RCA Launches Gem Digital Media Players

RCA is hoping to ignite some competition in what’s euphemistically called the “value segment” of the personal digital media player market with the launch of its Gem line of digital media players. The players aim to offer features most consumers want at prices which won’t strain their budgets: audio, video, and photo playback; expandable memory; USB mass storage; and rugged cases which can handle being tossed in a bag or put through their paces at the gym.

“Since its launch eight years ago, the portable music player has become a must-have gadget,” said Dan Collishaw, RCA Audio/Video’s COO, in a statement. “In a highly competitive environment, we at RCA are focused on developing unique options to differentiate us from other MP3 devices. With sales of portable music players expected to stay strong throughout the rest of the decade, we know that there will be a growing market for targeted and affordable products and the new RCA Gem Line fits that bill perfectly.”

First up, the RCA Opal is available in 1GB and 2 GB configurations and handles audio (MP3, WMA, Windows Media 10 DRM, and Audible formats) along with JPEG images and “video” on its 1.5-inch OLED display. According to RCA, included transcoding software will convert video for playback on the Opal, but there’s no word on what formats are supported. RCA claims the Opal gets up to 15 hours of music playback on one charge of the built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery, and the device is compatible with “many” music subscription and download services; although RCA doesn’t actually say it’s a PlaysForSure device, it ships with Yahoo’s Music Engine. The 2 GB edition of the Opal carries a suggested price of $75; RCA plans to roll out other Opal versions throughout the year.

Next, the RCA Pearl is designed to function as both a music player and a USB thumb drive, and offers microSD expansion so users can boost its capacity by as much as 2 GB. The Pearl also features a voice recorder. As a music player, the Pearl supports MP3, WMA, Windows Media 9 DRM, and Audible formats, and RCA says the unit offers up to 15 hours of music playback on one AAA battery. The Pearl is available now in a 1 GB configuration for $49; RCA says additional models (like the 2 GB version on their Web site) are coming this year.

Finally, the RCA Jet is designed to the bumps and thumps of workouts and outdoor activity, offering a splash-resistant case, integrated stopwatch, and a body mass index calculator (although, unless it also includes a scale, we’re not sure how that’s useful). The Jet features an OLED display which can rotate 180 degrees for viewing when, say, strapped to your arm, and boasts an integrated FM tuner with recording capability. The unit supports MP3, WMA, Windows Media 10 DRM, and Audible formats, and should eke 15 hours of music playback off a single charge of its lithium-ion rechargeable battery. The Jet is available now in a 1 GB model for $69; again, RCA is promising different configurations over the course of the year (like, again, the 2 GB model on its Web site, we presume).

What’s kind of interesting is what RCA has left off its Jet music player: the company is already promising a future version of the player with integrated Kleer wireless headphone technology. Users won’t be able to use the Kleer system with Bluetooth devices, but for workout fiends who struggle with headphone wires, any cord-free solution is usually welcome.

Emerging Tech

A.I.-generated text is supercharging fake news. This is how we fight back

A new A.I. tool is reportedly able to spot passages of text written by algorithm. Here's why similar systems might prove essential in a world of fake news created by smart machines.

The best PUBG weapons to win you that coveted chicken dinner

Which weapons in PUBG are worth the time to scout out and fit with attachments? Which are going to help you become the last player standing? We've got the answers you need in our best PUBG weapons guide.
Home Theater

ESPN Plus scores the exclusive rights to UFC Pay-Per-View events

If MMA is your game, then ESPN Plus is now a very important player. The Disney-owned service locked up the exclusive rights to UFC Pay-Per-View events, a deal that will last through 2025 in the United States.

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.

First Apex Legends esports scholarship takes you from filthy casual to pro

Massachusetts-based Becker College is the first college in the nation to offer a scholarship for Apex Legends. The path-to-pro program gives players $5,000 upon admittance to the school.
Emerging Tech

Robot assistants from Toyota and Panasonic gear up for the Tokyo Olympics

Japan plans to use the 2020 Olympics to showcase a range of its advanced technologies. Toyota and Panasonic are already getting in on the act, recently unveiling several robotic designs that they intend to deploy at the event.
Emerging Tech

Racing to catch a flight? Robot valet at French airport will park your car

Hate searching for parking at the airport when you need to catch a plane? Startup Stanley Robotics recently unveiled a new outdoor automated robotic valet system. Here's how it works.

Bags with brains: Smart luggage and gadgets are making travel smoother

The bag you use to tote your stuff can affect the experience of any trip. In response, suitcases are wising up, and there are now options for smart luggage with scales, tracking, and more. Here are our favorite pieces.

At $99, Nvidia’s Jetson Nano minicomputer seeks to bring robotics to the masses

Nvidia announced a new A.I. computer, the Jetson Nano. This computer comes with an 128-core GPU that Nvidia claims can handle pretty much any A.I. framework you could imagine. At $99, it's an affordable way for A.I. newbies to get involved.

Nvidia’s A.I. Playground lets you edit photos, experience deep learning research

Nvidia is making it easier to access information on deep learning research. It has launched an online space with three demos for image editing, styling, as well as photorealistic image synthesis. 

British Airways’ new Club Suite for business class comes with a door

British Airways is going after a bigger slice of the business class market with the imminent launch of the Club Suite. The plush seating option offers a more private space as well as an easier route to the bathroom.
Smart Home

Sony’s Aibo robot dog can now patrol your home for persons of interest

Sony released the all-new Aibo in the U.S. around nine months ago, and since then the robot dog has (hopefully) been melting owners' hearts with its cute looks and clever tricks. Now it has a new one up its sleeve.
Emerging Tech

Inflating smart pills could be a painless alternative to injections

Could an inflating pill containing hidden microneedles replace painful injections? The creators of the RaniPill robotic capsule think so — and they have the human trials to prove it.
Emerging Tech

The U.S. Army is building a giant VR battlefield to train soldiers virtually

Imagine if the U.S. Army was able to rehearse battlezone scenarios dozens, or even hundreds, or times before settling foot on actual terrain. Thanks to virtual reality, that's now a possibility.