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Sapphire is the birthstone of September, the traditional gift on your 45th wedding anniversary and a material associated with both luxury and ruggedness. It can be found in opulent products like jewelry, camera lenses and fancy watches. Given that, it's also one of the toughest materials in the world, which makes it ideal for military-grade items like aviation displays and even missiles. So when rumors emerged that a sapphire display may be featured on the next iPhone, a chorus of excitement followed. However, many phone manufacturers don't share the same sense of optimism that Apple might hold toward this different kind of next-gen display.

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There are good cameras that look cute, take passable pictures and don't cost an arm and a leg. And then there are incredible cameras that can really do it all, but come along with comparatively astronomical price tags. The Sony RX100 is the latter -- the original model, which cost $650 and first appeared in 2012, was already wildly popular with camera enthusiasts, and 2014's version cashes in on two additional years of R&D. The result is a more capable point-and-shoot that's even pricier, at $800, but still worth every penny: It's the RX100 III.

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Heart-rate monitoring chest straps won't be with us for much longer, as wrist-worn devices are offering optical sensors that do exactly the same job. PulseOn is the latest, and having spun out of Nokia back in 2012, is now offering its first entry into the market, the, uh, PulseOn. Confusing nomenclature aside, the company is now accepting pre-orders through Indiegogo, which was used to help raise awareness as well as cash for the small outfit. We've spent some time with the first model to roll off the production line, so if you're curious if it's worth splashing $170 out on one, read on.

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business executive in formal...

You have what you think is a cool idea, but you aren't sure if you can convince investors about the sales potential of, say, a tiny monitor strapped to your face, or a watch that is also a computer. Besides, who are "investors" and how do you summon them from their secret offshore lairs to pass judgment on your notional widget? Wouldn't it be easier if you could just put your idea on the internet, letting regular people who might be on your wavelength pledge directly to help get it done?

That's what crowdfunding is about. Services like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Patreon and others gather funds directly from buyers, to make potentially crazy ideas a reality. Crazy ideas like a salad... made with potatoes. But it's not all free money and rampant innovation.

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Samsung's Tizen mobile OS already powers a pair of smartwatches, but what about those smartphones we've been promised for so long? Well the company's first consumer-ready Tizen phone -- the Samsung Z -- was supposed to make its official debut at a developer event in Moscow yesterday. Of course, the key words there are "supposed to". To hear the folks at the Wall Street Journal tell the tale, there was a Tizen event for enthusiasts, but Samsung quietly pulled the plug on the Z's launch days earlier.

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If you saw Reggie Watts' musical set at Engadget Expand (don't worry, there's video after the break), then you probably noticed the table full of gear he needs to construct his loops. Propellerhead -- the Swedish software company behind Reason, not the electronica duo -- is hoping to lighten this load with Take, a creative vocal loop recorder that's being given away free to iPhone users. The interface is reasonably simple, offering you a wide variety of pre-made backing loops as well as three tracks that you can rap, sing or otherwise make noise on. It's tremendously easy to use, but it won't compensate for your lack of musical talent, which is why we won't be sharing our ham-fisted efforts with you.

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DARPA, the government agency known for its robots and other crazy futuristic inventions, just announced a new project that could lead to the quicker development of advanced military vehicles. This new project is called Materials Development for Platforms, and it aims to shorten the timespan between designing tough materials that can withstand harsh environments and having them used on actual military equipment. Apparently, such a process typically takes more than a decade (that's why the Luke arm's relatively fast FDA approval was darn impressive). But MDP seeks to come up with the methodology and tools to cut that down to two-and-a-half years.

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If there's one thing that China has enjoyed doing this year, it's taking pot-shots at the US as a result of the Snowden revelations. After banning Windows 8, allegedly pushing banks to ditch IBM hardware and calling for severe punishments on Apple and Google, the government is now gunning for the iPhone. Buried deep in iOS 7 is a Google Now-esque location tracking feature that can offer recommendations and improve the mapping experience. China, via its state television mouthpiece, believes that the system's logs could be used by nefarious researchers to extract state secrets. Of course, as the company points out, the data is only uploaded to Apple's servers with your explicit consent, and can be turned off -- but then again, perhaps this latest bout of saber rattling is destined to direct attention away from China's own espionage record.

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A picture taken on February 7, 2012 show

France's "anti-Amazon" law prohibiting free shipping and discounts has now gone into effect, and Amazon quickly announced that it had conformed -- technically. Though it no longer ships books for free, it only charges 0.01 euro, conforming to the letter if not the spirit of the law (French Prime members still receive free book shipping). It's also no longer allowed to give a 5 percent discount on books, the maximum allowed by French law. Despite Amazon's ceremonial cent for shipping, bricks-and-mortar competitors in the country now have a big leg-up. They're exempt from the law and can still offer 5 percent discounts and free delivery -- even those with a large online presence like FNAC, a French book and electronics giant. Meanwhile, Amazon could still appeal the decision to EU courts, who reportedly see the French decision as anti-competitive.

[Image credit: François Guillot/AFP/Getty Images]

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Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond

Google's top lawyer has spoken out to try to explain the mess that happened last week, when the search giant censored, and then partially reinstated, links to a number of important news articles. Senior VP and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond now admits that some of the initial censorship decisions were "incorrect," specifically in the case of some Guardian newspaper articles that were delisted for a short time. But, as you'd probably expect, he also gives Google's side of the story.

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