eType Auto-Completes Your Writing. Everywhere. (1,000 Exclusive Invites)



It’s safe to assume that there’s no Web user out there that hasn’t experienced auto-complete. Whether on Google site search and toolbars, Facebook search, or on ecommerce sites like Amazon, auto-complete has become a de-facto usability feature. Its ubiquity means that there’s a very shallow learning curve for users to get accustomed to it when used outside of the browser setting, and that’s exactly what eType is banking on with its auto-complete-as-you-type product.

We have 1000 exclusive invites for TechCrunch readers! Get them while they’re hot, here.

Now before you cubbyhole eType as a utility strictly for non-English speakers, here’s an anecdote that may change your mind: There’s an Israeli company called WhiteSmoke, which developed software that enriches written English. The product was originally developed to assist non-native English speakers boost the quality of their writing in emails and such. Lo-and-behold, WhiteSmoke discovered that their main customers were actually native English speakers that bought the software to polish their writing. And they’ve been buying it in droves, for around $100 a pop.

The point I’m making is that native English speakers are very much part of the target audience for eType, and may easily constitute the majority of its userbase.

eType is completely free and a breeze to use. All you have to do is, well, um, type. By default, eType starts auto-completing words on the third letter, but this can be changed up or down. Word suggestions are based on machine-learning and offer the most probable suggestions, based on what the user is typing out. For example, eType is able to take into consideration that the word ‘running’ can have multiple contexts such as ‘running for office’, and ‘running a marathon’.

One thing to remember about eType is that it’s executable client software, as opposed to a browser plugin. The major benefit is that it allows eType to be used across any application, from word-processors, to browsers, to email clients. The major downside however, is that eType currently only supports Windows XP and above. I’m told touch interface support (iPhone/iPad, etc.) availability is expected by year’s end.

While eType can be used across any application, users can opt to disable it on applications of their choice. For example, some users may want to disable it on their IM application.

eType comes with English, Spanish, German French and Hebrew dictionaries. It also offers word translations to and from English to these languages. Definitions are pulled from Wiktionary and there’s even an English thesaurus built right in. New words can be added simply by typing them out naturally. These are added to users’ own personal dictionaries, but are also sent back to eType for review and possible inclusion in the universal dictionaries.

The founder of eType is Israeli serial entrepreneur Daniel Scalosub. He is known for founding DSNR, a web marketing company, along with a couple of sister companies in the same field. This means that eType has significant marketing muscle behind it. Today, eType is where Scalosub focuses his energy.

Information provided by CrunchBase


Everyone Can Now Move Data In And Out Of Amazon S3 Faster And Easier

Amazon Web Services this morning announced the general availability of AWS Import/Export for Amazon Simple Storage Service (aka S3), with a new web service interface that enables easy management of data transfers and migrations.

According to the press release, the new feature accelerates moving large amounts of data in and out using portable storage devices for transport. For large data sets, AWS Import/Export is said to be ‘significantly faster’ than transfers over the Internet.

The AWS Import/Export service isn’t brand new and was already available for a number of companies, but as of today is generally available. The price is $80.00 per storage device handled and $2.49 per data-loading-hour.

In addition, Amazon Web Services today also announced support for Amazon S3 in the AWS Management Console.


Video Featuring An iPad, iPhone, Facebook And Twitter. Also, A Wedding.

We’ve seen a marriage proposal on an iPad (again, congratulations Zach, you dork) but what we hadn’t seen yet – although I’m pretty sure this isn’t a first – is an actual wedding ceremony riddled with iPads, iPhones, status updating on Facebook and Twitter and whatnot.

My wife would have called everything off if I would have even suggested such a thing, but hey, whatever floats your boat. Congratulations to both of them. Live long and prosper.

After some hardcore investigative journalism, I found the Apple fanboi officiant on Twitter and TwitPic, and also discovered the Twitter accounts of the guy and the girl that got hooked.

Here’s the tweet that was sent during the ceremony and here’s the picture the groom took to go along with it (both embedded below for good measure).

(Thanks for the heads up, Edible Apple)


Information provided by CrunchBase


Spotify Launches On TVs In Sweden and Finland

Is Spotify’s future in devices and services? Like “Intel inside”, it’s beginning to feel like Spotify – the hot streaming music service in Europe which is said to be prepping a US launch – may have a better future dealing with service providers and device manufacturers than trying to go direct to consumers.

That at least is the impression as today it launched its streaming music service on TVs across Sweden and Finland as of today, partnering with a Nordic telecommunications giant to do it.

TeliaSonera’s 120,000 digital TV customers will now get instant, remote control access to Spotify, so long as they are existing Spotify Premium subscribers.


What Has Kai-fu Lee Done Since October?

I visited Kai-fu Lee’s Innovation Works while I was in Beijing last week to see how things are going. When I last visited the ex-Google China CEO’s incubator, it was little more than empty, expensive office space. (Next to Google…prime poaching?)

Now, the offices are teeming with more than 100 people, most of whom are clustered in a nine very early-stage startups. Most of them are targeting mobile, but everything else Lee told me was off the record. (Sorry.) Suffice to say, the incubator is bursting at the seams and Lee doesn’t seem content. Expect more news soon.

Lee is well known in China—see if you can spot his book on sale above in a train station of a second tier city. But there’s some healthy skepticism about how Innovation Works will do. There’s the critique that Lee knows multinationals more than he knows startups, and the critique that he gets too much press in the West. (Yes, I know I’m adding to that here.) There’s also the critique that with so much money and entrepreneurship in China now–especially in Beijing–there’s not a huge need for an incubator.

I shot a quick video with Lee and asked him some of those questions. There’s a cool small-world moment at the end (which is hard to hear over my spazzy laughter) when I randomly meet one of Lee’s crew who says he met his partner at the Beijing TechCrunch meet up we did about a year ago. We’ll just take our stock whenever it’s convenient.


Come On Yelp, Really? Dukes, Barons, And Kings Of Venues?

Obviously, companies copy one another’s ideas all the time. If something is working, sometimes it just makes a lot of sense. But sometimes it’s just a little pathetic. Tonight, we’re seeing a bit of that from Yelp.

The latest update to their iPhone app (4.2.1) includes a feature called Yelp Royalty. It rewards users with the most check-ins at a venue the title of “Duke” or “Duchess.” Those with the most titles in their neighborhood become the “Baron.” Those with the most it the city become the “King.” Sound familiar? Maybe you’ve heard of Foursquare.

Sure, Foursquare is a little different in that it allows you to become the “Mayor” of a venues, but come on. And the fact that mayor icons (inexplicably) include King crowns just add to this.

You may recall that back in January, Yelp added the ability to check-in to venues from their iPhone app. Again, yes, this was copying an idea laid out by a bunch of services before it (Foursquare being the most visible), but it seemed like fair game. Same with badges, which a lot of these companies offer (and we heard Yelp would soon as well). This is simply taking a good idea, and laying it over Yelp’s substantial service. Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley didn’t like the Yelp check-in leaderboard idea too much at the time, but noted that Yelp “copied the wrong stuff.”

Maybe this time, they copied the right stuff. Can’t wait for Crowley’s post reacting to this one. You know, this guy:


Google Adds A Background Image To Its Homepage By Default (At Least For 24 Hours)

A few days ago Google got slightly more Bing-ified when it started allowing users to customize their backgrounds (Bing has featured a rotating photo as its background since it launched). Today, Google is taking that a step further: it’s now featuring a background image by default on its homepage, even for users who haven’t activated the new feature.  It sounds like the homepage will be rotating through images for the next 24 hours — this is obviously meant to help raise awareness of the new feature.

It’s worth pointing out that there’s a possibility the current featured image seen above is depicting the BP oil spill tragedy (which The Next Web is claiming). But Google’s blog post doesn’t say anything about it. We’re guessing that it isn’t a photo of the oil spill, and will update once we’ve confirmed. Update: Looks like TNW pulled their post. Update 2: Nope, we’ve confirmed with Google that it definitely is not related to the oil spill.

Google’s Marissa Mayer writes in a blog post:

To provide you with an extra bit of inspiration, we‘ve collaborated with several well-known artists, sculptors and photographers to create a gallery of background images you can use to personalize your Google homepage. Included in the collection are photographs of the works of Dale Chihuly, Jeff Koons, Tom Otterness, Polly Apfelbaum, Kengo Kuma (???), Kwon, Ki-soo (???) and Tord Boontje, as well as some incredible photos from Yann Arthus-Bertrand and National Geographic. We’ll be featuring these images as backgrounds on the Google homepage over the next 24 hours.

Of course, since we want your Google homepage to be personal to you, you can still choose an image or photo from your computer or your own Picasa Web Album. Whether you select an image from our new artist collection or prefer to have a more personal touch on your homepage, you’ll still enjoy the speed and ease of use that you’ve come to expect from Google.


What’s Missing From iPhone 4 Is Part Of What Makes It Great

On Monday, Apple officially unveiled the iPhone 4. After playing around with it for 20 minutes or so after the keynote, I can safely say that it’s the most impressive mobile device I’ve ever seen. But plenty of people (many of which have never used the phone) disagree. Their arguments are mainly predicated on what Apple didn’t include rather than what it did.

But what those people fail to understand is that this is exactly what makes the new iPhone (as well as the previous iterations) so solid.

During his keynote address on Monday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs noted that while Apple may not be the first to release features, they do so in a way that’s the best implementation.

Many people view this as absolute bullshit. But what that implies is that they think Apple simply cannot get features done in time — or that they will not do them for some reason. I have a hard time believing either of those is the case.

Jobs cited the iPhone’s cut, copy, & paste functionality as one example of Apple getting a feature right. I have to agree. For two years, everyone complained (myself included) that Apple didn’t have this functionality. Could Apple have done it sooner? Of course. But would it have been half-baked? Probably. Just look at how it works on other devices — or maybe I should say: look at how poorly it works on other devices compared to the iPhone. Most Android phones want you to use that damn ball to select text. Or worse, those arrow buttons at the bottom of the EVO’s horrid keyboard. It’s a nightmare.

Another popular example is background tasks (or multitasking). This feature is finally coming to the new iOS 4 after being on other devices for a few years. So was Apple dragging its feet out of incompetence? Or were they being stubborn? In their view, they were waiting to perfect the system that would not destroy battery life. Android’s background method is supposedly similar to what Apple will use, but it has issues (see: the EVO).

Most people haven’t yet seen third-party apps running in the background with iOS, so it’s hard to know exactly how well Apple has done here. (And I only got to play around with one app, Pandora, running in the background for a few minutes.) But a few developers I’ve talked to who have used the system say it’s by far the best combination of functionality and battery-saving techniques that they’ve seen. One told me that it basically doesn’t ding battery life at all.

In March of last year, I reported that I had heard from sources that Apple was talking about ways to bring background tasks to the iPhone. Even though it didn’t happen until now, by multiple accounts, Apple was working on it at the time. It’s just that it took Apple this long to perfect the system.

Most companies, seeing their competitors already doing something, would feel forced into releasing their own solution as quickly as possible. Not Apple. And I suspect this ends up being a big benefit for the users.

But those are things that currently now work on the iPhone or will soon be working. What about newer features that Apple left out of iPhone 4 (and iOS 4)? Here’s a list of 10 things from eWeek. Some are ridiculous (for the millionth time: Apple is not going to do a physical keyboard — nor should they), and some are just clearly (and sadly) not going to happen (Google Voice). But a few are things that come up somewhat regularly.

One is 4G support. The main problem here is that the iPhone is still exclusively tied to AT&T in the U.S., and AT&T has basically no 4G support yet (they have enough problems with their 3G support). If Apple made a version of the iPhone that worked on Sprint’s network (which recently rolled out the EVO 4G), then maybe we could talk — but they don’t.

More importantly, I’m not even sure we’ll see a 4G-capable iPhone next year. As Apple proved with the first iPhone (which wasn’t 3G despite 3G being fairly ubiquitous at the time), they care more about the overall experience than about being the first to have a nice-sounding feature. Users laughed at the notion that 3G capabilities severely dinged battery life — until the iPhone 3G came out and that’s exactly what happened.

With 4G, by all accounts, the battery ding is even worse. Also, 4G is still slowly deploying around the country, and some carriers (read: AT&T) won’t have it really deployed for a long, long time. In other words, don’t be surprised if next year Apple still doesn’t have a 4G version of the device. Everyone will bitch about it, but in Apple’s view, it likely just won’t be worth it yet.

Another feature brought up is over-the-air (OTA) updates. While eWeek seems to specifically be talking about OTA firmware updates (does anyone really care about that so much?), the more pressing issue is the ability to sync things wirelessly on your iPhone. Currently, you can only truly do that with certain MobileMe elements (like Calendar, Contacts, etc). But in his post a couple days ago, my colleague Jason Kincaid brought up his disappointment that over-the-air syncing of things like apps and music wasn’t in iOS yet.

This is a fair point both because it would be very useful, and because it’s baked into the latest version of Android, 2.2. But we have yet to see exactly how well this system with work with Android 2.2. The on-stage demos at Google I/O were impressive, but it probably wouldn’t have been made into a demo if it weren’t. The proof will be in the real-world usage of this feature.

Apple is clearly thinking about how best to do this as well. Jobs said as much during the D Conference a few weeks ago, and Apple has even blocked applications that do something similar (a sign that they’re likely working on it — and that they don’t want third parties touching the iTunes/iPhone sync interaction). Make no mistake: this feature will be coming to the iPhone. And I would bet it will be here next year. And if Apple is able to get its iTunes-in-the-cloud service off the ground in time, it could be a lot easier than people are thinking right now.

The point to all of this is that one of the things that makes the iPhone great is that Apple is so deliberate and meticulous in the features they choose to focus on and implement. Could Apple include more features? Of course. But anytime you try to do more, you take focus away from the key things you want to get done. It’s something that’s so obvious it almost needs to be restated.

It’s the same reason why startups that focus on creating as many features as possible often fare worse than those that focus on a few key ideas. The ones that keep it simple are able to execute much better. Apple (which likes to think of itself as the “world’s biggest startup”) is no different, and the iPhone is a testament to that.

The conspiracy theorists will say that Apple holds back features to be able to sell more devices the next time around. I believe it’s much less about that, and more about focusing on a core group of features that matter the most — and nailing them. Judging by both sales figures and customer satisfaction reports, the strategy is working. And the iPhone 4 — even without 4G, OTA updates, a physical keyboard, etc, etc, etc — will prove that once again.


AT&T Security Breach Exposes Thousands Of iPad Owners’ Emails (But Luckily, Little Else)

A security flaw in one of AT&T’s customer-identification scripts has allowed a group of 4chan-associated hackers to extract as many as 114,000 email addresses of iPad owners. AT&T has apologized and explained the flaw and data leaked. Essentially, a bit of open information (the SIM card’s ICC-ID) was tied to a piece of private information (the iPad owner’s email address) so that on encountering certain AT&T fields, it would automatically fill in the field with the appropriate email. Think the “Remember this password?” notifications that pop up when you register for a site, but a little more low-level.

The hackers, a group known as Goatse Security (I’ll let you work out the reasoning for the name yourself), organized a brute-force attack in which they pummeled a public AT&T script with semirandom ICC-ID numbers, which would return nothing if invalid but an email address if valid. A few hours later, they had the ICC-IDs and email addresses of everyone from Michael Bloomberg and Diane Sawyer to a Mr. Eldredge, who commands a fleet of B-1 bombers.

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Hello, Can We Speak To Nokia’s Steve Jobs? … Hello?

For the last few weeks I’ve become increasingly fascinated by someone at Nokia. That person is Anssi Vanjoki.

Vanjoki is an interesting guy. Last year he was named as one of the 25 most influential people on the Web. Why? He is Nokia’s most visible advocate of what Nokia still, perhaps rather quaintly, calls its “multimedia computers”.

And he’s not some grey executive. Back in 2002 he was awarded what was believed at the time to be the most expensive speeding ticket ever, $103,600, after being caught breaking the speed limit on his Harley Davidson motorcycle in Helsinki.

But this week he hasn’t been quite so visible. As Apple and Steve Jobs unveiled the fourth generation of the iPhone in San Francisco, there appeared to be not a murmur from Nokia, still the world’s largest maker of cell phones. Where was Anssi’s thundering response? We called Nokia.


Sideways: The First iPad-Only Magazine Is About . . . The iPad

While the print magazine industry is hanging its hopes on the iPad to lead it to the digital promised land where people actually pay for digital editions, it is still stuck with adapting a product designed for paper to the screen. But what if you threw the paper out to begin with and started with a magazine meant to be read only on the iPad? If you do that, you get Sideways, a mag app that claims to be the first iPad-only magazine. Its first issue is on sale now in the App Store for $3.99.

Sideways is an iPad magazine that covers, well, the iPad. There are articles about apps for the iPad and music for the iPad and training for a marathon with the iPad (my tip is you leave it at home). “You have a built-in demographic,” says CEO Charles Stack. “Who are the readers? The people who own an iPad.” There are also other articles which would appeal to that affluent, techy demographic. The first issue has a lot of World Cup themed articles, including one on World Cup apps, a guide with venues and dates, and a primer on how to fake your way through the World Cup.

So what makes it different than Wired‘s successful iPad mag or Time‘s. “It was ground-up designed for the iPad, not an adaption of a print magazine,” says Stack, who founded Books.com in the early 1990s before he sold it to Barnes & Noble. The articles are laid out in a familiar magazine format, taking advantage of the iPad’s large screen and lovely fonts. Video and audio is also blended in where a photo or graphic might be in a print magazine (still, nothing too radical here—Wired and Time are doing the same thing). You scroll through pages up and down like on the Web, not sideways, which is silly given the name of the magazine and the fact that side-swiping is becoming the norm for iPad magazine apps.

Where it starts to be different is when it departs from the printed word and starts to feel more like an app. For instance, the article on World Cup stadiums and dates pops open a map studded with all the stadiums across South Africa.  There is an interactive timeline of the entire iPhone product family in another article. And there is a photo gallery app which shows large, full-screen high-res photos from events that occurred over the past month.  It is kind of Life 2.0.

Sideways has six full-time staffers, a lot of freelancers, and is based in Cleveland, Ohio.  It is self-funded.  For now there are no ads, but the music reviews all have affiliate links to the iTunes store.  And you can imagine similar arrangements with Amazon affiliate links for reviews of other types of products.  Stack sees Sideways as a flagship product for a publishing platform he will eventually license to other magazine and book publishers.

New ideas are more likely to come from people like Stack and others outside the industry.  Still, I think charging $3.99 a pop for a digital magazine is going to be a hard sell, especially once we start getting the same experience on the Web.

Information provided by CrunchBase


Kindle’s First Waterproof Case Is a Knight in Plastic Armor

Product: Guardian Case for Amazon Kindle

Manufacturer: M-Edge

Wired Rating: 8

If a book and a Kindle got into a street fight, the book would kick some e-inked ass. (Especially if it’s a hardcover.)

As capacious and technologically advanced as Amazon’s e-book reader is, it’s gossamer compared to a tightly packed wad of printed paper. Throw a Kindle in your bag unprotected, and you’re liable to crack the screen. Drop it down a flight of stairs, and you’ll be picking up pieces at the next landing. If you take your Kindle in the bathtub, get ready to practice throwing it like a Frisbee; that’s about all a wet one is good for.

Long overdue, the Kindle’s suit of armor has arrived: The M-Edge Guardian. With 17.1 ounces of hard plastic and O-rings, the Guardian lets you tote your Kindle anywhere: the beach, Fallujah, even the bathtub. The heavy-gauge plastic exterior will clamp around your electronic library with four Pelican-case–like clasps.

You access the buttons and keyboard through thin, clear rubber windows. These provide generally decent tactile access: We have no complaints about the side buttons, which you use the most anyway. It’s easy to turn pages or hit the menu button.

The keypad is slightly more problematic, but it’s not as if that thing is a joy to type on when it’s not covered by a polymer layer. The joystick, however, is basically disabled. We never got the hang of using it through the weird rubber appendage that sits over it.

Guardian Case For Amazon Kindle

Our first test was to bring the Guardian in the tub. No problem with water (or hardcore nekkidness). When we took it to the beach, not a grain of sand breached its fortified perimeter.

Then we kicked it up a level and threw the Guardian — containing Kindle — into the dishwasher. Do not try this. Even though the case protected our reader admirably and showed no adverse effects, M-Edge doesn’t warranty against the pot-scrubber cycle.

That, and your office probably doesn’t pay for you to put your electronics through the tortures of hell.

WIRED Danny Trejo tough. Internal air chambers make the thing float. Soft-touch plastic on the back boosts your wet-fingered grip.

TIRED You can’t access the power button, so if your machine turns itself off while you’re re-enacting PT-109 with rubber duckies, you have to dry the case off, exit the tub, and extricate your Kindle to turn it back on again. Shiny plastic-screen overlay robs the reader of some of its direct-sunlight skills. Heavy: essentially triples your reader’s weight. Gotta leave it unlatched when you board a plane. Why? Decrease in pressure could wreck the case’s flexible-plastic portion.

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Lenovo’s Watt Whiffing Gaming Powerhouse Is a Switch-Hitter

Product: Ideapad Y460

Manufacturer: Lenovo

Wired Rating: 8

Buy a laptop today and you have to make (at least) one big decision that is an exercise in trade-offs: Get a machine with cheap, integrated graphics and better battery life, or buy one with a high-performance graphics card that sucks down more power and runs hot?

Can’t decide? Get the Lenovo Ideapad Y460. It’s both.

Perhaps we should explain. An innocuous switch on the front of the Y460 lets you control how much graphical power this otherwise unassuming notebook pumps out. Flip it on, and you’ll have full access to the ATI Radeon HD 5650 graphics chip. In graphics-on mode, gaming rocks, with performance on par with recent games-focused machines we’ve reviewed, but battery life fizzles to barely an hour and a half.

Not fragging this afternoon? Switch yourself into integrated mode. Gaming suffers immeasurably (framerates are on par with your average $500 system), but battery life shoots through the roof, jumping from 90 minutes to nearly four hours, perfect for long plane rides when an A/C outlet is miles below you.

Best of all: Graphics are switchable in real time without a reboot, so you can jump from spreadsheet to Sims 3 and back in seconds.

The only problem with the Ideapad Y460 is that you can’t switch the price. At a thousand smackers, it’s expensive, considering it bears the Ideapad brand instead of the more upscale Thinkpad logo. Clearly designed with consumers in mind, it offers an attractive, yet a little out-there, industrial design. It has desirable features like a multitouch trackpad, super-loud JBL speakers, and a mega-bright 14-inch LCD (at 1366 x 768 pixels). Other top-notch features are a 2.4-GHz Intel Core i5 M520 CPU, 4 GB of RAM and 500 GB of hard drive space.

The only question is whether you will want to pay nearly a grand for all of this. It’s not quite in MacBook territory, but it’s awfully close.

Maybe you can justify it. The Y460’s performance is so dazzling and the machine is put-together so well that I think you can make the case that it’s worth the cash upgrade. Just tell the wife you’ll eat ramen for a month. She won’t understand, but you’ll be so happy with your computer you probably won’t care.

WIRED Unbelievably dazzling performance. Switchable graphics give you the best of both worlds — gaming performance and battery life — at the flick of a switch.

TIRED Not all features are perfectly polished: SlideNav application switcher bar is functionally useless. Noisy optical drive. Surprisingly heavy (5 pounds) for its size.

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High-Fidelity Headphones Will Keep You Runnin’

Product: /Adidas PMX 680

Manufacturer: Sennheiser

Wired Rating: 9

Like many dedicated long-distance runners, I have been on a perpetual hunt for the perfect set of headphones. Every time a new pair arrives, it’s like a first date ringing the doorbell. The anticipation! The promise of a new (running) partner! But eventually the sound quality disappoints and I’m inevitably left alone.

Thus, the arrival of the Sennheiser/Adidas 680 Sports Headphones was like a 13-year-old finding Edward Cullen ringing her doorbell. These are some of the best runner-friendly headphones we’ve yet strapped on.

The first sign that these headphones were a cut above was the carrying case. Yes, some headphones — very, very special ones — come in a heavy, water-resistant drawstring sack.

The sack contains more than the usual extra set of foam earpads and cable clip. The headphones also come with an extension cable that has integrated volume control, which is a thoughtful idea but more useful while sitting at your computer than running. It’s already as easy as it could possibly be to adjust the volume on an iPod. Still, the extension cable is useful, great for hooking onto or through extra layers of clothing.

The sound quality is exceptionally clean and crisp, with particularly deep bass. Playing “In da Club” is a peculiarly satisfying experience, as I’d never been so able to thoroughly replicate the head-pounding experience of being in a club in the streets of my decidedly suburban neighborhood. The headset’s large earbuds do let in some ambient noise. However, this is more advantage than inconvenience, as nothing ruins a good run faster than being hit by a car.

I tested the headphones’ touted water resistance, first in Portland’s 62-percent humidity and rain, then in sweaty ears and finally by soaking the headphones in wet hand towels. After each soaking, the phones suffered no ill effects in performance.

Kevlar-reinforced cables even survived the slobbery mouthings of my dog (that one was an accident, not a test). And the behind-the-neck design stayed put, even through the most strenuous circumstances — doing yoga while watching The Discovery Channel. I’ve always preferred a behind-the-neck design over in-ear buds, whose security depends on the size of the user’s ears. They do make wearing sunglasses or hats a little more difficult, though. And the PMX 680s are no exception. Trying to wear a baseball cap or Ray-Bans with these suckers is virtually impossible.

In sum, these headphones are everything you’d ever want in a pair of running headphones. And at a mere 60 bucks, they’re just a little easier to obtain than a sparkling 100-year-old vampire with fantastic hair.

WIRED Exceptional sound quality. Marvelous bass. Stays put securely. Water resistant and dog-proof.

TIRED Ambient noise leaks in. Large earbuds might be uncomfortable for some users.

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Notion Ink: Adam Tablet “On Track,” Funding Settled

So the reports of the Adam being delayed until November were… partially mistaken. Notion Ink has updated their blog with more particular (and more optimistic) info, though they stop short of providing an actual launch date. “We are on track” is the extent of their hinting, and that’s good to hear (on track implies July or August availability), but there’s more to their post than that.

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