Windows 10 Devices

If you’ve been watching the event, you’ll be as stoked as I am about the new devices Microsoft has announced. But let me just touch on a few things I am happy about after watching the event. (Missed the event? Check it out here!)

Xbox One

Photo courtesy of Microsoft.com

Photo courtesy of Microsoft.com

Being a gamer, I was really excited about the new update for the Xbox controller and that a new edition of Xbox One will be released. I am all about special editions of anything, lol!

HoloLens

By no means can I afford this but the demonstration was pretty awesome. I admit, I’d be pretty freaked out about shooting aliens in my living room but this is definitely something I know I would enjoy, and could possibly change the way people live as well. With HoloLens, I imagine there’d be a new level of richness regarding the everyday things we interact with and that is something I’d like to experience. I wonder if there will be HoloLens demonstrations in the Microsoft Stores?

Lumia Phones

Photo courtesy of Gizmodo.com

Photo courtesy of engadget.com

Did anyone catch that bit where you could connect your phone to their new display dock (the size of a TV streaming device) and use your phone like a computer? That is insane! I mean, that is really breaking down the barrier of phones/phablets vs. wired computers. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with this concept because if we could all just carry a computer in our pockets that runs a full operating system … if everyone could … well, wow.

The flagship Lumia phones are staying true to their original mold and partnerships meaning more Carl Zeiss optics! And the image stabilization is further developed. One more month, guys!

Getting a New Phone

People who know me know that I love cell phones. Side note on my weaknesses: A desktop with a wired connection and a cellphone with at least 2 years of technology ahead of time with a huge sensor are my ultimate weaknesses. No, I’m not one of those people who get a new phone every year or so because it’s new. I’ll wait and wait until a behemoth of a phone gets released and of course, I’d be the first person to buy it. So the Galaxy S’ came and went. So did the iPhones. Now, don’t get me wrong by thinking I am a loyalist … I am to a certain extent but when it comes to technology, the best interests in mind are my own because they are investments to me. Anyway, the iPhone 6s Plus is a great phone but I always want the best – I want the future.

It happened when I got the HTC Thunderbolt (first LTE phone) and it definitely happened when I got the Nokia Lumia 1520. That phone was two years ahead of its time and it’s now just getting outdated for me. So it’s time to get a new phone. My idea phone would have a large battery (I never want to be plugged in … I was completely spoiled by my 1520 on this), external storage capabilities with a high cap, at least a 5″ display, prioritizes camera function, etc.

I am glad I waited. I am going to get the Lumia 950XL ($649) because it’ll be the best in class. I am so excited!! Check out Engadget’s article on the Lumia 950XL here.

Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book

All I can say is that I am getting both regardless what anyone says. Surface Pros have been the powerhouse and my workhorses to getting the job done essentially. However, I always wondered if Microsoft would come up with a more durable clamshell-esque design that really offers an option in the laptop department. As great the Surface Pros were and are, they are not taken seriously by non-users who see them as tablets even though they run full OS’s. They are ultraportable devices that offer the same detachable keyboard although the Surfaces’ keyboard felt more like a random appendage with a lack of sturdiness. But we’ll see what they do with the Surface Book.

Microsoft Band 2(.0)

Photo courtesy of Microsoft.com

Photo courtesy of Microsoft.com

I didn’t like the first band when it came out mostly because it hated the design of it. The concept, I’m okay with, but the rigidity and the sharpness of it deterred me. As soon as I saw the new Band 2 on the screen, I knew they had listened and made the right changes. It is sleeker, less bulky, and very aesthetically-pleasing without compromising functionality. I want to check it out in person and see what the clasp looks like because then I’ll know if it’ll fit my tiny wrists.

I am excited. I hope you all are and even though it’s Microsoft’s day, I believe it’s another huge step when it comes to technology. These are the motions all technology companies should be contemplating and then executing to better society and its consumers.

For more information about Microsoft’s new Windows 10 Devices, check out their briefing event here.

I won an iPad Mini! (Pad & Quill Review)

I almost never win anything in my life. I was just about sure that I had a dark cloud looming over me just about everywhere I went. However, last Saturday was a bit different from the other days because I actually won something.

I won an iPad mini!

I work at the mall and there was a kiosk that was set up right in front of my work area last Friday. Even though it was in the “prime” area, people avoided it because they didn’t want to be sold on a service and because they didn’t exactly know what the kiosk was really all about. Being the inquisitive person that I am, I went over there with Peter to check it out. I got to play around with a lot of things and the representative told us that they were giving away an iPad Mini the next day. I didn’t think we would get it since I never win anything and the fact that we bought one in March magically kills my luck. I must’ve forgotten that Peter tends to win everything all the time from XBOX gold memberships to video games to Hulu. I should’ve known.

Photo courtesy of apu.edu

Photo courtesy of apu.edu

I was working the next day when my co-worker, Challen, came up to the booth to start his shift exclaiming, “Did Peter really just win an iPad mini?!?” I instantly did my happy dance, boldly and proudly, for everyone to see. I haven’t been so happy in a long time. Peter came over to my booth and brought it to me. We had spoken the previous night that if we ever won it, I would get the new one since he already had one. Recently, I had used his iPad mini but it wasn’t set up for me so there was little I could do with apps and settings that could never be beneficial to me. I had just hoped that the agreement of me getting the iPad would stick.

Mine. It’s All Mine!

So Peter handed me the iPad mini and I told him that we would get to open it together when we both got out of work a couple of hours later (because I am patient like that). I’m all about delayed gratification! I put the new iPad into my bag which housed the other iPad mini and I secretly felt smug about having two at the same time. (silly me!) When we got out that afternoon, we climbed into the car and I took off the plastic shrink wrap and unboxed it while Peter snapped photos of the event. I put the iPad back into the box and decided I would take it home before I did anything with it. Here is where you all reading this find out how weird of a person I am. I got home at 4 PM and I literally left my iPad mini, still covered in plastic, still in its box, and still in my bag, on the floor propped against my desk for a couple of hours. I didn’t take it out to set it up until 8 PM. I’m sure Peter wanted to ask me why I hadn’t taken it out yet and perhaps he didn’t think I was excited enough. I was completely and very excited, so much that I had to get my usual tasks such as emails, homework, and etc., over with before I could finally have the peace and quiet to open it and enjoy it. I told you that I am weird.

I installed all the finances programs first and my social networking apps, games, and etc. I put everything into folders so my iPad literally only has one screen. I am minimalist (not when it comes to words though!) and I keep it pretty tidy. All the apps are in their respectively labeled folders (Games, Social, Entertainment, Tools, and etc.). I set up everything and was quite content with the results, especially after Peter installed iOS 7 on both of ours. I was finally glad that we didn’t have to share anymore and that I finally had a tablet. Peter has about 4-5.

Finding the Case

The past few days have been quite hectic because I am paranoid about things getting dinged and scratched, so much that I did not take the plastic that the iPad mini was encased in off. I know the feeling of damaging new items so I take precautions. I knew that I needed Ghost Armor for the screen (I’m going to get matte tomorrow) and I knew that I needed a case. Peter has a smart cover from Apple but I find it too flimsy, lacking in structure and the fact that it did not protect the back of the iPad even though the material is quite durable already. I went onto to Amazon, found a few potential candidates but none exhumed quality. I went on designer label sites and found the designs lacked originality. I then began to Google quality iPad mini cases and I finally came up with a few things. I proceeded to Youtube reviews of the cases and made note of every comment. After a whole day of research, I decided to order my case from:

Photo courtesy of padandquill.com

Photo courtesy of padandquill.com

Pad & Quill

The P&Q cases called out to me for several reasons.

  1. They offer a variety of designs although they are uniformly made out of Baltic birch. There is a design for everyone whether you are a professional, an artist, a student, or a full grain leather lover. All of their cases (everything from iPads, iPad minis, MacBook Airs, iPhone 5s, to Kindle e-readers) are designed to look like a handmade book. I have a journal that looks like a handmade book and it is one of the best things I’ve ever paid money for (I only wish I had gotten more at the time). I am aware that there are other brands that make the tome-styled cases, but the Pad & Quills are very well-made and of high quality (and they’re not that expensive either!).
  2. They are family-owned and handmade. Don’t be surprised when you call them and find out that the person taking the phone calls is also the one making the cases. You don’t get that much these days. Everything is mass manufactured so many corners are cut in order to produce a lot for so little. The process P&Q uses to make their cases is very traditional and mimics a lot of the methods used in bookbindery. The great thing about these small mom-and-pop owned companies is that they are more likely to listen to the feedback of their customers AND be able to do something about it. I feel more comfortable buying from a company who is more likely to be able to deliver if I push hard enough.
  3. Their cases are not uniform. They are unique. Not only is it handmade, I take pride knowing that there are little nuances in my case that make it different from another case. It is sturdy yet light and structured yet tight. The wooden part of the case is deeper and there are individual slots for everything as opposed to an open concept. The Pad & Quill holds your electronics so well that a built-in ribbon is needed to take your item out. I tried to pry, shake, and take the iPad mini out without the ribbon and despite all my attempts, the iPad mini stayed in and hadn’t budged a bit.
WP_20130828_22_11_10_Pro__highres

For more photos, check out the gallery at the end of the article.

Sure, I could’ve gotten a DODOcase or an Otterbox but I must say that for my own needs, I went with Pad & Quill because of those three reasons listed above. I ordered on Monday and my case got here yesterday. I had ordered two of the Graduate edition cases at $59.99 per case, one in Slate/Deep Sea Blue (for me) and one in Cayenne/Slate (for Peter). I like the feel of bindery cloth so I opted for the Graduate over its leather siblings, the Aria and the Octavo.  The shipping was free for my order and I used my promo code to get $10 off the whole purchase. I spent just over $100 for them and I’m very content.

For anyone interested in Pad & Quill cases, please check out the link below:

http://www.padandquill.com/

I hope you enjoyed the post and please feel free to leave me a comment or shoot me an email if you have any questions about the cases (I do not work for these guys. I just get excited about things I buy.).

I’ll leave this post with photos of my new iPad mini (16GB wifi … haha, I wish it was wifi + cellular!) and the Pad & Quill Graduate Edition case:

PlayStation’s PS4 Reveal at E3 Conference

PlayStation_4_with_controller_and_sensor

Sony’s press conference introduction at E3 showcases the PS4 as not just a piece of hardware but as a whole new system. It seems that Sony doesn’t have their own streaming available so the beginning of the Sony press conference is unavailable at the moment (9:07 PM). Microsoft has their own streaming and Apple had their own streaming, but hey it happens.

From the Engadget’s liveblog page on the Ps4, it seems that people are playing the different games that will be available on the PS4 as the empty seats fill up quickly.

The conference begins (9:16 PM) with an interesting montage of the many games they will feature in their conference accompanied with trance music.

PS VITA

With PS Vita, it features over 150 different games for Vita. With HD graphics and dual analog sticks, Vita allows gamers to game when away from home. 85 more titles will be available for Vita. Titles will include God of War (I and II), Dead Nation, and

Vita will be able to work with the whole PS ecosystem and will be a companion device to the PS4 (9:25 PM).

PS3 Games

PS3 games to be released are The Last of UsPuppeteerRain, Beyond: Two Souls, Gran Tourismo 6, Batman: Arkham Origins, GTA V, along with 300 other titles will be launched within a year.

PS4 Games

PS4 will also possess cloud storage and social networking/sharing capabilities. The PS4 will be a vertical console with a blue stripe that runs through it, dividing it in half. Sony’s next generation entertainment involves Sony Pictures and their music label combined to create a new plan to exclusively allow users original programming and music. Music Unlimited and video unlimited allowing users to rent movies and stream music. The Netflix app, Amazon Instant Video app, and Redbox Instant by Verizon app will allow users access to a variety of movies and TV shows. The Flixster app will also be available later on this year.

A trailer of The Order: 1886 was showcased. Set in the 1800s in White Chapel of England, essentially the game is about the English making contact with an alien force. It will be a PS4 exclusive. Killzone: Shadow Fall, Driveclub, InFamous Second Son, Transistor and Knack will be released either during the release of the Ps4 and throughout 2014.

The Dark Sorcerer (the second part will be continued tomorrow). The demo clip featured a sorcerer with all his fire and brimstone who merely turns out to be no more than a voice actor who is contemplating his goal in life.

PS4 will allow developers to self-publish their own content. Titles such as Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Secret Ponchos, and Galak-Z are some of the indie games that will make their debut through the PS4.

Final Fantasy Versus XIII is now apparently Final Fantasy XV? 

Kingdom Hearts 3 will be the latest installment to the KH franchise.

Assassin’s Creed IV is also the latest installment of the series that involves pirates, the Caribbean, and Blackbeard.

Much-anticipated, Watch Dogs, is every hacker’s dream of a game. Combining a seemingly open-world experience with a feel that GTA normally exudes, the player is able to elude the police, hack cameras throughout the city, and request help from a cell phone. Another game I am thirsty to play, I highly recommend it based on how different it is from all the other games at the moment.

The Elder Scrolls: OnlineMad Max, NBA 2K14 are other titles mentioned to be released.

Destiny is a FPS of a barren world that features multiplayer gameplay, extensive weapon customization, and a sci-fi world that rivals the likes of the worlds of Dune and Star Wars.

The PS4 system will not have any restrictions on used games. Disc-based games will remain using the same system as it does now and it won’t require check-ins online. Live stream will be available and the PlayStation Plus membership will be carried over to PS4. For $5, the PS Plus membership give member access to discontinued games and provides cloud storage.

The PS4 and the Xbox One (revealed earlier today) are two completely different systems that serve separate purposes that benefit the consumer regardless. It has been speculated that Sony viewed their product to be good for 1-4 years while Microsoft’s will be on the terms of 5-10 years. Only time will tell. Sony did not cover much on the accessory that resembled a Kinect sensor (“The Eye”) during the conference and other performance capabilities were not mentioned. Anyhow, we can always refer to the spec sheet.

The PS4 will be available for $399 during this holiday season. You can pre-order it now.

Day One: Xbox Press Conference at E3

Xbox-One-635

Xbox One’s press conference at E3 today kicked off with an extensive reveal of the latest installment to the Metal Gear Solid franchise, Metal Gear Solid V (The Phantom Pain). They started off revealing new games as I am sure it’s because of all the heat the Xbox One has taken since the Xbox One reveal, of whether it really is an entertainment system or one that is also capable of being considered a gaming console as well.

Today, it’s all about the games.

XBOX 360 Revamp

Xbox 360 is changing. It will be updated based on the Xbox One’s design. Smaller, sleeker and it is available today, as in now. Despite this announcement, I am sure it won’t be selling until a few days from now unless they really weren’t kidding about it being available immediately. The Xbox Live Gold membership is carried over to Xbox One. Beginning July 1, existing gold members will receive two free game downloads per month that they will get to keep until the Xbox One’s release. The downloads include Assassin’s Creed II and Halo 3. Three new Xbox 360 titles announced during the conference are: 1. World of Tanks, 2. Max the Curse of Brotherhood and 3. Dark Souls II.

XBOX One Games

Announced Xbox One games:

Ryse: Son of Rome is coming to the Xbox One and I have to say that I am thirsty to play this already (hack and slash is one of my favorite genres). Ryse: Son of Rome is published by Microsoft Studios and it will be an exclusive for the new console.

Killer Instinct is coming back and is also another Xbox One exclusive.

A new franchise introduced at E3 for Xbox One is Sunset Overdrive. Produced by Microsoft Studios, Sunset Overdrive is a fast-paced game that fuses parkour, monsters, and Mirror’s Edge all into one game.

Forza Motorsport 5 transcends with all its realistic details and also boasts more lifelike gaming experiences. The game learns how the player drives and adapts accordingly, creating a more realistic approach to racing video games. The information is stored in the cloud and is constantly changing depending on how the player drives.

Minecraft will be coming from the Xbox 360 to the Xbox One.

Quantum Break is coming also as an Xbox One exclusive. By Microsoft Studios, the visually-stunning Quantum Break reveal gives us a small preview of how a game can blur the two different worlds of a video game and its TV show. Supposedly, what players watch in the show will affect and impact the decisions the player will make in the video game. Quantum Break is created from the makers of Alan Wake.

D4 has also been announced.

Project Spark utilizes the Kinect and SmartGlass to allow players to create a gaming world, controlling details from the climate of the world to who inhabits it. Anything goes in Project Spark from battling monstrous robots to encountering flying goblins. This game makes creating a game “a game” itself.

Crimson Dragon was also showcased despite its lack of audio.

Dead Rising 3 exhibits no loading time with an open-world gaming experience. Anything and everything is a weapon and not just limited to what the player finds (pretty typical of all the Dead Rising games). Zombies are attracted to the player’s every move. From picking up sledgehammers, weed whackers, and mowing over zombies with a car, it will be an Xbox One exclusive that will be available this holiday season.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt features over 100+ hours of gameplay. It will be the last installment of The Witcher franchise.

Battlefield 4, Halo for Xbox One, and Titanfall are several other games that will be released for the Xbox One.

Timeline allows players to view snapshots of the games that have been played by friends. You are able to upload videos to your timeline as well.

With Upload Studio, players can record, upload, edit, and share their clips of gameplay with friends and other members which are all stored on the cloud.

Xbox is now partnered with Twitch so all of your gaming experiences can be easily streamed. Built into Xbox One, Twitch enables real-time sharing.

In the new Xbox Live, the Xbox points systems will be replaced with the player’s local currency. It has also been announced that gamers can play multiplayer without being online.

Coming November 2013, it will be priced at $499. See you all then.

A Night to Myself: ASUS, TOSHIBA, and Xbox One Thoughts

I have to admit that I haven’t been up this late in ages. I’m not going to say that work is tiring or anything because it’s not stressful enough to be tiring. It’s just the that fact I enjoy going to bed earlier nowadays. Tonight, I’m waiting for a certain program to finish and I don’t feel like sleeping, setting my alarm for five in the morning and having to drag myself back on the computer. My notebook is downstairs, uncharged, and yet I am too lazy to even consider charging it.

I just finished my nighttime ritual of taking out my contact lenses and washing my face. I can literally feel my thick moisturizer being soaked up by my skin. I got Peter’s older Nokia Lumia 900 to use until the Note 3 comes out. At this rate, I think I’ll get it although the Galaxy S4 is never far from my mind. I checked out the two new Nokia Windows phones and I’m adding them to the list as well. I got to play with the Toshiba’s KIRAbook yesterday. The Microsoft Store has it for $1999 and I must say it seems almost worth the price. At the end of the day, you have to pay premium to get premium, you know? I’ve played with a lot of notebooks, tablets, ultrabooks, etc., and not much has really caught my attention other than the KIRAbook and the ASUS Vivobook. Originally, I’ve been looking for an extremely light and portable notebook. I have thought about the tablets but I figure I just get a touchscreen notebook that is perhaps 11″ more or less, I’d be set with the stability that a notebook provides with the portability of a tablet. I work with a 27″ monitor (and sometimes a 32″) on a regular basis so I wonder how well I’ll transition if I get something that small.

ASUS Vivobook

The ASUS Vivobook X202E provides the quality I’ve come to expect from ASUS which is just about always decent. I would much prefer Samsung but the one they currently have at the store is just not cutting it for me. It essentially was an updated version of my current Samsung Chronos 7. 8 GB of RAM, check. A dedicated AMD graphics card and a third generation i7 processor, check and check. Just about the same except instead of 1 TB of hard drive space which my current has, the new one come with a solid state (not sure what the amount of storage it came with, I’m guess 128 GB). Anyway, so the Vivobook comes with a 1.80 Ghz i3 processor, 4 GB RAM, and 500 GB hard drive at 5400 rpm which is a bit slow compared to what’s in other machines these days. It’s going for $399 and at 2.86 lbs., I can’t really beat that. It has a 11.6 LED LCD touch display which makes life a whole lot easier for me. So when it comes down to it, I’m really considering getting it and I’ve been thinking about it for about a month now.

Toshiba KIRAbook

The Toshiba KIRAbook on the other hand, I actually just got to play with it on Wednesday. Man, it is so fast and snappy. It actually makes me want to stay on the computer and not do anything else all day. Everything about this ultrabook screams “PREMIUM” to me. From it’s extremely sleek finish and design, to the Harmon Kardon speakers, to the 256 GB SSD, and its i7 processor that overclocks from 2.00 to a 3.10 Ghz. It has 8 GB RAM (DDR3). It does not have a dedicated video card and I admit that the battery life is on the low to average end compared to the 11 hours I get with my Samsung while the KIRAbook gets a measly 6 hours. Toshiba isn’t new to the industry but they been floating by and have been off the radar for the past couple of years. I have to say that my opinion is changing slightly due to my recent experience but we will have to see. Further testing is required. :) At 2.97 lbs., it outweighs the Vivobook by .11 lbs. I’m not trying to exclusively compare them because they are in completely different classes of their own and it would be stupid for me to compare a $400 computer with a $2000. However, I do mention them together just because there are the only two I have been debating on purchasing. I’m sure I’ll check out a few more notebooks on the way.

At the end of the day, I’m probably more comfortable losing a $400 notebook over an overpriced $2K ultrabook. Oh yes, I forgot to mention earlier that I would be using this for work. I could technically bring my Samsung, but I wouldn’t feel great about losing that either. I liken my Samsung notebook to a workhouse as it carries most of the workload although I am making the effort not to neglect my desktop. My Samsung is kind of like my spouse … so I may look at other notebooks and ultrabooks, but at the end of the day, I know that my 700Z is perfect for me and has the capabilities that I need and want. Not saying I wouldn’t but=y the KIRAbook on a whim though ;P. I think a lot of new products will be introduced very soon so it would be wiser for me to wait lest the Vivobook drops even more on its current price. At that point, I would use my student discount and “BAM” I’d be in heaven.

Random Thoughts and the Xbox One

How in the world did I end up talking about technology and electronics again? Anyway, I am quite tired but I’m glad nevertheless that I got to sit down and get some of my thoughts out. I’m looking forward to my day off and of doing absolutely nothing. So much has been on my mind and I have to say that the Xbox Reveal on Tuesday has gotten me really hyped up and I usually don’t get hyped up for anything. I’ll probably be one of the first ones to buy it though because unless it’s such a failure of a product, I can’t see why not. I think a lot of people are worried about the wrong things such as how it looks, and whether or not it will still be a good gaming console, etc. Some people did not get the impression that it was a “gaming console” and that’s because it’s not just a gaming console anymore. It’s an all-in-one, an entertainment center. Xbox Reveal was more of a trailer and a strategic move on Microsoft’s part.

First off, who cares if it looks boxier, inorganic, etc.? It seems a lot sturdier to me, uniform, and better ventilated to me. I’d rather my Xbox One not overheat or topple over because someone prioritized form over function. Secondly and continuing my thoughts about it being an entertainment center, this is going to be the product for the next ten years. Microsoft had to make such dramatic changes to the architecture that it would be a step backwards to play it safe and make an Xbox  360 sister product. If you really think about it, you won’t need a Roku or an Apple TV, six different remotes, or even a Smart TV anymore because you will have it all if the Xbox One works they way they’re intending it to. I think the Xbox One really simplifies it and they weren’t kidding about that at all. For all the people concerned about how it’s no longer a gaming console, hold your horses and wait for E3. It wouldn’t have made ANY sense to reveal most (or any) of the Xbox One’s gaming capabilities before E3.

My thoughts are that Microsoft already has the info and details on the PS4 and put out the Xbox Reveal only a month before E3 for two reasons possibly: one, to hype up consumers and therefore invoke a lot of discussion by the media, and two, to put Sony on their toes because Microsoft knows that the Xbox One is going to trump the PS4 (and the fact that it’s too late for Sony to change anything). From the responses and prompt actions of Sony following the Xbox Reveal last Tuesday, I’d sat Sony is pulling their hair out right now. So this is why I think it was more of a strategic move for Microsoft.

As E3 approaches us, only time will tell. Maybe Sony has a card up their sleeve, but regardless of whether it’s Sony or Microsoft, we’re all anticipating.

Enough about technology. I’m going to head off to bed and hopefully blog about make up tomorrow. Also, if there are any typos or grammatical errors, it’s way too late for that right now so just deal with it. :)