Motorola finally launched the official Moto X Force, which is the international version of the Verizon-exclusive Motorola Droid Turbo 2. A year after the original Droid Turbo impressed Android fans on a global scale, Motorola surprised the community with another new release bearing a lot of improvements and upgrades. The Droid Turbo was and still is one of the best Android handsets on the market, thanks to its ergonomic design, near stock Android user experience, future-proof specs and excellent camera. The Moto X Force challenges its predecessor on the international market with a much-improved design created for the urban Android user and a lot of improvements and upgrades under the hood that will bring the user experience up a notch.
If you’re in the process of completing your Black Friday shopping list, considering the Moto X Force or last year’s Droid Turbo as your headliner in the smartphone division could be a good idea. The Moto X Force is available for purchase in the UK, but global availability is coming soon. Customers in the US will have to settle for the Verizon-branded Motorola Droid Turbo 2 for now, though. The good news is is that both phones are the same, the only things setting them apart are Verizon logos and Verizon bloat. Unfortunately, the Droid Turbo 2 and Moto X Force will most likely skip Black Friday deals’ season, however their price is pretty decent at about $600 unlocked. Without further ado, let’s see whether one should wait for a wider Moto X Force availability or if last year’s Droid Turbo is a good pick.
The first big difference between the Droid Turbo and Moto X Force is of course design. Although the phones look pretty similar on the outside, the Moto X Force design features a few key elements that are missing from its predecessor and are in fact very rare to find on the consumer market generally speaking. The new handset comes with a shatterproof display that is user-replaceable and has a 4-year warranty against damage. The warranty is only for the screen, however. The handset has a sandwich-type display with two shatterproof panels standing between the impact of a drop and the internal components of the Moto X Force. When Motorola introduced the Droid Turbo 2 and Moto X Force, they emphasized the importance of the handset’s construction more than anything else, focusing on how the device was designed for the urban Android user.
The Droid Turbo, comparatively, fades with its design, but it still features durability improvements that provide a long shelf life for the device nonetheless. The handset has a bit of splash-resistance, which is valid for the Moto X Force as well, but it’s not much. It will prevent it from getting ruined in the rain or from a spilled drink right away, but I wouldn’t put a lot of faith in that nonetheless. The sturdy construction of the handset comes from its metal body and ballistic nylon and kevlar back panels, which you can choose yourself. You can pick them for the Moto X Force, too thanks to its inclusion in the Moto Maker platform. Still, the biggest advantage the Moto X Force has over the Droid Turbo is the shatterproof screen. Although the 2014 model comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 3, rather sturdy protective layer, the shatterproof screen of the successor is made to resist to high drops on concrete, which is great for urban users.
The design of the Moto X Force removes the capacitative buttons from its bezel, replacing them with a clutter-free space. At the same time, the body of the handset ends up being just slightly taller and wider, but it’s also a bit heavier and a bit thicker than its predecessor. On the top and sides, bezels are almost identical. The ergonomic grip of both handsets is representative of Motorola’s design language, so there’s little difference to notice in the long term. Despite the larger display, the Moto X Force manages to keep a very good screen to body ratio that is almost the same as its predecessor’s, which means the handset is still very easily maneuverable.
Speaking of the display, the 2014 Motorola Droid Turbo came around with a 5.2-inch Super AMOLED panel with a QuadHD resolution of 1440*2560 and 565 ppi pixel density. At the time of its launch last year, it was among the highest resolution smartphones with the best ppi on the market, and the Droid Turbo 2 or Moto X Force is right there next to it this year. The successor comes with a larger, 5.4-inch AMOLED display with the same resolution and a slightly lower 540 ppi pixel density. The differences between the SAMOLED and AMOLED displays are hardly noticeable, both handsets having indiscernible pixels, great viewing angles, Moto Display for adaptive brightness and gesture support as well as great outdoor visibility. Although the 5.2-inch display of the Droid Turbo is ideal, based on quite a few surveys across the globe, the larger Moto X Force display is the winner because it still manages to occupy about the same footprint and offers the same handy, easy-to-use experience. If phablets are not your thing, however, the original model might be closer to home than the Moto X Force.
Moving to the hardware of the devices, the Moto X Force is superior to its predecessor, being one of the most recent flagships of the year. The original came with a Snapdragon 805 CPU, 3 GB RAM and either 32 or 64 GB internal storage, with no expansion opportunities added. The performance of the device is spottless, especially if you get the Moto Maxx, which is the international version of the 2014 Droid Turbo. Otherwise, the Verizon variant has a problem with update rollouts and comes with a few occasional bugs and delays, but nothing too serious. If you’re not a Verizon fan or customer, it’s definitely the better choice to get an unlocked version of either of the phones. Performance is overall exemplary, even with the slightly inferior Qualcomm SoC. Android 5.1 Lollipop should be running on at least a part of the handsets, but the Droid Turbo will be updated to Android 6.0 Marshmallow soon enough.
The Moto X Force is a whole other piece of cake, with hardware representative of 2015. It gets a Snapdragon 810 CPU, which doesn’t seem to be having any overheating problems thus far, backed by 3 GB RAM and the same 32 or 64 GB storage options. The huge bonus Moto X Force buyers will appreciate is the microSD card slot, which allow for storage expansion if necessary. The inclusion of a microSD slot in the Moto X Force came as a pretty pleasant surprise to all Motorola fans looking forward to the device. Unfortunately, the battery is not removable for either of these devices. Nonetheless, thanks to Qualcomm, both the Moto X Force and Droid Turbo support fast charging, which aims to combat the need of switching out batteries.
When it comes to connectivity and features, both the Droid Turbo and Moto X Force come with NFC, microUSB 2.0 charging ports, Wi-Fi dual-band, GPS and wireless charging. The Moto X Force adds an infrared port to the list, alongside more supported LTE bands. The Moto X Force comes with stereo speakers, which are a bonus in the face of its predecessor as well. The battery within the successor is slightly smaller, though, measuring 3760 mAh compared to the 3900 mAh cell in the Droid Turbo. Nonetheless, Motorola is convinced both handsets will have good battery autonomy in the long run, although the Moto X Force is expected to have a shorter autonomy in standby. From my personal experience, the battery life on both these devices is exemplary. I managed to get through a day and a half of power user tasks without charging on both, which is rather good in my book. No doubt it could have been better, but it’s acceptable considering the competition. If you’re after long battery life, you’d be better off with a Galaxy Note 4, Elephone P5000, Xperia Z3 Compact or lower-end LG phones which have surprisingly good battery life (3 or 4 days on regular use, wow).
As for the camera, the setup is pretty much the same on both devices. The Motorola Droid Turbo comes with a 21 MP rear camera complete with autofocus and dual-LED flash an d a 1 MP camera on the front. The Moto X Force comes with the same 21 MP sensor on the rear, but adds phase-detection autofocus and an improved dual-tone LED flash. The front camera is a much bigger improvement, with a 5 MP sensor accompanied by its own front-facing flash, making selfies much easier on the Moto X Force. Camera performance is once again exemplary on both phones, although the lack of optical image stabilization does show its caveats in low-light photos or when capturing moving subjects. Nonetheless, compared to other handsets in this department that have similar setups, the Moto X Force camera is slightly superior with higher color accuracy and saturation and faster autofocus. If you want a good camera, you can choose both the Motorola Droid Turbo and Moto X Force, deciding between them based on other criteria like design, battery and display quality.
The last difference between the two is price, of course. The Droid Turbo price is bound to go down during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so if you’re looking for a good deal, that’s what you should look for. However, the Moto X Force price is at around $600 unlocked, which is a bit expensive. Nonetheless, the Moto X Force is worth every penny thanks to its shatterproof screen, improved display and performance, slightly better camera setup, stereo speaker, improved design and customizability, infrared port and future-proof features. However, the Droid Turbo still gets the prize for bang for buck, because it offers a user experience that is just as seamless, for less money, as long as you mind the drops. On Amazon, a contract-free Droid Turbo costs $300, half of what the Moto X Force price is. You can also find the Moto Maxx for the same price, which is the international version of the 2014 Motorola Droid Turbo. You tell me: which sounds like the better investment?
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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