Upgrading my living room with the Sonos Playbar and Sub

For a long time now, I've been reading (and writing) about Sonos' audio devices, filled with jealousy toward anyone who could afford to spend more than just a few minutes with them. Sure, I've briefly tried them at trade shows, but to really judge the merits of audio gear like the Playbar and Sub, you need the proper amount of soak-time. Well, I finally got my chance. Over the last two months, I've been using the basically $1,400 pair ($699 each) in my living room to handle audio from my TV and also play a little music. With an easy setup and stellar sound quality, it's easy to become smitten with Sonos. Indeed, it didn't take long before I was hooked.

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Navit Keren grew up in Israel. She's lived through the signing of historic peace treaties, and horrific terrorist attacks. Just as important though, she's witness to the dramatic deterioration of the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians. The biggest problem she sees, is a lack of empathy. Those living on the other side of the divide are not people, but enemies. "Others" to be feared and hated. Her effort to bridge the gap between the two sides is a pretty novel one: a location-based game. Welcome to the West Bank is merely a working title, but it gets right to the heart of the game. Israeli citizens, primarily teenagers, would play as Palestinian teenagers living in the West Bank. Basically she's asking people to walk a mile in someone else's virtual shoes.

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Cynthia Breazeal has a pretty impressive resume. She's the director of the personal robotics group at the MIT Media Lab, creator of the landmark Kismet robot and now she's the founder, CEO and chief scientist at Jibo. If you're not familiar with Jibo, take a moment to go check out its incredibly successful Indiegogo page. The goal is to create the world's first "family robot." It's cute, friendly and smart. Or at least, it will be when it's delivered to customers. Breazeal acknowledges that other robots and artificial intelligences have made their impact felt in the home, but they've hardly become ubiquitous. For her the key isn't about building a robot that performs some specific function, but about building a relationship with the family, which is the core of any household.

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Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on the Nintendo 2DS

It was roughly two months ago that I received a midnight email from our gaming editor Ben Gilbert. The subject: "Review Code -- Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate for 3DS." The email: "Assuming you want this?" I didn't. Sure, I'd played an older Monster Hunter on the Wii a few years back, but I gave up 15 hours in, shortly after the grueling tutorials ended. I've always felt like I should be into the series, though. I'm into RPGs; I'm into grinding. I use up the precious few vacation days I have crawling through Persona Q's dungeons or leveling up familiars. So I decided to offer up 100 hours of my free time to see if I could learn to love Monster Hunter. I tried so hard to love it.

But I failed.

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The world's biggest mobile tech show has just finished. You were probably poring over all those new big-screened smartphones, but you still remember what came before those all-screen oblongs, right? When was the last time you saw a flip phone being used? Not a Nokia clamshell buried away in a drawer, or a Motorola RAZR dusted off by an older relative who charges it once a month, but in a train station, at a bar -- in public. For me, it was a few hours ago. I live in Japan (Hi!), and people here still carry a torch for the feature phone -- or at least, their version of it, the gara-kei, short for Galapagos keitai. ("Galapagos" refers to Japan's curious tech ecosystem that gave birth to devices that only seemed to appeal to its home country. Oh, and keitai means phone.) Last year, shipments of feature phones increased, while smartphone figures fell. Experts said this was more a one-last-hurrah boom than a new trend, but still, over 10 million of these simpler phones shipped in 2014. How are these phones clinging on in the face of obviously superior hardware and functionality? And who's still buying them?

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Camera manufacturers do a great job of not making your purchases feel obsolete after a year. Case in point: Olympus' OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Thirds camera, which the company updated last month, more than three years after the original was introduced. I'm not saying the original is obsolete per se, but there's no doubt the new E-M5 Mark II is a godsend for people invested in the Olympus ecosystem. So what's actually new in this model, you ask? A lot, both inside and out, although it does maintain a similar look and feel to its predecessor.

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It's time have your voices heard. In the dog-eat-dog world of technological innovation ... Ok, ok, enough with the K9 metaphors. Let's just get to the point: Nominations for the 11th Annual Engadget Awards end at midnight PT tonight. We've given you a head start with a few suggestions, but feel free to write in your own in the ballots below -- if you haven't placed your votes already. You don't have to make nominations in every category, but selections should be for products available in 2014.

We'll announce the winners during a very special awards ceremony on March 25th. Let's just say the competition is rrrrruff ...

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Alex Schwartz expected robes. His development studio, Owlchemy Labs, received a cryptic email from Valve, one of the largest and most mysterious companies in the gaming industry, on an otherwise normal day in October: The message contained a secrecy agreement, plane tickets and the vague assertion that this was all about something related to virtual reality. Owlchemy responded with suspicion and intrigue. "What the hell is this? Who's coming? What is this all about?" Valve responded, "We can't say anything more. Just come."

So, Owlchemy did.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Whisper it, but if the trend at London's Wearable Technology Show is any indication then the future of wearables may not be in fitness. Yesterday, Apple announced a medical research platform in the form of Research kit and less than 24 hours afterward, the dominant theme is not about pleasing marathon runners. "There's a kudos in sport," says Smartlife's Martin Ashby -- one of the exhibitors at the show. "But the future of wearables is in health and wellbeing." It's a bold statement from the CEO of a smart sportswear company, but is it true that companies are looking to ditch fitness fans in favor of hospitals? If you're curious to read what others believe, keep reading.

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Since the launch of the iPod, Apple's either dominated or come close to dominating every industry that it has entered. The only market where the company isn't the world number one is in set-top boxes, a field that has always been described as a "hobby." It's not too much of a risk to think that Apple will do to watches what it's already done to personal audio, smartphones and tablets -- even if global success isn't overnight. What then, for everyone else in the world of wearable technology?

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