As fitness tracking as an industry keeps growing out of control, almost, there are certain companies that have been most popular for their fitness trackers and fitness apps, in tandem. Although Microsoft’s Microsoft Band might not be the most popular fitness tracking gadgets in the world, it has certainly become one of the most praised with many positive reviews pointing out the simplicity and the integration features of the wearable. Samsung has probably the broadest range of fitness tracking gadgets out there, and has become a leader in the industry thanks to their portfolio. The Samsung gear Fit seems like the most popular out of their devices, for two reasons: efficacy and affordability. The Samsung Gear S might be the most feature-filled of their smart watches/ fitness trackers, but it is also the most expensive one they have. The extra feature that makes the Gear S so popular is that it comes with a built in 3G antennae, which allows the users to use the watch/fitness tracker without having a smartphone tethered to it.
Since neither the Microsoft Band or the Gear Fit have this antennae and stand-alone trait built-in, they are mostly the gadgets that smartphone owners go for. But the question that many people ask themselves and the internet is which would be the better fit for them? When it comes to fitness tracking, you can’t really go wrong, except if you opt for the cheapest, Chinese imitations. which will most likely disappoint you in the long run. The Microsoft Band and the Samsung Gear Fit are two of the more affordable options out there but what sets them apart? Let’s see what features, specs and design elements each of these fitness tracking devices can boast with and which would suit who better.
First off, we should say that both the Microsoft Band and the Samsung Gear Fit were created with the average wearable enthusiast in mind. The come in smartband formats, which are more comfortable, thinner and possibly easier to use for first-timers, but rather bland for those who have used many different types of fitness trackers. Since the wearable market hasn’t really reached its full potential yet, we can say that either of these could be good gadgets for those just starting out in fitness tracking or want a gadget that will help keep the motivated in their journey towards getting into shape or keeping up with their fitness goals.
The smartband as a form factor seems to be the most popular choice for those who don’t need a smart watch with every feature they can imagine, but appreciate all the fitness tracking features that these usually come with. Off the bat, that is a plus for both the Microsoft Band and the Samsung Gear Fit. Although fitness tracking doesn’t seem to be such a hard thing to do without a gadget, these two will definitely help you gain more insight into your activity, your goals and keep you motivated to keep going, following your short-term and long-term fitness goals. Motivation seems to be a big part of fitness tracking nowadays, as more and more people turn towards more sedentary lifestyles which don’t necessarily promote them getting out of their comfort-zone. Such small items like fitness trackers help this aspect by simply being there, reminding you of the fact that exercise is one of the most important things in life. exercising is a must, because it not only keeps you in shape, but it keeps you healthy and plays a major role in prolonging your life-span, staying clear of depression and anxiety and having an overall healthy lifestyle. Both the Microsoft band and the Samsung Gear Fit can do that. So what’s the difference?
Let’s start by looking at the Microsoft band and the fitness tracking features it offers. As hardware is crucial, first off we should see what the Microsoft Band specs are and what they offer to the user. The Microsoft Band is available in three sizes, small, medium and large and it comes with a plastic strap in black or grey, which is kind of bulky and rigid, slightly larger than most fitness trackers out there. The small version measures 39 mm, the medium one 41 mm and the large one 49 mm, so it will definitely fit anyone, that’s at least for sure. It isn’t really heavy at 60 grams, but some people find that weight a bit too much. The strap houses the 1.4 inch display which has a 320*106 resolution capacitative screen on board. The Microsoft Band also features two physical buttons, one for power and for cycling through options, selecting things, bringing Cortana up and changing views.
Seeing as fitness tracking requires some sweat and some dust, the Microsoft Band is dust and splash resistant, although it is not waterproof completely, so you can’t swim with it, which can be considered a minus for the device. One of the biggest pros of the Microsoft Band is that is cross-platform compatible, which makes this device an option for any smartphone user. You can connect an Android, iOS or Windows Phone to the gadget, which makes it extremely versatile and allows the company to access a wider audience interested in fitness tracking. Moreover, there are people out there who have two or three smartphone in their household, running on different platforms. In that case, any member of the household could use the Microsoft Band to track their progress through their fitness goals, although we’re not sure how good the Microsoft Band is at separating users.
The Microsoft Health platform is running the show on the Microsoft band and it offers you access to an online dashboard where you can monitor all the data that the fitness tracking gadget monitors, including sleep, calories consumed and burned, steps, heart rate and more. Here, the motivation part of the device and software steps is, as through the Health platform, you are able to set goals for yourself. The platform will offer guided workouts, route mapping for runners, hikers, cyclists and more by using the built-in GPS. That means that you don’t even have to have your phone with you when going for a run, which is yet again, another huge plus for the Microsoft Band. You also get a built-in UV monitor in case you’re wondering how high the UV index is and if you should be out in the sun.
One feature that is pretty neat when it comes to the fitness tracking the Microsoft band is capable of is tracking your run or cycling even on a treadmill or stationary bike in your home. That feature isn’t included in many new smartbands and smart watches, although there are many people out there who prefer exercising indoors. Moreover, the Microsoft band can offer you smart watch functionalities, but only when tethered to a smartphone. It can bring up notifications, messages, calendar appointments, incoming calls and voice mails, emails and you can even use a virtual keyboard to respond to these, granted that you have a Windows 8.1 smartphone in your pocket. More hardware specs include Bluetooth 4..0, timer, stopwatch, heart rate monitor, gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer, pedometer and GPS. Considering that the Microsoft band is more about fitness tracking than notifications and smart watch functions, it still does a very good job at blending the two together.
Microsoft Band specs also include an ARM Cortex M4 MCU CPU, 64 MB of internal storage, ambient light sensor, skin temperature monitor and you connect to a smartphone using that Bluetooth 4.0 built-in. The Microsoft Band battery life is average, and it goes as advertised: two days of general use, with the GPS turned on. That’s pretty cool, as you might not need to use the GPS every day, so it might lengthen the battery life to three days. The Samsung Gear Fit battery life is better than most similar fitness trackers, as it will last for three days with all the features in use. Of course, there are many fitness trackers out there that will go past the one week battery life time, making fitness tracking a breeze, but they tend to be more expensive than these two.
Moving on the Samsung Gear Fit, we have no choice but to start with a minus and a disclaimer: the Samsung Gear Fit only works with Samsung smartphones running Android. With that out of the way, let’s see about that hardware and those features. Compared to the Microsoft Band, the Samsung Gear Fit tries to match fitness tracking with a good design, and does so successfully. It comes with a curved display that measures 1.85 inches and gets an OLED display with a higher resolution of 128*432. Although the Microsoft band is good for outdoor activities, the Samsung Gear Fit display is better, as it’s brighter, crisper and more colorful. The display itself is encased in a faux-chrome finish frame, which looks nice, but it wears out pretty fast, just like it does on Galaxy phones launched last year and before that.
The Samsung Gear Fit comes with six different straps, that are made from rubber and they are removable and interchangeable. It also gets a physical button that is used to power on the display on the device when you’re ready for some serious fitness tracking monitoring. But most likely, if you choose to get the Samsung Gear Fit, you won’t be using that button very much as the proximity sensor within will turn the display on whenever you raise your arm in front of you, which is neat, as it offers more hands-free possibilities than the Microsoft Band, with which you will fiddle a lot. With the Gear Fit’s button, you can make use of a shortcut, too, which means that you can choose a function to be activated when you double tap that physical button.
The Samsung Gear Fit has IP67 certification, which means that it is water and dust resistant. That translates to: yes, you can shower with it on, but no, you still can’t swim with it on your wrists. Bummer for all the swimmers out there. Another thing that is missing from the Samsung Gear Fit, it’s there on the Microsoft Band and it is essential for fitness tracking outdoors: GPS. Sadly, Samsung didn’t include a built-in GPS into the wearable, which means that you’re going to have to bring your smartphone along when going for a run, a walk, a hike or a cycle. You can still use the Gear Fit for running and walking without the GPS, because it has a pedometer built in, but you won’t be able to map your routes this way.
Much like the Microsoft Band, the Samsung Gear Fit comes with a heart rate monitor (which isn’t as accurate as the one in Microsoft’s version, honestly), stopwatch, timer, sleep monitor and that’s about it. When it comes to notifications and smart watch functionalities, the Gear Fit is just as endowed as the Microsoft Band. If you don’t want to have just fitness tracking on your wrist, both of these will get you your notifications and stuff like that. The Gear Fit will feed you notifications from your smartphone or tablet, change the volume of music and generally control playback, get notifications of incoming calls, voice mails and you can even reply to texts and messages directly from the band.
Moving on to one of the most important traits of any fitness tracking gadgets: prices. The Microsoft Band price is set at $200, which is a bit steep for a fitness tracker, but not as expensive as to make price a deal-breaker. The Samsung Gear Fit price is at around $150, depending on the seller, which makes it the cheaper option out of the two. Based on pricing, the Samsung Gear Fit should definitely be worth its price, as long as you’re using a Samsung smartphone. It also looks and feels better than the Microsoft Band does, which is a plus for the fitness tracking device. But for anyone who doesn’t own a Samsung smartphone, the Gear Fit will be useless. If you are not bothered by the design of the Microsoft Band, it would just about suit anyone with a smartphone nowadays. The built-in GPS is a huge plus for fitness tracking capabilities, so it’s definitely worth its price, in my opinion. What other fitness tracking gear would you recommend to someone who is just starting out in the field? Do you think that fitness tracking equipment does motivate people or is that just a misconception? Sound off in the comments below and let us know which of these smartbands you would choose if it were offered up free to you.
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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