Handy’s Ebony Friday promo rewards contractors over customers

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Handy, the on-demand service for cleaners, handymen, and more, has now announced the Give > Get advertising for Black Friday.

This Friday, the afternoon after Thanksgiving, clients spend the same quantity as they’d frequently pay, but the business will put in a 50 percent bonus on Handy Professional’s paycheck.

The scheduling itself does not must be for Ebony Friday, but the scheduling has to be made on Ebony Friday the promotion to utilize.

Handy began as an on-demand cleaning solution and has since expanded to supply storage, handyman work, and artwork. The business at this time serves 28 areas and contains “thousands” of Handy experts regarding the platform.

This new crop of large-scale on-demand startups, which depend on both end-users and contracted 1099 workers to give you solution, begs a fascinating concern throughout the christmas. Throughout a time like Ebony Friday, typically geared toward luring customers with high discounts, Handy is as an alternative shifting focus to its contracted workers giving them bonus profits.

Considering Handy’s business isn’t suitable for being used on a vacation week-end, this Black Friday promotion is an interesting option to get end-users on platform for a time they typically wouldn’t be, while incentivizing the feet (contractors) associated with the platform.

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Lovely is finally shipping the Fitbit for sexy times

Do you and your partner often do sex? Do you want to know how much sex you’re doing? And do you want to know how good it is and how good it could be? What is sex? Does anyone know? Can Lovely help us find out?

Hopefully, because I’m confused.

Created by Jakub Konik and Tomasz Badyla Lovely is a thinger that goes on your other thinger and measures your position, speed, and attack angles. It isn’t a vibrator per se but more of a sensor that also doubles as a stimulating sex add-on. Once you’re done with the sex time you can look at your phone and get expert advice on how you did (Bad, Fair, Good, and Cool Ranch) and what sex positions to try later.

“Over two years ago after particularly intense night with my partner we started wondering how many calories we just burned. I replied that there must be an app for that and actually started looking for it, but found nothing. I did some more research, talked to sexologists, industrial designers and engineers, and realized that we could create a device that not only tells you how many calories you burn during sex, but actually understands your desires and helps you to pursue them,” said Konik.

The team hopes to create an ecosystem of sex tools for people who have and/or enjoy sex. We have yet to actually try this thing yet but rest assured a pedometer for your peder seems fairly interesting if you’re really into the quantified self. They’re selling pre-orders on for $99 and they even show pictures of how sex works on their website which could be helpful for folks who don’t know. As they say in G.I. Joe: “Knowing is half the battle.”

Another Spectacle-selling Snapbot pops up at Brentwood Country Mart in LA

Snapchat now has not one, but two Spectacle-selling Snapbots deployed at the same time. The second dropped Wednesday morning at 10 AM ET (7 AM PT) at a spot near Santa Monica at the Brentwood Country Mart in Los Angeles.

The Brentwood Country Mart is a shopping and for spot in L.A.’s Brentwood district, which actually hosts a petting zoo, too. This is the third time a Snapbot has dropped in the Los Angeles area, which makes sense given that Snap, Inc. is based there and it’s the perfect place to sell a gadget that’s trying to be more of a fashion statement and hype acquisition than an early adopter lure for nerds.

The new spot doesn’t appear to be a permanent one, like the location in NYC next to the Central Park Apple Store, which is set to run through New Year’s and restocks at least once daily. So, if you’re in the area and still want some Specs, head down early and expect a line.

Two of these out in the wild at once is a promising sign for people hoping these become available more widely. It’s a 100 percent increase over the previous number of total worldwide locations, after all.

Starbucks starts selling Ember mugs, which keep your drink at a steady temp for hours

Last year, Ember Technologies, Inc. ran a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to build a mug that keeps hot drinks at the perfect sipping temperature. By now, it’s sold 4,000 of these devices.

And in something of a coup for the startup, Starbucks Corp. has begun selling Ember Temperature Control Mugs in its stores across most of the U.S. and online for $149.95.

Whether it’s coffee, cocoa or tea, hot drinks are usually prepared and served around 160° Fahrenheit, said Ember CEO Clay Alexander — and that’s how cafes and restaurants mostly serve them. Yet, people like to drink hot beverages closer to 130°.

Commonly available thermoses work with simple insulation, but they heat unevenly and don’t cool drinks when they are searing, resulting in plenty of burnt tongues. Ember works with semiconductors inside to bring a drink to the ideal temp and hold it there it for hours, Alexander said.

Ember temperature control mug on its charging base.

Ember temperature control mug on its charging base.

Out of the box, the Ember mug needs to be charged one time. It is then ready to use. There is an optional mobile app that works in conjunction with the mug. A dial on the bottom allows users to set their preferred temperature on the mug. There are no buttons or moving parts otherwise.

To get their products sold at Starbucks was no easy feat, Alexander said. The coffee giants have a rigorous product evaluation and testing process, encompassing safety, quality and coffee tasting tests, and audits of startups that want to work with Starbucks.

Alexander told TechCrunch that the deal only happened with the help of his board of directors and investors. Working with the design consultancy Ammunition didn’t hurt, either.

Ember has raised funding from celebrity investors, including Demi Lovato, Nick and Joe Jonas and the DJ Kascade, among others.

Additional temperature-control products are in development using Ember’s patented systems. The startup wants people to be able to warm or cool liquids of every kind, without requiring any ice or open flames. So stay tuned for temp-controlled baby bottles, serving dishes and more, Alexander said.

Featured Image: Ember Technologies Inc.

Zola wedding registry lands $25 million led by Lightspeed

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Zola, the smarter wedding present registry, has finalized term sheets for a $25 million Series C round of money, based on sources close to the matter. Sources state that Lightspeed led the round, which Zola’s pre-funding valuation is at $200 million.

Zola can be an on line wedding registry that lets couples choose items from a number of brands and even set up a money investment.

Guests should buy services and products for a partners’ Zola web page and now have them sent right to the couple, preventing the hassle of entering a shop that already features a registry and dealing with the mess of present wrapping, transportation, etc. Zola gels with existing brands but additionally lets users import products from other internet sites to enhance their registry.

Plus, the Zola few can select whenever their products or services arrive or convert their gifts into Zola store credit.

Zola ended up being started by Gilt founder Kevin Ryan in 2013, and contains raised a complete of $15.85 million from investors like Thrive Capital, Canvas Ventures, Female Founders Fund and BBG Ventures (excluding this latest round).

Both Zola and Lightspeed declined to comment on this story.

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Platio turns sidewalks into solar collectors

Platio is a new company from Hungary dedicated to putting solar panels just about everywhere. They’re starting with sidewalks.

Founded by a team of engineers and architects the system uses solid solar panels overlaid on plastic backing that ensures the panels won’t break when stepped on or rolled over and that each panel connects with the next securely. Imre Sziszák is a mechanical engineer who created the injection-molded bases while Miklós Ilyés and József Cseh worked to ensure that the panels look great and work properly.

They’ve raised $70,000 for the project so far and they’ve sold 150 square meters of solar tile for their pilot projects.

The product is recycled out of plastic waste and they click together like Lego. Electric wires inside the panels connect seamlessly as well, ensuring you can place them and forget them.

“The founders are childhood friends and environmentally friendly technology enthusiasts,” said Sziszák. “Two years ago, as all us happened to move to Budapest we started hang out again and realized as having expertise in very various fields we work together efficiently. We started this project two years ago, and founded our company a year ago.”

The project is still a bit pie-in-the-sky but I saw the actual product at the Smart City Expo and the team is already shipping product to pilot customers. It’s a fascinating effort to generate free energy and reduce waste at the same time and, as the team writes, it’s an “alternative to the depressing regular concrete paving elements.”

The Das Keyboard Prime 13 brings the gaming keyboard to the board room

I have, as you might imagine, deep and abiding opinions on keyboards. I’m not a gamer per se – I do enjoy the odd bout of Lemmings now and again – but I type a lot. So I always look for keyboards that are comfortable, clicky, and compact. The Das Keyboard Prime 13 is all of those.

Das Keyboard has focused for years on creating very clicky, very usable keyboards for gamers and hardcore computer users. Their blank 4C model is still one of my favorite keyboards and I’ve moved between Das and Logitech over the years, eventually landing on Das.

The latest model is sort of the Aeron chair of keyboards – all business but it’s fine to pop out the clutch now again and make it sing. It’s a backlit keyboard with Cherry MX switches for maximum click and a full numeric keypad. Instead of flashy rainbow LEDs, however, this model casts a dimmable white light from the translucent key caps. These switches are soft tactile which means there isn’t a “click” during downward travel but when the keycap actually hits the board. Keys spring up quickly after each press and the space bar sounds like a the smack of a well-worn IBM keyboard. If all of this is a little esoteric know this: you’ll feel the keys moving under your fingers and unlike modern chiclet keyboards each keypress is a noisy and satisfying adventure.

Das Keyboard is selling this as an alternative to the boring work keyboard. It doesn’t have many of the features gamers crave but it does have one onboard USB port and it is very slim and compact. I’ve been using my tester for a few weeks now and it’s gotten kind of cruddy from my disgusting hands but, as you see from these press photos, the entire keyboard is scrunched into an area with a minimal bezel. The only odd spot is the upper right corner where the lights and USB port are hiding. Otherwise it’s nearly a perfect rectangle.

The keyboard has full N-key rollover and lots of travel. It would make an excellent programming keyboard and, because there are no special macros or volume controls, it would look good on a minimalist desk. I don’t think this model is great for gaming – Das and others make excellent keyboards for that purpose – but this is more of a “unplug it and drag it to the data center” kind of keyboard or a nice clicky addition to your workstation. At $149 it’s a bit pricey – there are hundreds of Cherry MX-enabled keyboards on multiple boards – but I like the metal faceplate and the subtle backlighting. It’s also best to decide what kind of switches you are looking for. For example, these are a bit softer than, say, these IBM keyboard clones and you have to assess how much noise and “clickiness” you’re looking for. Once you’ve used a clicky keyboard, however, you probably won’t go back to a soft, mealy-mouthed clacker ever again. Just don’t let your cubicle-mates steal this thing and/or banish you for too much keyboard noise and you’ll be Das golden.

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Xbox One game streaming comes to Oculus Rift on December 12

Oculus Rift owners will be able to stream Xbox One games to their headsets starting December 12, giving them an immersive way to play. This makes a ton of sense, given the existing cooperation between the two companies, including the fact that every Oculus Rift sold ships with an Xbox One controller in the box. That means gamers with Rift, a Windows 10 PC to run it, and an Xbox One will need nothing more to dive right into playing their console collection in virtual reality.

If you haven’t yet tried one of the PC-based VR headsets, they generally offer some way to experience either Windows desktop software, videos (like Netflix) or other 2D, non-immersive media in a fully enclosed virtual reality digital environment. The Xbox One streaming version offers a simulation of big-screen gaming, set in one of three virtual environments called “Citadel,” “Retreat” and “Dome.” If all goes well, it should basically feel like you’re playing your Xbox One games on a huge, high-quality screen, with some options in terms of setting how ‘far away’ you’re sat from the virtual display.

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PlayStation VR owners can already do this for PS4 games using the virtual reality accessory for their home consoles. Oculus owners will need to have not only the headset and the console, but also a beefy gaming PC, but chances are a decent percentage of Rift owners are also Xbox One gamers, too.

Spinn’s futuristic coffee maker is now available for pre-order

At Disrupt NY in May we had the pleasure of seeing a very cool hardware startup make its debut on the Battlefield, looking to make waves in an industry very close to my heart (and mouth): coffee. Now Spinn’s high-tech coffee maker is available for pre-order, so if it piqued your interest earlier this year, now’s your chance to pick one up.

In case you don’t remember, Spinn’s machine is fully self-contained, grinding the beans to the correct fineness, then heats the water and uses a spinning cylinder to force it through the ground beans at the right pressure. It should make for great coffee, and the grounds are super easy to dispose of.

More details at the original post, or in their new video showing off the machine’s new look, with touch controls so you don’t have to rely on the app.

There are three trim levels should you decide to treat yourself: original, which does all the basics and comes with $50 in credit for ordering coffee, for $299; original plus, which adds a carafe and $50 more in credit, for $399; and original pro, which has a larger bean hopper and comes with a milk frother and $200 total in coffee credit, for $599. It should ship in mid-2017, so unfortunately not in time for the holidays.

As with most pre-order campaigns, of course, those prices will go up should you hesitate. Not too many of the initial run of 5,000 units are left to buy, but more batches may appear soon.

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.