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Robert Downey Jr. reportedly signs with HTC for $12 million marketing blitz

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HTC is preparing an extensive two-year marketing campaign featuring Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr, according to two sources who spoke to Bloomberg. The deal is said to be worth $12 million and will span television, print, and billboard advertising around the globe, with Downey maintaining a level of creative control.

HTC has struggled to keep the pace with rival Samsung’s marketing muscle, despitepositive reviews of products such as the flagship One smartphone, and was also recently hit with a series of high-profile departures. The company said last month it had soldaround five million One phones since its March launch, compared to Samsung’s 10 million shipments of the Galaxy S4 in its first month.

“We haven’t been loud enough,” said chief marketing officer Ben Ho in his first meeting with the press this March. Ho added that the company would be retiring its long-serving “Quietly Brilliant” tagline in favor of a campaign based around the themes of “bold,” “authentic,” and “playful.”

An HTC spokesperson told Bloomberg that the company had nothing to announce today, but said of the One that it has garnered “overwhelmingly positive feedback from media and consumers alike. Anyone with a penchant for metal should be able to appreciate its appeal.”

The rumored Downey campaign wouldn’t be the first time HTC has experimented with celebrities; the One launch was marked by a risible commercial featuring James Van Der Beek of Dawson’s Creek. Downey’s star power is a little more assured, however — not only will he reportedly have final say over the material, Marvel announced today that he is set to return as Iron Man in the second and third Avengers movies. The first sequel is set for release on May 1st, 2015.

HTC 8X: Building A Better Baby Monitor

What can you do with a pair of HTC 8X smartphones, a pan/tilt gimble, a WiFi connection and a block of wood? For HTC’s Garrett Rysko the answer was obvious – build an advanced baby monitor so his lab partner, Derek Frei, could easily pay attention to his newborns’ activity.

Why? According to Garrett, an engineer on HTC’s Regional Test Management team, the birth of Derek’s new baby was the inspiration. “We thought it would be awesome for Derek to be able to see what trouble the baby was getting into without having to get out of bed.”

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Developed as a project for an embedded systems and programming course at the University of Washington, Garrett and Derek designed the new baby monitor to allow one 8X phone to stream video over WiFi to a second 8X phone, acting as a controller.

The mechanical pan/tilt gimble allows the user to tilt the controller phone and send commands over WiFi to modify the direction the remote camera is pointing. Or, switch to ‘Audio Detection Mode’ to power the remote camera using the on-board microphones. Audio Detection quickly turns the camera towards noises detected in the baby’s room.

Whether he’s designing lighting sequence and power controls for an Iron Man replica suit or building a power consumption monitor for mobile devices, Garrett can always be found surrounded by technology. For those looking at a career in Electrical Engineering, Garrett recalls the words of a university professor.  He says the best entrepreneurs & inventors need to have three qualities to make it – be a dreamer, a realist and a critic.

“Dream big and reach for the crazy projects, actually do the work, write out the schematics, and build it, and be prepared to evaluate the success or failure every step along the way.”

You can follow Garrett and his “crazy projects through Twitter – @SimiansInSpace

HTC One fends off the Samsung Galaxy S4 to retain Stuff’s number one spot

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It was a brutal battle, but the HTC One has left the smartphone arena with its crown intact by retaining its number one spot in Stuff’s Top 10 Smartphone list. Despite the Samsung Galaxy S4’s best efforts that you can read all about in Stuff’s full Galaxy S4 review.

And what efforts they were too. The Galaxy S4’s feature list was long enough to make us cross-eyed, with Air Gestures, eye-tracking and its finger-following Air View tricks all making an appearance. Its superb feature-packed camera also impressed us with its accurate colours and incredible detail. And let’s not forget that gorgeous 5in AMOLED display and quad-core power.

Impressive as all that is, the HTC One’s stunning all-metal design and less cluttered Sense UI didn’t do the plastic S4 any favours when compared side by side. And with a few stutters in use, despite those quad-core innards, the S4 fell just short of pipping its HTC rival to Stuff’s smartphone throne.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S4 review and make up your own mind – either way, there’s no right answer. Gadgeteers have never had it so good.

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HTC One In Stores, New Galaxy Design Leaks, Google Glass Runs

HTC One In Stores, New Galaxy Design Leaks, Google Glass Runs

HTC First Unboxing (Video)

HTC and Facebook teamed up last week at 1 Hacker Way in Menlo Park, California to (hopefully) lay to rest the remaining rumors of any official Facebook phone. Facebook unveiled its latest product, Home, and HTC announced its newest device, the First, the first phone to run Facebook Home out of the box.

On the outside, the HTC First is an extremely minimal device. Its all matte-finished exterior and lack of major branding make it very subtle, and its specifications are extremely modest. It features a 4.3-inch 720p display, 1.4GHz dual-core Snapdragon 400 chip, 1GB RAM, 16GB fixed storage, a 2,000mAh battery and a 5-megapixel camera.
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