LG Heart Rate Monitor Earphone review: good fitness gadget, poor earphones

Heart rate monitors are no longer the exclusive domain of fitness gadgets. The last 12 months have seen sensors make their way into smartphones and wearables, replacing for many of us the need for a standalone pulse monitor. The problem is a lot of these options have been unable to deliver accurate heart rate mesurements, partly because those sensors have to maintain contact with your skin; if they slip, then the readout skips. Maybe LG has the answer, then: Put heart rate monitoring technology into a pair of Bluetooth headphones. If you're like me and are constantly wired for sound during workouts, what could possibly be better?

LG's Heart Rate Monitor earphones link to an iOS/Android app, with absolutely nothing burdening your wrists. LG's fitness app can even add your exercise sessions to a step counter, so long as you buy LG's optional Lifeband Touch fitness band. What's more, the app also integrates with other fitness apps like RunKeeper. It all sounds great on paper, but there's a problem: the headphones don't actually sound good. Let me explain.

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Rhapsody International, the parent company of music-streaming services Rhapsody and Napster, has just announced it is now home to two million paid subscribers. That sum may not seem like a lot at first glance, especially when compared to the 10 million figure Spotify revealed back in May, but Rhapsody still sees this as a great accomplishment. Even though it continues to play catch-up to crowd-favorite Spotify, Rhapsody claims this makes it the clear "number two" streaming service in terms of adoption, ahead of others like Rdio, Deezer and Beats Music. The two million premium subscribers to date, which combines accounts from Rhapsody, Rhapsody unRadio and Napster, have been made possible largely by the company's international expansions and partnerships with carriers -- in the US under the Rhapsody brand, Napster everywhere else.

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BenQ may not be a familiar name to some -- at least not in the US -- but its roots in the electronics industry date back to the '80s. The company, formerly a division of Acer, was spun off in 2001 in an attempt to build a brand name for itself. With a background in manufacturing, BenQ began building devices for companies like Nokia and Motorola; devices that were mostly for sale in Asian markets. Soon, it started its own line of mobile handsets and in 2005, BenQ announced a cube-like multimedia device called the Z2. It was poised to compete with the other camera-toting and music-playing cellphones at the time, while also targeting the youth market with its unique form factor and colorful exteriors. Curious to know more? Check out our gallery below.

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IRL: Taking HTC's One M8 for a test drive

The original HTC One was one of my favorite smartphones from 2013, but it was easy to see why you'd pass it up in favor of an archrival like Samsung's Galaxy S4 -- it just didn't have the battery life, camera quality or expansion to keep up. Fast-forward to 2014 and it's a different story. Most of those headache-inducing flaws have been fixed in the new One; indeed, my colleague Brad Molen suggested it was an all-around better device. But is that enough to avoid a twinge of buyer's remorse, especially with the Galaxy S5 and Sony's Xperia Z2 upping the ante? I spent a few weeks with the new One to find out whether I'd still be pining for features from those other devices.

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Back in June, Google revealed Cardboard: an open-source attempt at mobile virtual reality. Heck, even the "hardware" is open source --here are instructions to make your own, right now!

But the concept is more than a low-tech solution to mobile VR. It's emblematic of Google's approach to virtual reality: use the phone that's already in your pocket. Samsung's taking the same approach later this year with Gear VR, only it's also partnering with Oculus VR on the software side.

This stands in stark contrast to the PC-dependent, ultra-high-res experience Oculus VR and Facebook are aiming to achieve. The Oculus Rift headset both literally and figuratively kickstarted the re-birth of virtual reality in modern technology. It remains the peak of technological achievement in virtual reality. And now, the medium is splintering into two distinct futures: one of entertainment, the other of immersion.

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Oppo Find 7 review: A solid phone that faces stiff competition

The Galaxy S5. The One M8. The G3. Every notable player in the overcrowded smartphone space has a flagship, one heroic device that the company pins its hopes on... for a year or so, anyway. For Oppo, a Chinese phone maker whose profile has swelled thanks to a surprisingly solid phone lineup, that flagship is the Find 7: an unassuming slab that looks painfully pedestrian compared to the last time the company went all out. Maybe that's a bit harsh. The Find 7 pairs top-notch performance with one of the highest-resolution screens you'll find on a mobile today -- hardly a formula to sneeze at. But is it worth the $599 asking price? Is Oppo really a mobile force to be reckoned with? Follow me, friends, and we'll figure it out together.

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Amazon Fire phone review: a unique device, but you're better off waiting for the sequel

After producing a long line of e-book readers and tablets (not to mention a set-top box), Amazon has its sights set on the smartphone market. But finding success here won't be easy, even for an established tech giant like Amazon. With the Fire phone, the online retailer is coming in as an unproven underdog, hoping to bring iPhone and Android users into its fold. CEO Jeff Bezos says the only way to do that is to differentiate; to wow potential buyers with new features they didn't even realize they needed. These unique offerings include 3D head-tracking, product scanning and fast help from customer service agents.

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Deep-pocketed power users may buy new smartphones once a year or even every few months to take advantage of improved displays, better cameras and faster processors, but the majority of owners are more likely to tire of their device's appearance long before its outdated specs. A few manufacturers have taken a new approach when designing their handsets, opting to include not only replaceable batteries, but also swappable backs, that let you change the look of your phone for only a few bucks. Samsung's Galaxy S5 and LG's G3 are two recent flagships that you can change up after purchase, but there are a few other options to consider, too. If you're feeling extra ambitious, you could even replace the backplate on, say, an iPhone 5s, but such an undertaking requires precise work, pricier parts and a voided warranty. Click through for our customizable picks that keep things simple (and cheap).

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ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C

When it comes to ASUS, buying a full-size Android tablet has usually meant venturing past the $300 mark; even the Transformer Book T100 set you back $349 when it first came out, and that was considered a steal. That's no longer a problem in 2014. ASUS' new Transformer Pad TF103C costs $299 with the company's signature keyboard dock included, or as much as some smaller mid-range slates. While that's potentially a hefty bargain, it begs a few questions: Just what are you giving up to get that price? And is it worth the trade-off when you could likely snag a smaller, but more powerful tablet for less? As I've learned, you're making quite a few sacrifices in the name of a better deal. This is still quality hardware, but you have to know what you're in for.

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Vertu CEO Max Pogliani

Last month was a special one for Max Pogliani: Not only did it mark his first anniversary as Vertu's CEO, but it also saw the launch of his very own baby, the Android-powered Signature Touch. This new phone's up-to-date specs have already silenced critics; and despite the luxury market's slowdown, the Italian exec said his team's already ahead of budget in the first half of this year. Vertu's not stopping there, as it plans to expand its portfolio with an even more affordable smartphone, as well as new accessories like audio products and maybe even smart wearables.

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Despite being crowded by major networks such as Fox Sports, NBC Sports and, of course, ESPN, surely this space could still make room for one more. At least that's what the new, young brand 120 Sports is hoping for. As opposed to the rest of them, however, 120 Sports isn't trying to make broadcast TV its bread and butter; instead, it is seeking all-digital avenues to distribute video content, with a website and mobile applications that offer 24/7 sports coverage, live and on-demand. But, perhaps most importantly, it's delivering content without requiring authentication from a cable or satellite provider, and that's something made possible by having some high-profile backing.

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If you get offered a high-level position with HTC, run. At least, that's the reputation the Taiwan-based manufacturer has unfortunately built over the last two years. Since 2012, no fewer than 22 members of its senior management have left the company. Some took off for personal reasons; others faced criminal charges; and still others moved on to different companies. Many of these exits have been attributed to HTC's state of health, as the smartphone (and soon to be smartwatch) maker has made costly mistakes and experienced a string of decreasing profits stretching back to the end of 2011. Let's take a look at each major departure from the beginning until the present day.

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As the classic refrain goes, three is a magic number -- and that certainly sums up LG's latest smartphone, the G3. It's fronted by an extra-sharp, 5.5-inch quad HD (2,560 x 1,440) display and wrapped in a smooth metal exterior. The G3's rear button controls offer a distinct twist on the smartphone interface, and you'll find both a very quick, laser-focused 13-megapixel camera as well as enough battery power to get you through the day. Want one? LG is more than willing to share the love, as it's giving away brand new G3s to three lucky Engadget readers this week. Oh, and you get to choose from one of the big four carriers (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile) -- you probably won't have to switch networks just to get LG's latest. This particular giveaway is only for those in the US, but since the G3 is available worldwide, you can always pick one up. So, what are you waiting for? Head on down to the Rafflecopter widget below for your chance to win a G3 of your very own. It might just be your lucky day.

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FC Barcelona v Real Betis Balompie - La Liga

Many are referring to the 2014 World Cup as the best of the modern era -- think: since Korea/Japan in 2002. Was it due to the fact it set an incredible amount of viewing records? Or, perhaps, it has to do with how much social networks made the entire experience that much more enjoyable. After all, who could forget all the great memes and Tumblr accounts? The level of play wasn't bad either, with this year's tournament leaving behind formidable memories of great individual (Guillermo Ochoa against Brazil, Tim Howard against Belgium) and team (Germany's 7-1 thrashing of Brazil) performances. There's a reason why the sport is nicknamed "The Beautiful Game." Thankfully, football doesn't stop here. While we wait for the next World Cup, which Russia will host in 2018, here's how you, the new (or old) fan, can keep up with some of the professional leagues from across the globe.

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Huawei Ascend P7 review: the best mid-range phone you've never heard of

What is a flagship? For some companies, it's about cramming as many features into a device as physics allows. For Huawei, it means something else entirely: Though it creates smartphones for the power-hungry crowd, its most eye-catching devices typically favor mass appeal over brawn. Exhibit A: the Ascend P7, a smartphone that emphasizes design and user-friendliness over a blowsy spec sheet. When we reviewed its predecessor, the P6, last year, we found a gorgeous phone that struggled due to an underpowered engine and lack of LTE. The company promises it's learned from its mistakes, though. So is the P7 the mid-range smartphone you'll actually be proud to show off?

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