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Zeblaze Crystal smartwatch review – A hardy timepiece for a bargain price

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Smartwatches are getting better and better with each passing month and they’re also getting cheaper, at least on some markets. If you can’t yet afford a Samsung Gear 2 or an Apple Watch, you may want to take a look at what the Chinese have to offer. We recently managed to get our hands on the Zeblaze Crystal, a new smartwatch from China that packs some very interesting features and is also quite resistant to boot. Coming in at a mere $55, the Zeblaze Crystal is undoubtedly cheap, but it is any good?

Right off the bat we’d have to agree that a decent amount of work was put towards making the smartwatch look elegant and classy. The manufacturer succeeded to some degree, however, I can’t help but feel that the leather strap doesn’t really work with a rectangular electronic watch such as this. If that doesn’t bother you, though, you’ll probably enjoy the overall design and come to appreciate the slightly curved display. Moreover, the watch does feel comfortable on the wrist so there’s no need to worry about that.

The Zeblaze Crystal is marketed as being the world’s first crystal display smartwatch with Bi-color injection molding technology and highly resistant stainless steel dial. When it comes to hardiness, this smartwatch is definitely one of the best and even features an IP65 rating, which makes it both dustproof and waterproof. That said, I do have a complaint related to the 1.54-inch 240 x 240 pixel display. For some reason, the manufacturer decided against using a larger portion of the panel for the actual display. Even though you can see this on most other smartwatches, in this particular case it seems a lot more noticeable and might give you the impression that the Zeblaze Crystal is just a tad larger than it should be.

 

Hardware-wise, the Zeblaze Crystal offers the new MTK2502 chipset, 128 MB of RAM, 64 MB of storage, a 280 mAh battery and Bluetooth 4.0 support. Similar to many other Chinese smart watches, the Zeblaze Crystal is compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones. The device doesn’t feature a camera of its own, but it does come equipped a remote camera function that allows you to control the camera on your smartphone directly from your wrist. Personally, I can’t imagine too many scenarios where this is useful, but what I can say for certain is that the function works as intended, as do most of the others for that matter. Way more useful is the remote music control, which can really come in handy if you hate pulling your phone out every few minutes just to change the song. The sound quality is actually pretty decent, so you can listen to music even if you don’t happen to have any earphones on you.

One of the most noticeable features on the Zeblaze Crystal is the heart rate monitor found on the back, which in theory should be just as accurate – if not more so – as the sensor found on the Apple Watch. In practice this isn’t the case, however. The HRM is pretty unreliable and is likely to give you wildly different results each time you check your rate heart. My advice? Check it out for a while and see how it works for you, but for the most part, I would suggest not putting too much faith in it because the technology is clearly not there yet.

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Heart rate monitor aside, the Zeblaze Crystal sports some additional sensors that are more accurate and thus, more useful. These include things like pedometer, sleep monitor, and sedentary reminder. Speaking of features, you’ve also got anti-theft, voice recorder, alarm, stopwatch, calendar, calculator and of course, you can also pair the device with your smartphone to receive various notifications on your watch, including weather, email, Facebook, Twitter and more. On the downside, the Zeblaze Crystal doesn’t feature a removable back cover and doesn’t support a SIM card or microSD card.

Despite a few cons here and there, the Zeblaze Crystal is well worth the $55 price tag a lot of retailers are asking for it. If you look hard enough you might be able to find even cheaper smartwatches, however, you’ll have a difficult time finding one as hardy as the Zeblaze Crystal. If the manufacturer continues to improve upon previous models I’m sure that future Zeblaze smart watches will be even more impressive, but as it stands, this is still a good effort and worth looking into if you’re in the market for a new smartwatch.

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Gadgets

Spotify is providing refunds for Car Thing as it confronts a lawsuit regarding the malfunctioning of the streaming device

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Spotify is receiving ongoing criticism for its choice to terminate support for Car Thing, its in-car streaming device, which was announced in May. According to the company, the device will become inoperable after December 9, 2024. Gen Z users on TikTok are sharing videos to express their dissatisfaction with Spotify’s decision and its suggested measures, such as transitioning to Android Auto or CarPlay. The users point out that they often lacked access to integrated infotainment systems in their cars, which makes them a prime target market for a specialized player like Car Thing.

The streaming service’s in-car device hadn’t been on the market long enough to become outdated. The product was introduced in February 2022 but was subsequently discontinued within the same year. However, the company assured customers who had already purchased units that it would continue to provide support and maintenance. Prior to its release, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek indicated that there was a significant consumer interest in this product. During an earnings call with investors, Ek reported that over 2 million users had registered on the Car Thing waitlist in anticipation of its launch.

While Spotify did not disclose official figures, it is probable that Car Thing did not meet expectations or did not justify further investment in the current challenging economic climate. Spotify, on the other hand, terminated approximately 1,500 employees towards the end of last year. This followed previous rounds of layoffs earlier in the year that impacted hundreds of employees.

Car Thing users, on the other hand, are not concerned with the company’s financial issues; their primary concern is the functionality of the device or, at the very least, receiving a refund for the $90 cost.

As a result, some individuals have attempted to lodge their complaints directly with Spotify by sending direct messages on the X platform using the handle @SpotifyCares or by utilizing different email addresses associated with Spotify that have been shared on Reddit. As a result, certain users have reported that Spotify provided them with multiple months of a premium subscription as compensation for their inconvenience, whereas others have stated that they inquired with customer service and were informed that no reimbursements were being offered.

According to Spotify, they have recently implemented a refund procedure for Car Thing. However, the user must present evidence of purchase in order to be eligible for the refund.

Car Thing users were officially informed about the availability of customer support through a second email sent on Friday of last week, in response to the increasing criticism and dissatisfaction caused by the discontinuation of Car Thing. Within the message, Spotify provides users with the appropriate customer support link to contact the company. The email does not guarantee any reimbursements but states that users can contact us for inquiries.

Although a refund might appease a certain segment of the user population who are dissatisfied with Car Thing, numerous individuals are earnestly imploring the company through TikTok videos and comments on Spotify’s TikTok posts to refrain from rendering their device inoperable. (Indeed, grievances regarding the Car Thing have become so prevalent on Spotify’s videos that the algorithmically generated search recommendation on certain videos is “what is the spotify car thing.”)

“Spotify, I kindly request that you refrain from subjecting me to any further distress.” “I have a strong affection for my automobile,” expressed Carla, a TikTok user known as @carlititica on the platform.

“Depressed,” expressed another user, @nikkilovestech. “They seem to encourage people to use their phone, which is a source of distraction,” she stated in the video description while demonstrating a Car Thing mounted on her dashboard. In her video, she also addressed the issue of electronic waste resulting from the discontinuation of a fully functional product.

Spotify is still facing challenges regarding the discontinuation of Car Thing, despite the introduction of a refund process that has not been widely publicized. According to Billboard, Spotify is currently dealing with a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The lawsuit alleges that Spotify deceived customers by selling them a product that would soon become outdated, and then failing to provide refunds. The lawsuit was initiated on May 28th.

While Spotify is unable to provide a comment regarding the lawsuit, a representative did share the following statement regarding Car Thing:

The objective of our Car Thing investigation in the United States was to gain further insights into individuals’ auditory habits while driving. In July 2022, we made a public statement declaring our decision to cease any future manufacturing activities, and now we must bid farewell to the devices altogether. The deactivation of all Car Thing devices will occur on December 9, 2024, giving users until that date to continue using them. To gain further knowledge about the various methods available for listening to Spotify in your car, please refer to the For The Record section. Car Thing users can contact Customer Support for any inquiries by visiting: https://support.spotify.com/us/contact-spotify-support/

While the issues surrounding Car Thing may not impact all of Spotify’s user base, this development coincides with a period when users are already dissatisfied with being required to pay additional fees for features they consider essential to a music service, such as access to lyrics, a feature that Spotify recently made available only to paying subscribers. Furthermore, users are expressing dissatisfaction with Car Thing and are issuing ultimatums to discontinue their subscription to Spotify due to the introduction of paid access to lyrics.

Furthermore, Spotify raised its subscription fees last year, and Bloomberg has reported that another price hike is imminent in 2024.

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Mobile Devices

3 Video Games About Women’s Health

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Video games have transcended entertainment to become powerful tools for promoting health and wellness. One notable genre in this realm is fitness gaming, exemplified by titles like Hatsune Miku Fit Boxing, which motivates players to engage in physical activity to enhance their fitness levels. Building on this foundation, developers have ventured into women’s health with games designed to raise awareness and empower players to take control of their well-being. Here are 3 video games on women’s health that provide valuable health information and foster a sense of agency to uplift women around the world.

Tampon Run – Menstrual health

Created by Girls Who Code alumnae Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser in 2014, Tampon Run is an old-school 8-bit online game where the main character, Luna, lobs tampons to destroy enemies, who will confiscate the tampons if she lets them pass by. Interestingly, the concept of weaponized tampons is based on a real incident that occurred in 2013, where Texas state troopers confiscated tampons as potential projectiles, but not guns, from visitors observing a vote on abortion restrictions at the Texas State Capitol. The goal of Tampon Run is to destigmatize periods and menstrual products, which, up until recently, have not been properly studied to measure their absorbency, which underscores the need to address menstrual health so that women can get better care.

In between tossing tampons, Luna shares empowering messages about how periods are a natural part of women’s lives and should not be a source of shame or embarrassment. The game is available to play on the Tampon Run website and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store for iOS users.

PCOS Vitality – PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a complex hormonal condition and the leading cause of female infertility that affects approximately 5 to 6 million women in the US, according to the Endocrine Society. Common features of the condition include having irregular menstrual periods, hyperandrogenism, and polycystic ovaries. Additionally, some studies estimate that up to 88% of women with PCOS are overweight or obese. While there are weight loss programs helping women tackle PCOS, focusing on aspects like lifestyle, symptom management, diet, and other tips for how to lose weight with PCOS, the condition itself remains grossly under-researched. For some women, it may take years to confirm that they have PCOS, as there are other disorders that mimic PCOS signs and symptoms that must be excluded.

The lack of research has extended to a lack of awareness among the general population and is what clinicians from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland are trying to address with the 2023 game PCOS Vitality. Essentially a learning tool, the game takes users through a simple obstacle course. As you click toward the finish line, you are asked simple trivia questions about PCOS. The game is free to play on Focus Games’ website.

Bound by Blood – Period poverty

Period poverty refers to the lack of regular access to period products, painkillers, or underwear during a menstrual cycle. In the US, where 16.9 million menstruating women live in poverty, two-thirds cannot afford basic menstrual products. Period poverty has also been associated with mental health issues and urinary tract infections.

Available to play on the itch.io website, Bound by Blood was created by Jessica Gates in 2017 and aims to educate players about the reality of period poverty. Users take the character of Beth, a homeless woman who wakes up in her car and realizes that she’s started her period. Players then make a series of choices to try to stay as hygienic as possible in spite of lacking resources such as menstrual products and clean restrooms. There isn’t really a way to “win” the game, and it is instead a peek into the reality of life where period products are inaccessible and how this affects women’s quality of life.

Through these games, players not only gain valuable insights into various aspects of women’s health but also find themselves actively engaged in their own well-being. As developers continue to explore this emerging field, the potential for video games to serve as educational tools and catalysts for change in healthcare remains promising

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Consoles

Despite popular belief, PS4 sales in the UK skyrocketed last year

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PS4 sales in the UK climbed by a shocking 633 percent year-over-year in 2023, so apparently the old system isn’t dead yet. The previous year’s very limited supply of the system is likely a major factor in this figure, since the console’s lifespan was drastically reduced because of chip shortages caused by the pandemic. Still, it’s proof that PlayStation’s original platform has unmet demand.

With the very low prices of PS4 software (both in-store and online at the PS Store), this strategy makes a lot of sense. Plus, it’s future-proof, so there’s no harm in stocking up on PS4s while new-gen pricing is still high, since if you decide to switch to a PS5 in the future, you can transfer all of your purchases across. Not to mention that the majority of new releases still come out on the PS4, with several offering free PS5 upgrades.

While the percentage rise may seem huge, real PS4 sales will probably be much lower. It’s a sign that the gadget, which is now a decade old, isn’t completely dead yet, and we expect it to keep receiving maintenance for a while longer. Of course, this is great news for Sony, because the company would rather have PS4 players playing on its last-gen gadget than none at all, even if it would love to have them upgrade to PS5.

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