Microsoft Surface Pro 3 vs Surface 3: power user machines or not
The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is due for an upgrade shortly, as discussed in our Surface Pro 4 rumor round-up article, but that doesn’t mean that this convertible laptop is outdated. Microsoft has launched the light-weight (you can add what meaning you would like to that term) Surface 3 as an alternative to a Chrome OS-base netbook, more or less. This time around, I’ll be discussing whether the Surface Pro 3 is truly a power user’s machine and whether the Surface 3 can hold up for power users of different types. Before I get started, though, you should know that there are huge differences between the Surface Pro 3 and the Surface 3. First off, the convertible Pro 3 is made with power users in mind, while the Surface 3 aims to cater to casual Windows users who prefer to cloud compute and surf the web. That doesn’t mean performance isn’t good on the latter one, but let’s find out what each has to offer.
In this Surface Pro 3 vs Surface 3 comparison, you will find information only about the base models. With each upgrade for a machine, you can get more performance and better hardware, so keep that in mind in case you’re trying to decide on what gadget you want to buy this year. To start off, expectations of the Surface 3 were not high on my part, but I did think it would have been a great gift for Mother’s Day. Seeing as it’s Mother’s Day soon enough, I though that my not-so-tech-savvy-mom would enjoy having it. After having a little one on one time with the Surface 3, I changed my mind, as I was quite surprised with what the Surface 3 can actually do.
The Microsoft Surface 3 is an impressive machine that merges portability with practicality, which is something that I usually value in products. Regardless of the fact that convertibles are king in my world, the Surface 3 turned out to be impressive and can really take on the multitude of Chromebooks that were recently launched. One of the most attractive parts about this is the Surface 3 price, which starts at $500. That is usually seen as quite affordable for a convertible, as one of the cheapest ones with the best bang for buck, the Asus Transformer Book T100 is only $100 less, and doesn’t come with the features the Surface 3 comes with.
The favorite of many Surface 3 users is the full version of Windows 8.1, which means that essentially, it’s a smooth operator that will let you do anything you would imagine doing on a desktop machine or a conventional laptop. Still, there are some disadvantages to the Surface 3, which I should mention early in. These are rather disappointing actually. You need to reserve an extra $130 for the Type Cover and another $50 for the Surface Pen if you want a truly complete experience with the Surface 3. You need the Type Cover in order to be able to use it as a laptop, while you need the Surface Pen in order to be able to interact with the touchscreen in an easy fashion. Although the Surface Pen doesn’t seem to be a necessary investment for everyone, it does have its advantages and styli are becoming more and more popular nowadays. That brings up the total investment in the base model of the Surface 3 to around $680, which is rather steep in my opinion. Regardless, you are getting top-notch hardware for the price, so for those who can muster up the cash, it’s probably worth it. The good news is that old Type Covers are compatible with the Surface 3, so if it’s not your first Surface, you can consider yourself lucky.
Although the Surface 3 aims to be the replacement of laptops for average users, its 10.8 inch 1920*1280 resolution display might not cut it for most people. Still, the 3:2 aspect ratio display is pretty high-def and nice to look at, so that shouldn’t necessarily be a deal-breaker. We would have loved to have e bigger version for the same price, though. That display as well as the design of the Surface 3 make it considerably smaller than the Surface Pro 3, which means it gains a few extra points when it comes to portability. The materials are much the same, so you’re definitely getting a premium device whether you choose the Surface 3 or the Surface Pro 3. The magnesium chassis of the tablet/laptop hybrid feels great in the hand and still manages to stay lightweight, which is pretty neat.
The performance is what sets the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 apart. The Surface 3 comes with amobile-friendly Intel Atom X7 processor clocked at 1.6 GHz, so you can imagine that you won’t be getting a lot of Photoshop or Adobe Premiere editing in on this machine. It might hold up for a little while, but you shouldn’t purchase the Surface 3 if editing is what you’re planning to do on it. On the other hand, if you’re in the business of web-design and coding and such, this might just cut it for you. The fanless design will make you screech on occasion with heavy use, as it will eventually heat up a bit, but not as much as to be bothersome in the long-run. Any tablet or smartphone or mobile gadget in general tends to heat up with prolonged, heavy use, and the Surface 3 is no exception to that. It does handle heavy work-loads pretty well though and I haven’t found it stuttering with random apps like a web browser, diagnostics tools, a bit of editing, a bit of gaming and a bit of chatting and stuff. Once I got into heavy editing, it was not really working for me.
The fact that Microsoft decided to put a slew of ports on the Surface 3 means quite a few good-behavior points in my book. Surface 3 ports include a USB 3.0, microSD slot, mini displayport, microUSB charging port and that’s about it. The kickstand is rather annoying on this one, as it comes with only three different positions, which is something that the Surface Pro 3 is much better at. The Surface Pro 3 kickstand can be adjusted in as many ways as you want it to (more or less), while the Surface 3 is stuck on tablet, stand and bigger stand mode. Not that much versatility there, I’m afraid. Still, for a convertible tablet/laptop hybrid, it’s acceptable. It’s better than what you could do with the Asus Transformer Books, so yay.
One impressive trait of the Surface 3 is battery life. With average use, I got about 9 or even 10 hours of use on a single charge, which to me is impressive. It might not be to others. Still, if I forced the tablet even a little bit, battery life would drop considerably. Lots of Youtube really hurts the battery life, but that’s something to be expected. One thing that might be worth mentioning is that many people will not enjoy the touch-friendliness or lack thereof of Windows 8.1. I personally like it and have gotten used to it, but that’s not the case with people that are first-time Surface users. Once Windows 10 is out, that aspect of the user interface should be remedied. Windows 10 is set to be released this Summer, so if you decide to boy the Surface 3, you will be able to upgrade and hopefully, the user experience will be much improved.
On the last note about the Surface 3, the cameras are pretty ok. They’re not iPad – level ok, but they’re good. The front camera is a 3 MP one, which is not much but enough for the occasional Skype video call and the rear camera is an 8 MP one, which is pretty neat. Although taking photos with the Surface 3 isn’t very fun as it’s quite big and cumbersome, it’s still an option so you can’t say that something’s missing from it in this respect. Overall, the Surface 3 is not for power users, but it can be a great device for power users on the go. If you have the cash and need a very portable, usable, complete, small device to do some work on or have as a secondary device, even you, the power user, will be quite impressed with the Surface 3.
But power users should really turn to the Surface Pro 3 if they’re looking for a daily driver. I’m sure most of us are aware of the fact that the Surface Pro 3 or any convertible tablet for that matter cannot be compared with a full desktop system or a beefy laptop. Still, the Surface Pro 3 can do quite a lot for the power user and there are few complaints about it, aside form a few software bugs and Wi-Fi bugs, which can be solved eventually. Overall, the Surface Pro 3 is targeted at power users and has a price to match that target, but it doesn’t quite cut it for all power users.
The Surface Pro 3 is definitely powerful and you will be able to do most of the things you want to on it, including heavy editing work, but you will feel it get sluggish with prolonged use. In my experience, rendering in Sony Vegas took longer than on my Toshiba Qosmio laptop, with about 40 minutes, for a rather small project that I was working on. Photo editing was fine, movie watching and gaming was pretty smooth, although Dying Light… that’s a whole different story. To sum it up: I couldn’t get it working. Still, to be able to use Sony Vegas Pro with virtually no hiccups, and to use Photoshop smoothly, and game smoothly, and browse smoothly is quite impressive for a convertible laptop=/tablet hybrid. Note that you can’t do them all at once. No chance.
If we’re to get into why the Surface Pro 3 can handle much more than the Surface 3 can, we should see what hardware we’re working with. Remember that we’re only checking out the base model for each. The Surface Pro 3 comes with a larger 12 inch display with a 2160*1440 resolution, with the same 3:2 aspect ratio, an Intel Core i3 processor clocked at 1.5 GHz backed by Intel 4200 graphics and 4 GB RAM, as well as 64 GB internal storage. The Surface Pro 3 gets a USB 3.0, microSD, mini DisplayPort and a cover port, so you’re getting about the same connectivity as with the Surface 3. That speaks a lot in favor of the Surface 3, as well. The battery life on the Surface Pro 3 is slightly inferior to that of the Surface 3, as I was able to get about 8 hours out of it with average use. That’s still ok for a convertible in my book. The cameras are negligible, as they’re both 5 MP ones. The speakers are pretty good, but they do need a lot of improvement.
These being said, I would truly recommend the Surface Pro 3 as a daily driver for power users. If you can manage your work-load well and don’t overdo it, the Surface Pro 3 will handle pretty much everything you throw at it. It does get the occasional hiccups and you do need to cut corners if you get some bugs, but overall it’s a positive user experience. While the Surface 3 is the optimal device for average users who surf a lot, the Surface Pro 3 can cater to power users generally. Now this can’t be applied to everybody, as being a power user has different definitions. If the Surface Pro 3 worked well for me and the tasks that I told you about, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will work great for you. Your best option when trying to decide between the Surface Pro 3 vs Surface 3 is to try and test-drive it for a day at least. See what each can handle and when it konks out. Personal experience is always better than third-party advice. Mantra right there!
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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