Yesterday, Apple held a massive launch event to which everyone was looking forward to anxiously because of rumors of a new iPhone 7, iPad Pro, iPad Mini 4 and a couple of surprises many of us didn’t know about. Needless to say, the Apple event of yesterday was not as special as many would have thought, even though the Cupertino-based company introduced yet another set of entirely new products. Apple launched the brand new iPad Pro, the Apple Pencil and of course, a Smart Keyboard and a new family of iPhone 6S devices.
With the iPad Pro launch, Apple made something strikingly clear: beware Microsoft. Microsoft’s Surface Pro line-up of devices is exactly what Apple is targeting, and with that, power users who like the portability and versatility of hybrid devices. It’s kind of an under-the-belt move, as some might say, seeing as Microsoft pioneered the use of hybrids in enterprise and office environments with the same type of accessories that the iPad Pro was launched with.
Clearly, Apple is trying to prevent the upcoming Surface Pro 4 from taking iPad customers away with their new, novelty iPad Pro, but fact of the matter is, Apple doesn’t know what the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 will bring to the table. Prevention is always good, and while we’re confident Apple engineers are educated on the matters of Microsoft hardware development, accurately guessing what a massive company like Microsoft has up its sleeves is nearly impossible.
With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting if we would compare what we know about the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 so far, from rumors, leaks and speculation with the newly released iPad Pro. One thing we should note: specs of the iPad Pro are not completely final and official as Apple still needs to fill out the tech specs page for the device. Some of the specs, such as the RAM amount of iPad Pro, are not entirely confirmed, so keep that in mind. With that being said, let’s see what the chances of the Surface Pro 4 will be in the face of the iPad Pro.
iPad Pro vs Surface Pro 4 Design
When it comes to design, Apple has their own recipe and they stuck to it when designing the iPad Pro: all-metal, thin as paper, lightweight and premium. That’s the standard that Apple is following and their attention to detail and high-quality materials is evident in the build of the iPad Pro. The hybrid slate’s main element is of course high-grade aluminum, which encases the entire hardware of the device, including the battery. The tablet itself measures only 6.9 mm in thickness, which makes it incredibly thin. The tablet weighs around 700 grams, with a little extra on the cellular model. That’s pretty heavy for such a thin tablet, but it actually matches.
The iPad Pro looks and feels premium and the heft of it is definitely a pleasant experience, at least for me. Others say the tablet is too large for the use-cases it targets, while others like the new almost 13-inch dimensions of the slate. Some say that working with the tablet with one hand is cumbersome and hard and there are few use-cases for such a large tablet. But the iPad Pro isn’t really a tablet, is? It’s a Surface Pro, from Apple. Its main purpose is to replace two devices: the tablet and the notebook, but we doubt that the first generation of the iPad Pro can actually do that.
As is with the Apple Watch, the first generation iPad Pro doesn’t nail everything down to perfection, as early reviews and first impressions point out a couple of faults that could have been avoided. Also, the fact that the iPad Pro is strikingly similar to Microsoft’s Surface Pro line-up of devices is not sitting well with people, many saying that the iPad Pro is a rip-off. To be fair, it’s not in the slightest, but it isn’t as much of a novelty as many would have liked it to be.
Although its design is pretty neat, ultimately, the iPad Pro is too big for a tablet. That leaves it in the noteboook category, but the fact that the tablet itself is pricey and with not enough storage, with accessories sold separately might not mix well with customers who want a comprehensive device for an at least accessible price. In the end, the iPad Pro can’t prove its might just based on first impressions, so we’re curious about the upcoming reviews.
With the iPad Pro, Apple introduced two entirely new accessories that the company has been working on for the past year: the Apple Pencil and the Apple Smart Keyboard. Both these accessories are very similar to the ones Microsoft sells with its Surface Pro 3 tablets, but they are, in the end different. The Apple Pencil is more geared towards 3D graphics artists and artists in general, with accurate pointers, eraser, a seamless connection via a hidden Lightning port for pairing and charging. The Apple Pencil features include pressure sensor and the stylus can actually sense whether you are tilting or sliding the pencil on the dispay and produce results accordingly.
The Apple Pencil is not the same as the styli that come with Surface Pro products, as it’s not geared especially for note-taking or writing. Instead, the Apple Pencil is made for graphic designers and 3D artists especially, which is why the stylus is not a necessary investment with the iPad Pro. The Apple Pencil price is set at $99, which is quite a lot, but considering that high-end Wacom styli made for the same purposes are even more expensive, the pricing is not that bad.
Moreover, the iPad Pro got its own Smart Keyboard, too, which is yet again very similar to the Surface Pro 3’s Type Cover. Unfortunately it’s not better, but it is innovative. The Smart Keyboard uses dedicated magnetic port called the Smart Connector, which can deliver both data and power from the tablet to the keyboard, thus making pairing via Bluetooth or anything else unnecessary. The magnetic keyboard is covered with a textile material and has pretty clicky keys, being a full-size keyboard. Unfortunately, the keyboard doesn’t come with the flexible stand the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Type Cover comes with, which means you can only place the iPad Pro in one angle, which is a bit counter-intuitive for the purpose of the keyboard’s kickstand.
Logitech is also releasing an iPad Pro keyboard called Create, although availability and pricing for that one is not yet official. The iPad Pro Smart Keyboard price is a whopping $180. Neither the Apple Pencil or the Smart Keyboard are available for any other device than the iPad Pro, which is annoying.
Moving on to the Surface Pro 4 design, we know too little, to be truthful. The Surface Pro 4 release date has not been announced, although most people believe that Microsoft is holding an event on October 19 which will see the advent of the new Surface Pro 4 family of devices. Microsoft is not expected to change many things about the Surface Pro 4 compared to its predecessor, because people generally liked the design and were happy with the kickstand, Type Cover and stylus, too. Nonetheless, rumors suggest that the Surface Pro 4 design will indeed feature a couple of new traits.
First off, the Surface Pro 4 will most likely come in two sizes and both sizes will be thinner than last year’s models. Microsoft is most likely going to make the tablets as light as possible and as thin as possible, which might be facilitated by the rumored hardware choice of fanless processors. At the same time, the tablet itself might shrink when it comes to bezel sizes, even though the previous model was pretty comfortable to use. As with the iPad Pro, the Surface Pro 4 probably won’t be the most comfortable to use one-handed because of its sheer size.
The Surface Pro 4 design will most likely include a slightly revamped kickstand for the Type Cover that will allow for even more use cases. The Surface Pro 3 accessories will be compatible with the Surface Pro 4, which means those who want to upgrade their devices won’t have to splurge on accessories unless they really want to. The kickstand of the Surface Pro 3 was pretty neat with quite a few angles at which it could prop the tablet up, and the same will go for the Surface Pro 4. There have been whispers about the Surface Pro 4 becoming more similar to Lenovo’s Yoga Pro 3 tablets, with watch hinges on the sides.
Otherwise, we don’t expect much to change about the Surface Pro 4, because the 3 really nailed the design. If a fanless design is adopted and a bigger battery used, then we might see a slightly different design, with a different back panel maybe, but we’re not expecting much on that front. There’s only so much you can design when it comes to essentially a touchscreen with ports, so most people will be happy no matter how the Surface Pro 4 looks.
iPad Pro vs Surface Pro 4 Display
The iPad Pro display is of course a Retina display with QHD resolution that almost hits 300 ppi pixel density. The display of the tablet is impressively bright and sharp, meeting most expectations of Apple fans when it comes to tablets. Although an iPad Air 3 would have been interesting, the iPad Pro does away with many of the things that the iPad Air and iPad Mini 3 didn’t do well. The iPad Pro display measures 12.9 inches and the bezels surrounding it are surprisingly thin, which is a welcome element in its design. The resolution is at 2048 x 2732 pixels on an LED-backlit IPS panel. Speaking of backlit, the keyboard isn’t, which is a bummer.
The display of the iPad Pro is as good as expected and there probably won’t be any complaints about that. The crisp, sharp viewing angles and the accurate and comfortable touchscreen make the user experience pretty neat. Palm rejection is quite advanced when it comes to using the Apple Pen in conjunction with the iPad Pro, which could make our lives much easier when drawing or sketching on such a large device that doesn’t really leave room for a lot of mobility.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 will most likely sport a similar display, but the device will also be available in two different variants. The smaller Surface Pro 4 display will most likely measure 12 inches while the larger model will measure 14 inches. Rumors mostly settle on a QHD resolution, but there are whispers and hopes out there about a 4K display. Personally, I don’t think a 4K display is necessary on a device that’s made with productivity in mind because it would eat up a lot of the battery life and it could even negatively impact performance.
Although many people said that the iPad Pro would sport 3D touch aka Force Touch, that didn’t happen, and it’s good that it didn’t. The fact that the iPad Pro is going to be launched with a stylus accessory makes the need for 3D touch minimal, as most of the things that 3D touch helps out the stylus does perfectly. Moreover, 3D touch could end up bothering more than helping on such a large screen. 3D touch is there on the brand new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus and it’s great on a small display, but I don’t think it would be particularly useful on such a large display.
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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