In 2014, Motorola’s Moto 360 was the wearable to have: Android Wear, a round watchface, a relatively affordable $250 price tag, the same old two-day battery life and a lot of the benefits of Motorola’s experience with smartphone design. This year, the second generation of the Moto 360 was launched, in an attempt to continue to gather fans towards the Lenovo-owned company’s wearable ideals. Even though everyone was pretty much happy with the Moto 360 as it was, thanks to Android Wear updates in part, a successor was warranted. Apple launched their own wearable this year, and LG is pushing the Urbane LTE against Samsung’s cheaper Gear S2 3G wearable. Motorola had to make a statement with the Moto 360 2nd gen, although it might not have been a necessary one.
With the launch of the Moto 360 2, inevitably its predecessor became much cheaper, being available in the US for only $100. That ultimately raises the question if the new generation Moto 360 price is worth the investment or if the original model has enough features and advantages to make for a worthy competitor. Black Friday is approaching and people are getting ready for the shopping season, wearables being one of the markets that will be offering massive discounts. If you’re among those wanting to get their hands on a smartwatch this Black Friday, you might be wondering if saving money on the Moto 360 would be a better choice than anything else.
With that in mind, I decided to try and compare the two wearables and see what gives them value. At the end of this short comparison, hopefully we will have more insight into what both these wearables are capable of and which would be the better deal for someone just starting in the smartwatch department. Those who already have some experience with these devices are of course inclined to get the newer model, to see if they can have an even better user experience and use more features. I believe that while the Moto 360 2nd gen is an excellent device, maybe it would have been a better investment for the company to choose a longer release cycle for the device and add more to its feature list. Let’s dive right in and see!
Motorola’s design language was a hit with the first wearable they launched, and the improved design of the Moto 360 2nd generation only adds to the sleek, industrial feeling of the smartwatch. The 2014 model introduced the black bar on a round watchface, and the trait continues on to the successor, albeit in a more streamlined and aesthetically pleasing manner. With the refined design elements that give the newer model of the watch a more put together and streamlined feeling and appearance, Motorola showed that minor improvements can mean a lot when talking about devices you’re supposed to use at all times. Actually, the second generation of the wearable looks a lot like the first leaked renders of the Moto 360, showcasing a minimalist device with thin bezels all around.
In fact, design is one of the major reasons why one would actually choose the newer Moto 360 over the predecessor, although it’s not the only one. Small changes to the watchband hinge, which is now a more standard lug that can be much easier to switch and will be a more comfy fit for you and a safer fit for the watch itself. The stiffness of the original Moto 360 watchhinge would gnaw into the back of the device and have the glass crack at the stress points. Although this is not a major flaw, it does contribute to general wear and tear and shortens the overall lifespan of the device.
The Moto 360 2nd gen aims to look more like a wristwatch than a smartwatch, which is the obvious difference that jumps out when first comparing it to the predecessor. It’s a tad lighter, but it shares build materials nonetheless with the original model. The Moto Maker platform adds a lot of customization options and the fact that it is available in two sizes, a 42 mm and a 46 mm, aids its appealing nature. It looks nicer and classier than the first model, all the while being easier to use with the improved button placement. Mainly, it just looks better, though. The customizable bezel around the display is looking a lot more fashionable, too, diminishing the slightly bothersome nature of the flat tire – the black bar on the bottom, housing additional hardware and contributing to keeping the watch as thin as it is.
Performance and software
Android Wear makes the user experience on the two wearable devices pretty much the same, although the 2nd generation model has a few of its own nifty features that set it apart from its predecessor. However, performance is what truly makes a difference in how the user experience flows on each device. The newer model obviously has newer and improved hardware and better sensors which allow for shorter delays and a smoother experience within Android Wear. At the same time, the device is capable of an always-on much-improved ambient light state, thanks to the improved light sensor that helps the software calibrate the display brightness much better and much faster than on its predecessor.
As I said earlier, the improvements that count the most in favor of the Moto 360 2nd gen are barely noticeable and subtle. Given the nature of the changes, I believe even Motorola were thinking of prolonging the launch cycle of the Moto 360 at one point, but decided against it once the Apple Watch raised a lot of awareness about the usefulness of wearables. However, the Moto 360 2nd gen isn’t really a competitor to the Apple Watch because it doesn’t offer the same integrated experience. Both the Moto 360 2 and its predecessor work with iPhones via the Android Wear app, but only offer notifications in a non-actionable manner for iOS users, limiting the user experience.
For Android users, however, the performance differences might make all the difference between the two Moto 360 models. The faster Snapdragon 400 CPU helps the 512 MB RAM along in the new model, while the older smartwatch uses a slightly inferior Texas Instruments OMAP CPU and the same amount of RAM. The battery life of the device is largely the same for the 42 and 46 mm models, even though they have different size batteries. The smaller Moto 360 2nd gen comes with a 300 mAh battery, the larger one with 400 mAh, while the original gets 320 mAh. Comparatively, wireless charging is present on all models and the battery life for all of them is about the same – at one night’s use on average, with charging cycles going on at night.
The Moto 360 2nd gen and its predecessor both feature IP67 certification, the same Android Wear 1.3 OS, heart rate monitor and the same IPS display. However, the 2nd gen Moto 360 has the advantage of a higher-resolution display that can go a lot higher in brightness than the original model. That makes the entire watch feel more familiar, especially when considering sunny outdoor environments. Compared to the first one, it has the same 1.56-inch display on the 46 mm model with a 360*330 resolution adding up to 233 ppi, whereas the original sports a 320*290 resolution panel with 205 ppi. The 42 mm model has the highest ppi at 263, coming from the 360*325 resolution on the 1.37-inch display.
Pricing and what it all comes down to
Obviously, the Moto 360 2 has some advantages over the previous model, but I’m not entirely convinced that the $350 and $400 price tag of the 42 and 46 mm models respectively is worth those features. The Moto 360 is available for much less, and the disadvantages it carries are minor – a dodgy ambient display that isn’t always on, a unique but slightly counterproductive watchband, a slightly lower resolution and a more “techy” design. The newer model is definitely a better-looking smartwatch that truly seems as though it should be in the jewelry section of the mall. If the refined, classic timepiece design is what feels attractive and worthy about this smartwatch from your point of view, you must know its performance and user experience are just as valuable.
Thanks to the noticeably improved performance and the extended abilities of customization through the Moto Maker platform where you can pick materials and accents, the Moto 360 2nd generation embodies class and becomes a representative for wearables that can “ascend” to the state of jewelry. Indeed, the luxurious Apple Watch made from precious materials is being marketed as jewelry and considered the most fashionable wearable of the times, but if you get a chance to see the Moto 360 2 in action, you will quickly observe that it deserves a place in the jewelry store more than the Apple Watch – in the cheap section, though as Motorola is not in the habit of using precious metals in their tech.
In the end, it comes down to what kind of statement you want to make, if any, with your wearable. The original Moto 360 is a watch representative of 2015, a year when innovations were made and the device was among the forerunners – industrial design with a minimalistic feel to it. The Moto 360 2nd generation is for those who want their tech to blend in with their lifestyle and represent their own sense of style more accurately. With its classic watch design, it certainly comes close to being a luxury watch.
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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