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For two years, Pebble was the smartwatch company to beat. In 2012, it raised over $10 million on Kickstarter for its simple, monochrome e-paper wristwatch, putting itself and the crowdfunding site on the map. But things move quickly in the technology world. Google has since come out with Android Wear, prompting a slew of smartphone companies to suddenly turn into watchmakers. Not to be outdone, Apple joined the fray as well, positing its own wearable as a timepiece premium enough for high-end boutiques. So when Pebble debuted the Time, its second-generation $199 smartwatch, on Kickstarter three months ago, it was facing much stiffer competition. Surprisingly, that too made crowdfunding history, raising more than $20 million in just over a month. Did 78,471 backers make the right decision? I attempt to find out.

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EE's Kestrel was its first own-brand 4G smartphone, meant for those wanting breakneck mobile data speeds without breaking the bank. One year on, the Kestrel is coming to the end of its life, and when remaining stock is depleted, it'll disappear from the network's handset roster. The market for affordable 4G smartphones isn't vanishing anytime soon, however, which is why EE's readied a replacement for the Kestrel prior to its retirement. Actually, make that two: the new EE Harrier and Harrier Mini.

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My wife often says I'm fat, but that's hardly a motivation for me to resume my exercise routine. Then the ASUS VivoWatch landed on my desk, so I had no choice but to get back on the treadmill for your amusement. To keep things short, it turns out that this fitness-centric smartwatch does have a couple of compelling features that made me interested in getting fit again -- more so than the other basic (as in no heart rate monitoring) fitness trackers that I've long left in the drawer. Also, the VivoWatch can pair with both iOS plus Android, and costs just under $150 in Taiwan, meaning it'll be going head to head with the similarly priced Fitbit Charge HR around the world. So is ASUS' first fitness device worth trying? Or should you stick to some more mature offerings? Let's take a look.

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LG Watch Urbane review: a premium watch that falls short of greatness

There are only a few companies out there with as much experience making Android Wear watches as LG. After all, the platform's only been part of the public consciousness for a year and yet this Korean giant has already made three of them. Its first sequel -- the G Watch R -- was a marked improvement over its dull, plastic predecessor, but the progress isn't quite as clear with the new Watch Urbane. Sure, it's running a fresh version of the Wear operating system, with some neat new features that haven't yet trickled down to the rest of Google's wearable ecosystem. Hell, it's even got a look that's meant to rival the Patek Philippes in your collection. All that said, after over a week of testing, I still couldn't help but want more out of the Urbane, and you probably will too.

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Two years ago, BlackBerry finally broke free of the monotonous cycle it had entrenched itself in by launching its first all-touchscreen device, the Z10. Despite it being a costly flop, the company formerly known as RIM has continued to explore touchscreen territory with the help of its poke-friendly BB10 OS. BlackBerry is no longer a stranger to the form factor: It quickly followed up the Z10 with the Z30, and now the new BlackBerry Leap. There's little that separates BlackBerry's three main touchscreen devices as far as internals are concerned, and therein lies the main problem with the Leap. Instead of trying something different, BlackBerry has kept well within its comfort zone and pushed out another mid-range, touchscreen handset that's marginally divergent from its predecessors. Don't get me wrong: If a Leap lands on your desk to replace an old work phone, you'll no doubt get on with it just fine. But, if your own money is on the table, you're probably going to want to take it elsewhere.

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LG G4 review: refined, but not game-changing

When LG cooked up last year's G3, we (and many of our contemporaries) fell in love with it. At last, a well-designed phone with a killer Quad HD screen and a custom interface that didn't make us want to wrap a USB cord around our necks! Building a beloved smartphone is no small feat, but it's still not as hard as crafting a sequel that will be just as well-received. When it came time for LG to design the new G4, the company latched onto a handful of areas it thought people really cared about. It rebuilt its 16-megapixel camera from the ground up. That Quad HD screen? LG tried to make it more "accurate." Now the question is: How'd LG do? Did it figure out how to excite people for another year? The answer -- in case you've got somewhere else to be -- is "almost."

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Apple Watch review: a status symbol for iOS devotees

​Mankind's fascination with watches capable of more than simply telling the time is nothing new. But recently, our collective interest in intelligent timepieces has spiked, and we have more and more powerful wrist-worn computers to choose from than ever -- whether made by startups with record-setting Kickstarter campaigns or the biggest names in consumer electronics. Of course, the biggest name of all, Apple, had yet to release one of its own. Well, the Watch has arrived, and its maker has loftier aspirations for it than the smartwatches preceding it. Apple's Watch isn't some utilitarian gadget -- it's jewelry, an object of lust, not only for what it can do, but also for how it looks.

I'm not a watch person. Haven't worn one regularly since high school (I'm 33 years old now), and have never been enamored with the likes of Rolex or Longines. But the Apple Watch is, of course, much more than a mere time teller, and the company expects to sell a lot of these things to people like me -- you don't build a $700 billion company selling niche products, after all. The question is: Why would someone like me want one?

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Once again, the third time's the charm for Microsoft's Surface lineup -- for the most part. Last year's Surface Pro 3 was the software giant's most compelling implementation yet of its hybrid laptop/tablet concept. Now we have the Surface 3, the third entry in its cheaper Surface lineup. And while it may look similar to its predecessors, it's actually a completely different beast. It's a $499 Surface tablet that can actually run all of the Windows programs you're used to, not just Windows 8 apps. And to Windows RT, the stripped down version of Microsoft's OS that previously powered the non-Pro Surface tablets, all I have to say is: So long, goodbye. Don't let the door hit you on the way out! By giving up on Windows RT, Microsoft has finally managed to make a decent cheap Surface.

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Samsung found itself in sort of a bind last year: Its flagship Galaxy S5 wasn't the blockbuster the company hoped it would be. That, coupled with the news that Samsung was going to focus on a smaller number of devices in 2015, signaled a pretty dramatic change for a brand that seemed like it was unstoppable. As if to silence the doubters, Samsung has not one, but two flagships on offer -- the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge -- and they're surrounded by questions. Can they restore Samsung to its former glory? Has the company figured out how to build a truly interesting smartphone again? It's too early to make a call on the former, but after a week of testing, the answer to the latter is a clear and definite "yes."

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If you want to get a sense of where the real innovation in smartphones is happening, you need to look past the high-end flagships and toward the cheap stuff. And with the new Moto E, Motorola has crafted one of the most compelling budget smartphones yet. Starting at just $150, it's a tad more expensive than last year's $120 model, but it makes up for that with upgrades that make it a far more usable phone. Those include the addition of LTE, 8GB of built-in storage (twice as much as its predecessor) and a slightly bigger screen. (Moto's also offering a $120 3G-only version.) It may not sound all that exciting if you're waiting for the new Galaxy S6 or HTC One, but it's a solid choice for someone who doesn't need a powerful phone. And it's yet another sign that even the geekiest among us may soon be springing for inexpensive, contract-free phones.

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Let's say you're a smartphone maker and you cook up a formula for a beloved, game-changing device. The next year, you tweak that formula a bit to create a worthy, if slightly less exciting, follow-up of a phone. What do you do after another year has gone by? Try something completely different in hopes you'll catch lightning in a bottle again, or keep plugging away on the mobile DNA that made you such a worthy name in the first place? If you're HTC, the answer is obvious: You keep polishing and polishing that formula until you finally reach the ideal you've been working toward.

That's what we have in the One M9. It's still a ways off from fulfilling the vision that HTC's design wonks had in mind, but in most ways it's a very thoughtful refinement of what made the One series so special. Your pleas and complaints haven't gone unheard. The thing is, when the One M9 does try new things -- be they software features or hardware changes -- it doesn't always stick the landing.

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"They're a gimmick. They're a terrible idea. They're not going anywhere."

Naysayers have been doing their thing since the notion of a curved smartphone made the leap from a nutty concept to bona fide market fad, and they're not going to stop any time soon. Neither are LG and Samsung, for that matter, who squared off in late 2013 with -- what else? -- a pair of curved phones. Neither the G Flex nor the Galaxy Round were critical or commercial hits, but they made great stepping stones as both companies tried to convince the world that curved phones were the next big thing. Now LG's back for another shot at flexible-phone glory. The new G Flex2 is smaller, sleeker and a damn sight prettier than its predecessor, but still, we've got questions. Are curved screens any less of a gimmick now? Did LG have to compromise functionality for the sake of design? And more importantly, is this actually worth buying?

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BlackBerry Classic review: A love letter to fans and few others

Let's put Apple, Samsung and all their ilk aside for few moments: It really wasn't that long ago that a homegrown Canadian company called BlackBerry (well, RIM at the time) basically ruled the mobile world. The outfit's slow decline has been chronicled, opined upon for years, and yet, some of BlackBerry's most ardent fans still clamor for the days when QWERTY keyboards and teensy trackpads were uber-efficient status symbols instead of the relics they are now.

Enter the BlackBerry Classic. The name says it all, really: It's a paean to BlackBerry's halcyon days, and it's got a look plucked straight out of 2011, to boot. We took one for an extended spin to see how BlackBerry's throwback formula holds up today, and (very long story short) it's mostly the past mashed up with a touch of the modern. The bigger question, as usual, is whether or not it's worth your time. I suspect you already know the answer, but read on for my full impressions.

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Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review: light in the hand, heavy on the wallet

Sony's consumer electronics division is in an ongoing state of flux. Having already given up on PCs and e-readers, the company recently pledged to make fewer TVs and smartphones in a bid to get its books back in the black. How Sony's strategizing will affect its output of tablets remains unclear, but no doubt a keen eye is being kept on the reception of its latest slate, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact (don't let that mouthful of a moniker fool you -- Sony only classes the 8-inch tablet as "compact" to differentiate it from its two previous 10.1-inch devices). The company is renowned for the quality of its premium products, and like the two smartphones that make up the rest of the Z3 family, its newest tablet is a testament to that legacy. Cutting to the chase, it's an elegant and powerful device, but with prices starting at $445/£300, those credentials might not be enough to make you choose Sony over the competition.

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HTC Desire Eye review: in search of the ultimate selfie machine

2014 was the year that the word "selfie" finally -- and maybe unfortunately -- found its way into honest-to-goodness dictionaries. Is it really any surprise, then, that smartphone makers are finally starting to upgrade their front-facing cameras? With the Desire Eye, HTC took a step back and wondered why a phone's rear camera always had to be better than the one up front. Don't our lovely mugs deserve the same sort of technical attention and affection as, say, our lunches? HTC (along with others like Oppo) has decided that yes, yes they do. When you look at things that way, the Desire Eye and its twin 13-megapixel cameras seems to be just the perfect compromise for wannabe mobile photographers and the truly vain. But is it really?

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