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CES 2014 gadgets offer new ways to track your life

All week long, CNET Update will break down the top stories from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The show floor isn't open to all attendees yet, but the media got an early peek at many of the new gadgets debuting this week. Several getting early buzz are Internet-connected devices that keep track of your daily activities -- and it goes beyond tracking your steps.

Learn more on the products mentioned in this episode:

- Sense Mother

- Kolibree smart toothbrush

- StickR TrackR

- Fitbug Orb fitness program

- Netatmo June

- Sapphire Wellness Watch

- PrioVR gaming exoskeletonRead more

Review: Stream media across devices with Orb Caster for Mac

Orb Caster for Mac lets users view content from their computer using their smartphone or other device. It's not the most intuitive program we've ever seen, and even after extensive experimentation, we're still not sure we have the hang of it. We can at least say that we had some success in viewing content stored on our MacBook Pro using our iPhone 5 with Orb Caster.

Orb Caster started with a setup wizard that walked us through the configuration process, though we had to figure some of the process out on our own: namely downloading the Orb … Read more

The budget Fitbug Orb tracks fitness for less

On the surface, the Fitbug Orb fitness tracker appears to be a pretty excellent deal. For just $49.95 the gadget promises to let users count their steps, and calculate both calories burned through exercise and consumed in their meals. Additionally the device can push activity data to compatible smartphones over a wireless Bluetooth connection.

Unfortunately, reality is that the Orb's complicated setup, confusing phone software, and messy online tools make it hard to recommend. For just $10 more, the Fitbit Zip can tackle almost everything the Orb can, plus it has some key abilities the Orb can't … Read more

Adidas pushes fitness bands to a new level

CNET Update keeps track of fitness trackers:

In this episode of Update:

- Get the overview of the feature-packed Adidas miCoach Smart Run Watch coming out in November, which competes with the Nike+ FuelBand SE fitness-tracking wristband.

- Find fitness motivation in lower-cost wristbands, including the Fitbit Force for $130, and the Fitbug Orb for $50.

- Check out the full review of the Windows 8.1 update, which is free to download for current Windows 8 users.

- Be aware that Facebook changed its privacy settings to give teenagers the power to share posts publicly.

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Tor Books to drop DRM on entire catalog of e-books

Science-fiction/fantasy publishing company Tor Books dropped a big bomb on the e-book world today by announcing plans to abolish DRM on its entire collection of e-books in early July.

The shift will most likely appear seamless to consumers, as an official blog post on the Tor Web site mentions that DRM-free titles will sell at the same retailers that currently sell Tor's books, and will additionally appear on DRM-free-only e-book stores. The Macmillan-owned company also publishes titles under Forge, Orb, Starscape, and Tor Teen. … Read more

The best personal fitness gadgets right now

Fall is here in force and the chill of winter is in the air. With the season comes plenty of tempting holiday treats and the urge to hibernate indoors. Before you know it, though, swimsuit and tank top weather will cruelly arrive. Luckily, there are new mobile accessories that harness wireless technology, competitive behavior, social media, and other online tools to help couch potatoes catch the exercise bug.… Read more

Miss the start button in Windows 8? This app will bring it back

People who just can't work in Windows 8 without the classic start button may want to check out a free app called Start8.

Designed by the folks at Stardock, Start8 tries to merge the convenience of the start button with the functionality of the new Metro environment. As such, it moves beyond the standard start menu with some unique features of its own.

You can download Start8 from its dedicated Web page and install it in the current beta, aka Consumer Preview, edition of Windows 8. Installation is quick and simple. After the app is installed, you'll see … Read more

Should you spend $20 on Orb's PS3 streaming disc?

Back at CES 2011, Orb announced a $20 Blu-ray disc to come in February that would add streaming-media functionality to older Blu-ray players. After several delays, the company has finally released a Blu-ray disc that will work exclusively with the PS3, with the generic Blu-ray player version still "coming soon."

We're familiar with Orb's products from the Orb TV and Orb MP-1, and we took the PS3 disc for full hands-on spin over the weekend.

Right off the bat, the appeal of Orb's software on the PS3 isn't quite as clear as it is on an older Blu-ray player. The PS3 already has several excellent built-in streaming media services, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, and MLB.TV, without any need to use a disc-based workaround. However, there are still holes in the PS3's streaming offerings and Orb's software can add high-profile services such as free Hulu content (no need for a Hulu Plus subscription), Amazon Instant, and Pandora. … Read more

Crave giveaway: Orb TV

For this week's giveaway, we've got an interesting little streaming media device called the Orb TV, which works with your home computer, smartphone, and Wi-Fi network to stream music, photos, and video from your personal collection or Internet services (e.g. Hulu, Sirius Radio, ESPN3).

While we were a little disappointed in the Orb's video quality, editor Jeff Bakalar thought it was easy to set up and worked as advertised. To get a better idea how Orb TV works, check out the Orb's "How it works" page here.

Normally, Orb TV would cost you … Read more

CES: Get Orb software on your Blu-ray player with $20 disc

LAS VEGAS--Recently Orb has been jumping into the hardware business with the Orb MP-1 music streamer and Orb TV video streamer, but the company's announcement today is back on the software side.

Orb is releasing its media-streaming software on a disc designed to be used by Blu-ray players. Simply pop the disc into the Blu-ray player and you'll gain access to the Orb software. The disc is compatible with virtually every Blu-ray player that has a network connection, as it uses the BD-Java standard.

As with other Orb products, you'll need a smartphone and a computer running … Read more