Category Archives: Microsoft
Just took a Field Trip to the Verizon and Best Buy stores after lunch today, I’m going to call these posts Field Trips because I have to go out and play with new tech. Some of the main things I played with at the store were the iPad Mini, MacBook Pro with Retina display, Kindle Fire HD, and Nokia Lumia 822. I also played with some of the ASUS gaming laptops and a dead Samsung Chromebook.
While these aren’t the best settings for playing with them because I could not spend a lot of time playing and they were tethered to the display I did my best just playing with them. I also would like to get some of these in as review units or if some donations come in for a specific product I would review it also.
Mac Book Pro with Retina Display is a very powerful laptop computer, and with the higher resolution screen it looked nice but is it going to be worth the extra $500 or so for that nicer screen. I liked how it worked and had the older model side by side and couldn’t see much difference other than the Retina had more contrast, I’m sure more using it from the older model you may see a difference. Read the full mini review for more.
Nokia Lumia 822 is one of the flagship Windows Phone 8 devices while it has smooth operation and looked good, Windows Phone 8 seemed empty and just lacking in non-core apps even from a display model. See what I saw in the mini review.
Those are the big ones I played with but I did look over some other devices such as the ASUS gaming laptop that had good specs and all the keyboard was kind of clunky and seemed overpriced for what I could get a Mac Book for almost the same specs. I also don’t like Windows 8 all that much on a non-tablet or touch screen.
The Samsung Chromebook was set up kind of off to the side in an under equipped display that only had one left in a box that looked like it was taped closed after being opened at Best Buy I wanted to see it work but the system said click to start but I only got a spinning indicator and even after trying to power cycle it nothing came up so I left not knowing how things will work on that system. Too bad because I wanted to know how the system performed but bad displays will not sell these even with a low price tag.
Halo 4 for the Xbox 360 came out this week putting you in control of Master Chief (John-117) and his AI companion Cortana to fight once again in the year 2557. After Halo 3 you were left on a damaged ship the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn after saving the human race once again. The game gives you first thing a back story and new information on where the SPARTON power armor super soldiers come from. And at this point you are trying to survive before getting sucked on the Forerunner world Requiem. Now to find out the rest of the story you will have to play the game. But I’ll give you some understanding of what you will get into.
First thing I would like to say for the first time that 343 Industry’s, the game developer who took the story that originated from Bungie who made the first three Halo games for Microsoft and the Xbox and Xbox 360, they did a good job at keeping things feeling as they are just a continuation of the series with updated technology and story. While I would like to see the original developers able to continue their game things happen and this game turned out to be a money printer for Microsoft.
For me it only took me about 8 hours to play though the single player campaign on easy. This took place for a few hours after getting it to rent from RedBox (one day after the release at midnight might I add) and then playing though the next day while taking care of kids now and then. There were times when it was not so hard but frustrating to get past an area not so much being killed by any enemy but by getting pushed off an edge or just falling off in a strange way into a place you expected to have more room to walk.
As for how the game looked, I would like to say they did an excellent job on the almost 1 hour of cut scenes. People and environments in those videos looked almost real and while the game engine looked good the scenes looked as if they were in the same place so you didn’t get ripped out of the reality you were in because they did so well on the video. Also like I said the game engine made large areas look good an natural including a jungle area that helped you keep moving in the right way but seemed like you were just wondering for a while to what you thought was the right way. There was also times when I though JJ Abrams came in with a few too many lenses flairs or bright washouts of your screen. And the persistent overlay of the HUD seemed to annoy me when I would see a blue outline that should not be covering the screen were no information was being displayed such as around the top bottom and all four corners. But you can get use to some of these things.
The game play was good for a console game, I like PC games that use a mouse and keyboard for better control but things worked out good enough. I did have some problems with in a big fight ending up crouched and not being able to run, I don’t think they needed to have a button right by the switch weapon that put you in a crouch mode, I never used it once in the game. As before the only major time I had problems with dying was falling off ledges or being shoved off when some enemy gets too close, they could have put more railings and such.
Story wise, it was short but took you though what was fun to play. It kind of plays out like this without giving anything away; find yourself having to fight for your life, you try and save some people, meet some new enemies, get some new stuff, try and save more people from enemies, save the world, game ends. Ok that’s about it for story without giving anything away. I would have liked a longer story with more game play, but you did get a mix of different landscapes, enemies, and even fight types including a fast passed flight simulator. But as I finished this up I was glad I rented this, I know most people will play hours and hours of multiplayer but that’s only half the game, and they don’t even rent that to you. I don’t play much of the multiplayer on console because it’s limiting so the single player being so short would not make this worth the $59.99 price tag.
From messages on the starting load screen and at the end after the credits and final video they make mention of more to come from 343, I would like to see the quality that they put into this game, but increase the content for when they most likely put out Halo 5 with the new Xbox whenever it comes out.
I would say if you like shooters, have an Xbox 360, and like single player games, rent this game it will be fun and you should at least experience every Halo game once. If you like the multiplayer and all things Halo you should buy the game, or ask for it these holidays. As for a rating I would give this a 4.5/5 based on it being a quality game, good videos and graphics, but had problems with short game play and some frustrating points, but I would recommend this to anyone with an Xbox 360.
With the upcoming release of the Windows 8 and Windows RT Microsoft has been developing what they think is the ideal tablet experience for Windows RT. They call their tablet Surface and will be coming out in both a Windows RT version and Windows 8 Pro version. The announcement of the Surface with Windows RT came out today and will start at $499, shipping on October 26 2012. There are three different packages to order, the lowest priced one is just a 32GB Surface with no cover and the highest is 64GB with a Cover. You can also order extra covers in different colors or buy a cover with a built-in keyboard that comes in 5 different colors.
While I don’t see mass adoption of Windows 8 or Windows RT it looks to be an acquit tablet interface but lacks in apps and functionality that most users will expect from a tablet such as an iPad or Android device. As for running Windows 8 on a laptop or desktop is a complete failure on the part of Microsoft, and they have only shown how the start menu takes over the system and that is all they expect you to do with your computer is have the start menu up all the time. This tablet seems like a response to the iPad but done with out thinking through the entire experience along with the experience of how Windows 8 will work as a desktop interface.
While the Surface looks to be a decent tablet it will also come with Microsoft Office 2013 RT installed, while it will be a pre-release of Office Home and Student it should get updated to the full release when it comes out. They also include Internet Explorer 10, Xbox Music store and other Xbox branded games. Check out the specs and gallery below for more about the details of the device.
|Software||Windows RT and Office Home and Student 2013 RT|
|Storage||32 and 64 GB|
|CPU / Memory||NVIDIA T30 / 2 GB RAM|
|Display||10.6 inch 5-point multi-touch|
|Cameras||Both front and back 720p HD|
|Wireless||2×2 MIMO WIFI, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Ports||USB 2.0, mircoSDXC, HD Video Out|
|Sound||3.5mm headphone, 2 microphones, stereo speakers|
|Sensors||Ambient Light, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass|
|Price||$499-699 + $119-129 for covers + HD Adaptor|
Microsoft sent out invitations to the Windows Phone 8 release event they are holding October 29th 2012 in San Francisco California. The news hasn’t hit any of Microsoft’s own websites yet but lots of sites are reporting getting invitations. This would mean that most of the new Windows Phone 8 powered devices will be coming this November. Such as the announcement that the Nokia Lumia 820 and 920 will be available this Holiday season on AT&T in the United States. We will be paying attrition to the announcements from this event to see if there is more news about Windows Phone 8.
Update: October 4 2012: AT&T announced that they will have the Nokia Lumia 820 and 920 on there network in the United States. AT&T also stated that they are the top seller of Windows Phone’s. While there are only them an T-Mobile who have phones that work on there network its not that unusual that they would be the top seller. No mention of price or release date were given, but invitations to the release of Windows Phone 8 will be announced on October 29th 2012.
Nokia release two new phones that will be running Windows Phone 8 that stand up to most of the new Android phones coming out. Both the Lumia 920 and 820 will be running Windows Phone 8 when it is release, have Snapdragon S4 1.5Ghz Dual-Core processors have great cameras, and have the ability to wireless charging. The phones also come in a bunch of bright colors and they have a bunch of color matching accessories such as a Bluetooth hands free unit, wireless charging plates, and speakers that charge wirelessly. Check out the specs list below.
|Nokia Lumia 820||Nokia Lumia 920|
|Dual-Core 1.5Ghz Snapdragon S4 Processor||Dual-Core 1.5Ghz Snapdragon S4 Processor|
|GSM with Micro SIM||GSM with Micro SIM|
|Qi Wireless Charging||Qi Wireless Charging|
|4.3″ 800x480px Screen||4.5″ 1280x768px Screen|
|8MP Carl Zeiss Tessar Lens Camera||8.7MP Nokia PureView Camera|
|8GB w/ microSD up to 32GB + 7GB SkyDrive||32GB + 7GB SkyDrive|
|1000MB RAM||1000MB RAM|
|NFC, Bluetooth 3.1, GPS, WiFi Direct||NFC, Bluetooth 3.1, GPS, WiFi Direct|
|1650mAh battery, 330h standby, 8-14h talk||2000mAh battery, 400h standby, 10-17h talk|
|Red, Yellow, White, Cyan, Purple, Gray, Black||Yellow, Red, White, Gray, Black|
The wireless charging has been around for a while yet not taken off because of the added cost. But it looks like they are making the charging something that they really want to push. With things like charging built into a JBL speaker that also color matches the phone, also they have the Bluetooth Handset that match the colors and can charge using the same wireless mats.
Nokia also made a point to talk about how good the camera is. This includes things such as stabilization built into the entire camera module, really good lenses, and being able to take more light in with the stabilization to take darker photos and have them look brighter.
In the software part of things this will have Windows Phone 8 that should have more apps since they change how the apps are built and can be built for Windows 8 and be easily ported to Windows Phone 8. The Nokia Maps has their own mapping data, directions, navigation, and offline maps. Also SkyDrive is integrated deeply into the OS to share photos, documents and other files.
This phone looks nice, but no details on the release date or price out yet. This is also the first Nokia Windows Phone 8 devices and seems to be a very polished device. More images in the gallery below.
A few weeks ago I quit my normal crummy job that wasn’t helping me with my goal of working with computers, technology, or the internet. I had gotten my degree as an Information System Administrator but the job market for IT workers is very hard because there aren’t that many jobs where I live, but I had a few ideas on how I can still have an income.
First I have done some service calls for a company installing Internet, and those pay good for the work, I also have some friends that has been offering to get me doing the service calls they do but in my area. Because these calls aren’t consistent I plan to do some other stuff with my time when I’m not just taking care of my kids.
So my plan is to write on my Technology and Gadget blog Tek4.ME as much as I can. It will have topics such as news about upcoming Apple, Microsoft, Google, and other Companies new products and services. The blog will also have tips and tricks for best using your technology and online services. Some of the articles already up include my Hands on Review of the Nexus 7, information on why YouTube won’t be part of iOS 6, and what’s new in Windows Essentials 2012.
Finally I would also like to start building a few websites a month; this would be things like setting up and building a site using WordPress or Drupal for any type of business or organization. If interested check out more information at Grand Junction Computers web site.
If you have a Windows 7 computer you most likely had Windows Essentials installed by the maker or would want to get this set of applications that help do more with your Windows system. It was also called Windows Live Essentials but they seem to have dropped the “Live” from the name.
The main pack includes the following programs: Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Messenger, Mail, Writer, Outlook Connector, SkyDrive, and Family Safety. Lots of these applications were part of Windows in the past, but they now get updated more often than when Windows OS gets updated.
The two applications they are showing the biggest updates include Movie Maker and Photo Gallery. Movie Maker is a free video editing package that lets you easily edit home videos and put them up on sites such as YouTube.com or make them into DVDs. Photo Gallery is a photo organization and manipulation tool, it lets you fix problems with your images and do things like panoramas.
The update to Movie Maker includes a new Video Stabilization to reduce the shake that may be in your videos if the camera wasn’t on a tripod or a windy day. There are also more options for adding music from online music sites and how they are added to your video. They also improved adding text overlays to the videos so it will be easier to read. And finally they now by default encode video in H.264 rather than Windows Media Video making sharing easier.
As for the Photo Gallery they only did a few little updates such as making a Auto Collage and updating services you can export to.
Another note that the other applications get bug fixes if you had them installed and will require you to restart your computer for them to be setup so expect that. But this is a nice set of additional applications that make using Windows better, there are a lot of other applications that do all of this but these integrate with Windows. In most cases you can do all of this Online now using Google or Office Live.