Razer’s Seiren X Mic Is Perfect for On-The-Go Streamers

If you want to get serious about, you’re going to need a high-quality microphone.

But many of the best mics out there are pretty bulky, which is a problem for streamers who travel often — or simply don’t want a big microphone taking up a chunk of their camera feed. That’s where Razer’s new $99 Seiren X comes in.

The Seiren X uses what Razer calls a ‘Super Cardoid’ pickup pattern, which is designed to record your voice with precision while filtering out unwanted noise. However, when comparing voice recordings between the Seiren X and the Yeti’s Cardoid mode, I noticed that Razer’s microphone let in a lot more background noise. The Seiren X did pick my voice up with decent clarity, but it might not be the best mic out there for recording in noisy environments.

While the Seiren doesn’t have all the features or overall quality of the $129 Yeti, it’s also $30 cheaper. And its portability really is killer, especially for on-the-go streamers who want something a little more robust than, say, the $36 Samson Go Mic.

The Seiren X is launching alongside, which is the first USB webcam with a built-in ring light for illuminating your face (my colleague Andrew Freedman loved it; check out his review here). Between the Seiren and the Kiyo, Razer seems fully committed to solving some very specific problems for aspiring Twitch and YouTube stars, and we’re eager to see what the gaming giant cooks up for broadcasters next.

Image Credit: Mike Andronico/Tom’s Guide

YouTube just threw its hat into the free movies market. That’s right, for the excellent price of zero dollars, you can watch one of the 99 movies that YouTube just put up for free (with ad-breaks) on its own site.

  • Read our guide on how to

Viewers may have a hard time findingon their own, though, as there’s no mention of them on YouTube’s homepage. Currently, the assortment includes hits such as The Terminator, Rocky 1 through 5, the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi and both Legally Blonde 1 and 2.

While YouTube has long offered movie rentals at a price, this new free option seems to show the platform is getting aggressive about holding onto users who might be clicking over to legal free movie sites like Crackle or watching some of the free films available on the Roku platform.

subscribers will be happy to hear that their $12 per month subscription’s ad-free perk extends to these new movies as well. 

Can this service, on its own, compete with? As much as the price is right, this double-digit batch of free content isn’t going to land a solid punch on any other streaming service. But as streaming services are landing left and right, from the film-nerd heaven thatis launching to the upcoming, it only makes sense that YouTube would seek to add more to its arsenal.

Imagine you could make the President of the United States say whatever you wanted, no matter how incendiary or volatile, on video. That’s the new normal, thanks to the frightening world of Deepfakes, a new AI-assisted technology that’s becoming ever-more available.

Yesterday (April 17)and actor/director/writer Jordan Peele (Get Out) demonstrated the dangerous potential of Deepfakes, with a video where a man who looks just like former President Barack Obama says the following: ‘So, for instance, they could have me say things like ‘Killmonger was right’ or ‘Ben Carson is in the Sunken Place,’ or ‘President Trump is a total and complete dipshit.”

that the video looked clumsy at first, but got ‘remarkably better’ once FakeApp had time to mash the mouth and face together.

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How can you avoid getting fooled by Deepfakes?

The bad news is that we’re only in the infancy of Deepfakes, and the technology can only become more convincing as more and more people work on its improvement.

How fast is this technology moving? Deepfakes first gained popularity last December when a subreddit popped up to show how miscreants were using FakeAdd to swap celebrity faces into adult films. and areport documented how one clip wasn’t ‘going to fool anyone who looks closely. Sometimes the face doesn’t track correctly and there’s an uncanny valley effect at play, but at a glance it seems believable.’ Adobe’s even been developing a ‘photoshop for audio’ dubbed, but it may never see the light of day.

But back to the Deepfakes of today. If you squint closely at the mouth of Deepfake Obama, you can see a blurred area, that might remind Star Wars fans of how the mouth of Grand Moff Tarkin looked in the film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, since the deceased actor Peter Cushing wasn’t there, but reborn in CGI.

Aside from that blur, and Peele’s voice not being Obama’s, there’s little in this video that signifies that it’s a forgery (minus the confession at the end).

So, your best bet is to use an old bit of journalistic wisdom and ‘consider the source.’ Don’t believe your eyes when you’re watching social media. Rely less on short videos posted online, and more on the content from reliable publications like The New York Times.

As Peele and Obama say in the video, ‘It may sound basic, but how we move forward in the Age of Information is going to be the difference between whether we survive or whether we become some kind of f*cked up dystopia.’

The way Logitech sees it, setting up a video-conferencing system for your office shouldn’t be a choice between a high-end system that costs thousands of dollars and a laptop’s built-in camera that everyone crowds around. The latest version of the company’s conference-camera product, the $999 Logitech Group, combines an HD video camera and full-duplex speakerphone.

Slated for an early March release, Logitech Group is designed for conferences containing up to 14 people. Add a $300 set of optional expansion microphones to the setup, and you can fit 20 people in on a conference.

Those participating in a video conference will be staring at a 1080p camera with a 90-degree field of view and pan-and-tilt controls. On-board H.264 with scalable video coding aims to provide a smoother video stream, according to Logitech. The camera connects to an existing Mac or PC via USB, which should simplify installation.

Logitech focuses on the hardware. In terms of software, Logitech Group works with video-conferencing tools your office is likely to already be using. Logitech says its latest conference camera works with Microsoft Lync, Skype, Jabber, WebEx and BlueJeans.

‘We’re trying to create a simple product that competes with higher-end options,’ said Scott Wharton, Logitech vice president and general manager for video collaboration.

Logitech Group replaces Logitech’s previous conference-camera offering, the lyrically named CC3000e. This version promises audio improvements with four omnidirectional microphones instead of just one. The microphones use beamforming and noise-canceling technology for clearer conversations. That expansion microphone option is also new, increasing the range of the speakerphone to a 28-foot diameter from 20 feet.

I briefly got a chance to see the Logitech Group in action. Video looked clean and crisp, even when the camera zoomed in on something in the meeting room. I think offices will be just as impressed with the simple setup process, which is a matter of plugging in the camera and phone rather than going through an elaborate installation routine.

‘You don’t need an IT department,’ Wharton said of the setup process.

If there’s one thing you could say about John Carmack, it’s that he’s an interesting read to say the least. On October 30, id Software finally released the iPhone version of Doom Classic. For $6.99, gamers get 36 levels of classic Hell goodness from all four original episodes: Knee-Deep in the Dead, Shores of Hell, Inferno, and Thy Flesh Consumed. The game even provides deathmatch and cooperative play for up to four players via ‘wireless Internet.’

Once the game finally swam past the infamous Apple mad scientists stationed in the App Store, Carmackof the iPhone remake, talking about putting the project aside to work on Doom 4(!) and Rage, or how id software decided to put the game aside so it didn’t clash with Doom Resurrection. He even goes into the whole networking issue, revealing how 3G was disappointing and overall caused ping times of 360 ms despite its ‘speed.’

But somewhere in that plethora of gaming goodness, Carmack revealed that the company is indeed working on Quake Classic for the iPhone. ‘We have two people at Id that are going to be dedicated to iPhone work,’ he said. ‘I doubt I will be able to personally open Xcode again for a few months, but I do plan on trying to work out a good touch interface for Quake Classic and the later 6DOF games.’

Carmack also said that there may be a free tech demo using the company’s idTech 5 megatexture content creation pipeline, and also mentions the Rage themed game in his update as well.  ‘I’m not sure exactly what game I would like to do with it, so it might be a 500 MB free gee-whiz app,’ he said, referring to the idTech 5 demo. ‘I want to work on a Rage themed game to coincide with Rage’s release, but we don’t have a firm direction or team chosen for it.  I was very excited about doing a really-designed-for-the-iPhone first person shooter, but at this point I am positive that I don’t have the time available for it.’

Quake… my favorite game of all time! -kp

To watch any video content — whether on cable TV, DVD, Blu-ray, Netflix or YouTube — your device needs a way to understand the data and convert it into an image. That’s the job of video codec software. With 4K content,which has four times the resolution of HD, there is a need for new codecs that can deliver the quality of Ultra HD content, yet compress it down so all that data can fit within the bandwidth of people’s home Internet connection and perhaps onto discs someday. With the VP9 codec, Google is working to fill that void.

What is VP9?

VP9 is a new video codec that will compress video files to half the size that the current encoding technology, called MPEG-4 or H.264, can achieve. More important, it will be used to compress video files and streams atresolution, which is four times higher than HDTV resolution. VP9 is part of WebM, an open-source project sponsored by Google for creating technology for use with media on the Internet. Google has announced plans to use VP9 for 4K YouTube videos. But VP9 rivals another technology, called, that also seeks to be the standard for 4K TV. 

What is a codec?

A codec (an abbreviation of the term ‘coder-decoder’) is software that uses an algorithm to systematically compress raw video data into a compact form fit for efficiently broadcasting, transmitting over an Internet stream or storing on a DVD or Blu-ray disc, for example. Without a codec, there simply wouldn’t be enough bandwidth or storage space for HDTV to be possible.

At the receiving end, the same codec in your TV, computer or disc player uncompresses the data to display the video on your screen. Codecs also remove some detail from video to reduce its size, and a high level of compressions can noticeably degrade image quality. Most pay-TV services use aggressive compression to get all those channels into your cable or satellite receiver, which is one reason the video from your cable box does not look as good as that from a Blu-ray. A good codec will compress video down while causing few defects due to overcompression.

High-definition video can take a lot of data. A full-HD image has about 2 million pixels and potentially millions of colors making up an individual frame, with hundreds of thousands of frames making up a movie.

Why use VP9 for 4K video?

The current MPEG-4/H.264 codec makes it possible to compress the huge amount of information in a film so that it can stream over online video services such as Netflix or YouTube. Those high-definition images are in either 720p resolution (1280 x 720 pixels, or 0.92 million pixels) or 1080p resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels, or about 2 million pixels). The images from a video in the 4K format, also known as Ultra HD, have about 8.3 million pixels (3840 x 2160 resolution). Such a huge jump in detail requires a better way to compress the data in order to transmit or store it. VP9 is twice as efficient as H.264. The result is that current HD content will need only half the data to be streamed, and streaming 4K content will be viable. 

What content will use VP9?

Google is ostensibly responsible for the creation of the VP9 codec and has already announced it will be used for 4K content on YouTube. It will also likely be used by the Google Play streaming video service. Each individual service will have to decide whether to start sending data using VP9 instead of the current H.264 codec. And even once content is being made using VP9, there will have to be compatible hardware to run it, from TVs, to set-top boxes to mobile devices. Google has already announced some partners, including chip and component makers ARM, Broadcom, Intel, Marvell, MediaTek, Nvidia, Qualcomm, RealTek and Sigma, as well as TV makers LG, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony and Toshiba. 

The other wrinkle is that there is another 4K codec called, developed by the international organizations that created H.264 (as well as its predecessor, MPEG-2). Some video services, such as Netflix, and hardware companies may support only HEVC. Others may support only VP9. Still others may support both 4K codecs, as Samsung and Sony are doing with upcoming 4K televisions.

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How is VP9 different from HEVC?

There are technical similarities between VP9 and HEVC, and the overall goal of the two codecs is the same: compress video to use half the data currently required to stream HD video and provide enough compression for 4K video to become viable within the limits of high-speed Internet in people’s homes. The biggest difference is that VP9 is an open-source project that can be used by anyone royalty-free, whereas HEVC will require a license to be used. Whether there is an actual difference in compression effectiveness and picture quality remains to be seen when 4K content created with both codecs is widely available.

Can I watch VP9 content now?

Not really. Even though Google has pushed support of VP9 to its Chrome browser, only a few YouTube videos are using it and likely only as a test. (You can right-click a video in the HTML-5 version of the YouTube player and click on the ‘stats for nerds’ choice to see what codec is being used.) Even when YouTube or another service begins streaming more content with VP9, you will only be able to watch it with a compatible television, computer or mobile hardware.

How did VP9 come about?

A company called On2 Technologies created the TrueMotion and TrueMotion2 codecs. For the next version in 2000, the company’s CEO, Daniel B. Miller, renamed it Video Processing 3, or VP3. VP3 was made open-source in September 2001, and is now called Theora. Over the years, On2 Technologies created improved versions such as VP4, VP5, etc. The company was acquired by Google in 2010, making future codecs open-source like Theora. VP9 is just the latest of Google’s open-source projects meant to improve the delivery of content on the Internet. 

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9to5Mac isthat Apple is currently working on an in-house radio application for the iPhone and iPod Touch. This application will supposedly run in the background and offer the same features as the FM radio seen on the new iPod Nano. There’s even mention that the app will feature Live Pause functionality.

Both the iPhone 3GS and the iPod 3G have an FM transmitter and receiver installed, however currently there are no apps to activate the latent hardware. The same holds true with the iPhone and iPod Touch 2G, however these models have FM radio receivers only. Apple previously performed the same stunt with the dormant Bluetooth hardware, activating the tech long after the devices hit the market.

9to5Mac added that Apple is currently attempting to integrate the Mobile iTunes Store purchase functionality into the radio app using Song Tagging, thus delaying its release. The site provides an example on how the tagging will work: users will hear a song on the radio and can then push a button to pull up and purchase the tune in the iTunes Store. Of course, this will only work if the station supports Song Tagging.

As seen, the iPod Touch 2G features Broadcom’sWi-Fi and Bluetooth chip. The company’s overview clearly reveals that the chip has a built-in FM receiver in addition to the integrated IEEE 802.11a/b/g and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR.

When it comes to PC accessories, few manufacturers come close to matching Logitech’s massive portfolio.

Today only, Amazon is taking up to 30% off a handful of Logitech’s best accessories including some of its mice, keyboards, and a 2.1 speaker system. The sale includes many of our favorite Logitech devices, such as:

K400 Plus Wireless Touch Keyboard: The K400 Plus is a wireless TV keyboard designed to let you navigate your smart TV from the comforts of your couch. It features a built-in, 3.5-inch touchpad and media playback keys.

Logitech K400 Plus Wireless Keyboard

HD Pro Webcam C920: The C920 is proof that standalone webcams still have a place in today’s tech world. Its image quality surpasses that of many built-in webcams and at $46.84, it’s the lowest price we’ve ever seen for it. The 1080p webcam is flanked by LEDs and microphones and features a 78-degree field of view, which is more than enough to squeeze a second person into the frame.

Logitech C920 Webcam

MX Master Mouse: The MX Master Mouse combines a gorgeous, ergonomic design with a host of intelligent features. It’s an excellent every day mouse designed strictly for productivity. Although Logitech sells it for $100, today it’s selling for $49.99 on Amazon.

Logitech MX Master Mouse

Z523 Speakers: Whether you’re playing games or streaming movies, this 2.1 speaker system offers room-filling, 360-degree sound. The accompanying down-firing subwoofer features a 6.5-inch pressure driver with ultra-deep bass.

Logitech Z523 2.1 Speaker System

This Logitech sale ends today and only applies to items sold via Amazon (excluding third-party merchants).

All speech is not equal, especially if it’s on YouTube. CEO Susan Wojcicki said at Google I/O that the site is different from traditional media because it serves as a “two-way conversation,” allowing people to interact with those they watch.

Then, product manager Barbara Macdonald stepped on stage and proved that’s not true anymore. She showed off Super Chat, a tool for viewers to have their message highlighted during a livestream and pinned to the top of the stream for up to five hours. It’s not a brand new tool (it launched in January), but the company wanted to show off new APIs to make videos interactive to those who pay.

YouTube says that this makes sure that your chat “stands out from the crowd to get even more of your favorite creator’s attention,” but it won’t be because it’s in bright green; it’s because you paid them.

This also fetishizes YouTubers to a degree that can be uncomfortable. As, it’s somewhat similar to chat systems that live porn cam websites have used for a long time. You’re paying for attention, for a connection that’s not there when the camera shuts off.

YouTube isn’t the only site with a system like this. Twitch, a streaming service aimed at people playing video games, has a system called cheering in which audience members pay for emoticons that draw attention to their messages. It’s kind of gross, but the intent is slightly different — to celebrate during awesome moments (think like a tip jar for headshots in Call of Duty or goals in Rocket League). YouTube’s is purely for attention from the people you admire who make videos.

Earlier this month, Kotaku’s Cecilia D’Anastasioabout people who fall in love with Twitch streamers, and those who took that love further than is appropriate. Surely, there are people who believe they have connections with YouTubers, too, and they’ll be willing to pay to further those feelings.

The whole idea, paying for an e-celebrity’s attention, is bad for the internet and its users. It’s a slow step in making sure the rich’s speech have more influence, and it can help further unhealthy obsessions with celebrity. If this is how YouTube is going to foster “two-way” conversation, it will leave a whole lot of people sitting on the sidelines.