Right now, if you do a bit of research, the discontinued Samsung Galaxy Alpha is more expensive than the flagship HTC One M8 from last year. When we happened to come across the price difference, a thought popped into our heads: both these phones are premium, but only one is a flagship, so why is the mid-ranger so expensive? At the moment, the octa-core Exynos version of the Samsung Galaxy Alpha G850F 32GB Unlocked GSM 4G LTE Octa-Core Smartphone – Charcoal Black
will set you back about $400 unlocked, while the quad core Snapdragon version costs about $240 unlocked. The HTC One M8, Gunmetal Grey 32GB (Verizon Wireless)
, on the other hand, costs you $350 on Verizon with no contract, but if you’re willing to compromise, you can get it for as little as $250 if you choose one without a warranty, refurbished or used. There isn’t a big price difference between the Galaxy Alpha and the HTC One M8 right now, but it still seems odd that a mid-range phone is placed in the same price range as a premium flagship.
The deal is that both the Galaxy Alpha and the One M8 are truly premium phones with sturdy constructions and high-end builds. While the Galaxy Alpha only has a metal frame around its edges, the HTC One M8 has a full metal unibody, which no doubt can be considered a 10 on a 1 to 10 “premiumness” scale, as it were. Samsung did a great job with the Galaxy Alpha, seeing as the phone is a pretty powerful mid-ranger and marks the start of a new design language that is now representative of Samsung to some extent. Since the Samsung Galaxy Alpha was launched last Summer, Samsung focused on making their new phones more high-end and more premium. Fans were not delighted with the plastic build of the Samsung Galaxy S5, which is why after the Alpha came out, the South Korean smartphone manufacturer took a turn and launched the Galaxy Note 4, a super-duper flagship with a massive 5.7 inch QHD display, still considered one of the best smartphone displays out there. Alongside the Note 4, they also launched the Note Edge, which marked the entry of the company into the non-conventional design aesthetic. Soon after, in March this year, they launched their latest gems, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge.
But the Samsung Galaxy Alpha was what started the new journey which eventually crossed paths with new display technology and created smartphones that are considered to be beacons of the new mobile design industry right now. Whether they actually are or not, remains to be seen. The Galaxy Alpha has sure left a mark on the community, but what else does it carry besides the obvious sentimental load of change that warrants it to be more admired than the HTC One M8, the best flagship of 2014, according to millions? While the Alpha is a milestone for Samsung, it isn’t that much of a novelty to the rest of the world. Why would a mid-range smartphone, with a FHD display, a heart rate sensor and fingerprint sensor be considered more worthy of the premium title than a Chinese phone sporting the same hardware, specs and features (OnePlus One, much) ?
While there is no objective answer to that, let’s check out the specs of this phone and compared them to those of the HTC One M8 so that we can get an idea of how different these two actually are; on paper and in real life. Although a mid-range smartphone, the Galaxy Alpha (which has two different models, depending on market) is actually quite well-endowed. The smartphone comes with a 4.7 inch display that has a resolution of 1280*720, which is definitely fit for a mid-ranger. The chassis is made out of metal and encases the screen in a metal frame, with little indents on each corner for easier holding and maneuvering.While the design is actually quite good, the rest of the body of the phone is rather representative of Samsung.
The display is a Super AMOLED panel, which means that it’s going to be crisp and bright, even though the resolution is not optimal. It’s covered with Gorilla Glass 4, which is a durable protective coat that will add a lot to the lifespan of your smartphone in general. Under the hood, the Galaxy Alpha comes with an Exynos 5 octa 5430 CPU and 2 GB RAM, with 32 GB internal storage available, with no microSD card slot for expansion provided. The Exynos chip in the phone is rather impressive and it can handle anything you throw at it. Since the Galaxy Alpha is running Android 5.0.2 Lollipop already, TouchWiz is a bit toned down and functions more smoothly, which adds to the already satisfactory user experience.
Samsung didn’t go all out with the Galaxy Alpha, but they came pretty close, nonetheless. The camera setup of the Galaxy Alpha is impressive, with a 12 MP sensor on the rear with autofocus and an LED flash and a 2.1 MP camera on the front. The rear camera can shoot 4K video at 30 fps, which is a great bonus. The rear camera of the Galaxy Alpha takes excellent photos, although it does struggle in low-light, like every other smartphone (even the Samsung Galaxy Note 4)( does. The front camera is nothing special, but it does take good selfies if the set is well-lit.
4 Most Interesting Crossovers in Gaming
Gaming crossovers are a great way to bring in new people and drive up interest in a title. With that being said, crossovers aren’t as rare as they once were. More and more gaming companies are now embracing crossovers, to the point that some may say that it has lost its appeal. And while this is true to some degree, there are still crossovers that are really effective when it comes to adding a whole new dimension to a game. To prove our point, we’ve put together a list of five of the most interesting crossovers.
Forza Horizon 4: Halo
Forza Horizon 4 is the eleventh installment in the Forza series. The Forza series is known for its ability to emulate realistic racing conditions and offer accurate representations of real-world cars. And while they’ve partnered with car manufacturers before, Forza Horizon 4 features one of the most interesting collaborations in the entire series.
For a series that prides itself on realistic racing, Forza also knows when to cut loose and have a little fun. Nothing exemplifies this more than the Halo crossover that features Master Chief and the iconic Warthog.
Fortnite: Travis Scott
Fortnite is no stranger to crossovers. But if we had to pick one as the most interesting it would have to be the Travis Scott concert. Not only did this crossover include custom skins and emotes but it also paved the way for one of the most unique digital experiences of 2020.
The Verge’s article on the Travis Scott crossover details that the crossover included an interactive digital concert that turned the Fortnite island into a music stage. What’s great about this crossover is that it hints towards a future wherein music and video games will be working hand in hand to deliver immersive musical experiences to millions of people from all over the world.
Merge Dragons: Rick and Morty
When you think of the popular TV show Rick and Morty, a fantasy puzzle game isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. This is what makes this Rick and Morty crossover so interesting. The sheer absurdity of this crossover shows what gaming collaborations can achieve when one thinks outside the box. The game features original dialogue spoken by the characters that matches their characteristics from the show. It is a fun addition to the puzzle game.
However, this crossover shouldn’t be too surprising as Rick and Morty have appeared in other games, demonstrating how they have become pop culture icons. The comic nature of the duo makes them perfect for every type of genre, including slot games. Foxy Bingo’s pop cultured-themed slots include an official Rick and Morty game that features the iconic imagery and characters from the show. The show has also produced its own game in the form of the Pokémon-clone Pocket Mortys. One thing that all of these games have in common is that they maintain the show’s penchant for fun and wacky adventures. This is seen in Merge Dragons with the exclusive cow-dragon hybrid featured in the crossover event.
Mortal Kombat 11: Rambo
While crossovers in fighting games aren’t exactly new, Mortal Kombat has always had a knack for creating interesting crossovers for their iconic fighting game. One way that they’ve done this is with the inclusion of popular film characters. The franchise has had everyone from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Jason of the Friday the 13th franchise appear in their games.
However, the latest iteration of the game may have topped all of the previous crossovers. This is because Mortal Kombat 11 features John Rambo of the legendary Rambo franchise as one of its available fighters. To add to this, CNet’s article on Mortal Kombat 11 details that Sylvester Stallone voiced the digital John Rambo. This is certainly a treat for fans of the popular action film franchise, as they can finally play as one of the most influential action heroes of all time.
Loot Crate vs. The Curiosity Box: A Beginner’s Guide to Subscription Mystery Boxes
With all the loot box shenanigans we’ve witnessed this year, you might have, while searching for more information, accidentally stumbled across something by the name of Loot Crate. Unlike the reviled loot boxes, Loot Crate isn’t a digital gambling scam. Instead, Loot Crate is a physical, subscription-based mystery box you receive in the mail that contains a bevy of geek-related material. Moreover, Loot Crate isn’t the only available service. Alongside the vanilla Loot Crate Classic, the Loot Crate company supplies geeks with anime-themed items with Loot Anime, gaming swag with Loot Gaming (Loot Crate also sells Halo, Minecraft, Fallout, Call of Duty, and Destiny 2 themed boxes), and film/TV merchandise with Harry Potter, Firefly, Marvel, and Star Trek themed boxes. Loot Crate also has a rival in the form of Geek Fuel, which is more expensive than Loot Crate Classic but contains more (and more expensive) merchandise. While I don’t have a Geek Fuel box to compare to a Loot Crate, I received a different subscription box for Christmas, The Curiosity Box. This mystery box is a joint venture between the company behind Geek Fuel and the YouTube Channel VSauce, which is admittedly cool. So, without further ado, let’s get into what sets apart a Loot Crate from a Curiosity Box and determine which is right for you.
WHAT’S THE SAME
On the surface, Loot Crate and The Curiosity Box seem similar. They arrive in big cardboard boxes and contain random items. Well, not precisely random; each box focuses on a different theme, and the items provided center around that theme. While a lot of geeks subscribe to these boxes for various bits of swag, perhaps the biggest draw is the exclusives. The companies behind these subscription services make deals with other firms to create unique pieces of merchandise that are literally impossible to find anywhere else, aftermarket/marked up eBay sales notwithstanding. Some of these exclusives are just color variants of readily available products, such as a glow in the dark Funko POP Groot figure and orange Quantum Mechanix Tribble.
Most exclusives, however, aren’t available elsewhere in any other form and include items like the The Walking Dead art print, the Yeti temporary tattoo, the tower of magnetic rings, and “collectible” pins.
Furthermore, while most exclusives are decorative, some are practical items, such as a pen shaped like the Sledge Saw from Dead Rising 3 and light-up beverage coasters with periodic symbols.
Finally, these subscription boxes have some of the most awesome, exclusive, geeky shirts this side of ThinkGeek or Hot Topic.
The exclusive items tend to be the best pieces of merchandise in each box and are usually worth the price of the subscription alone. Usually.
Let’s get this out of the way: the most obvious differences are the prices and subscription models. Loot Crate Classic is about $20 per box and comes once a month, while The Curiosity Box is well over $50 and arrives once every three months. More importantly, these boxes are designed for two completely different audiences. The Loot Crate (and likely by extension Geek Fuel) is aimed primarily at adults or older teenagers and provides geek-related decorations and practical items, such as the Dead Rising 3 pen, Star Wars and Deadpool fridge magnets, and a Mega Man car air freshener.
Also, Loot Crate tends to include non-exclusive products that are part of a series. Case in point, during my brief stint with Loot Crate, I received (among other things) a Kidrobot Glow in the Dark Ooze Action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle vinyl figure and a Funko ReAction Alien figure. I got Donatello and the titular Alien, respectively, but I easily could have found Leonardo or Ripley in my Loot Crate subscriptions instead. However, since The Curiosity Box is almost exclusively made up of exclusive items, there is no element of randomness and everyone receives the same merchandise.
While Loot Crate caters to the video game, movies, comics, television, and everything pop-culture side of geekdom, The Curiosity Box is more science oriented and is designed for the family. For example, parents who bought the Summer 2017 Curiosity Box got to enjoy a t-shirt, a set of periodic table beverage coasters, a magnetic ring tower, a t-shirt, and a Nikola Tesla (as a sloth) enamel pin, while children will have fun with a temporary tattoo, a unique embroidered sticker patch, a solar system wall decal and poster set, a mobile microscope, and a castle cross-sections book. Finally, the Summer 2017 Curiosity Box came with the Universe Sandbox 2 Steam game, which is fun for all ages.
Since each Loot Crate and Curiosity Box contains new themes and items, you might find the contents of one particular box more to your liking than another. For example, one Curiosity Box contained a “grow your own glow in the dark crystals” kit, while another included a plush of The Curiosity Box’s mascot, the orange octopus Inq. Meanwhile, past Loot Crates have contained a Batman mug, a Doom Marine Funko POP figure, and the One-Punch Man manga.
While I only have personal experience with Loot Crate and The Curiosity Box, they are not your only options for subscription boxes. Geek Fuel is another decent mystery box, and it has come with its fair share of good products, including a South Park: The Fractured But Whole shirt, a Loony Toons Kidrobot blind box vinyl figure, and an exclusive Legend of Zelda pixel sword power bank. While I cannot recommend the Loot Crate, Curiosity Box, or Geek Fuel (or other) subscription boxes enough, you should research each to know what you should expect from these services. Sure, you technically can’t know what to expect since each box is supposed to be a mystery, but look into each specific subscription and figure out which one is right for you. Which do you think tends to have the best exclusives? Which box caters to your interests? These questions are important and will severely impact your enjoyment. Of course, luck also plays a big role, but that’s also part of the fun.
Google Drive will Shut Down in 2018
It seems like yesterday when Google introduced Google Drive 5 years ago. Back then, people didn’t have a good grasp about what Cloud Storage did. Nowadays, there are many Cloud Storage services that it’s only a matter of preference to choose one for your file keeping needs. However, what struck me as an oddity was how Google Drive will pull their Google Drive service come 2018.
That’s right, Google Drive will completely shut down on March 12, 2018. With the software no longer being supported on December 11, 2017. People will have several warnings about this, for now, so they will have plenty of chance to switch to the new version of Drive, Backup and Sync.
This new program is basically a combination of the features between Google Drive and Photos. It’s readily available now for Windows and OSX systems and will be the new host for the Cloud storage. Alternatively, users can get a hold of Drive File Stream, which will become available on September 26, 2017.
The core differences between DFS and BaS come when you compare how they help customers. As shown in the image below:
A day without Google Drive.
It seems like users will have their first experience without Drive today though. Because as of this morning, the service was down for many users who constantly used the GSuit app. According to the independent site Downdetector, more than 7,000 users are experiencing issues with the service. This has been going on since 10:04 AM EDT, but the number of reports has been lowering afterward. You can check the stats here.
It’s a shame to see Google Drive go. To be frank, it was my preferred Cloud Storage option besides MEGA. However, it’s not a huge inconvenience considering they are not shutting down a Cloud Storage service altogether. So we at least have that.
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