Six months with the first semi-mainstream sex robot for men.
The first thing you need to understand about the Fleshlight Launch, the interactive robotic Fleshlight-thrusting sex machine for men, is that the main point of the Launch is not—as a writer for Thrillist put it—to be “the epitome of laziness”. If you already think of masturbation as a burdensome task, incorporating a football-sized electronic motorized appliance that needs bluetooth syncing and charging after two hours of use is hardly going to be your ticket to a life of leisure. (If the Launch washed, dried, and put away your Fleshlight, that might be another story.) The point of the Launch is actually the opposite—to those who are willing to invest a bit of time, money, and effort, the Launch aims to deliver a more immersive, luxurious, and exciting private party.
More photos and video coming soon.
Although a couple of other companies, including Kiiroo itself—the Dutch sex tech pioneer and teledildonics company that has partnered with Fleshlight to build the Launch, the now defunct Real Touch, and the Autoblow have taken a stab at high-end pleasure automation and interactivity for men, the Fleshlight Launch is an exciting departure for three reasons.
- It is compatible with a wide range of Fleshlight brand products that millions of guys already own and love.
- It arrives just as VR is beginning to become widely available and affordable—and the first thing many of us want to do with it…porn.
- It’s relatively quiet and refined for an electromechanical product that has to sensually move a 1.6-pound object vertically against friction.
Women have been enjoying Bluetooth enabled interactive and app-controlled sex toys from makers such as We-Vibe and OhMiBod Blue Motion for several years, but will millions of men line up to own the high(ish)-tech Fleshlight Launch the same way that millions of women have embraced their high-tech toys? In general, we (guys) seem to be comparatively and ironically hush about stuff like this, so I wouldn’t expect word of mouth to exactly spread like wildfire. However, the fact is that millions of men have already quietly embraced static row-your-own Fleshlights—at least 8 million sold as of the last time the company published numbers, so a warm market already exists. But there’s actually something a bit more exciting going on here than simply animating a sex toy. With Bluetooth control comes the potential to connect the device to a variety of interactive experiences, including currently available VR-based adult content. And, although the Fleshlight Launch creators haven’t hinted at anything like this yet, I can’t help but contemplate the potential for the Launch to be connected to apps or to more cognitive control sources. Not to spoil the full review of the Launch, but in my experience with it so far, I feel like I’ve been given just a tiny sample of what is to come in the way of sex tech in the future, and there’s some seriously interesting mental stuff going on along with the physical experience when you dive into it.
But should you be an early adopter? A sample of the future is cool and all, but for $199, it needs to provide you with some present-tense thrills. Here’s what my experience has been like so far:
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Unboxing the Fleshlight Launch
Inside you’ll find the Launch and a small packet containing a charger and a couple of paper things.
The Launch became available on Fleshlight.com on a Sunday, so the order was put in on a Monday and I opted for second day delivery because my patience for normal delivery times has been completely destroyed by Amazon Prime. (The $199 price also qualified me for a free mystery sleeve, a deal they were running at the time, that netted me a discontinued Mary Queen Lotus sleeve.) The order shipped on Tuesday and arrived on Wednesday in a box consistent with past orders in its discreet generic appearance, albeit the largest box I’ve received from them so far. I got lucky. By the end of the week, the Fleshlight Launch was sold out, according to the website. And over the course of nearly seven months working on this article, I’ve watched the Launch status change back and forth between available and out of stock, so someone is buying them.
The Fleshlight Launch box and packaging itself is appropriately high-end, high tech, and masculine looking. It could just as easily be an appliance by Samsung if it didn’t have, you know…Fleshlights on it and the words “Lock. Lube. Lift Off.” Inside you’ll find the Fleshlight Launch wrapped in thin plastic and braced by a pair of logo-emblazoned styrofoam support panels.
With the Launch freed from its box and temporary dust cover, you’ll find another small sealed plastic package nestled inside its cavity containing the only accessory the Launch ships with…a USB charging cord, for which you’ll have to provide your own power cube, as well as a few paper items including a quickstart guide, the full multi-lingual manual, and a certificate of authenticity. The certificate of authenticity perplexed me at first, but you’ll use it to register the product and activate the 1-year warranty. You know you’re getting into some serious sex toy territory when you’re talking 1-year warranties.
Fleshlight Launch design and materials
With its mix of textured matt and glossy black plastic, silver highlights, and minimalist button arrangement, the Fleshlight Launch reminds me a little bit of a compressed Keurig coffee maker, but with the front enclosed and the guts scooped out. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the Fleshlight Launch was not designed to sit upright supported by its own weight on a solid surface. Attempt to set it up as shown on the outside of the box and it immediately begins to tumble due to the bottom base being made out of a flexible and cushioned rubber material that appears designed to contour comfortably when pressed against your body. (Which it does. And it is nice.)
The Launch seems relatively solid but it’s still a consumer electronics device that faces the same risks of damage as any other consumer-grade plastic box full of computer chips, circuit boards, and tiny motors. Its construction feels tough enough to survive the occasional slow roll onto a carpeted floor, but take care around tile and wood floors, especially if you’ve let your lube get out of control. I would expect some degree of cracks or breaks if dropped from any height onto a hard surface.
Dimensions, Weight, and Storage
Grab a football. Hold it in your lap. It’s about that size.
If you already own a regular full-size Fleshlight, you know that they are just a wee bit massive. I was actually more surprised by how compact the Launch is given that it has to accommodate the already bulky Fleshlight and then effortlessly move its nearly 2 pounds of material vertically against resistance. But if your purchase of the Launch also makes you a first time full-size Fleshlight owner, you may be taken aback.
Height (upright): 12.75″
Width: Approx. 6″
Weight (empty): 3 lbs. 4.25 oz.
Weight (with Fleshlight): 4 lbs. 7 oz.
Essentially it’s just a little taller than a football, but a little more narrow. So, if you have a regulation NCAA football handy, hold it upright in your lap, imagine another inch higher and a couple more inches of width and you’ll have a general idea of what kind of space it occupies. But then take that football and go see if you have a drawer it will fit in because discreetly storing the Launch won’t be as easy as hiding a Fleshlight alone. It just barely clears my 7″ IKEA drawers. If it didn’t fit, I wasn’t sure where the Launch was going to hang out when company came over. Although someone wouldn’t likely recognize it right off the bat if it doesn’t have a Fleshlight stuck in it, you can bet they’re going to be curious about it.
Fleshlight not included
Just to be clear, the Fleshlight Launch does not come with a Fleshlight or even a Fleshlight case—it is simply a device that provides movement to a Fleshlight that has been inserted into it. Inside the hollow area of the Launch is a receptacle into which you can twist and secure a standard-size Fleshlight case, along with its sleeve, via the same notches that hold the top on the Fleshlight when it’s closed. So, if you don’t own a regular full-size Fleshlight yet, you’ll need to make sure you include one with the purchase of your Launch. But even if you already own a Fleshlight, you might still need to make sure you have a case that actually fits, because…
Fleshlight model compatibility—doesn’t include Ice/Turbo cases
If you’re thinking about ordering a Launch, pay close attention to this bullet item on the product page: “compatible with standard size Fleshlight toys (excludes Turbo, Ice, Flight, GO and Quickshot Products)”, because I totally overlooked that bit of info and attempted unsuccessfully for about 10 minutes to wedge the new Turbo models into the Launch. The incompatibility with the compact Fleshlight products—the Go, Flight, and Quickshot models—seems obvious, though Fleshlight says they’re working on an adapter solution for the Flight and Go. However, I did not realize there was a difference between the full-size Ice/Turbo cases and their very similar solid full-size counterparts because I’ve swapped solid sleeves into Ice cases and vice versa on more than one occasion. But alas, there is some sort of structural difference between Ice cases and solid cases. So, if the only full-size Fleshlight you already own is an Ice or Turbo model, you may at least need a standard full-size case to hold your Ice/Turbo sleeve for use in the Launch. (This is what I did when I wanted to try the feel of a Turbo with the motion of the Launch—stuffed a turbo sleeve in a standard silver case.) If you are ordering your first full-size Fleshlight as part of your purchase of the Launch, choose from this list of full-size models with standard solid cases.
All the solid full-size cases I tried worked perfectly though. The pearl white Girls case, the gold STU, the standard black and the Silver case that I got with my first Fleshlight order several years ago all twisted in effortlessly and felt solidly in place. Likewise, they twisted out just as easily.
Charging the Fleshlight Launch
The Launch comes with a little standard USB Micro-B charger cord that plugs into the back of the unit. You’ll need to borrow a USB outlet cube from your phone or some other device though (guess they had to cut corners somewhere). The manual says the Launch will be charged prior to purchase. While it did have enough power out of the box for me to check out the motion real quick for an initial impression and confirm that the unit worked, the red light on the mode button came on after about 15 minutes of playing around with it (in a non-sexual way). So, I grabbed one of the many iPhone cubes lying around the house to host the Launch’s USB charger cord and let it charge overnight. Charging time is supposed to be 6-8 hours and run time is 2 hours. I never had a problem with running out of power.
Interface and Operation
Fleshlight and Kirroo have done a decent job packing several functions into a simple interface, though it’s not immediately intuitive how everything works. Even after watching some demo videos and studying the manual, there was a lot of trial and error before I began to get a feel for things. (So, we made our own demo video.)
The Launch has just two LED “buttons” (not really buttons, but areas on the control surface) on the front—one for power and one for selecting between two modes—manual and interactive, and two touch surfaces on either side of the upper surface for controlling stroke starting height, speed, and length. Holding the power button for a few seconds wakes the Launch up in it’s default mode—interactive, as indicated by the blue light on the mode button.
To get things moving in interactive mode, you have to be connected via Bluetooth to the FeelConnect app, which in turn has to be synced with content on websites such as FeelMe.com. In manual mode, you can adjust the stroke length, stroke starting position, and stroke speed manually by swiping or pressing different areas of the two touch-sensitive control strips on either side of the top surface of the Launch. I was too impatient to figure all the interactive stuff out for my first go with the Launch, so my first experiences were in manual mode.
To put it the Launch into manual mode, you hold down the mode button for three seconds. Even after nearly four months of playing with this thing, I still find this to be a bit tricky to do consistently. (Update: after 6-months, I’ve finally got the hang of it.) Every time I power it on for manual use, I spend at least 15 seconds trying to get the unit into manual mode. Part of the problem is that it’s a touch surface and not an actual button. There is no physical feedback confirming that you pressing the surface is actually doing anything. If using a touch surface instead of a button, it’s helpful to have some sort of vibration feedback like you have on smart phones. Also, it would have made more sense to me to have it default to manual mode with the option to activate bluetooth when and if needed.
Playing in manual mode
Once you do get it into manual, you have direct control over stroke speed, length, and starting position by way of swiping and tapping the control strips.
Adjustable Manual Mode Parameters
Left Control Strip:
- Faster strokes: swipe away
- Slower strokes: swipe towards you
Right Control Strip:
- Longer strokes: swipe away
- Shorter strokes: swipe towards you
- Adjust stroke start position: tap one of three outlined spot on the control strip—furthest spot starts the stroke higher, nearest spot starts the stroke lower
The way to stop and stop the unit is always to hit the power button once. To turn it off, you hold the power button down for a few seconds.
How slow can you go?
The first thing I wanted to find out was what the minimum stroke speed was like. When using a Fleshlight, I often prefer extremely slow and sensual movements. The idea of being able to relax and enjoy strokes even slower than I have the discipline to perform myself is quite enticing. Unfortunately though, the slowest setting doesn’t seem all that slow to me—about one max length up/down stroke per second. If I could have it my way, I’d have the minimum be at least half as slow. I’m hoping this is something that can be improved via a firmware update down the road and that it’s not a strict limitation of the motor. So I essentially keep the Launch at or only a little bit above the slowest stroke settings most of the time, dabbling in some moderately fast moves sporadically just to change things up. If you like things fast though, the Launch can deliver 180 strokes per minute, which equals 3 per second. That may not be as fast as your typical frenetic dry fap, but 1.6 lbs. of lubed up Fleshlight moving like that is crazy.
The range of speeds is a bit coarse in manual mode, meaning that it ramps from the slowest setting to the fastest setting pretty quick. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of variation between. To me, it feels like there’s really only four or five speeds. It may technically vary a bit more, but I found it to be a choice between somewhat slow, moderate, fast, and insane in manual mode. (You experience more subtle variations in interactive mode.) But in the end, I guess you don’t really need that many speeds, do you?
Different stroke lengths for different folks
Maximum stroke length is a bit limited—a little less than three inches of travel from the top start position to the base—but this shouldn’t be too surprising. The Launch would have to be even taller and bulkier for every additional inch of travel and I imagine it would take an entirely different design approach to enable anywhere near the range of movement you experience when using your hand or during intercourse. Although three-inch strokes don’t seem very exciting on paper, and I probably would have been put off by it had I known this spec before purchase, those few inches of movement have proven to be ample and effective on my average length. Yes, I sometimes find myself wishing it would go just a tiny bit further, but I find that the novelty of the movement not coming from my own hand/brain combo compensates to some degree for whatever is lost in the limited movement.
The range of possible stroke lengths seems round down to about four different general lengths—between a minimum of 1.5-inches to the 2.5-inch max. There may be some more range in there (didn’t use calipers), but as far as how it feels, it comes down to three or four stroke lengths.
What actually enables a wider variety of sensations than the stroke length itself is changing the stroke start position setting, which is set by tapping one of three outlined positions within the stroke length control strip. For example, if you want short strokes that focus just on the head and maybe the area underneath, you can set it to the shortest stroke length and then choose the highest stroke start point by tapping the top stroke start point button. This causes the Launch to raise the Fleshlight to the highest position and then stroke down just an inch and a half. Keep the stroke start position at the highest position and go to maximum stroke length and you get the longest and fullest strokes possible. But if you switch the stroke start position to the lowest starting point, the Fleshlight will be moved down to the base and will only rise up a couple of inches. As you can imagine, this results in three very distinct sensations.
Quite a few “oops” moments with the controls
The touch-sensitive control surface is pretty responsive once you get the mode set, but it would be nice if there was a way to adjust the sensitivity. Not a session has gone by where a finger hasn’t accidentally grazed a touch surface while reaching for lube or something, resulting in a sudden and unintended mode change, jump in speed, or change in stroke start position. It is a little annoying to have to stop and try to dial back in whatever just-right setting I was enjoying, and a sudden accidental jump to maximum everything when you aren’t expecting it is straight-up startling. These goofs have gotten less frequent as I’ve become more experienced with the Launch, but it still takes some care and attention to avoid.
When I heard about the Fleshlight Launch, the first possible deal killer for me that popped into my head was the noise. Pronounced mechanical or electronic noise would be a real turn-off for me, as I’m sure it would be for a lot of people, and it’s especially a consideration if you don’t live alone. Although it’s certainly not silent, it’s a lot quieter and more refined sounding than I expected it to be. I read another reviewer describe the sound as something like an inkjet printer, but I actually find it to be considerably quieter than the last inkjet printer I bought (which I refuse to ever buy again). I haven’t found it to be distracting enough to really break my concentration or enjoyment so far. I hope we’ll get to a point with this technology where it’s totally silent someday, but this isn’t too bad for a first generation consumer sex bot.
It can be heard through a typical cheap hollow bedroom door if the house is quiet though. It’s faint, but if someone is walking by and there’s not some other ambient noise going on, it will probably pique their curiosity. Some blanket coverage might help muffle it a bit. The loudest sound, in my experience so far, has come from the end cap on some of my cases rattling a bit if they’re loose. I usually keep the end caps tightened about halfway. so I’ve been keeping the cap either tighter than normal or I’ve sometimes been leaving it off if it starts distracting me.
First experience with the Fleshlight Launch in manual mode was a real head trip
Did I just cheat…with a robot?
My first hasty use of the Launch was late at night after nearly a full day of video and photo work. We always shoot pictures and video of products for In Bed Magazine before they get used for a review, and waiting to try out the Launch had not been easy. While working on the photos, I kept having flashbacks to my hormone-fueled teen years through which I endured aching curiosity and desire to know what it would feel like to finally have something sexual done to me instead of doing it to myself. I imagine most people can relate on how stimulation that isn’t via your own hand is always more exciting, kinda like how water magically tastes better when someone gets it for you. I think it’s for the same reason that tickling yourself doesn’t work—your own brain isn’t continuously spoiling the surprise by instantly anticipating the sensation you are about to feel right before you make it happen.
So, despite being a sexually experienced and partnered grown-up adult at this point in my life, my anticipation of trying the Fleshlight Launch came with a renewed sense of teenage wonder about what it was going to be like to “have it done to me”, but on demand from a device that just came out of a box. Sure enough, when the Fleshlight Launch lurched into action with the first upwards stroke, I got that unique and exciting blend of familiarity and surprise, “ohhhhhhhh wow, that’s not my own hand doing that! Nice!”
As I watched the Fleshlight, my go-to favorite—a Mini-Lotus, come gliding back down on the third or fourth down-stroke, the first rolls of serious breath-taking pleasure took me somewhat by surprise despite seeing it happen right in front of me. Having my own hands not providing the movement was immediately adding a new dimension—the illusion of another party involved. Yet, it was just me by myself, on my own terms, on my own time-table, concerned only about my own enjoyment. The novelty of the device relentlessly stroking me as if on a mission to “get the job done” definitely heightened the excitement and I had to hit the pause button quickly. I hadn’t even checked out the variations of stroke lengths and speeds yet and I was already getting very close to the point of no return. (First times for anything sexual are so intense.)
Sex nerd at work—mid-robotic fap contemplation
“This feels so weird,” I thought as I paused, still fully inside the Fleshlight, hoping to regain a bit of stamina before turning it back on. It felt like another person was involved but obviously there wasn’t. In just the first minute or so of use, my brain jumped back and forth between simply being fascinated by the sensation for the sake of the sensation alone, and having a completely new and inspired fantasy about a random and sudden hookup with a total stranger—something historically out of character for me. It was different and familiar at the same time. Mentally it felt a little bit wrong…yet more than a little bit right at the same time. Physically it was relentlessly pleasurable, especially for a solo experience.
Slow down, please!
I snapped back to reality, regained my focus, and got down to the business of checking out the controls. My first thought: “Launch, you need to slow the fuck down,” but, it was already on the slowest speed. Obviously I was finding the Launch’s enthusiastic pace enjoyable and totally effective, but I wanted to enjoy it a little longer—draw the experience out with slower and more sensual movements. I don’t know if a slower speed is even possible with this device’s motor—whatever it is and however it works, but if it is, my first piece of feedback to its creators is to enable some slower speeds. I’d like to see it go as slow as one full up/down stroke per 8-10 seconds (or 6-8 strokes per minute). Part of the fun of being relieved of the responsibility of providing the motion is that the device can make movements that you may not have the inclination or discipline to provide for yourself. Also, some Fleshlight textures can feel quite different when moved at slow speeds vs. moderate speeds. Slow strokes really bring out the details of the different sleeve textures, which is something Fleshligh connoisseurs will appreciate.
A race against the O’-clock to try all the settings
I turned the Launch back on and in less than five seconds I could tell this first experiment wasn’t going to last very long, especially at the speed it was going. I began trying out the different stroke speeds, lengths, and starting positions. I ramped up the speed just to see what the max was like, and it was far and above anything I would ever do with a Fleshlight when using my hand. Having that 1.6 pounds of case and sleeve pounding up and down on its own at 3 strokes per second is visually and physically intense. I didn’t feel much pleasure because I was distracted by all the bouncing and pounding against my crotch. But interestingly, that again inspired the random hookup fantasy to pop back into my mind—something about the pace being so aggressively outside my usual norm was mentally stimulating, even if the motion lacked the sensualness that I prefer. Again, I had the sense of another party involved.
I went back to the slowest speed and started messing around with the stroke lengths and stroke starting points. The biggest variation of sensation really comes with changing the stroke starting point in combination with the stroke length. It allows you to focus in on different pleasure zones, and then when you switch the starting position to a different one, you really notice the change in sensation.
First, I set it to the highest starting point with the shortest strokes, which resulted in the first tight areas of the Mini-Lotus going down on me just past the frenulum before coming back up quickly. I don’t mind the speed with short strokes, which is good because the Launch only does short strokes fast. Then, I switched the stroke length to maximum and the contrasting sensation of near full-length deep strokes after the short strokes put me quickly back on the path to no return.
In actuality, max stroke length is less than three inches of movement. Although there were times when I wanted it to go a little further (there’s always going to be those times), due to the excitement of the movement not coming from my own hand, I was in total bliss mode and those few inches were more than enough to get me into the “Lotus Blossom”, an extra tight bulbous area inside the Mini Lotus texture that feels particularly exciting to push into. Relentlessly powered by the Launch, the Lotus Blossom engulfed and encircled the sweet spots below the frenulum over and over with zero involvement from my own hand beyond just holding the Launch steady. It felt like I was feeling the Mini Lotus again for the first time, and it was as if the Launch knew exactly what it needed to do in order to make me cum.
Out of control orgasm. Literally…no control.
I was greedy for the feeling and I just couldn’t bring myself to stop it, so I held on to the Launch tight and braced myself…
I’ve always found orgasms to be a little tricky with Fleshlights. The head of a penis gets hypersensitive during an orgasm (mine does, anyway), and as good as the textures feel during the build-up, that same intensity can be overwhelming—almost painful during the orgasm if there is too much movement. Whereas a vagina is so soft and gentle that I can continue to thrust a little bit throughout the orgasm during sex, with a Fleshlight, I either thrust all the way in and hold it very still during the orgasm, or I pull out and finish with my hand because I’m scared the intensity of the Fleshlight texture will be too much due to the heightened sensitivity. My brain simply will not allow me to move the Fleshlight with my own hand knowing that continuing to do so might result in overstimulation. But, with the Launch doing its thing, neither my brain nor my hand is in the action-feedback loop. I was quickly going to need to make a decision—stop the Launch and somehow finish manually, or just hold on and let the Launch take me all the way for better or for worse.
I was enjoying the feeling of it all too much to stop. I reached for the power button several times and almost stopped it, but I kept holding off because I wanted to feel the Launch doing its thing just a little longer. I was greedy for the feeling and I just couldn’t bring myself to stop it, so I held on to the Launch tight, braced myself, and powered through.
Over the span of a few seconds I experienced a spectrum of sensations ranging from sensory overload to incredible pleasure—sometimes rhythmically matching the contours of the Mini Lotus texture over the duration of one single stroke. It never quite hurt like I feared it would, but there were moments when it was almost too much of a good thing. But then, the position would change and it was bliss again in a split second. But it didn’t really matter—the sex bot didn’t care. It was going to keep going until I turned it off, no matter what, and that’s part of the novelty. It caused me to surrender to an orgasmic experience that I literally could not have had by any other means. Even if the Fleshlight was being operated manually by a partner, I would have normally reached out to stop the movement with my hand. But with my eyes closed and being thoroughly into the process, there was no way I could hit the button to stop it while it was happening.
Idea: give the Launch an “orgasm mode”
I have a new fantasy product feature request. Give the Launch the ability to learn exactly what kind of movement you like during an orgasm and add an intuitively placed physical button that you can clumsily slap at just the right time to activate the perfect customized movement that you like in order to keep things just right during an orgasm. As is likely the case for other guys, the perfect movement and stimulation during an orgasm varies a bit from what I typically want during the build-up activity. Using my own hand, the strokes become very short and I intuitively and perfectly avoid certain areas during the brief and intermittent moments when they are too sensitive to be stimulated. And if I was some kind of genius who could design this myself, I’d find a way to incorporate a sensor that could sync the movement just right with the orgasmic contractions so that the movement was perfectly optimized. Think about that for moment.
Did I just cheat with a robot? Funny feelings and deep thoughts after the orgasm.
When I got to the point where I couldn’t take any more goodness, I cut the power and just sat still in my chair for a few minutes and composed myself. I kept thinking about the vivid fantasy that the Launch had inspired, and the fact that I was just gotten off by…well, something other than myself, but not by my wife either. (Yes, she’s all thumbs up on the Launch experiment. She’s an In Bed co-editor and knew she was marrying a sex nerd.)
I cleaned all the stuff up and put the Launch back on to charge. As I slid under the covers next to my sleeping wife, I had a funny feeling—a slight tinge of confused guilt. Sure, I’ve masturbated and come to bed a few times—no big deal. Some nights people need sleep more than they needs sex, and that’s cool. I’m a big boy and I can fend for myself when I need to. But I’ve never come to bed with that kind of “just fucked” feeling that normally comes only from having sex with someone, and I was feeling a hint of that mental charge from having had a go with the Launch. I guess I felt like I had a brush with cheating. Rationally, I knew I had just used a really elaborate sex toy and part of me was kind of relishing this safe but naughty thrill, but I was also having a “whoa, uh-oh” moment too. It was definitely a head trip and it really made me think about what’s in store for us in the future as sex toys and artificial intelligence become connected. And that was just from using the Launch in manual mode. I was still weeks from trying the interactive stuff.
Observations from the next few tests in manual mode
I tried out the Launch a few more times in Manual mode with several different Fleshlights and came away with some more observations.
Going “hands-free”, I felt each sleeve texture in a new way
Guys who already own more than one Fleshlight know and understand the allure of having different “flavors” of sensation to play with via the different textured sleeves. But using the Launch, I was feeling the different textures not just in a new way, but with more clarity and detail. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t having to expend any mental energy on the actual movement, therefore freeing me to really focus in on the sensations. Or maybe it was because the robotic precision of the movement repeatedly applied the stimulation in exactly the same spot so consistently. For whatever reason, feeling each sleeve in conjunction with the Launch was like feeling each of them for the first time. I’ve probably used the Mini Lotus at least fifty times, but with the Launch, I was feeling the sleeve’s contours in more detail than I had ever noticed feeling before. For anyone considering a Fleshlight Launch who already has some Fleshlights, you’ll have a process of rediscovery every time you use the Launch with one of your different sleeves.
Also, a side note about the compatibility of Fleshlight cases with the Launch. Although, as I mentioned earlier, only the standard cases fit in the Launch, that doesn’t mean that you can’t stick one of the full-size specialty sleeves in a standard case in order to experience it with the Launch. I tried both Fleshlight Turbo models and an Ice Fleshlight with excellent results by by using a standard full-size Fleshlight case as a “host”. They looked a little funny, but they fit fine and worked great.
For true hands-free, you’ll have to get creative on how to prop it up
As mentioned earlier, the Launch doesn’t stand up on its own on a solid flat surface, so it’s no surprise that it definitely doesn’t want to stay upright without support during use. But a couple of times, with some creative positioning of body pillows or positioning myself facing the edge of the bed on the floor, I was able to let go and let the Launch do its thing. The result was a pretty cool feeling. It wasn’t the perfect angle, but it was possible. I think there’s room for improvement here in the form of some sort of stabilizing accessory, but if you decide to get a Launch, it’s worth doing some experimentation on this front.
The Launch needs randomization or humanization functions in Manual mode
Once I got used to the novelty of the motion being provided for me, the movement began to seem a bit repetitive and robotic at times. Not that it has ever failed to get me off, but I kept wanting some surprise and variation. It’s great to free my hands from performing the full motion, but it’s still up to me and my hands to mess with the manual settings in order to change things up. To get to the next level of excitement beyond robotic movement, there needs to be some functionality that adds some surprises and changes along the way without having to hook it up to content.
How about full-featured app control, like some women’s toys have?
Interactive toys for women and couples in the same price range, such as the mega-popular We-Vibe 4+, feature apps that, in addition to direct control of the vibrating motors, offers multiple vibration patterns, the ability to string together sequences of patterns, and even allows the users to create their own vibration patterns by drawing the intensity on a timeline with their fingers. Some app/toy combos, such as the Vibease, allow you to download, upload, and even share user-created patterns. And then there are some that you can even sync to music. In this respect, the Launch is still lagging behind high-end toys for women and couples and it’s one of the most surprising omissions from the Launch’s feature set. Users should be able to access, create, store, and maybe even share a variety of stroking patterns and sequences that are completely independent of the need to sync to content. Even better, imagine if artificial intelligence and machine learning of your preferences could be provided via the app as well. The good news is that the basics are probably totally doable with the Launch as it is, assuming Kirro and Fleshlight are paying attention to consumer feedback. The allure of generating money from synced content is understandable, but the Launch needs more standalone entertainment by way of an app for it to reach its full value. [Update: Since I wrote this, I’ve learned about this third-party project by the sex toy hacker community known as buttplug.io to create an app for the Launch. Hooray sex hackers! We’ll keep an eye on this.]
The limited movement doesn’t always bother me—I was so excited by the novelty of it moving by itself the first few times that I used it, that three inches of stroking was more than enough to drive me over the edge in fast fashion. But after several uses, and as I got used to the movement, I found myself wanting more stroke length more often. At one point, I just couldn’t resist any more and had to pop the Fleshlight out of the Launch and revert to doing it myself because I was craving those longer strokes. It’s still not a deal killer, but if there’s a Launch 2.0 or Launch XL in the works, I’d deal with another couple of inches of height added to the base if it’ll get me two more inches of stroke length.
Playing in interactive mode
This thing was working to get me off and it felt like it had a mind of its own. And I liked it.
The appeal of having the Launch move a Fleshlight in time with the action in an adult video probably needs no explanation, but after playing with the Launch in manual mode first, I see another reason to be excited about it. Until an app is developed that provides stroke patterns, pattern sequences, or some other form of humanization, the only way to break out of push-button robotic stroking and further remove your hands from constant control is to sync the Launch to specially coded adult content. The result, whether you’re paying attention to the video or not, is less predictability, more pleasurable surprises, and an even greater sense of someone or something other than yourself involved in your pleasure. Sounds great, right? But, there are some challenges.
Most web browsers—probably still the most common and preferred way to experience HD adult content, do not yet widely and consistently support direct access to a device’s bluetooth hardware the way a mobile app can access its host device’s bluetooth. So, the solution that Kirroo and Fleshlight have come up with is to use a mobile app named FeelConnect to act as an intermediary between the website content and the Launch. This requires you to connect your Launch to your phone, and then connect your phone to a site via a QR code, which then identifies your Launch on the website. It seems that when you play the content on the website, the server is streaming both the video content via your web browser and control code via the web to your smartphone, which is then relaying that code via bluetooth to the Launch. What could go wrong?
Fleshlight and Kirroo aren’t really to blame for this complex arrangement that they’re having to solve for—browser-based bluetooth has some catching up to do. Mobile devices seem to have more mature bluetooth connection protocols. If this is what we’re going to be dealing with for a while, there there are some things that Fleshlight and Kirroo could do to ease the pain, such as improving bluetooth connectivity between the FeelConnect app and the Launch. As it is, it takes several tries and some wonky jiggling by way of powering the Launch off and on again repeatedly while the app searches in order to get them to pair. This has been a source of boner-killing frustration on a few occasions. The whole site/app/Launch three-way would be a lot more endurable if getting them connected and keeping them connected was easier. [Update: this has improved significantly.]
A rough start getting things to sync up
The FeelConnect page on the iTunes app store says that FeelConnect will work with any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 6.0 or later, but for whatever reason, I never could get the content on FeelMe.com, the only official source of interactive content for the Launch at the time this article was being written, to cause the Launch to move via my iPhone 5 running iOS 8.3. (Yes, it was an old phone. Look, I’ve been busy. Keep reading once you’re done rolling your eyes.) The Launch would sync with my phone and everything registered, but it would not cause movement. FeelConnect will control multiple devices, not just the Launch, and I was able to get our We-Vibe 4+ to sync to the FeelMe.com content without a hitch, so there was something about the the combo of my phone and the Launch that just wasn’t working with the app. After wasting a couple of evenings trying to get it to work, I borrowed my wife’s iPhone 6 running iOS 10 and finally got the Launch moving by way of the content. So the next day I upgraded my phone. I guess the promise of a better behaving sex robot is what it takes to get me to upgrade my smartphone.
The firmware that made me go soft
However, no sooner had I finally gotten everything synced than FeelConnect prompted me to perform a firmware update to the Fleshlight Launch. Hopeful that this post-release update would enable a slower and more sensual speed setting on the Launch, I obeyed and got right to the update. I was certain that I was just moments away from being virtually seduced, so I provided myself with some light “entertainment” by way of my recently obsolete hand while I waited…because everybody masturbates while doing firmware updates, right? But the update just kept going and going and going. After ten minutes of watching the update hang, my brain was somewhere else—starting to question what I was doing with my life. Erection canceled. After twenty minutes, my pants were back on and I was making coffee. After half an hour it was clear that the firmware had stalled and the Launch indicated its battery was about to die.
“Well, fuck,” I thought, now being out of time.
“Actually—’no fuck’! That’s the problem. Zero fucking from the fuck robot.”
I gave up, plugged it back in, and moved on with whatever was next on my to-do list.
When I returned to continue my “project” the next day, the sex robot lost its mind. The firmware update had failed, leaving the Launch stranded without even a manual mode and I couldn’t get it to connect via bluetooth. I thought it was bricked. I didn’t see how I was going to update the firmware if I couldn’t even connect via bluetooth. I started a ticket with Kirroo/Fleshlight support and was frustrated by the fact that they don’t seem to work weekends and because the response time was around 24 hours.
Finally, I tried deleting the Launch from the FeelConnect app completely and then reinstalling. Afterwards I was able to find the Launch again via bluetooth on the app, connect it, and then start the firmware update over again. But be forewarned, the firmware update took quite a while—about 15-25 minutes. So be prepared and be patient if you encounter this issue. I think that’s what went wrong for me. Make sure you’ve got plenty of battery life left on both your phone and the Launch, and be patient. For me, it was hanging at the stage where it says “finalizing” for a while without any progress bar movement and I kept thinking the update was failing. Turns out, it’s just a really slow process. [Update: this issue has not happened again over the long term. So far, so good.]
My interactive mode experience with the Launch
I didn’t care about the content, I didn’t care about the imperfect syncing, the limited movement, or the fact that I was having to hold it still in order to keep it from falling out of my lap. I was enjoying the fuck out of what was being done to me.
I knew this was going to be a particularly interesting experience for me because I’m not really that big into porn. (Yeah, I know—surprise. A guy who writes about sex toys but doesn’t watch much porn. Confirmed weirdo.) I will check out some mostly realistic amateur type stuff now and then for inspiration, but rarely do I incorporate it fully into my solo sexual activities. However, I was still hoping that having the Fleshlight Launch’s movement sync to the action in a video would make each movement of the Launch more unexpected and more humanized. And it did. But…
Content that works with the Fleshlight Launch is limited, though growing
At the time that this article nears completion, there are only three sources of interactive content that I’ve tried and can confirm work with the Launch—FeelMe.com, the recently introduced interactive section of PornHub.com, and UFeel.tv.
FeelMe.com, operated by Kiiroo, was naturally promoted by Fleshlight when the Launch was introduced. Their content, which also works with other Kiiroo devices, as well as products from OhMiBod and WeVibe, is one or two dollars per video for a 24-hour rental, with video length averaging 20-30 minutes. Their offerings started out extremely limited but the amount of content has grown considerably over the past few months to a little over 530 videos, making it the largest source of content at the time this article is being published. However, this new site suffers from some growing pains and lacks some basic filtering, sorting, and other features you would expect, especially from a pay site. For example, at the moment there are no genres or categories. It’s just one big pile of porn—threesomes, vanilla hetro BJs, trans porn, and gay anal—all just tossed in there together, so brace yourself.
I’ve seen FeelMe.com continue to make incremental improvements over the past few months, so I have no doubt that they’ll get stuff categorized eventually, and I can forgive some of this stuff considering how nascent this content and and technology is in terms of being rolled out into the (relative) mainstream. I try to think of each rental I’ve done as a sort of micro angel investment towards site improvements. Nevertheless, browse with care and take a close look before you fork over some money for the content to make sure you have a good idea of what you’re getting. As for content quality, I’m no porn connoisseur, but it seems like decent quality to me—professionally produced, well lit, and okay audio. FeelMe.com also features a small amount of synced VR content, but more on that later.
PornHub, on the other hand, probably needs no introduction—a free tube site featuring a hodgepodge of quality ranging from crazy homemade amateur to shortened clips from professional studios. PornHub has been around for a while so the content is fully categorized, sortable, filterable, and searchable. They’ve just stepped into the interactive game and you can now hook your Launch up to any of their 170 encoded videos (as of this writing) and start experiencing the magic of the Launch controlled by content for free. However, the quality of the PornHub interactive videos is less consistent than FeelMe.com, and the durations are much shorter—more like six to ten minutes. Quite a few appear to be clips from longer videos promoting content on another interactive content site, ufeel.tv.
For the time being, I’ve found that PornHub is a great way to gain some experience getting the content synced and working with the Launch, and to explore some of the potential of the interactive aspects of the Launch right out of the box via a variety of different clips for free. Once you’ve got that down, the FeelMe.com videos will provide a more immersive full-length experiences. When I first started with the Launch though, FeelMe.com was the only game on the internet, so my learning and exploration cost a couple of dollars per session.
I only learned about UFeel.tv as this article was wrapping up. It prominently promotes compatibility with the Fleshlight Launch, but appears to be even newer than FeelMe.com. Their videos are downloaded encapsulated in standalone executable applications instead of streamed. They can be purchased for $9.95 each, or you can purchase a membership ranging in price from $29.95/month to $99.95 per year. Though, at the moment, there are only 12 videos—basically the same vanilla genre, but one of them is free and the quality seems high.
By downloading the videos as apps, the UFeel.tv content offers some unique interactive features. In the free video, for example, there are five different main scenes and you can jump to them by hitting any of the numbers, 1-5, on your keyboard. Within those scenes, you can then choose from three types of movement—tease, slow, and fast. Interestingly, these differently paced sequences loop, so the content itself is purposefully working to stimulate you.
Perhaps the coolest feature is the sixth scene—the final climax, which is wired to the space bar so that you can quickly and easily slap it and jump to right before the cumshot when you realize that you aren’t far from going over the edge yourself. This is kind of similar to the “orgasm mode” concept I wished for earlier in my experience with the Launch in manual mode. Of course, you still have no control over the movement at that point.
A scarcity of same-sex content
I was surprised to notice a lack of same sex content. Of the three sites I checked out, only FeelMe.com had a handful of same-sex videos, and as mentioned earlier, they’re just kind of there in the middle of everything else. So if you’re gay and considering a Launch to use with your Fleshjack—or bi/curious and looking for a more immersive outlet to explore that side of you, be aware that at the time of this writing, the content appears to have a lot of catching up to do. I’m sure it will catch up, but do some research to make sure the content you want is available if content is important to you. (If you know of same-sex interactive content sources that I don’t, let us know and I’ll update this article.)
Forging ahead with the available videos
I wanted to get an idea of what the motion would be like before actually dropping the lubed-up and loaded Launch onto my lap, so I synced it up to one of FeelMe.com’s freebies—a 12-minute two-girl, one guy POV named “Crazy Head”—just to watch the Launch do it’s thing. The device lurched into action. It was bizarre at first—almost surreal and startling—to watch the thing just wake up and start thrusting quickly on its own, but as it began to move more unpredictably without my input—slowing down, coming to a short pause, ramping up, easing into to shorter strokes and then increasing the stroke length—I was starting to feel really excited by the idea of surrendering to whatever the Launch and video wanted to do to me. I was ready.
I paused the video, did all the necessary lubing of myself and the Mini-Lotus sleeve, got it mounted (on me), positioned it just so, and restarted the video at the beginning. It was no surprise, having already seen the first few minutes of the video, that the movement was aggressive right out of the gate. I gripped the sides of the Launch, held on, and laughed because it would have never occurred to me to start off so fast on my own. I was having the distinct feeling of someone else making decisions about how to pleasure me, and it was a crazy feeling because nobody else was there.
The accuracy of movement syncing with the content varies from video to video.
I tried paying closer attention to the action on the screen relative to the movement of the Launch in order to get a feel for how well the Launch was keeping up. I learned that intentionally looking for flaws is a mistake because you will find them. Don’t expect the timing to be perfect—sometimes there’s a bit of a delay or a missed stroke here and there if you’re watching closely, and the quality of the syncing varies from one video to the next. Considering that the signal relay going on between the video server and the object stroking me is crossing continents, converting to bluetooth, flying through the air and causing a motor to move, it’s actually kind of remarkable that it’s as closely synced as it is.
Better syncing is no doubt a goal for developers as the technology implementation matures, and better syncing is only going to make for a better experience. Objectively though, in the here and now, the movement is certainly better than I would be able to do if I was trying to follow a video with my hand. Also, the fact that the motion does not come from my own hand feels like fair compensation for sporadic flaws in the syncing. There’s only so much you can complain about when you are laying back and being sexually spoiled. Imperfect syncing or not, I was already having to play some mental games to keep from going over the falls after just a couple of minutes.
Thinking of the videos as a more humanized control source
More important to me than perfect syncing is achieving less direct involvement and control of the movement, and I was definitely getting what I asked for by syncing to the content. Sometimes the movement is faster than I would ever choose on my own, and then there are slow-downs, ramp-ups, pauses, and unpredictable starts that reintroduce the pleasure in a moan-inducing burst. There are short strokes then long strokes, single strokes followed by pauses in the down position or up position, and then the best—slower movements than what seems possible even in manual mode. All this variation substantially increases the sense that there is outside involvement in the pleasure. And if you really think about it, there actually is…
Mid-fap contemplation #2—all the people trying to make me cum
At one point during one of the short pauses in the action, it occurred to me that there had probably been a lot of people involved in the current sexual pleasuring I was receiving. Think about it—from the product designers, electrical engineers, manufacturing production line workers, programmers, app developers, content creators, web developers, camera operators, video editors, and whoever it was who painstakingly created the control codes that synced with the content—there was essentially a whole roomful of people—women AND men of all sorts of persuasions, who probably spent hundreds of hours worth of labor and design with the end goal of propelling me towards an orgasm. What is that? It’s not sex, but is it still just masturbation when other people’s time and talents are being put to work stroking you? Is it “sex work”? I don’t know. This again raises very interesting questions. Well, to all those hard-working men and women…um, thank you!
The Launch made quick work of things in interactive mode
The unexpected sudden surges towards the point of no return—completely absent of my own input and decision—cut my observations short. Every nitpick I had noted about the Launch and the content thus far went completely out the window as I muttered out loud something along the lines of, “oh shit, I don’t even care. Fuuuuuuuck,” as I gave myself permission to quit analyzing and just enjoy what I was feeling. This thing was working to get me off and it felt like it had a mind of its own. I didn’t care about the content, I didn’t care about the imperfect syncing, the limited movement, or the fact that I was having to hold it still in order to keep it from falling out of my lap. I was enjoying the fuck out of what was being done to me.
As with my experiences in manual mode, I was again playing a game of chicken with the Launch in the final moments. Was I going to let it keep doing its thing during the orgasm—which could possibly be way too much sensation for me, or was I going to shut it off and take back control for a just-right finish? Well, with the added element of surprise and unpredictability that came with having the Launch being controlled by the content, it was a much harder game of chicken to play. As soon as the Launch made that one tide-turning sequence of strokes that gave me that unmistakable “I’m going to cum” feeling, I realized that the movement could suddenly turn very aggressive at any moment, so I immediately yanked the Launch off of me—still thrusting wildly on its own, and followed through with my own hand using the precise rhythm and pressure-point focus that I needed in order to make the most out of every split second of orgasmic glory my body was willing to offer.
If finishing by hand sounds like a let-down, it wasn’t. Although I still think some kind of quick-touch orgasm mode button that switches to a perfectly-controlled custom routine at the last minute would make the Launch better, it was actually very satisfying to see the “fireworks” that resulted from the excitement and build-up caused by this entirely new and intense solo sexual experience. The orgasm that resulted from this first interactive session ranks up there among the top 10-15 longest and messiest solo events in recent memory. At this point I was feeling pretty good about the $200 I’d spent on this crazy thing, but there were still more thrills and discoveries to come.
PornHub Interactive explorations
I’ve tried, and continue to try, all sorts of random little things in PornHub’s new Interactive category and I can tell you that while it’s all mostly pretty short, it works surprisingly well for free content. Interestingly, out of all the ones I’ve tried, the one that physically felt the nicest to me was this one https://www.pornhub.com/view_video.php?viewkey=ph56c0e1b276603, which is painfully short at 1:02. There was something about the slowness, the timing, and the focus of this super simple BJ clip that just really did it for me. I basically kept restarting it over and over again maybe 15 times. I really wish there was a way to loop it.
The Billie Ruben Blow Jop POV
https://www.pornhub.com/view_video.php?viewkey=ph58672977874f2 is another one I enjoyed. It’s longer (14 minutes) and has balance of slow sensual and moderately fast movement. The POV perspective also makes it perfect for a Launch session—a near VR experience.
The Fleshlight Launch + VR
This is seriously cool and enjoyable, and I say this as someone who is not that big into porn and who has an active and healthy sex life with a partner. It’s hard to describe the immersion you feel…
At first I didn’t think I was going to mess with the VR content for this review. I didn’t even have any sort of VR gear, and despite having had some great physical experiences with the Launched synced to content, I hadn’t been that excited by the content itself. But going into my third month with the Fleshlight Launch, using it pretty regularly, I kept having this nagging feeling that I was overlooking something significant—the fact that virtual reality paired with a sex toy was actually happening and was actually somewhat affordable. Once again, my curiosity got the best of me, so I took the VR plunge—an economy VR plunge.
I grabbed a $60 Merge VR headset off Amazon that works with my iPhone 6, along with various Android phones. No Samsung Gear, and certainly no Oculus Rift or HTC Vive…yet. And that’s a definite “yet”, because just sampling basic and somewhat grainy VR on a phone was cool enough that now I really want the big boy VR gear. And in order to get into that, I’m also going to have to upgrade my computer. I feel like I’ve opened Pandora’s box, and that’s even before trying any of the adult content. I spent a whole afternoon just exploring regular 360-degree content on YouTube and via various apps. I almost forgot I was essentially doing all this for a sex toy review. And by the way, if you’re looking for an inexpensive, comfortable and easy to use VR headset to use with your phone, I’ve been pretty happy with the Merge. It’s essentially a kids toy—I saw them at Gamestop the other day, but the soft foam-based material is light and super comfortable. Plus, it won’t break if you drop it, and it’s easy to clean if you get…uh…anything on it.
Launch-compatible VR content is even more limited and adds complexity—but it’s more fun
Amazed by the potential presented by even the family-friendly VR, I set out to see what sort of VR I could sync the Launch to. Unfortunately, there’s not exactly an abundance yet. FeelMe.com is the only source I’ve found so far, and even their offerings are very limited—only about 63 VR videos [Update: as of mid December 2017, I’m counting 179 VR videos on Feelme.com.] And forget about same-sex content—they got nothing yet, sorry. On top of that, I’m very picky about my porn, so subtract the nearly 95% that didn’t elevate my pulse and that left me with about four or five that I was initially willing to gamble time and money on. There are a couple of super quick freebies that I tried, but they are over so fast that you spend more time setting up your VR stuff than actually experiencing them.
I really wish they offered more complete full-motion previews—right now it’s just gif slideshows, because without a better for for the action, you really feel like you’re taking a bit of a gamble with every video. But, I quickly discovered that with VR on a phone, I was far more worried about regretting my time investment than wasting two bucks, because…
How to experience VR content on an iPhone with the Launch:
Here are the steps I had to repeat each time I wanted to have a VR experience:
- Rent the video by typing in my credit card info on the phone—always fun.
- Send the video to the Feel VR app (like the Feel Connect app, but just for VR).
- Power on the Launch.
- Connect the App to the Launch (cross your fingers).
- Start the video and pause it.
- Attempt to put the player into VR mode and rotate it horizontally (rotating usually failed the first time, requiring me to restart the phone and go back to step 2).
- Insert the phone carefully into the VR headset without accidentally putting it to sleep.
- Hook headphones into the side of the phone through the port on the side of the headset.
- Insert Fleshlight into Launch.
- Lube up the Fleshlight.
- Attempt to manually reboot the erection I had before step 1.
- Lube myself and then try to get hands un-lubed.
- Attempt to put on headset and headphones without coating everything with lube.
- Adjust the lenses in the headset for focus and alignment.
- Manually reboot my erection—again—that I lost while dealing with steps 13 and 14.
- Feel around on bed (because I can’t see the bed now) to try and find something to wipe the lube off my hands so that I can hold onto the Launch.
- Attempt to get inside the Fleshlight that is mounted inside the Launch without accidentally turning off the Launch due to not being able to see the Launch.
- Start video and hope that I don’t need to adjust the volume or the screen brightness, because if I did (and I did), I had to go back to step 7 and start over again because you can’t control that stuff via the headset controls.
But it got better
Sounds like a total pain in the butt, doesn’t it? It was all starting to seem ridiculous and way, way too much effort to relieve tension that can typically be taken care of with a basic two-minute fap. But the first time I watched one of the two female characters in my first full-length paid VR video—a threesome scenario titled “Bed and Breakfast”—run her hand across the front of my virtual shorts and I felt a slow caressing stroke via the Launch, it was total magic and I forgot about the hassle. “Oh, do you like that?” she asked. I looked up at her, smiled, and nodded “yes” as if the situation was real. It was so weird. And fun.
Bed and Breakfast opens with a typically silly porn scenario—two cute twenty-something blondes (maybe Dutch) making out in their underwear on the bottom bunk of a bunk bed in a dim room. Suddenly they notice that I, or the on-screen body double that I’ve been dropped into for this experience, isn’t actually asleep but—oh, surprise, surprise—is actually awake and playing some shit card game on his phone. (In real life I hate card games, especially video card games.) They act surprised and embarrassed, but come on—I’m sitting just three feet away and and my phone is lit up. (Or do I say that he is sitting three feet away? I’m having trouble using pronouns when writing about VR porn.) The scene proceeded with the two women making out in front of me while leaning across my on-screen body double’s lap. They’d take turns caressing each other and periodically giving the crotch of my body double some attention, which would result in sporadic slow strokes via the Launch. I was able to look up at them as they kissed right above me, as well as look left and right to check out their butts and where their hands were going on each other and on my body double.
Whose body is this? VR POV porn is quite interesting.
Periodically my virtual body double gave himself some attention by massaging himself through his shorts, as one does, whenever the two girls were focused on each other and not him…or me…or us. And when this occurred, I felt strokes via the Launch. It was interesting. I was watching another guy essentially lightly masturbate but from the vantage point of it being me as if I was looking down to watch me stimulating myself. I wasn’t physically providing the motion—another guy was, but I was feeling the stimulation. It was like I was having a hetero-inspired out-of-body homo-auto-erotic experience. It wasn’t a bad thing, but definitely an interesting effect. Also, I was actually thankful that my VR stunt double was doing that for us…er, me…because I was starting to get a little bored and soft as the two girls went on and on tending to each other while ignoring me. Or ignoring us? I don’t know! Was this a foursome or a threesome? I just don’t know.
The video transitions from a bedroom situation to a living room where things get more serious. My shorts get pulled off and I look down towards where my own lap would be to check out what my VR penis for this video looks like. I was suddenly a bit larger and a bit less circumcised than I remembered myself being. It was quite strange looking down towards the dick that I’ve been looking at my whole life and seeing one that’s a little different. I wonder if we’ll ever get to the point where your own can be mapped into the scene.
Finally, I start receiving some more direct attention from the characters along with more regular movement via the Launch, which I was aching for at this point. It was a predictable two-girl back and forth HJ and BJ tradeoff kind of thing that progressed to them taking turns on top of me—the type of action that the Launch seems well-suited to replicating while planted on your lap. As the action became more vigorous, so did the movement of the Launch. It’s hard to describe the immersion you begin to feel when this starts happening and you’re in the VR environment with the sound. It’s a substantial advance in adult entertainment and masturbation that you literally feel—making jerking off to porn on a flat screen or moving a Fleshlight with your hand seem primitive. This is seriously cool and enjoyable, and I say this as someone who is not that big into porn and who has an active and healthy sex life with a partner. And again, this is just a somewhat low-res phone experience. I can’t wait to try the good stuff.
Sidetracked by some sloppy sync
As I mentioned earlier, syncing isn’t absolutely perfect in any case, but it’s usually tolerable and easy to look past. In Bed and Breakfast however, the sync started to go completely off the rails about halfway through the video. The movement got random—sometimes seeming delayed, sometimes seeming ahead of the action, and at other times it would just drop. I’d see action but feel nothing, or they’d pause for a minute and the Launch would keep on pumping. This is jarring after you’ve gotten a taste of it actually working. At first I thought it was just my phone struggling to multitask or a network issue, but I did a second session with this same video on another day after rebooting everything and the same thing happened again. I don’t know what all is involved in syncing motion to the action in the video, but something got off track with this particular title. (I recently read someone comment online about this same issues with this video.) As frustrating as this was though, it wasn’t stopping me from enjoying myself and what I was feeling. It was still humanized—more exciting than manual mode, and extremely pleasurable, but eventually I had to avoid looking directly at the action and focus more on the characters, their faces, or the environment in order to avoid being distracted by lack of sync. But that’s one of the cool things about VR—I could choose where to look.
A few words about my Fleshlight choice for this first VR experience
All the physical joy I’m feeling during this first VR encounter I’m describing here comes courtesy of a full-size Lisa Ann Lotus Fleshlight instead of my usual favorite, the Mini Lotus. The Lisa Ann was a freebie I got as part of one of those buy X, get a free mystery sleeve deals they had been running. I’ve always passed over the full-size Lotus up until this point because I know it’s a very mild level of stimulation if you’re an average-sized guy, and I’m pretty much textbook average down there. But, I specifically wanted the least amount of stimulation that a Fleshlight can provide because I was afraid that the excitement of this virtual scenario combined with the level of stimulation that many other Fleshlight sleeve textures provide would result in me being over the falls before the video’s two-minute mark. I think it was the right strategy because within a few strokes of the action getting more serious and the Launch’s movement becoming more vigorous, I was already having doubts about how long I was going to last. The regular Lotus was providing plenty of stimulation for me to feel as if I was experiencing what I was seeing.
In a subsequent session with another video, I returned to my usual Mini Lotus and indeed…I didn’t make it very far past the VR foreplay. So my recommendation is to go with your most natural feeling sleeve with the VR, but if you are considering your first Fleshlight purchase along with the Launch, I’d still recommend going with the Mini Lotus unless you are above average length because there are going to be times when you’ll want to use it without the Launch and you’ll enjoy the Mini Lotus more in those situations.
Interruptions galore from your phone if you don’t prep
Pro-tip: If you’re going to try VR porn on your phone with the Launch, be sure it’s fully charged and set to “do-not disturb” or that it is in some state where it will ignore calls and notifications, because inevitably, just when things are starting to feel really good and you’re beginning to lose yourself in the VR scene, the real world will come crashing in. Smartphone cock block is no fun.
The first abrupt warning startled me: “20% of battery remaining.” Shit—VR uses up your battery fast. I thought I started at 45%. The way things were progressing in terms of sensation from the Launch + Fleshlight though, I was pretty sure I was going to be spent before the battery, so I wasn’t actually that worried about the battery life itself. However, the iPhone just isn’t optimized for VR so there’s no way to dismiss the battery message or other OS notifications without taking off the headset, taking the phone out of the headset, hitting the “okay” button with your finger, manually re-starting the video, inserting the phone back into the headset, and then putting the headset and headphones back on. In order to do that, you’ve also probably taken the Launch off your lap, so then you’ve got to get that back on and maybe even have to get your erection back to full and then add some lube—all without being able to see because you’re wearing the headset. I’m not sure how it is with VR headsets for phones that are optimized for VR experiences, such as Samsung’s Gear VR (seriously thinking about switching to Samsung or Google Phone now), but this is how it will be with every interruption if you’re using an iPhone—and this wasn’t the last of the interruptions during this session.
Probably six or seven minutes after getting everything reset from the last low battery notice, just when the characters were solidly in full fuck mode and the Launch was doing its thing to me quite nicely, there was a sudden “ka-donk”—the 10% warning. I had to repeat the process of removing and resetting everything again just when things were getting exciting. It was frustrating but preventable in the future as long as I remember to charge the phone before doing VR. Learn from my mistakes. But there was still another absurd interruption yet to come.
Phoning in the most ridiculous orgasm ever
Despite all the interruptions and the wonky syncing, sensation was quickly reaching critical mass—a testament to the effectiveness of the Fleshlight+Launch combo. But right when the unmistakable feeling of going beyond the point of no return hit, the phone started ringing and vibrating. There was no stopping now—no stopping the orgasm and no stopping the phone from ringing. With my left hand I blindly yanked the Launch off me and held it in the air while I used my right to help myself through a perfect finish, all while the phone was ringing through the headphones and beaming a frantic alert directly into my eyes. With both hands busy, there was nothing I could do about the headset, the headphones, nor the phone call that was blasting through. I ended up just sitting there and laughing out loud—half delirious as I trailed out of a really powerful orgasm, and half totally cracked up from the absurdity of it all. It was the worst timing possible for a call, but at least I managed to finish so I wouldn’t have to restart everything again. So if you’re going to try VR porn on a phone with the Launch, again…put it on “do not disturb”.
Subsequent VR explorations
Bed and Breakfast take 2
Having learned some lessons from my first go with VR+Launch, I tried Bed and Breakfast again without interruptions and enjoyed it quite a bit despite having seen it once already. However, I did confirm without any doubt that the video does indeed suffer some bad syncing—that it wasn’t just the phone or the interruptions, and it was more noticeable and annoying now that I was able to concentrate on the scene. However, sync or no sync, it effortlessly made me cum. (It’s really hard to complain when orgasms are being done to you.)
Fitness Sex II
I don’t know what was up with this one. Basically I watched a woman work out for ten minutes, which is great for her (I should have been working out myself instead of watching VR porn), and then she masturbated for the remaining eight minutes of the video. Her masturbating was kind of hot, but she never interacted with me and the Launch never even twitched. I was out of time and just moved on. Probably should have asked for my money back. If there’s not a male character in the video I don’t think you exist in the scene, so I’d recommend steering clear unless you see a body double in the preview.
BadoinkVR anita applebum oculus
You see where it say Oculus in the title up there? I think that means it’s only for Oculus, but I didn’t think about this and there’s nothing on the site that says anything about it. It crashed the FeelVR app repeatedly, even after updating the app and restarting the phone. So if it says Oculus and you are on a phone, you might want to skip. I probably should have gotten my money back on this one too. A little frustrating, right? Lesson learned. But I’ll be back when I get my Oculus.
Bingo! This one worked and worked well. It was another two-girl/one guy scenario (something I’ve only now experienced in VR twice) and the syncing was much better. It still wasn’t perfect, but the imperfections were easier to overlook than the obvious goofiness of Bed and Breakfast. This is the one that I paired with a Fleshlight Mini Lotus and didn’t get much farther beyond foreplay before I couldn’t hold back. This experience left me more impressed and amazed than even the first one. There were moments where I really felt like I was feeling what was happening more accurately.
So that’s the range of experiences I had with the VR content and the Launch before calling time and moving on with writing this article. There was enough bad that it’s clear that the content is the weak spot in the current state of the Fleshlight Launch ecosystem, but there was enough that was good and enjoyable to see the potential and to feel excited about what lies ahead if they improve the content and get the quality more consistent.
A few notes on charging, cleaning, and maintenance after two months with the Launch
Fortunately, the Launch doesn’t add much in the way of cleaning and maintenance to the routine with your Fleshlight, assuming you don’t go crazy with the lube and bodily fluids. Most of the squishy wet stuff happens within Fleshlight, but any bit of lube that gets on the outside should come off with a damp warm washcloth. However…
Watch where you’re pointing that thing—fluid can get behind the Launch controls
I should probably take an awkward moment here to get a little more detailed about my caution around keeping the bodily fluids under control. If you prefer to sometimes ejaculate outside of your Fleshlight, as I did a few times for the reasons I already mentioned, avoid getting ejaculate on the front case of the Launch where the controls are or even inside where the mechanical parts are exposed. There are crevices that reveal some of the wiring. I’m not sure if any access points beneath those gaps are fluid-tight or not, but even if they are, you still risk creating a hazmat situation behind the control panel of the Launch if fluids get back there and you are not going to feel like dealing with that during your robot-induced afterglow.
Battery life and charging: it never let me down
Although I didn’t do any controlled measurements of the charge time and run time, it never quit on me during use. Of course, even my longest sessions never ran more than maybe 15 minutes, and most were over and done with in at least half that time due to the Launch and Fleshlight’s effectiveness. I put it on to charge overnight after every three or four uses just to be on the safe side though. I did get to the red indicator light on the mode button a few times, which means the battery was getting low.
As mentioned in the unboxing section, you’ll need to provide your own USB power cube to connect to the included USB Micro B charging cord. Chances are, you already have a half dozen or so around your house from other products, and the Micro B is the same connector that is used to charge a variety of Android based devices and digital cameras. I was a little surprised a power cube wasn’t included though. Even the Fleshlight Warmer came with a power cube with a Fleshlight logo on it. But as I said at the start, I was wondering if any corners had to be cut to bring this puppy in under $200 and this is probably one of those corners. No big deal, just kinda interesting. I was able to charge the Launch using an iPhone cube without a problem.
Conclusion: Is the Fleshlight Launch a must-have, even at $200?
Over the past six months I feel like I’ve easily had $200 worth of fun and solo thrills with the Fleshlight Launch and the VR. Though, I suppose if you throw in the cost of a decent VR headset, a Fleshlight (if you don’t have one already), and $10 or so worth of content, it’s really more in the neighborhood of $350 worth of fun for the whole experience. But even with the Launch + Fleshlight alone in manual mode, I’ve enjoyed laying back and experiencing a unique mode of pleasurable stimulation that previously just wasn’t possible with casual solo masturbation—the feeling of things being done to you rather than you doing it to yourself. It’s always more exciting to have something done to you than to do something to yourself. (Try tickling yourself. See what I mean?) And the Fleshlight + Launch allows you to have all the “someone else doing it” feeling you want and whenever you want (battery willing) at the touch of a button. Also, already owning a few Fleshlights, I’ve felt them in new ways and in more detail with the motion being out of my direct control, so I feel like I’m actually getting more value out of things I already own. There’s room for improvement—namely, it needs an app comparable to what We-Vibe makes for their products, and from what I’ve read here and there on the interwebs, there are fellow sex nerds and coders hacking their way to different solutions. Improvements are already in the works.
As for the interactive content and the VR—no, it’s not out there in full force volume yet. There’s still some work to be done in terms of content development, content delivery, and syncing. Yet, it still entertained me, got me off many times, and allowed me to experience a taste of new and exciting things that are around the corner. The investment in the VR headset was worth it to me as a bonus to the enjoyment of the Launch, as well as someone interested in technology and sex.
You should consider the Fleshlight Launch now if any of the following apply to you:
- The idea of being pleasured vs. pleasuring yourself directly is particularly arousing or exciting.
- You place a high value on sexual pleasure and the experience of discovery—typically an early adopter of technology
- You already own at least one full-size Fleshlight and have ever thought, “the only thing that could be better is if it moved on its own”.
- You can forgive some imperfections in content quality and variety for the sake of the physical and mental thrill of automated pleasure.
The Fleshlight Launch may not be worth it to you at this time if:
- You are an adult content connoisseur and mainly want the Launch to enhance your content experience. The quality and variety just isn’t there for you yet.
- The content also unfortunately is not there in bulk if you are gay/bi/curious and want a lot of same-sex content.
- You are not an early adopter of technology—meaning you place more value on the promise of refinement over the experience of discovery.
- You are seeking effortless masturbation or are extremely pragmatic. The Launch will effortlessly pleasure you, but it takes effort on your part to learn it, set it up, and maintain it. I think it’s worth it, but for some it’s not.
- You’re scared of robots
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