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On the surface, Dot sounds like a fairly standard smartwatch: It resembles a Fitbit and features a messaging system, navigation functions, Bluetooth 4.0, an alarm and, of course, a timepiece. Dot is remarkable because it's a braille smartwatch -- the world's first braille smartwatch, in fact. Its face features a series of dull pins that rise and fall at customizable speeds, spelling out words in braille as the user places a finger on top. With this system, Dot allows users to read ebooks without throwing down thousands of dollars for a portable braille reader. The watch should hit the market for less than $300, with pre-orders staring this year. Plus, Dot has an active battery life of 10 hours, according to inhabitat, so get ready for some serious reading time.

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It's that dreaded time of year when lazy summer days with their open invitation to sandals, surf and shirtlessness begin to give way to the crispness of fall, hoodies and the back-to-school doldrums. Ah, but there's hope on the horizon: You can always buy things to forget the scheduled machinery of life. And, oh, have we got some selections for you -- no matter your budget.

First up, our picks for the most cost-conscious of the back-to-school set.

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If you find yourself re-ordering office supplies, you can also nab Amazon's smart speaker in one fell swoop. Staples is the only place other than Amazon where you can purchase the voice-controlled Echo device. While Echo is listed on the Staples website, it's unclear whether or not the speaker will be available in stores (the two stores closest to me don't have them). The retailer known for paper and pens may seem like an odd choice as the only "exclusive" spot to nab the Alexa-powered gadget, but Staples also sells Kindles, Fire TV and Fire tablets, so it's not too much of a stretch. If you're looking to grab one, it carries the same $180 price tag and is available now via the Staples website.

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Xiaomi's Hugo Barra holds up a Mi Note

It looks like Apple's time at the top of China's smartphone heap was short-lived. Researchers at Canalys estimate that local brand Xiaomi has once again become the country's smartphone market share leader, snagging 15.9 percent of shipments during the second quarter of the year. In fact, Apple is down to third place -- one of Xiaomi's fastest-growing rivals, Huawei, claimed the runner-up spot with 15.7 percent. Samsung and Vivo rounded out the top five.

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Indian sex workers call for legalization

India's government has been threatening to crack down on porn in the country, and it looks like the administration has made good on its word. The Department of Telecommunications has blocked 857 sex sites (including everything from Fleshbot's blog through to hookup site Adult Friend Finder) in the name of "decency." While the restrictions may not affect everyone -- some mobile users report unfettered access, for example -- they're definitely noticeable on at least some landline internet providers. Officials claim that India's IT Act grants them the authority to block content if it preserves "public order" and prevents sites from inciting crimes.

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The next version of Soylent is perfect for anyone who's been intrigued by the curiously named food replacement, but doesn't want to deal with mixing messy powders and storing pitchers of liquid. Soylent 2.0 is actually going to be pre-mixed and bottled, making it just as convenient as plenty other nutritional drinks out there, like Ensure. Each bottle has around 20 percent of your daily recommended values for vitamins and minerals, and the drink also has a low glycemic index of 49.2 (which means it won't shoot up your blood sugar). It also has a shelf life of one year and doesn't require refrigeration, so you could conceivably keep a few around your desk for when you can't make it out for lunch. Soylent 2.0 is clearly an attempt by Rosa Labs to make its hyped up meal replacement, which has been popular with techies, more palatable with mainstream consumers.

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Marcus, Dom, Baird and Cole in Gears of War: Ultimate Edition

It's all well and good that Gears of War: Ultimate Edition lets you relive the original game in the series, but what about the other three titles? Don't worry -- you'll get those too. Microsoft and The Coalition have revealed that anyone who buys Ultimate Edition between its August 25th launch and the end of the year will also get access to all of the Xbox 360 Gears games through backward compatibility. They won't look nearly as polished as the remaster, of course, but you also won't have to dig out your old copies (or buy any games you don't have) just to follow humanity's fight against the Locust from start to finish. While it'd be nicer if this offer lasted so long as Ultimate Edition was available, this is still a big deal in an era when some studios are only interested in letting you replay one game from a much larger franchise.

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Key Speakers At The Microsoft Build Developer 2014 Conference

In case you haven't heard, Windows 10 is here, and the version for phones will arrive soon. To help you prepare, Microsoft posted the initial list of Lumia handsets that'll be privy to the free upgrade later this year. The collection of mobile devices includes Lumia 430, Lumia 535, Lumia 640 XL, Lumia 735, Lumia 830, Lumia 930 and others for 10 total. This means that if you own one of group, or have been thinking about picking one up, you'll be able to grab the new software when it's released. Of course, Windows 10 Mobile will deliver those universal apps, a retooled Action Center and Microsoft's new Edge browser. For the full list of phones that will be included in the initial update, jump down past the break. Bummed because your daily driver didn't make the cut? Don't fret: this is the first set and there could be more included later.

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An Amazon shipping box with Prime tape

For a long while, Amazon would let you share some of your Prime perks with four other people of any age -- handy if your roommates need to get an order in a hurry. However, it looks like the internet shopping pioneer is clamping down. A quiet rule change on July 31st has limited Prime sharing to one other adult as part of an "Amazon Household." Moreover, that other grown-up has to use the original member's credit card (update: not really true, see below). That's fine if you're sharing it with a significant other, but lousy for anyone else.

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Samsung Sign

After admitting that it didn't do enough to prevent illnesses and deaths of workers at its Korean semiconductor plants, Samsung has launched a new fund to put things right. Reuters reports that the company has set aside 100 billion won ($85.8 million) to compensate employees after it was revealed that hazardous working conditions had caused workers to contract leukemia and other incurable diseases.

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No, this isn't the next flagship camera you've been waiting on from Fujifilm -- but this doesn't mean some of you won't be interested in it. The company today announced the X-T1 IR, a new edition of its high-end shooter featuring infrared technology, which captures details that aren't normally visible to the human eye. On the outside, Fujifilm's new camera looks identical to the original X-T1, with the two main changes being internal. While the X-T1 IR also features a 16.3-megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II unit, its sensor's Standard IR cut filter was removed and an anti-reflective coating has been applied to it. Other than that, the remaing specs are the same: there's an EXR Processor II, a max ISO range of 25,600 and a weather-resistant shell, to mention a few.

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Back in March, Native Instruments -- the company behind the ubiquitous Traktor DJ software -- announced Stems: a music format that lets DJs and remixers to control individual parts of a track. Today Stems launches to the buying public on a number of popular music stores including Beatport and Traxsource have them listed already, Bleep, Juno, whatpeopleplay, and Wasabeat will also be selling them. For years DJs and producers' only chance of finding a cappella versions of songs was to hope a vocal-only recording existed. The advent of the internet made finding these a little easier, but they were still rare. Expensive software can sometimes help you surgically remove parts or a track, or isolate vocals, but the results aren't always very clean. Stems makes all that a thing of the past.

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Autodesk finally has a game engine to go along with its design tools. The company just launched Stingray, which it built around the Bitsquid engine it bought last year. Autodesk kept the basic guts of that program -- which has already been used on titles like Gauntlet from Warner Bros -- and revamped it with a new interface. The company told Engadget that the goal was to build an engine for smaller studios that can be customized without the need for a lot of programming. At the same time, it wanted Stingray to have all the bells and whistles of competing products like Unreal Engine 4 -- physical shading, post-processing effects, a high-performance reflection system and more.

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Siri on an iPhone 5s

Apple is testing a service that will let Siri take your calls, record them and transcribe them to text, according to Business Insider. The company is reportedly referring to it as iCloud Voicemail, and it's similar to the existing visual voicemail service. However, instead of playing a pre-recorded message to your caller when you can't pick up, Siri will take over the chore. It can then let certain contacts know where you are and why you can't take the call, provided you give permission. The voice message will then be shunted over to Apple's servers and transcribed into text.

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Unlocking a door with your smartphone feels like the future, but you still have to fish something out of your pocket to do it. If you happen to own one of the Yves Behar designed August smart locks, however, you can open it with something on your wrist -- an Apple Watch. You can now lock and unlock the device "with just a swipe and a tap" on a Watch, according to August. In addition, you can view a log of who has come and gone, and get a notification when someone locks or unlocks your door.

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Sony Xperia C5 Ultra

These are dark days for Sony's smartphone business. The division saw sales drop 16.3 percent over the past year, and is losing money faster than PlayStation is making it. The answer to this problem, according to Sony, is to release two new mid range smartphones to this month, the Xperia C5 Ultra and the Xperia M5. Both focus heavily on imaging, with the C5 Ultra offering two 13-megapixel Exmor RS cameras (one on the front, one on the back) that will hopefully capture some impressive shots. The front-facing camera has a 22m wide-angle lens for all your #welfie needs, and even a front-facing flash. Cameras aside, the C5 Ultra (pictured above) has a 1.7GHz octa-core processor, a 6-inch 1080p display, and a 2,930mAh battery that Sony claims is good for two days use.

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People love road trips. Some like 'em more than others. And some like them perhaps a little bit too much. This interactive map from Richard Kreitner and Steven Melendez crams the locations mentioned in twelve road-tripping books including Mark Twain's Roughing It and Jack Kerouac's On the Road. That total's 1,500 entries, paired with the most appropriate coordinates the author could assign. You might take issue with some of the book choices, but we'll only accept complaints after you've tackled the entirety of this cartographic labor of love. You'll find the bibliography after the break.

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Here Maps for iOS

Nokia is selling its Here maps service to a group of German car makers for €2.8 billion (roughly $3.07 billion). The consortium is comprised of Mercedes' owner Daimler, BMW, and Audi. As the latter is a VW subsidiary, the buyers essentially represent the entire German car industry -- or at least all the big hitters. It was previously reported that Uber was interested in purchasing the service, but the car companies clearly brought the most attractive offer to Nokia's table.

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Satechi's Cortana button

Now that Microsoft's voice-guided Cortana assistant is up and running in Windows 10, you might be eager to trigger it without leaving the "hey Cortana" feature on (which might sap battery life) or staying within reach of your computer. If so, Satechi might just come to your aid. It's releasing a Bluetooth Cortana button that will trigger the Halo-inspired helper on Windows PCs and phones from a distance. You can use it to more quickly ask about the weather from across the room, for instance, or leave your phone in your car's cupholder when you start a call. At $23, it won't be the cheapest single-purpose peripheral when it ships later in August. However, that purchase might pay off if you'd rather not get that chatty with your devices.

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AT&T U-verse box

AT&T isn't waiting long to take advantage of its DirecTV acquisition. The telecom giant is introducing its first plans that incorporate the satellite TV provider, including a promo plan that could save you money if you need to get both cellphone and TV service at the same time. The offering gives you basic TV service for four receivers (through either DirecTV or U-verse) and four phone lines with 10GB of shared data for $200 per month over the first year. You'll need to agree to a 1- or 2-year TV contract and sign up between August 10th and November 14th, but you could save up to $600 in those initial 12 months -- no small amount, even though the rate is likely to change in the long run.

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