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RHA TrueConnect earbuds review: High quality, stylish wireless earbuds for your commute or workout

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Image: RHA

After testing out the Jabra Elite Active 65t in June 2018, my AirPods have been sitting idle. RHA’s new TrueConnect earbuds compete directly with products like this Jabra headset with long battery life, water resistance, and better fit than the generic AirPods.

The AirPods let me down with no water/dust resistant rating, one-size-fits all fit (or unfit as it may be), and limited support for Android smartphones. Thankfully, there are options today and the RHA TrueConnect is a great option for iOS and Android phone and tablet users. The sound quality is great, the earbuds are sweat/splash/weather resistant, digital assistants on iOS and Android are supported, and a wide variety of tips to fit your ears are provided.

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

I’ve been commuting, running, and traveling with these earbuds for the last few weeks and am very impressed with their performance. There is one aspect I would like to see improved, but overall the RHA TrueConnect is a headset to consider.

Specifications

  • Driver: 6mm dynamic
  • Frequency range: 20-20,000 Hz
  • Water resistance: IPX5 rating
  • Wireless connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
  • Battery life: Up to 5 hours of play with charging case providing another 20 hours. 15 minutes of charging in the case give you 50 percent charge on the earbuds.
  • Earbud weight: 13 grams total
  • Warranty: Industry-leading three year manufacturer’s warranty

Hardware

The retail package includes the two wireless earbuds, a charging case with integrated battery, a USB-C cable, and an array of earbud tips. It is awesome to finally see accessory providers using USB-C to charge up devices since most phones use this cable and it is getting harder and harder to find older microUSB cables.

RHA is known for providing a massive selection of earbud tips and with the TrueConnect package you will find two sets of silicone tips for your ears in sizes small, medium, and large. You will also find one set of small, medium, and large Comply foam tips that are more effective for sound isolation if you want to block the outside world and enjoy your media content.

The RHA TrueConnect has a different form factor than we have seen from Jabra, Samsung, and others. It is similar to an AirPod with a stem that extends downwards, but not as long as the AirPods. The extension fits in nicely with the groove in your ear to help lock it securely into place.

The earbuds have a matte black finish with a soft touch covering. They are easy to grasp and stay securely in your ears.

The buttons on the earbuds do not offer much tactile feedback and is the one aspect of the TrueConnect that keep me from calling them perfect. It is hard for me to tell when I double or triple tap the earbud and I often end up pushing the earbud further into my ear canal as a result. A more pronounced button or a touch interface might be a better approach here.

Also Jabra Elite Active 65t review: Better than the AirPods and designed for active users

There are buttons on both the right and left side. A single press activates play/pause on both sides with a 1.5 second press and hold activating the voice assistant from either side. A double press on the left side skips ahead while a triple press on the left side skips back. A double press on the right side increases volume while a triple press on the right side lowers volume.

Both sides have the same functionality for calls with answer, reject, volume up, and volume down options through single, double, and triple presses.

A high quality metal and soft touch material charging/carrying case is provided. There is a small red dot to indicate the right earbud on the earbud and on the case next to the compartment the earbud is inserted into. The metal spine of the carrying case is held in an upwards position and then you flip out the soft touch compartment. It opens like a roll out drawer and then you grab each earbud to insert it into your ear. It can be a bit tough to get the earbuds out of the charging case too.

There are four white LED indicator lights on the lower left front of the charging case that gives you the charging status of the case, it gives you 20 hours of capacity (four full charges), and charging status of the earbuds when they are inserted into the case for charging.

It is great to see USB-C as the standard charging port and a USB-A to USB-C cable is provided in the retail package.

Price and competition

There is quite a bit of competition in the fully wireless earbud market today, but not all of them are designed for active exercise routines. The Apple AirPods are priced at $159, but do not have tips for the best fit of your ear and there is no level of dust/water resistance.

The Jabra Elite Active 65t earbuds have a MSRP of $189.99, the Samsung Gear Icon X is priced at $129.99 ($50 off MSRP), the Jaybird Run is $179.99, and the Bose SoundSport Free is $169.95.

As you can see, the $169.95 RHA TrueConnect is priced about the same as most of these other water resistant truly wireless earbuds. When you compare all of these, the TrueConnect stands our with a long warranty, excellent battery life, and great quality phone calls.

Daily usage experiences and conclusion

Headphone jacks are no longer the default on smartphones so most of us are making the move to wireless headsets. While Apple may have been one of the first to offer a compelling truly wireless experience, others quickly surpassed them with better options for those who are active and for those looking for more than a very basic experience.

RHA has always impressed me with its committment to quality, demonstrated by its long three-year warranty period. The RHA TrueConnect has worked very well for me over the past few weeks, with only the limited tactile feel of its buttons my only concern.

The TrueConnect earbuds also do not support the aptX profile and at this price I would think it would support this common stack. I did notice a bit of broken audio from time-to-time when I had my phone in my pocket, but most of the time playback was flawless.

The stem design helps bring the mic down closer to your mouth and may be a major reason that callers confirmed the call quality with the headset was excellent. Many of these truly wireless headsets are good for music, but don’t perform as well for phone calls.

RHA headsets have impressed me in the past and I had high expectations for its first truly wireless headset. The design is impressive, the battery life is above average, you can control playback and volume right from the headset, and they fit well even when running in the rain. I’m not a fan of the buttons and the lack of aptX is an oversight.

The RHA TrueConnect earbuds are very comfortable for long time wear, making them perfect for commuters, people who like to workout with music, and those looking for something better than the AirPods.

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Cymulate snaps up $70M to help cybersecurity teams stress test their networks with attack simulations – TechCrunch

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The cost of cybercrime has been growing at an alarming rate of 15% per year, projected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025. To cope with the challenges that this poses, organizations are turning to a growing range of AI-powered tools to supplement their existing security software and the work of their security teams. Today, a startup called Cymulate — which has built a platform to help those teams automatically and continuously stress test their networks against potential attacks with simulations, and provide guidance on how to improve their systems to ward off real attacks — is announcing a significant round of growth funding after seeing strong demand for its tools.

The startup — founded in Tel Aviv, with a second base in New York — has raised $70 million, a Series D that it will be using to continue expanding globally and investing in expanding its technology (both organically and potentially through acquisitions).

Today, Cymulate’s platform covers both on-premise and cloud networks, providing breach and attack simulations for endpoints, email and web gateways and more; automated “red teaming”; and a “purple teaming” facility to create and launch different security breach scenarios for organizations that lack the resources to dedicate people to a live red team — in all, a “holistic” solution for companies looking to make sure they are getting the most out of the network security architecture that they already have in place, in the worlds of Eyal Wachsman, Cymulate’s CEO.

“We are providing our customers with a different approach for how to do cybersecurity and get insights [on]  all the products already implemented in a network,” he said in an interview. The resulting platform has found particular traction in the current market climate. Although companies continue to invest in their security architecture, security teams are also feeling the market squeeze, which is impacting IT budgets, and sometimes headcount in an industry that was already facing a shortage of expertise. (Cymulate cites figures from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology that estimate a shortfall of 2.72 million security professionals in the workforce globally.)

The idea with Cymulate is that it’s built something that helps organizations get the most out of what they already have. “And at the end, we provide our customers the ability to prioritize where they need to invest, in terms of closing gaps in their environment,” Wachsman said.

The round is being led by One Peak, with Susquehanna Growth Equity (SGE), Vertex Ventures Israel, Vertex Growth and strategic backer Dell Technologies Capital also participating. (All five also backed Cymulate in its $45 million Series C last year.) Relatively speaking, this is a big round for Cymulate, doubling its total raised to $141 million, and while the startup is not disclosing its valuation, I understand from sources that it is around the $500 million mark.

Wachsman noted that the funding is coming on the heels of a big year for the startup (the irony being that the constantly escalating issue of cybersecurity and growing threat landscape spells good news for companies built to combat that). Revenues have doubled, although it’s not disclosing any numbers today, and the company is now at over 200 employees and works with some 500 paying customers across the enterprise and mid-market, including NTT, Telit, and Euronext, up from 300 customers a year ago.

Wachsman, who co-founded the company with Avihai Ben-Yossef and Eyal Gruner, said he first thought of the idea of building a platform to continuously test an organization’s threat posture in 2016, after years of working in cybersecurity consulting for other companies. He found that no matter how much effort his customers and outside consultants put into architecting security solutions annually or semi-annually, those gains were potentially lost each time a malicious hacker made an unexpected move.

“If the bad guys decided to penetrate the organization, they could, so we needed to find a different approach,” he said. He looked to AI and machine learning for the solution, a complement to everything already in the organization, to build “a machine that allows you to test your security controls and security posture, continuously and on demand, and to get the results immediately… one step before the hackers.”

Last year, Wachsman described Cymulate’s approach to me as “the largest cybersecurity consulting firm without consultants,” but in reality the company does have its own large in-house team of cybersecurity researchers, white-hat hackers who are trying to find new holes — new bugs, zero days and other vulnerabilities — to develop the intelligence that powers Cymulate’s platform.

These insights are then combined with other assets, for example the MITRE ATT&CK framework, a knowledge base of threats, tactics and techniques used by a number of other cybersecurity services, including others building continuous validation services that compete with Cymulate. (Competitors include the likes of FireEye, Palo Alto Networks, Randori, AttackIQ and many more.)

Cymulate’s work comes in the form of network maps that detail a company’s threat profile, with technical recommendations for remediation and mitigations, as well as an executive summary that can be presented to financial teams and management who might be auditing security spend. It also has built tools for running security checks when integrating any services or IT with third parties, for instance in the event of an M&A process or when working in a supply chain.

Today the company focuses on network security, which is big enough in itself but also leaves the door open for Cymulate to acquire companies in other areas like application security — or to build that for itself. “This is something on our roadmap,” said Wachsman.

If potential M&A leads to more fundraising for Cymulate, it helps that the startup is in one of the handful of categories that are going to continue to see a lot of attention from investors.

“Cybersecurity is clearly an area that we think will benefit from the current macroeconomic environment, versus maybe some of the more capital-intensive businesses like consumer internet or food delivery,” said David Klein, a managing partner at One Peak. Within that, he added, “The best companies [are those] that are mission critical for their customers… Those will continue to attract very good multiples.”

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Open-source password manager Bitwarden raises $100M – TechCrunch

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Bitwarden, an open-source password manager for enterprises and consumers, has raised $100 million in a round of funding led by PSG, with participation form Battery Ventures.

Founded initially back in 2015, Santa Barbara, California-based Bitwarden operates in a space that includes well-known incumbents including 1Password, which recently hit a $6.8 billion valuation off the back of a $620 million fundraise, and Lastpass, which was recently spun out as an independent company again two years after landing in the hands of private equity firms.

In a nutshell, Bitwarden and its ilk make it easier for people to generate secure passwords automatically, and store all their unique passwords and sensitive information such as credit card data in a secure digital vault, saving them from reusing the same insecure password across all their online accounts.

Bitwarden’s big differentiator, of course, lies in the fact that it’s built atop an open-source codebase, which for super security-conscious individuals and businesses is a good thing — they can fully inspect the inner-workings of the platform. Moreover, people can contribute back to the codebase and expedite development of new features.

On top of a basic free service, Bitwarden ships a bunch of paid-for premium features and services, including advanced enterprise features like single sign-on (SSO) integrations and identity management.

Bitwarden

It’s worth noting that today’s “minority growth investment” represents Bitwarden’s first substantial external funding in its seven year history, though we’re told that it did raise a small undisclosed series A round back in 2019. Its latest cash injection is indicative of how the world has changed in the intervening years. The rise of remote work, with people increasingly meshing personal and work accounts on the same devices, means the same password is used across different services. And such poor password and credential hygiene puts businesses at great risk.

Additionally, growing competition and investments in the management space means that Bitwarden can’t rest on its laurels — it needs to expand, and that is what its funds will be used for. Indeed, Bitwarden has confirmed plans to extend its offering into several aligned security and privacy verticals, including secrets management — something that 1Password expanded into last year via its SecretHub acquisition.

“The timing of the investment is ideal, as we expand into opportunities in developer secrets, passwordless technologies, and authentication,” Bitwarden CEO Michael Crandell noted in a press release. “Most importantly, we aim to continue to serve all Bitwarden users for the long haul.”

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downgrade the ‘middle-men’ resellers – TechCrunch

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As well as the traditional carbon offset resellers and exchanges such as Climate Partner or Climate Impact X the tech space has also produced a few, including Patch (US-based, raised $26.5M) and Lune (UK-based, raised $4M).

Now, Ceezer, a B2B marketplace for carbon credits, has closed a €4.2M round, led by Carbon Removal Partners with participation of impact-VC Norrsken VC and with existing investor Picus Capital. 

Ceezer ’s pitch is that companies have to deal with a lot of complexity when considering how they address carbon removal and reduction associated with their businesses. Whie they can buy offsetting credits, the market remains pretty ‘wild-west’, and has multiple competing standards running in parallel. For instance, the price range of $5 to $500 per ton is clearly all over the place, and sometimes carbon offset resellers make buyers pay high prices for low-quality carbon credits, pulling in extra revenues from a very opaque market.

The startup’s offering is for corporates to integrate both carbon removal and avoidance credits in one package. It does this by mining the offsetting market for lots of data points, enabling carbon offset sellers to reach buyers without having to use these middle-men resellers.

The startup claims that sellers no longer waste time and money on bespoke contracts with corporates but instead use Ceezer’s legal framework for all transactions. Simultaneously, buyers can access credits at a primary market level, maximizing the effect of the dollars they spend on carbon offsets.

Ceezer says it now has over 50 corporate customers and has 200,000 tons of carbon credits to sell across a variety of categories.
 and will use the funds to expand its impact and sourcing team, the idea being to make carbon removal technologies more accessible to corporate buyers, plus widen the product offering for credit sellers and buyers.

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