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RHA enters the fully wireless headset market with the TrueConnect earbuds

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Image: RHA

Apple was not the first to release fully wireless earbuds, but its AirPods clearly excited the masses and influenced others to make even better wireless headsets. RHA is known for high quality audio products and enters the fully wireless market with the RHA TrueConnect earbuds, available in 10 days for $169.95.

Also: The RHA MA-450i earphones sound better than their $50 price (review)

While I enjoy the AirPods, they are not water or sweat resistant, fall out if I move too much, and have limited functionality with Android phones. RHA’s new TrueConnect earbuds are powered with Bluetooth 5 and have tap controls on both earbuds to control audio playback, change volume, control calls, and activate your preferred digital assistant.

Specifications of the RHA TrueConnect include:

  • Weight: 13g
  • Water resistance: IPX5 rating
  • Battery life: Five hours for earbuds, 20 hours more with metal-reinforced charging case
  • Driver: 6mm dynamic
  • Freqency range: 20-20,000 Hz
  • Range: 10 meters
  • Charging: 15 minutes to 50 percent and 1 hour, 40 minutes to 100 percent
  • Fit to ears: Three sizes of silicone and Comply Foam Rx-2000 eartips for a secure fit with physical ambient noise reduction
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Image: RHA

A standard USB-C cable is used to charge up the earbud carrying/charging case. In typical RHA fashion, the charging case uses high quality materials, including metal, to secure the earbuds and also look good in your mobile collection. The stem design, as compared to the full bud-only design like we see on the Jabra Elite Active 65t, was intentional in order to extend the mic down toward your mouth for improved call performance.

Also: RHA intros first Bluetooth planar magnetic in-ear headphones CNET

Kyle Hutchison, head of product design at RHA, stated:

We believe we have come up with the most sophisticated true wireless earphones on the market; delivering great battery life, an intuitive user interface and an elegant, single-handed opening mechanism. The metal finish was something we wanted, to ensure it was immediately recognisable as an RHA product.

You can pre-order the TrueConnect earbuds now with availability scheduled to start on 18 October. Stay tuned for a full review after we have had a chance to test them out with our phones.

Previous and related coverage:

RHA MA390 Wireless earbuds hands-on: 8 hour battery, assistant button, and reasonable price

RHA Audio makes high quality headphones and with the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack, wireless is the solution. For $69.95, the MA390 Wireless is an excellent affordable option with a three-year warranty and a minimal level of water resistance.

RHA MA650 wireless earbuds hands-on: 12 hour battery and sweatproof aluminum design

The 3.5mm headphone jack is nearly extinct so Bluetooth wireless headphones are gaining in popularity. RHA Audio makes high quality headphones and this $100 pair provides long battery life and a comfortable around-the-neck fit.

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Twitter’s Birdwatch fights misinformation with community notes – TechCrunch

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Twitter is launching what it calls “a community-based approach to misinformation.”

The Birdwatch project first came to light last fall thanks to product sleuth Jane Manchun Wong. Now Twitter has launched a pilot version via the Birdwatch website.

The goal, as explained in a blog post by Twitter’s Vice President of Product Keith Coleman, is to expand beyond the labels that the company already applies to controversial or potentially misleading tweets, which he suggested are limited to “circumstances where something breaks our rules or receives widespread public attention.”

Coleman wrote that the Birdwatch approach will “broaden the range of voices that are part of tackling this problem.” That has brings a broader range of perspectives to these issues and goes beyond the simple question of, “Is this tweet true or not?” It may also take some of the heat off Twitter for individual content moderation decisions.

Users can sign up on the Birdwatch site to flag tweets that they find misleading, add context via notes and rate the notes written by other contributors, based on whether they’re helpful or not. These notes will only be visible on the Birdwatch site for now, but it sounds like the company’s goal is to incorporate them to the main Twitter experience.

“We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable,” Coleman said. “Eventually we aim to make notes visible directly on Tweets for the global Twitter audience, when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors.”

Given the potential for plenty of argument and back-and-froth on contentious tweets, it remains to be seen how Twitter will present these notes in a way that isn’t confusing or overwhelming, or how it can avoid weighing in on some of these arguments. The company said Birdwatch will use rank content based on algorithmic “reputation and consensus systems,” with the code shared publicly. (All notes contributed to Birdwatch will also be available for download.) You read more about the initial ranking system here.

“We know there are a number of challenges toward building a community-driven system like this — from making it resistant to manipulation attempts to ensuring it isn’t dominated by a simple majority or biased based on its distribution of contributors,” Coleman said. “We’ll be focused on these things throughout the pilot.”

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Virtual social network IMVU raises $35M from China’s NetEase and others – TechCrunch

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The line between social networking and gaming is increasingly blurring, and internet incumbents are taking notice. NetEase, the second-largest gaming company in China behind Tencent, is among a group of investors who just backed IMVU, an avatar-focused social network operating out of California.

Menlo Park-based Structural Capital among other institutions also joined in the strategic round totaling $35 million. IMVU has raised over $77 million from five rounds since it was co-founded by The Lean Startup author Eric Ries back in 2004. The company declined to disclose its post-money valuation.

The fresh investment will be used to fund IMVU’s product development and comes fresh off a restructuring at the company. A new parent organization called Together Labs was formed to oversee its flagship platform IMVU, in which users can create virtual rooms and chat with strangers using custom avatars, a product that’s today considered by some a dating platform; a new service called Vcoin that lets users buy, gift, earn and convert a digital asset from the IMVU platform into fiat; among other virtual services.

“NetEase operates some of the most successful, biggest in scale, and evergreen MMO [massively multiplayer online] games in China and they see in IMVU business highlights echoing theirs,” Daren Tsui, chief executive officer at Together Labs, told TechCrunch.

“IMVU operates one of the world’s oldest, yet most vibrant and young — in terms of our user base — metaverses. We have many shared business philosophies and complementary know-how. It is a natural fit for us to become partners,” he added.

Founded in 2005, NetEase is now known for its news portal, music streaming app, education products, and video games that compete with those of Tencent. It has over the years made a handful of minority investments in companies outside China, though it’s not nearly as aggressive as Tencent in terms of investment pace and volume.

A NetEase spokesperson declined to comment on the investment in IMVU.

The partnership, according to Tsui, would allow the virtual networking company to tap NetEase’s game development and engineering capabilities as well as leverage NetEase’s knowledge in global market strategy as Together Labs launches future products, including one called WithMe.

In 2020, IMVU saw record growth with over 7 million monthly active users and 400,000 products created every month by IMVU users. The service currently has a footprint in over 140 countries and is “always looking to expand” in existing markets, including Asia, in which it already has a localized Korean app, according to Tsui.

“With IMVU’s accelerating growth over recent years, the launch of VCOIN, and the development of the new WithMe platform, we felt timing was right to bring all of these products under a new roof to reinforce our commitment for creating authentic human connections in virtual spaces,” said the chief executive.

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YouTube launches hashtag landing pages to all users – TechCrunch

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YouTube is embracing the hashtag. The company has been quietly working on a new feature that allows users to better discover content using hashtags — either by clicking on a hashtag on YouTube or by typing in a hashtag link directly. Before, these actions would return a mix of content related to the hashtag, but not only those videos where the hashtag had been directly used. Now that’s changing, as YouTube has fully rolled out its new “hashtag landing pages.”

Going forward, when you click on a hashtag on YouTube, you’ll be taken to a dedicated landing page that contains only videos that are using the hashtag. This page is also sorted to keep the “best” videos at the top, YouTube claimed. The ranking algorithm, however, may need some work as it’s currently surfacing an odd mix of both newer and older videos and seems to be heavily dominated by Indian creator content, in several top categories.

The result, then, is not the equivalent to something like a hashtag search on a social network like Facebook or Twitter, for example, where more recent content gets top billing. For that reason, it may be difficult to use these hashtag landing pages for discovery of new videos to watch, as intended, but could still serve as an interesting research tool for creators looking to better leverage the hashtag format.

For instance, you may find that the #interiordesign hashtag is a crowded place, with 8,400 channels and 29,000 videos, but a niche hashtag like #interiordesignlivingroom has under 100 channels and videos. If people began to use hashtags regularly to seek out videos, using narrowly targeted tags could potentially help creators’ videos be more easily found.

Image Credits: YouTube screenshot

The hashtag landing pages are accessed through clicking on a tag on YouTube, not by doing a hashtag search. However, if you want to go to a particular hashtag page directly, you can use the URL format of youtube.com/hashtag/[yourterm] (e.g., youtube.com/hashtag/beauty).

We’ve noticed, in testing the feature, that there are not hashtag pages for some controversial terms associated with content YouTube previously said it would block, like QAnon and election conspiracy videos, such as #stopthesteal.

The feature itself was first announced through YouTube’s Community forum earlier this month, where it was described as a new way that YouTube would “group content together and help you discover videos through hashtags.”

On Tuesday, YouTube noted on its “Creator Insider” channel that the feature had been fully rolled out to 100% of all users. (The video’s creator, however, misspoke, by saying you could “search” for hashtags to reach the new landing page. That is not the case today.) The hashtag landing pages are available on both desktop and mobile.

 

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