainly your best bet at this price point.

10 gizmos and gifts to encourage kids to learn to code

Welcome to the 2016 TechCrunch Holiday Gift Guide! We’ll be rolling out a bunch of guides leading up to Christmas, hopefully making your holiday shopping a little easier. Looking for gifts for others on your list? Check out our full 2016 Gift Guide Hub.

Think you’ve got a budding coder in your house?

The learn-to-code space has no shortage of ideas to inspire young minds and help them get to grips with programming logic. We’ve rounded up some of the best stuff we’ve seen recently, from toys which aim to encourage learning via play, to connected hardware kits focused on inventing and project-making, to gamified software learning environments for those happy to gift a subscription.

Prices range from a few dollars for an in-app purchase to around $200 for fancier gadgets. Whether you’re buying a gift for a three year old or a tricky teen you’ll find something to consider here.

Most students can’t inform fake news from real news, study shows

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If you thought you heard the last on fake news, you had been unfortunately mistaken.

A Stanford study discovered that most middle college students can’t tell the difference between genuine news and fake news. In fact, 82 percent couldn’t differentiate between a genuine news story on a website and a “sponsored content” post.

For the 8,704 pupils studied (ranging in age from center school to college degree), four in ten high-school students thought your area near Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant was toxic after seeing an unsourced picture of deformed daisies coupled with a headline concerning the Japanese area. The photo, bear in mind, had no supply or location attribution. At the same time, two out of each and every three middle-schoolers had been fooled by the article on economic preparedness penned by way of a bank administrator.

It would appear that those surveyed in the study had been judging credibility of news on Twitter on the basis of the quantity of information into the tweet and if a large picture was attached, versus targeting the source of this tweet.

The WSJ, which first reported regarding research, states that a big element of resolving this dilemma among young adults boils down to education, both at school as well as house.

However with 62 % of U.S. grownups obtaining the most of their news from social media, the duty for this problem also lies because of the social media companies themselves, including Twitter and Twitter.

Both Google and Facebook have made steps toward thwarting the fake news onslaught, including banning fake news companies from their advertising community. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg additionally posted several reactions toward problem on Facebook, and gave real actions toward stopping the spread of fake news on the platform.

That said, the fallout from fake news isn’t since minor as Zuck initially stated in his very first response on Twitter, in which he mentioned that not as much as 1 % of news on Twitter is fake.

In minuscule quantities, fake news has a much greater ability to distribute quickly and stay consumed by many given the type associated with salacious headlines themselves. Combined with the truth that many adults obtain news from social networking, & most young people can’t tell the huge difference, you can observe precisely how problematic this dilemma is.

Hopefully, actions toward stopping fake news come swiftly and effectively. But until then, it is essential for moms and dads to be diligent in teaching their young ones just how to figure out the essential difference between a sourced news report and a salacious headline without any evidence behind it.

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The NTSB is investigating the ‘structural failure’ of Facebook’s Aquila internet drone

Say what you will about the merits of Facebook’s Internet.org and Free Basics — it’s pretty cool that they’re building a huge, solar-powered, laser-shooting drone to deliver it. But a “structural failure” that occurred on the Aquila’s first test flight may be more serious than Facebook made it out to be: The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting an investigation, Bloomberg reports. The NTSB confirmed this and provided further details.

Facebook wrote about its tests (which occurred on June 28) in July, listing several things they were looking at, learned and so on. Under the “Real-world conditions” bullet point, the blog post admits things weren’t entirely nominal:

We are still analyzing the results of the extended test, including a structural failure we experienced just before landing. We hope to share more details on this and other structural tests in the future.

They didn’t, possibly because of the NTSB investigation, but Facebook did issue a statement today emphasizing the positive outcomes of the test:

We were happy with the successful first test flight and were able to verify several performance models and components including aerodynamics, batteries, control systems and crew training, with no major unexpected results.

Really, it was too much to hope that nothing would go wrong on the first full-scale test of an enormous, experimental aircraft design. A source close to the project told TechCrunch that some damage was expected, since the Aquila isn’t actually designed for repeat takeoffs and landings (it has skids, not landing gear), and also because the day was windier than expected. The failure occurred just a few seconds before landing from the craft’s 90-minute flight, the source said.

It’s the NTSB’s prerogative to investigate any airborne troubles like this, and clearly it decided to so in this case, perhaps because of the high-profile nature of the test and aircraft. But the NTSB wouldn’t get involved if a screw dropped off: a representative explained that it investigates when aircraft weighing 300 pounds or more cause death or serious injury, or incur “substantial damage” — defined as damage that “compromises the airworthiness of the aircraft.”

That said, if the Aquila had nose-dived into the ground, caught fire or sustained some other high-profile damage, that likely would have come out by now. A full report is expected in a month or two, at which point we’ll have more details — but considering the scope of the project and pride evinced by Facebook in the Aquila’s development, it seemed reasonable to, well, clip its wings a little bit.

(This article has been substantially updated from its original form.)

Po 3D prints personalized prosthetic hands for the needy in South America

The world of prosthetics is advancing in two directions: on one hand, if you will, the latest in soft robotics and shrinking sensors enables limbs and digits with ever-increasing levels of sensation and realism. On the other, rapid manufacturing techniques are making it possible to bring sophisticated designs to the underprivileged and geographically isolated. Po is a company in Paraguay pursuing the latter goal, making customized prostheses for people who might otherwise have never gotten anything at all.

Paraguay, as described to TechCrunch by Po co-founder Eric Dijkhuis, is “a country full of amazing people but also a lot of challenges. There is a high number of amputations per day, upper limbs being a high percentage of them, due to a lack of work safety regulations combined with vulnerable working areas, and a lot of motorcycle accidents.”

Widespread low income also means very few people can afford the kind of prosthesis they need — less than 3 percent, Dijkhuis said. Why should that be, Po’s founders thought, in an age when you can print objects into existence and get advanced control systems off the shelf?

So they got to work designing a durable, printable prosthetic hand and lower arm that can be tweaked and customized in terms of size, color and other basic parameters. There are over 100 Po hands out there being used right now that are controlled mechanically, but the team had a eureka moment when they met with Thalmic Labs about that company’s Myo device.

You may remember Myo: It fits around your arm, monitoring your muscles for bioelectric signals that coincide with various motions and passing that data on wirelessly to other devices. So making a fist or tilting your hand up could, for example, minimize the window on your laptop, or switch applications — or, in the case of a prosthesis, simply mirror that action with the artificial limb.

Now Po has five people testing MyPo, a combination of the original mechanical arm and a Myo control mechanism.

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“At a fraction of the cost, MyPo mirrors the traditional functionality of a prosthetic hand,” said Dijkhuis, “including several grips, degrees of freedom, and it can even integrate applications that already exist with the Myo armband.” So in addition to picking up and manipulating objects, gestures can be built into interact with social media, music apps and so on.

This last is a capability being investigated by others, as well: German designers recently created a Myo-powered accessory that fits onto existing prostheses and allows for this kind of interaction.

An advantage of using the Myo as a limb control mechanism is that it can tie the motion of the hand directly to the gestures and muscular activity already learned for that motion. So although the user may not have fingers to make a fist, their motor memory of the way they did it remains, and the Myo can detect it and respond.

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“They think, they remember, they do, and the Myo armband guides the whole process amazingly,” said Dijkhuis.

Po isn’t the first or only 3D-printed prosthesis, of course — many have been made already. But it’s not enough to simply make a design. There’s the matter of fitting, configuration and the cost of the components.

“We we help the user pay a figurative amount that they can afford by subsidizing the rest through private donations,” Dijkhuis explained. “We also work with independent professionals, NGO’s, allied businesses and public organizations that support our work. Our model is currently being replicated in North Argentina and South Brazil by Po partners, but our entire workflow is going to be open so anyone can start their own chapter with standardized, ready to go procedures.”

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Meanwhile, the whole thing is up on Thingiverse, where you can download it, tweak it, make suggestions or perhaps try one out for yourself.

This isn’t a particularly high-profile application of technology, since the users aren’t tech-savvy urbanites and the companies and services don’t command billion-dollar valuations. But getting a prosthetic hand to a child too poor to afford one is a goal worth shouting about.

“Creating and developing Po, we have seen the power of leveraging new technologies, like 3D printing, the Myo armband, and the power of open source,” said Dijkhuis. “We believe that these technologies applied to social impact are not only disrupting an industry, but are rewriting the rules of the game for the future of prosthetics, and handing the power of innovation to people all around the world.”

Overclocked smartwatch sensor uses vibrations to sense gestures, objects and locations

Just from patterns of motion, your smart devices know when you’re walking, when you’re riding a bike and when you lift your wrist to check the time. But it turns out they can also tell when you snap or make a fist, or whether you’re holding a smartphone or steering wheel. All they have to do is listen a little harder — well, about 100 times harder, actually.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University created a system called ViBand that supercharges an ordinary smartwatch’s accelerometer, allowing it to sense incredibly tiny variations in vibration frequency. That could be the thrum of an engine, the note being tuned on a guitar or the slight differences apparent when you move your hand in different ways.

The secret lies in the specs of the accelerometer itself. Normally, they sample motion somewhere around 20-100 times per second — more than enough to tell whether the user is walking or running, for instance.

But CMU’s Chris Harrison and his colleagues noticed something.

viband_diagram“Right there on the data sheet, it says ‘maximum speed 4,000 Hz,’ ” said Harrison in an interview with TechCrunch. It was capable of polling motion more than a hundred times faster than any smartphone was telling it to. “We saw that and said ‘hmm, bet there’s some interesting stuff there.’ ”

Sure enough, there was. Even when propagated through “a water-filled sack of bones,” as Harrison described the body, just about everything produces a unique high-frequency vibration pattern, a sort of acoustic signature that can be used to identify it almost immediately.

At first, the team considered use cases such as being able to snap your fingers to turn on a light. “But that seemed kind of gimmicky,” he said. “More interesting is being able to use the arm as an extension of this sensor. We can actually detect what object you’re grasping as soon as you grasp, and we can detect whether you’re in the car, in the kitchen…”

Think of a timer that turns on as soon as you grab your toothbrush, maps that appear when you touch the map at the entrance of a building or a two-factor system that checks not just whether you have a device, but whether you’re sitting at your desk. It can be combined with active electrical and wireless signals sent out by the watch to strengthen the recognition process.

viband_examples“Various people in the industry have reached out to us; they’re like, ‘huh, didn’t know we could do this.’ We’re in talks with some people right now,” said Harrison. “The capabilities we show, Apple or Samsung or whoever got on board could deploy it — it’s all software.”

 Examples of signals produced by various objects when pinged by the smartwatch.

Examples of signals produced by various objects when pinged by the smartwatch.

“I mean, there’s a reason we hacked an Android watch,” he added. “All these watches have accelerometers and they all have high-speed modes. But we couldn’t do it on an Apple watch, it’s very hard to hack.”

This isn’t the first foray into augmenting the capabilities of smartwatches made by Harrison’s lab. Other work has shown the possibility of wirelessly detecting the position of a finger nearby the watch, or on the skin of the arm and hand the watch is attached to.

“Smartwatches have to have like a one-inch screen,” Harrison said, “so how do you expand the envelope of interaction without sticking a giant screen on it? That’s research we’ve been working on for about five years.”

The team’s work was selected to receive one of four “best paper” awards at the Association for Computing Machinery’s User Interface Software and Technology Symposium in Tokyo.

The Moto Z gets a Nougat update and Daydream certification

The last time we checked in on Nougat market share numbers (a little over a week ago), the latest version of Google’s operating system was ranked below Gingerbread in terms of adoption. Slowly but surely the needle is starting to move. A handful of manufacturers have announced updates for their devices in the lead up to the holiday, including both variants of the OnePlus 3.

This week, Motorola’s modular Moto Z handsets will be getting Android 7.0 (not 7.1, mind) this week – or at least the Moto Z and Z Force – no word yet on the Play, but it’ll likely follow fairly shortly after, as that’s how these things tend to go.

Along with the software upgrade comes Daydream compatibility, meaning you’ll be able to plug the phone into Google’s new VR headset without any hassle, marking the first non-Google-branded handset to be certified with that official distinction. Perhaps Google is throwing a little love toward its former sub-brand.

At the very least, the Pixel is about to get a little less lonely on the Daydream page, and Motorola’s bringing some more key functionality to its most compelling handset.

Announcing the finalists the 10th Annual Crunchies Awards

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upcoming tale Instagram launches vanishing real time video clip and communications It’s the minute we’ve all been awaiting.
Today, we announce the finalists in each category the tenth yearly Crunchies Awards show.

The Crunchies actually long-standing tradition within the tech globe, where visitors nominate items, individuals and organizations to win the tech world’s exact carbon copy of an Oscar. Nominations are narrowed on to finalists by TechCrunch editors, and people finalists are then provided for the Crunchies Board, composed of notable VCs, founders, TC writers and technology influencers, all tallied and transported legally company Perkins Coie.

These categories range between Best Mobile App to Best business Video to Founder of the Year to Biggest Social influence, meaning there’s room for all to be considered.

But at the conclusion for the time (today), that massive pool of startups, individuals and companies happens to be narrowed down to the most effective and brightest.

Without any further ado, let’s get down seriously to business.

Hot New Business

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Most Useful Startup

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Most Useful Business Video

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Most Useful Technology

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Best App

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Hardware of the season

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TechCrunch Include Award

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Social Influence

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Founder of the season

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Angel Investor of the season

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VC of the season

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Congratulations to your nominees!

And also for the rest of you, we encourage you to definitely buy tickets towards 10th Annual Crunchies Awards on February 6th in San Francisco. Can’t wait to see you there!

[Image Credit: Bryce Durbin]

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Dog Parker, because even your dogs deserve a good home

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Everyone claims that dogs are a huge obligation, nonetheless it’s difficult to feel the fat of that obligation until you possess one.

Dog Parker, a new startup from ERA, is trying to sign up for some of the anxiety of owning a dog in nyc.

While you might imagine from name, Dog Parker is just a service that lets you park your dog outside of a food store or restaurant when you are inside.

Dog theft actually growing problem here in New York, and lots of puppy owners don’t feel safe leaving their fluffy friends tangled up outside alone, even for a few moments. This makes it tough to multitask taking the dog for walk while picking up take-out food later in the day or visiting the coffee shop each morning.

Enter Dog Parker.

Dog Parker is a individual-size dog house or apartment with internet connectivity. Paired with the software, Dog Parker users can reserve your pet dog Parker near their favorite bagel destination and allow their small love bug safely rest while they grab their every thing bagel on a Sunday morning.

Through software, these users can see their dog on the internet cam to make sure they’re OK, and users can also secure and unlock the Dog Parker exclusively (so no one can simply take the tiny guy).

Dog Parkers will also be fitted by having a UVC sanitation light, which handles area level cleaning of Puppy Parker between visits. At the end associated with the day, maintenance comes through and does a deeper clean on every puppy Parker.

The company beta tested five puppy Parkers across nine locations in Brooklyn and is today rolling away a whole new type of your dog Parker. The brand new puppy Parker, manufactured in New York in addition, will move away with 100 devices this week in areas in Brooklyn.

Puppy Parker people pay $25/year, plus $.20 each and every minute the solution.

If you would like browse Dog Parker on your own, hit up the web site right here.

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Managed By Q inks handle Staples

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Managed By Q, work management platform for products, has today inked a brand new handle Staples.

Included in the partnership. Staples clients will will have usage of Managed By Q’s complete suite of solutions, including IT specialists, handyman, cleansing solutions and even workplace yoga.

The concept the following is two-fold: Staples’ small- and medium-sized business customers will are in possession of access to a digital group of tools to let them do things such as employ a handyman or purchase regular cleaning solutions, while Managed By Q need the benefit of available to Staples’ massive clientele.

Managed By Q launched in 2014 with the concept of bringing on-demand services to office space. The group installed a iPad laden with Managed By Q pc software into every workplace of its clients, and through the iPad they might order office products and routine solutions.

This consists of such things as paper towels, staples, soap for the restrooms, along with other office supplies, in addition to solutions like cleaning, IT, and handymen.

Staples and Managed By Q have now been working together regarding materials front. Dan Teran, Managed By Q cofounder and CEO, stated that around 75 percent of Q’s clients order materials through platform, and Staples fulfills all of them.

Included in the partnership, the firms agree that Staples will satisfy all Q’s materials orders, while Q will give you every one of its services to Staples’ customers.

Up to now, Managed By Q has raised over $40 million in funding and contains expanded to serve ny, la, Chicago, and San Francisco.

The Staples partnership should provide a simpler path to growth, offered how founded Staples has been Q’s target clientele.

If you’d like to consider Managed By Q yourself, hit up the internet site below.

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