Five years ago, I had a chance to try out a VR headset made by Oculus. It was mere months after Facebook acquired the company, and the Oculus Rift was still two years away from market. Still, even in its early stages, it was pretty cool! The best feature I tried was the mini “game” that let you walk around Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment. You could tell even then that Facebook was on to something with its decision to venture into VR; another mini game that simulated jumping off skyscrapers was obvious in its video game applications.
But in 2014, the Oculus VR headset had very little to offer users outside of novelty. And every time I look at the photo of me sitting on a stool with the ridiculous headset on, I feel silly. While I remain convinced that humanity is not too far off from living out the scenario of the much maligned Bruce Willis movie “Surrogates”, you are going to need to give me a lot more to do in the simulation world before I end up permanently supine, forever relegated to indolence like the human characters in “Wall-E.”
I have thought little to nothing at all about Oculus and VR technology in the intervening years since I first tried the Oculus prototype. If I needed to be attached to a PC to use it, was it really all that much better than a traditional video game? I thought not.
Facebook’s latest Oculus product, the Oculus Quest, changes the game. Priced at $400, the Quest is twice the price of its predecessor, the Oculus Go. And from all accounts, including that of Oculus founder Palmer Luckey (who was unceremoniously fired in 2017 due to his political beliefs), it is well worth the price tag. Unlike prior VR technology, the Oculus Quest does not require wired attachment to a powerful PC. In fact, it requires neither wires nor a PC at all. Simply put this thing on your head, and you enter a whole new world. Certain experiences even allow you to walk around and make full use of your surroundings.
The Oculus Quest is the virtual reality we were promised, and I cannot wait until the May 21 release. When you think about it, $400 seems a very reasonable price for what amounts to the latest gaming console, one that unlocks a variety of games (and more importantly, types of games) available nowhere else.
Why MKBHD Doesn’t Like The RAZR
Marques Brownlee, aka YouTube’s MKBHD, has a job most of us would kill for. He hobnobs with the world’s plutocrats, he gets a first-hand look at cutting-edge products, and pretty much every piece of tech he owns he gets for free.
However, maybe the job isn’t as easy as it looks. Sometimes a company may send him a $1500 product free of charge, but the product is one that he does not particularly care for. It is still his duty to share this take with his millions of fans on the Internet.
This is the case with the new Foldable Moto RAZR, which has a foldable screen and is meant to resemble the original Motorola RAZR from two decades ago. Unlike many other tech reviewers, MKBHD is not a fan of the new RAZR. He admits that this may be because he lacks the nostalgia that is this phone’s sole raison d’etre. (Even for tech reviewers, Brownlee is on the younger side, and it is entirely possible that he never owned a Motorola RAZR back in its initial run).
His main complaint, related to the aforementioned absence of nostalgia, is with the phone’s shape. He finds it unnecessary to fold a phone with a 6.2-inch screen, since that size phone would already fit into your pocket without being folded in half. He would rather a phone with a foldable screen to be double the size.
As Brownlee puts it, he is unsure if this “form factor is even a good idea to begin with.” What do you think? Is he right? Let us know in the comments.
Do You Really Need An AI-Powered Toothbrush?
Never doubt the power of technology to make simple things complicated. As we examine trends likely to define the year 2020 in tech, a few commonalities stand out to us. One such indicator points to an upcoming boom in “AI-powered toothbrushes.” Out with your regular old electric toothbrush and in with its “machine learning” successor. Why anyone needs such a thing remains to be seen.
Multiple brands are attempting to either create or co-opt this advancement in oral hygiene technology. At CES in Las Vegas earlier this month, Oral-B made the biggest splash. Turns out Oral-B already makes an AI-powered toothbrush, called the Genius X, which hit the market in late 2019. In Vegas, Oral-B unveiled a new model, the iO, which claims to improve the mapping of the interior your mouth, so it can give you a numerical answer to the question of what areas you are skimping on. Like the Genius X before it, Oral-B’s iO has received fawning coverage by tech bloggers. Still, we can’t imagine spending upward of $200 for a toothbrush, since you can get a toothbrush at CVS for all of $4 (and even an electric one on Amazon for about $50).
Oral hygiene is important, and it is almost certainly true that most of us do not do a good enough job taking care of our teeth and gums. But if I had to venture a guess, I’d say the people most likely to pay $200 for a toothbrush are the ones who do already care about their oral health, making them the least likely to need such a product. This in turn makes the iO and other AI advancements in the industry naught more than a gimmick. You don’t need an AI toothbrush any more than you need Charmin’s new toilet paper robot.
Whether you get Oral-B’s new iO toothbrush when it is released later this year depends on if you have $200 burning a hole in your pocket. If you do, then go for it; it’s not as if it is going to make your brushing experience any worse. Just do not expect some sort of savior in toothbrush form. Like a dollar store toothbrush, an AI-powered toothbrush requires you to use it and use it right. At the end of the day, that is up to you and you alone.
WATCH: Unbox Therapy Gets A Sneak Peak Of The Motorola Razr
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même. Here we are, in the year 2020, and the cutting edge piece of phone technology is a Motorola Razr. Like the one you probably owned as a much younger person, this new Motorola Razr is a flip phone that folds open and closed. However, unlike the original, the screen itself is now foldable, bringing the old Razr model up-to-date as a modern smartphone.
The Motorola Razr is not available for purchase yet, but some influencers have already got their hands on one. For example, take a look at Lew’s experience with the new phone over at Unbox Therapy:
As you can see, the big takeaway from the new Motorola Razr is just how slender it is. Lew is amazed at how such a little device can be so powerful and hold so much information. As he says at the video’s conclusion, this is “the future in your pocket.”
If you are thinking about getting the new Motorola Razr when it hits the shelves, there are a few things you need to know. For one, at least to start, the phone will be Verizon-exclusive in the United States. Oh, and perhaps most importantly, it will set you back $1,500. If that seems like a lot, you must remember that it’s main competitor in the foldable screen space, the Samsung Galaxy Fold, goes for nearly $2,000. The Huawei Mate X, for it’s part, is not even available in America.
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