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First look: MetaWatch smart watch pushes iPhone alerts to your wrist

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
The new Bluetooth-enabled MetaWatch will forever change how you use your iPhone, though in its current form the advanced wrist watch is not yet ready for the mass market.

MetaWatch


The idea of a "smart watch" is not new, but the concept has seen a resurgence in recent years as gadgets have continued to become impossibly small. There's been a particular interest in watches that use low-power displays and receive information from a connected smartphone via Bluetooth.

For the last year, an early version of the MetaWatch was available to developers and enthusiasts, and a decent-size community, particularly on the Android platform, has emerged.

MetaWatch


But with this year's debut of the iOS 6 mobile operating system for iPhone, Apple expanded Bluetooth functionality in a crucial way: text message alerts can be sent wirelessly to external devices. This paved the way for MetaWatch to make a big push to iPhone users, which it did with a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year.

And this fall, MetaWatch orders have begun shipping to both Kickstarter backers and new purchasers alike. The MetaWatch is available in three different styles: the sporty "Strata" ($179), the more classic looking "Frame" ($199), and a $299 limited edition design by Susan Kare, a graphic designer who created many of the original Apple Macintosh's user interface elements in the 1980s. The device is compatible with iPhones that feature Bluetooth Low Energy support, which are the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5.

MetaWatch


For a few days now, we've been using the Frame version of the MetaWatch with an iPhone 5. The hardware is well designed, and any concerns we had about the watch face potentially being too big quickly faded away once we had the hardware.

The front of the device includes a large LCD display that can be illuminated with a front light, while the left and right sides of the watch each feature three hardware buttons. On the back are four pins that can be connected to a charging clip.

The charging clip is awkward to position onto the device and we frequently had trouble lining it up just right. However, this design decision does have a purpose: It allows the MetaWatch to be waterproof at a measurement of 3 ATM (10 meters) for the Frame, and 5 ATM (50 feet) for the Strata.

The MetaWatch Frame is low profile enough that it won't stand out in public as a geeky computer on your wrist. Despite what it offers it still looks like a watch. But the relatively large display, which is slightly low resolution at just 96 by 96 pixels, will inevitably draw inquiries about it. It's stylish, not gaudy.

MetaWatch


After only a few days of use, it quickly became clear that a smart watch would change how we use our smartphones. Almost immediately, the annoying habit of needing to incessantly pull the phone out of your pocket faded away. Granted, that ritual found itself instead replaced by looking at the watch. But a quick glance is faster and more socially acceptable than pulling out a phone at the dinner table.

It's very nice to be able to check your new message or incoming phone call without necessarily having to put your iPhone in your hand. At a live improv show, the iPhone stayed pocketed and a quick glance at the MetaWatch showed who was texting us. On the golf course, the iPhone stayed in the golf cart while call and text alerts buzzed on the MetaWatch. The built-in vibration on the MetaWatch is particularly welcome.

MetaWatch


The MetaWatch display is a mixed bag. We weren't particularly bothered by the low resolution, but the reflective properties of the glass cover did take some getting used to. That said, the watch can be easily read in sunlight, and while an included top light does not evenly illuminate the screen as a backlight would, it still makes it easy to read the MetaWatch in the dark. The screen is disappointing, but it's functional and does not detract from the usefulness of the device.

The front of the device also includes an ambient light sensor that is not currently used by the official software, though enthusiasts on Android have developed software that will automatically enable the backlight when an alert is received in the dark. We look forward to having this kind of advanced functionality come to the iPhone as the MetaWatch software and development community improves and grows.

Widgets on the MetaWatch screen are selected through an accompanying iPhone application, which is available as a free download from the App Store. At present the options are limited: Aside from the obvious clock, the MetaWatch also displays current local weather information, personal calendar entries, stock quotes, and the battery status of your iPhone.

MetaWatch app
Watch widgets are controlled through the official iOS MetaWatch app.


Setup between the MetaWatch and its application is easy, and activities such as changing widget sizes and locations through the iPhone app is a breeze. Current alerts that can buzz the watch include phone calls, text messages (including iMessages), calendar alerts, a low battery warning, and a notification when the iPhone has been fully charged. Support for Facebook, Twitter and e-mail notifications is advertised as coming soon.

One great feature of the MetaWatch is the option to have it buzz when the Bluetooth connection is lost between it and an iPhone. With this feature, if you accidentally leave your phone behind, you'll be alerted with a buzz on the wrist.

MetaWatch app
MetaWatch-compatible third-party apps will be possible once the watch's SDK is released.


By default the MetaWatch app hooks into applications such as the iOS 6 Clock, Stocks, Weather and more. Currently unavailable is its "Application Mode," which will allow third-party applications to work with the MetaWatch. An official SDK for developers is said to be coming in the very near future, and we hope developer support on the iPhone will be as enthusiastic as it has been over the last year for Android.

While daily use of the MetaWatch has been a pleasure, the platform is still too rough around the edges to recommend to most users. Right out of the box we needed to update the firmware ? a process that currently requires a Windows PC. MetaWatch has said that an updater compatible with Apple's Mac OS X will be available soon.

Update: The MetaWatch Mac updater is now available in pre-release form for OS X 10.7 Lion and up.

MetaWatch
The MetaWatch firmware update instructions.


We also experienced a handful of random disconnects from the iPhone, though these issues were easily fixed by launching the official MetaWatch application on our handset and simply reconnecting. We also experienced one hard crash with our MetaWatch which was resolved by resetting the device.

The most interesting aspect of the MetaWatch is its potential: Its value in making smartphone alerts viewable at a quick glance is immediately clear. Real-life use gives the belief that the smart watch industry could become a major accessory market.

There are other high-profile smart watches coming down the pike, most notably the $150 Pebble, which earned more than $10 million from Kickstarter. But the Pebble has also seen a number of delays and has not yet gone into mass production. The MetaWatch, meanwhile, is now available.
post #2 of 39
Nice idea but boy is that watch ugly.
post #3 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichL View Post

Nice idea but boy is that watch ugly.

Perhaps, but it's a nice idea for v 1.0 and will likely sell well - even at the price.
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Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #4 of 39
Add a microphone so I can tell Siri to reply to a text message, then it's perfect!

iPhone 5 64GB, iPhone 4S 16GB, mid-2011 iMac, Apple TV 2nd Gen, iPod Nano

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iPhone 5 64GB, iPhone 4S 16GB, mid-2011 iMac, Apple TV 2nd Gen, iPod Nano

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post #5 of 39
Should have linked to the Pebble.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/597507018/pebble-e-paper-watch-for-iphone-and-android

http://getpebble.com/

They need to update their sites as iOS 6 allows text over Bluetooth but that should just be a software update. I've wanted one of these for a while. I wanted the iPod Nano to become this but they went and enlarged it this fall smh

And same as LarryA. I want to talk to and get responses from Siri through it.
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You can't spell appeal without Apple.
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post #6 of 39
Eww, I won't go so far as to call this watch "ugly" but rather say looks to me like something that was bought in a street fair in China. Very square and thick and the display is not very impressive.

I just took delivery of the Bluetooth 4.0 equipped Casio G-Shock GB-6900AA today and am loving it so far. I can recommend it highly.
post #7 of 39

Jeez... next thing my girlfriend* will want something that pushes iPhone alerts to her personal vibrator!
 

* Thank goodness my wife would never want such a gadget.

post #8 of 39
This is where the last generation of the iPod Nano should have been headed. All Apple needed was to add bluetooth and wi-fi to it, rather than making it bigger.
post #9 of 39
Nice, but my preference would be for a more forward (or at least current) looking UI rather than this retro look.
post #10 of 39
I received mine last week and enjoy the convenience of not pulling out my phone all the time.

A few notes I would add is they did just release the ability to update through a MAC on Christmas Eve. Huge for me due to the fact I don't own a PC.

The only issue I have noticed is when I use my camera on the iPhone it disconnects the phone from the watch. Making me have to go into the app and reconnect every time. Not a big deal just annoying. I'm sure this will be solved by another future update.

Excited to see where this technology his headed and what updates are to come.
post #11 of 39

It looks like it has a 1999 display with 2009 technology in the background. No Thanks.

post #12 of 39
Apple can just twitch the design of Ipod Nano, add bluetooth and iphone5 support and a strip to it, and sell it as an iWatch! The screen will be much nicer!

Better still, to differentiate iPhone, all future iphone models will come with a wrist watch sync with a specific iphone serial...
post #13 of 39
Its ugly why would anyone buy this?
post #14 of 39
Originally Posted by Wisely View Post
Better still, to differentiate iPhone, all future iphone models will come with a wrist watch sync with a specific iphone serial...

 

Why would people ever want that? Bluetooth syncing is secure.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanVoyeur View Post

This is where the last generation of the iPod Nano should have been headed. All Apple needed was to add bluetooth and wi-fi to it, rather than making it bigger.
EXACTLY!!

Apple was even supplying watch straps for it.

The Nano keeps bouncing back and forth between sizes, so perhaps it will bounce back again.

But Apple's decision to drop the Nano form factor suggests that this thing won't do very well. Most people simply aren't interested in wearing watches anymore unless they are making a statement about fashion or status, which this simply won't do.

Make it waterproof, and it could have an amazing life as a sports watch.

Being able to relay calls from the iPhone, however, would make this thing pretty popular, I'd bet.
post #16 of 39
Battery life?
42 = 54 base 13
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42 = 54 base 13
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post #17 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac_128 View Post

Being able to relay calls from the iPhone, however, would make this thing pretty popular, I'd bet.

 

I don't know...do you really want to have to look one place to decide if you are going to go to your phone? I'd think that in most situations (maybe not driving) it'd be easier to just look at the phone and be done with it. I answer 99% of my calls so seeing who is calling isn't important to me though.

post #18 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac_128 View Post


EXACTLY!!
Apple was even supplying watch straps for it.
The Nano keeps bouncing back and forth between sizes, so perhaps it will bounce back again.
But Apple's decision to drop the Nano form factor suggests that this thing won't do very well. Most people simply aren't interested in wearing watches anymore unless they are making a statement about fashion or status, which this simply won't do.
Make it waterproof, and it could have an amazing life as a sports watch.
Being able to relay calls from the iPhone, however, would make this thing pretty popular, I'd bet.

I was a little disappointed when AAPL decided to abandon the nano watch sized form. With some work it could have been a useful and cool device in a wristwatch form.

 

This thing here though is butt ugly. The idea is fine - as others have commented Siri and other functionality is needed. The size needs to come down too. If someone could turn Jonny Ive loose on the project, they'd have something. The face needs to be very customizable in function and layout, something like the iTunes function for configuring iOS devices' pages.

 

The low power BT should make the dongleware market a natural partner. Sports applications; perhaps even some medical devices. Wanna really kill it? Figure out a way to imbed a camera. Dunno how many snapshots I've missed reaching for the iPhone. No, I don;t mean "pictures"; just a fast snapshot.

 

An intriguing idea. Not ready for prime time though.

post #19 of 39

I wouldn't be caught dead wearing a dumb looking nerdy watch like that.  But I'm sure there plenty of roids who would

post #20 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanVoyeur View Post

This is where the last generation of the iPod Nano should have been headed. All Apple needed was to add bluetooth and wi-fi to it, rather than making it bigger.

Could those be added without making it bigger whilst at the same time not losing battery life? Where would the plastic bit(s) be for the antennas?

I personally think the all these devices are too large and clunky because the technology is not upon us. For this to be successful I think it needs to b more than a novelty gadget. I think it needs to be elegant and sophisticated as we've come to expect from watches. There is a market for large watches which could serve as the first choice for this but I think smaller watches would need to be made for this to really take off which means more evolutionary engineering to shrink more components.

The first think I'd look to get away from is the square display. Nest has a round display. Well, it's a square one that only shows you output from a round area. But Nest has the room to cover the unused bits. You don't have that benefit in a watch. Could you trim the display so that it's pixel rows and columns are not equal?

The next think I'd look for is something that uses low power and possibly color. Battery life is important in a watch. Pebble is eInk but it's black and white. It's also the older eInk with dark gray lettering on a light gray background. I'd at least want to see the tech used in Amazon's Paperwhite display. With the sizes needed being so small the display tech should come to a watch before it comes to larger devices.

Bottom line; Virtually one needs a watch in the 21st century so in order to make a business of selling watches you need to make them desirable beyond their base utility.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #21 of 39
Down the line, hopefully sooner rather than later, it would be nice to see Apple with the help of Jony Ive's industrial design prowess, produce a more elegant and sophisticated version of this concept for its iOS products.
post #22 of 39
The Pebble is much better looking, in my opinion, and seems to be more functional.

Both of these watches seem to be in the early stages of what I think will really catch on.

And yes, Apple should have designed the Nano to be a watch, and they just might do that. A companion "watch" even for a smaller device like an iPhone would be fantastic.

I wish both of these companies well, but I'd LOVE for Apple to swoop in and make a really cool Apple watch that fits into the whole ecosystem.
post #23 of 39
But, but, but… I quit wearing a wrist watch. I quit wearing it because I now have a pocket clock on my smart phone.

In all seriousness, I can see where this would be useful. The concept is even more exciting and goes beyond a simple wrist watch. But, Bluetooth kills my battery. I already use my smartphone enough now that it requires a second charge, or tethering to an electrical outlet for much of the evening as I sit on my couch and surf the Internet and social sites such as Twitter or accomplish many of the other small tasks that are suitable to being done on my phone when you just don't want to use a large computer.

I currently get a solid eight hours of use out of my phone's battery. Bluetooth will cut that by at least 30% I estimate. Why? Why would I want to do that?

This is a good idea but implementation of it is going to be less than good because of Bluetooth battery drain. Get past that issue, and it becomes a better idea. The potential of your smart phone to communicate with other devices to make life easier is limitless. This watch is only the opening tip of a much larger iceberg.
post #24 of 39
Ugh, no. Not cool. Geeky, maybe. Its the pocket protector for the 2000s. Maybe as an Apple user I'm just used to better design. A 96 dpi 2-bit display? Big black bezel around the tiny screen? Maybe it goes great with a T-shirt that says "honk of you love Linux c0de!"

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post #25 of 39

"I currently get a solid eight hours of use out of my phone's battery. Bluetooth will cut that by at least 30% I estimate. Why? Why would I want to do that?"

 

RE: I have the Strata Metawatch which is the one they're currently pushing... design is much better, however batterylife with iPhone 5 is pretty much nonexistant. I think this is the first time that I have ever carried the charger cord for the iPhone (have owned every version of iPhone).

 

Still hopefulle that they will sort out the issues..


700


Edited by Carefulle - 12/26/12 at 4:31pm
post #26 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by macaholic_1948 View Post

The potential of your smart phone to communicate with other devices to make life easier is limitless. This watch is only the opening tip of a much larger iceberg.

This is the point, seems to me. Almost any effort to use the phone as a transmitter platform to other devices is valid. The geeks will pave the way, according to their taste.

Myself, I'm looking forward to AirPlay-enabled video glasses. Stereovideoglasses, with two embedded cameras for stereo video capture, microphone and headphones included. 3D FaceTime will change the world.
post #27 of 39
Unfortunately, I prefer analog watches...

What I would really like is an OS X desktop app that can display status messages from iDevices, and maybe incoming calls, on my desktop or laptop. Since all the new Lightning equipped devices have no Apple docks available (and the few third party ones are dead ugly), I don't keep them on my desk any more, as they consume too much space lying around.
post #28 of 39
Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post
Since all the new Lightning equipped devices have no Apple docks available (and the few third party ones are dead ugly), I don't keep them on my desk any more, as they consume too much space lying around.

 

Bothers me to death, that does. They'll come up with a way to do a dock eventually… 

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #29 of 39

I used a WIMM Android based smartwatch for a while.  (Apparently no longer available, as the company was bought up.)

 

700

 

It had some nice features over most other such watches:

 

  • Capacitive touchscreen and fairly smooth.
  • Dual display = fast color when being used.  Otherwise falls back to a power saving B&W display so the time is always readable under any light.
  • Bluetooth, and also WiFi so it doesn't need a smartphone to sync up or read news.
  • Accelerometer for games.
  • Compass for standalone orientation.
  • Easy to create tiny Android apps for it.
  • Easy to create different watchfaces, of any type analog or digital.

 

Unfortunately, it's way too power hungry.  The most I ever got out of it was 24 hours without charging.  A smartwatch needs to go at least a week, I think.

 

Like others, I'd love for Apple to get into the smartwatch business, as long as they don't lock it down too much.

post #30 of 39

cool features, ugly watch. Black and gray LCD face looks like a cheapo 80's watch.

post #31 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by eightzero View Post

I was a little disappointed when AAPL decided to abandon the nano watch sized form. With some work it could have been a useful and cool device in a wristwatch form.

 

This thing here though is butt ugly. The idea is fine - as others have commented Siri and other functionality is needed. The size needs to come down too. If someone could turn Jonny Ive loose on the project, they'd have something. The face needs to be very customizable in function and layout, something like the iTunes function for configuring iOS devices' pages.

 

The low power BT should make the dongleware market a natural partner. Sports applications; perhaps even some medical devices. Wanna really kill it? Figure out a way to imbed a camera. Dunno how many snapshots I've missed reaching for the iPhone. No, I don;t mean "pictures"; just a fast snapshot.

 

An intriguing idea. Not ready for prime time though.

 

In short: make it iOS.

 

J.

post #32 of 39
" recent years as gadgets have continued to become impossibly small"

first issue i have with this is that Android phones have gone the opposite way and become laughingly huge! And the iphone 5 is bigger

secondly, the answer to small devices if to make an even smaller one on your wrist? did the writer not spot the irony of this as they wrote that sentence?? Weird

all that said, I like the idea of this, low battery alerts, check a text etc.. perfect, but i agree with urbanvoyeur, the nano should have gone this way.

I miss the day when i could pair my nokia with my mac and send texts and initiate a call.
iMessage partly replaced this, but it would be cool if i could answer the call on my mac, and talk while i work, or use iMessage to do all texts.

And with Notification Centre, the mac could tell me if my iphone or ipad had low battery, etc
post #33 of 39

Ah ha:

 

 

 

 

 

9to5mac(dot)com reports an apple iwatch in progress:

 

 

chinese-report-claims-intel-and-apple-are-working-together-on-iwatch-product-due-in-just-months/


Edited by eightzero - 12/27/12 at 9:20am
post #34 of 39
I always expected Apple to do this concept and call it the iPhone Nano.
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
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Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
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post #35 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by eightzero View Post

Ah ha:

 

9to5mac(dot)com reports an apple iwatch in progress:

 

 

chinese-report-claims-intel-and-apple-are-working-together-on-iwatch-product-due-in-just-months/

Here is another link to this rumour:

http://techcrunch.com/2012/12/27/rumor-apple-building-bluetooth-smart-watch/

post #36 of 39
Can I swim and shower with the watch? Otherwise, don't care.

What problems are there that really need solving?
1) Earphones without these long wires that constantly are tangling up.
2) Earphones which I have to identify which is left and which is right -- it should just know!
3) phones that can act as a pager when I really need to take this call -- work or other emergency.
4) Before cell phones, when family called, we each had our own phone set with which we could listen and talk. Now, one tiny smart phone with weak speakers and weaker mic, around which we all need to hunch over to join the conversation.
post #37 of 39
Originally Posted by waldobushman View Post
Now, one tiny smart phone with weak speakers and weaker mic, around which we all need to hunch over to join the conversation.

 

Turn your volume up. They're quite loud these days.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #38 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by waldobushman View Post

Can I swim and shower with the watch? Otherwise, don't care.

Hopefully.
Quote:
What problems are there that really need solving?
1) Earphones without these long wires that constantly are tangling up.
2) Earphones which I have to identify which is left and which is right -- it should just know!
3) phones that can act as a pager when I really need to take this call -- work or other emergency.
4) Before cell phones, when family called, we each had our own phone set with which we could listen and talk. Now, one tiny smart phone with weak speakers and weaker mic, around which we all need to hunch over to join the conversation.

1) We finally have BT that is low power. Unfortunately it's not good for streaming audio. I think we'll get there, but I don't know when.
2) How can it know which is left and right? Those directions are only in relation to you. You'd have to have some device on you that it could use to orient itself and then let you know it's backwards when it detects it. Once true wireless headphones it may just be obvious top to bottom which would set your left and right by default.
3) What do you mean? Caller ID works like a pager. You know what number called you and when.
4) There is conference calling. YOu can up to 6 more lines connection. A system could be set up to call multiple numbers at once through a unified phone number but I don't think that's something worth investing in for families. As for voice quality, that has more to do with the way voice is encoded digitally over analog lines. You can always use the speaker phone for group speak during the holidays.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #39 of 39
needs a retina display. Looks a little pixilated
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