First Impressions: Surface Pro 3

Well, I finally caved and picked up a Surface Pro 3. I’ve been toying with the idea for some time now, looking to replace my Nvidia Shield Tablet with something a little better for writing. I loved the idea of having something with a large screen and full desktop experience, but my previous use of a tablet running Windows had been less than ideal.

It’s been just less than a week of using the Surface Pro 3 and so far I love it. I’ve even come to the conclusion that it’s time to finally give up my Macbook Pro (maybe). With the Windows 10 update the Surface Pro 3 has gone from being a good device to being an amazing device.

Finally both tablet and laptop mode work well. Unlike my previous experiences with Windows 8.1, everything flows, there’s no horrid interruptions like users had to face before.

The device is fast and powerful, handling pretty much everything I do without batting an eyelid. Throw in good battery life and I’m onto a winner. When it comes to my writing this thing is awesome.

The Surface Pen is a welcome addition to my usage. Note taking feels natural and drawing works well.

Basically, the Surface Pro 3 has combined all of my devices into one. I’ll write as more in depth review after using it for a little longer, but so far, I’m more than glad I decided to give this device a chance!

Review: Surface Pro 3 Type Cover

So, this is one of those essential accessories that Microsoft Surface users will want with their shiny tablet/laptop hybrid. It’s advertised as being a must have, something that transforms your tablet from just being a tablet, into a fantastic portable laptop. The question is how well does it do that?

I’m in two minds about this keyboard. On the one hand, it is a must have, there’s no denying this, but it’s not a great keyboard and it’s definitely not good value for money. The form factor and design is spot on, and the ease in which it attaches and detaches from the Surface makes switching between tablet and laptop an absolute breeze.

The keyboard is thin and flimsy though, it flexes far too much which can make lengthy typing a pain. The key spacing is also a little odd, with there being no real gaps between keys which will lead to a fair few duplicate key presses.

I love the fact that you can either lay the keyboard flat, or, by using the magnet it can clip against the Surface’s lower screen so that it sits at a slight angle. This makes typing easier, but unfortunately the dreaded flexing kicks in.

It was also a nicer design choice to allow users to decide if they want to clip the Surface pen to the keyboard or not. In the box you’ll find a pen loop which has a peel off stick tab. You can then decide if, and where you want to attach the loop and store your pen. This is good if you don’t want to use the Surface pen as it means you won’t have a random loop attached to your keyboard. However the loop has dropped off a few times now.

One thing that is very hit and miss is the trackpad. Now you could forgive Microsoft, considering this is attached to a touchscreen device, but a good trackpad makes all the difference. Unfortunately this isn’t a good trackpad. It’s ok, but it seems intermittent. Sensitivity seems all over the place, responsiveness isn’t spot on, and within a few days the finish around the trackpad had started to wear down.

Speaking of finish, I love the cyan! I also really like the feel of the keyboard, but the material does get dirty and worn down very quickly. I’m not convinced that this will last very long which is very disappointing.

So is the keyboard worth it? Well, yes and no. If you have a Surface Pro 3 then you will probably find yourself benefiting from this accessory. Just be aware, it’s not good value for money and it’s not really very good, with far too many flaws. Fingers crossed Microsoft will bring us a better keyboard dock style accessory later down the line. For now, this is what we are left with.

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Review: Balios® Combo 7000mAh

Well here’s an interesting little portable battery. I’ve reviewed my fair share of these devices, but none of them have been quite as feature packed as the Balios Combo 7000mAh.

This is a portable battery that can recharge using its built in solar panels! It also packs a small torch and a selfie button which you can use as a remote shutter by pairing up over Bluetooth with your phone. Pretty neat right?

All of these features are great, especially if you’re away on a hiking holiday or something similar. There are two USB outs, which allow you to charge multiple devices at the same time. The capacity and charging speed is also good, which when combined with the ability to top up the devices charge via its solar panels, becomes a real winner.

Now I must stress the phrase ‘Topped Up’ because this thing takes in energy from the sun at a VERY slow rate. For me it took around four days for the thing to take in a full charge. Now this isn’t too bad if you are expecting it to just take in a little extra energy while walking (you can clip it to your belt or bag using the clip that comes with it) but if you’re looking for a solution that will help to save money at home, completely helping you to avoid plugging into the mains, then this will not help.

The extra features are nice, the remote shutter coming in handy, with the small torch acting to light me up in darker situations when trying to take a selfie. The thing is, they felt as little unnecessary, but I guess it’s better to have and not need right?

So is the portable battery worth it? The answer is maybe. If you’re going on holiday and won’t have access to the mains, then this could be extremely helpful, especially since it tops itself up. If you’re just after a portable battery, or something that will completely replace your mains charging at home due to its solar charging, then this isn’t the product for you.

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Review: Lavievert Gray Felt Case iPad Mini

I’m not normally a fan of sleeve style cases, but with me constantly throwing my tablet into a bag where it gets knocked about this case came in pretty handy. It feels and looks good, a neutral grey felt finish with a light brown splash at the bottom. The case closes using a popper which stays in place nicely and doesn’t pop open, even when it’s knocked about in my bag.

The case is a good fit for my iPad mini, not too tight which comes in handy if you have one of Apple’s magnetic cases attached to your tablet. It also helps to future proof your case, just in case you decide to switch to another similar sized tablet in the future.

Inside you’ll find a soft felt finish which will help to keep your iPad free from any scratches. it also helps to keep the screen clean (well kind of, it wiped my screen free of some finger prints anyway)

So overall I’m impressed. This is a good looking case with a quality finish which won’t break the bank. If you like the look of it from the pictures then you’ll like it more in person. Definitely one worth considering.

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Review: GMYLE® 2500mAh Ultra-Thin Power Bank

This is perhaps the most portable battery I’ve reviewed to date. This slim line, compact device is fantastic to use and easy to carry around no matter what.

I’ve used and reviewed a number of portable batteries, almost everyone of them boasting far more power than this little device. The one thing they all lack in comparison is the super compact design.

Now it does have its draw backs. If you’re going on a long journey and you need a lot of power for multiple devices then this isn’t the product for you. However, if you are looking to use a portable battery on your daily commute or while at work, then this product is far better suited than most others out there.

I’ve found it very convenient to slip this into my jacket pocket, taking it out and attaching it to my phone when needed. The great thing about it is that it fits in my jeans pocket along side my phone without adding any real bulk. Its comfortable to charge and carry at the same time.

Also the fact it has a relatively short cable attached is a good thing as it means you won’t have lengths of cable sticking out of your pocket.

The charge time as relatively fast, only a tiny but slower than plugging my device directly into the mains.

As I mentioned above, if you’re after something with a lot of power for long journeys this isn’t for you. However if its just a daily power boost you require then look no further.

Out of all the power banks I’ve been sent to review, this one is by far the most practical to use on a daily basis.

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Offer: Surface Pro 3 Discounted and Free Keyboard

Well this is tempting! If you’re in the market for a tablet/laptop hybrid device then now might be the time to pick one up. The device is currently on offer with a nice bit of discount, but it also comes with the Type Cover free of charge.

All in all, that’s not a bad package and price for such a good bit of kit. The Surface Pro 3 supports the best of both worlds, offering a full desktop experience in a gorgeous package. The device is capable of running as a tablet or laptop, the 12 inch touch screen giving enough space to work comfortably, which when combined with the Type Cover offers a desktop experience.

So as I mentioned above, if you’re in the market for a device like this, or like me you’ve been tempted by the Surface, then now is the time to buy!

If you’re after something smaller then Microsoft did recently launch the Surface 3, a smaller version of the Surface Pro. It’s not quite as powerful as its bigger brother, but still it offers a full desktop/tablet experience to the user and can be paired up with a Type Cover.

If you’re interested in the promotion, which runs until 11th of June, then you can find the link here: Surface Pro 3

Review: 1byone® Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard

I was sent this product to offer an unbiased review and I was pretty excited to see how this keyboard and trackpad combination performed. I’ve been keeping my eye out for this sort of product for a little while now to combine with my Nvidia Shield Tablet so naturally I jumped at the opportunity to review this product. So, did it live up to what I was hoping for?

The Good

  • Stylish and slim
  • Keys feel good with no skipped presses
  • Micro USB charging
  • Good battery
  • Function keys for Android and Windows
The Bad
  • No grip for the bottom
  • A little too slim, flexes when typing
  • Trackpad sometimes stops working for a few seconds

The keyboard is very easy to pair with your device, literally hold the function key and the C key and then search for the keyboard in the bluetooth settings on the device you wish to pair with. Within only a couple of minutes of unwrapping the keyboard I was paired and ready to play.

It’s comfortable to use, with keys that feel great to type on. They offer a good click and are adequately spaced unlike some portable keyboards that have a plushy and cramped feel to them. My only criticism of typing on this product is that due to the keyboard being so slim it does seem to flex a little when in use.

Moving onto the trackpad is a slightly mixed bag. On the one hand it works straight off the bat with Android and offers something closer to a laptop experience on your tablet. The trackpad is large enough to use for browsing, but it does feel a little cramped, but I suppose that’s to be expected. The one thing that really let the mouse side of things down was its tendency to either lag or just disappear entirely for a few seconds. However, it performed well enough that I didn’t need to carry a portable mouse around with me.

The design of the device is great. It’s slim, lightweight, and the keys fill up pretty much all the space on the device, giving the user a great typing experience. However, the biggest flaw with this product is in the design. It has four rubber nubs on the top, obviously to help protect your tablet screen if its faced down while in your bag, however it doesn’t have the same nubs on the bottom. It does have four, very tiny and recessed slivers of rubber in each corner on the bottom.

The issue with this design flaw… Well if you type on a smooth surface it causes the keyboard to go sliding all over the place. In the end I had to seek out some form of rubber to stick on the bottom of it because out of the because the keyboard was just too slippery to use on a smooth surface. It’ not the end of the world, but it does require some additions in order to be usable.

So in conclusion this is a pretty good keyboard, especially at the price range. Are there better keyboards out there? Of course there are, but you’ll be paying extra for that. If you’re after something to combine with your tablet for some on the go use without paying a premium then this is going to cover everything you need.

Yes it has its flaws, but for the price being asked you can’t go wrong.

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First Impressions: Half Life 2 Android Nvidia Shield

Recently I picked up a new Nvidia Shield Tablet and so far I love it. Obviously one of the first things I did was redeem my free copy of Half Life 2 and take it for a spin. So how does this amazing game hold up on an Android device? Are we anywhere near the stage of being able to use tablets for serious gaming?

Well the answer to the above is that it plays surprisingly well. Feel free to check out my gameplay videos that have all been recorded directly from my Nvidia Shield Tablet. The game handles well and I’ve only encountered a few slow downs in my 5 hours of gameplay so far. It tends to struggle a little when I blow everything on screen up or go a little mad with the gravity gun, but apart from that the device plays Half Life 2 amazingly smoothly.

If you really want to have a good time you’ll need a gamepad, in fact Half Life won’t run without one. Even if you hook a mouse and keyboard up to your device Half Life still won’t run. A minor issue but it works well enough with a decent games controller.

But what about that small screen? Well for starters it’s pretty much next to my face so it doesn’t really limit the experience. On top of that the display looks fantastic and really helps to bring the game to life. No issues with the screen size here! Although if I were to play on the Nvidia Shield Portable I’m not so sure I’d find it as enjoyable.

The 8 inch display on the Shield Tablet is just about perfect for gaming at the coach. My perfect set up is my Shield Tablet on the arm of the chair as I kick back and relax.

I’ve taken the game for a test run in console mode and I’m pleased to say it runs just as smoothly. Outputting onto my TV allowed for a true console like experience playing the game which again left me exceptionally surprised. The game looks awesome on a larger display and you can easily forget that you’re running it from a tablet.

I think it’s quite incredible to think how far Tablets and other mobile devices have come in such a short amount of time. It wasn’t that long ago that Half Life 2 was running on a current gen console! Within the year I honestly believe that Tablets will begin to really find a place in the gaming market, especially if they continue to get the support from developers such as Valve.

So is it worth playing? Definitely! If you’re a fan of Half Life and you happen to own an Nvidia Shield Tablet then why on earth are you not playing this game?

 

 

 

 

 

iPad Pro/Plus

With rumors of Apples next iPad’s coming up there is one that has really caught my attention, the larger screened iPad. I had it in my head that Apple would align their naming with their Mac and Macbook range, running with a mini, air and pro, but after the announcement of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus it looks like maybe Pro won’t be appearing anytime soon. Regardless of the name it comes with, if it does come I’m very excited for it!

Some people think I’m a little mad wanting a larger iPad than my Air that I have already, but the only thing that really lets my iPad Air down right now is the screen size. The device itself is very close to being able to replace my Macbook, but the screen is just a little too small. Rumors suggest that the iPad Pro/Plus will come with a 13 inch display which is perfect. Combined with a keyboard dock then it will offer a near perfect solution for portable productivity.

I do a lot of writing on the go and my iPad Air, keyboard dock and Pages app really make work easy to accomplish. I’ve even gone a little crazy at times and completed Keynote presentations and spreadsheets on my iPad, but due to the screen size things get fiddly.

The 13 inch screen size would help to make things a lot easier to complete, removing the fiddly process of constantly zooming in and out of certain areas on the screen. Even with the added weight and potentially added discomfort of holding something so big, that can be easily cancelled out by using a keyboard dock which normally act as a stand as well.

The only issue I have with the idea of a 13 inch iPad is that iOS doesn’t support mouse input unless you jailbreak. Now if I’m going to go keyboard dock, larger display, and potentially replace my Macbook, then I’d love to see Apple implement this into the software. Considering their refusal to do this in the past, insisting that the touchscreen is the only input needed, this could be unlikely. However there are a lot of things happening over at Apple that they always insisted would never happen, so maybe mouse input will show up?

Only time will tell what new devices are coming. We don’t have long to wait, with Apple usually announcing new iPad’s within October. I’ll be keeping a close eye out and really hope Apple come out with something bigger and if they do, maybe I’ll finally give up my Macbook.

Nexus 7 2013

So I recently acquired a Nexus 7 2013 and so far my impressions are mixed. Its a lovely little device, small, compact and powerful. Despite this however there’s something I’m just not getting on with.

Image

look and feel

As I mentioned above the Nexus 7 is a small and compact device, perfect for portability. It has a lovely matte finish and the screen quality is superb. I’ve found that due to its light weight the Nexus is easy to hold in one hand for a relatively long time making it perfect for all you eBook readers out there.

What I do dislike about the Nexus is the huge bezels above and below the screen. They’ve got such slim bezels on the side that this makes the Nexus ridiculously long and partially uncomfortable for portrait typing due to the corners being so far from the screen. To me it just feels like wasted space,Im sure its not and that there is a perfectly good internal reason but nonetheless it really puts me off the design.

User Experience

Pure Android is always a good thing. There are far too may manufactures out there who destroy perfectly good hardware with their poor launchers and awful bloatware. With a Nexus device theres no need to worry about this.

The result is something lightning fast, responding without lag almost every time. There’s the odd stutter but its rare. Users also have the ability to customise from the ground up, either selecting the pre loaded apps and widgets or choose from a huge range and selection from the Play Store.

I can’t really fault the Nexus when it comes to using it. My only gripes are that the screen is a little too small for my taste and it also suffers from the occasional ghost press which drives me mad when typing. Apart from these two things the Nexus is a superb device when it comes to experience.

Stand Out Feature

The stand out feature has to be how powerful the Nexus is despite its size. Gaming on the go is superb due to the monstrous specs Asus have managed to squeeze in. Combined with the 7 inch screen this make a the Nexus 7 comfortable to game on unlike larger tablets where your thumbs are stretched.

For those who are a fan of mobile gaming the Nexus is the perfect companion. Comfortable, small and powerful.

Conclusion

I can’t really fault the Nexus 7. Its a gorgeous little device that can handle pretty much anything you throw at it. I feel its a little small but that’s personal taste.

For anyone who is looking for a well priced smaller tablet then the Nexus 7 should definitely be on the top of your list.

Samsung Ativ PC Pro Day by Day

Well my Samsung Ativ PC Pro has just arrived and I’ll be writing my thoughts on the device one day at a time. So far I’m very impressed by it and I look forward to using it more and seeing how it really performs in real world usage. So what will I look at when reviewing this beast?

Samsung

Right now I use a MacBook Air which I absolutely love. Its a great piece of kit and does most things that I need but its getting old and lacks power now. I also love the form factor of something like the Ativ PC Pro and I’m intrigued to see how well it performs as a tablet and also ultrabook. Obviously I do a lot of writing and the Mac has proved to be a great companion for all of my notes and work. I’ll take the Ativ PC Pro for a real spin and see how productive it really can be!

I’ve ordered myself a larger 256GB SSD (http://amzn.to/Z43Ec9) which I will fit into the tablet. This will hopefully be arriving this week and I’ll let you know how well the installation goes!

Day One

I’ve been using the Ativ PC Pro for just over 24 hours now and I must say I’m pleasantly surprised. I felt that I was going to be underwhelmed by this tablet due to the negativity that Windows 8 has received but I’ve got to admit that the OS actually performs very well. The tablet feels premium and performs well handling pretty much everything I’ve thrown at it. I’ve spent most of my time installing my applications and customizing the device but so far I’m impressed.

My first impressions of the OS is that it offers the best of both worlds. On the one hand I have the traditional desktop mode which I’ve spent most time using with my tablet docked in the keyboard. This performs exactly how you would expect from a Windows device. I’ve not had a chance to spend much time with Modern UI but from my brief play it handles well and gives a touch friendly environment. The thing that I love about this device when compared to other tablets is that it offers me everything. There’s no need to worry about where I will download my media content for example, I’ve got the choice to use iTunes or Google Music and I don’t need to worry about converting files. This is a full Windows experience and I love it so far.

So the device itself, what’s it like? Nice, very nice. It’s obviously bigger than your traditional tablet but that suits me just fine. It feels premium and when docked in it’s keyboard it feels and handles like an ultrabook. It’s on the heavy side so one handed use will get uncomfortable after a while and it’s also very long so using this device in portrait seems odd. It has all the ports I require and doesn’t really compromise on anything.

One of the biggest advantages is also the biggest let downs. I went for the Samsung Ativ PC Pro over the Microsoft Surface Pro due to it’s keyboard dock. The keyboard is great to use and the trackpad works well although it is a little on the small side. However the keyboard disconnects that are so widely reported are exceptionally annoying causing the keyboard to disconnect at even the slightest movement. The dock also feels extremely cheap and light which is odd considering how well made the tablet itself feels. It’s a shame that Samsung didn’t really go to the same effort in building the keyboard dock as they did the tablet. What I would have loved to see is something that employs the same materials as the tablet and perhaps uses bluetooth to connect with the tablet to avoid disconnection issues.

I’ve installed a couple of games onto the tablet just to test out how well it handles them. So far I’ve tried out Torchlight 2 and Guild Wars 2 and both games have handled well. As I mentioned I’ve not had a great deal of time yet to really test out the tablet but I’ll get some benchmarks etc in my day 2 experience.

Day Two

Well another day down and I’m still impressed by the Ativ. One thing that has struck me is how well the battery performs. I expected a couple of hours at best but I’ve squeezed over to 5 hours of screen on time and a couple of these were spent playing Guild Wars 2. Considering the power needed to keep this going it doesn’t overheat even when gaming and just keeps on performing.

So when it comes to gaming how well does it actually do it? It’s acceptable but won’t blow your socks off. If you’re looking for something that’s going to act as your gaming machine then look elsewhere, perhaps the Razer Edge? Yes the Ativ can game but it doesn’t deliver stellar performance. My session in Guild Wars was relatively smooth but bear in mind I had to drop all settings to low and lower the resolution to 720. The other problem I faced when gaming with this tablet was the keyboard dock. For whatever reason you cannot use the trackpad simultaneously with the keyboard which makes controlling your character difficult. I just hooked up a bluetooth mouse and problem solved but still it’s just another flaw with the dock.

I also decided to spend a few hours using the Ativ as a tablet because lets face it Windows 8 has been marketed at the touchscreen crowd. Desktop performed reasonably well with only a few icons being too small to hit
but at the end of the day it’s what you would expect. What I really wanted to find out is how well Modern UI performed. It was all lovely, pleasant boring. It just felt like a really dumbed down windows and left me constantly longing for my keyboard and mouse. It’s ok for those occasions when space is limited but in comparison to the likes of Android left me feeling underwhelmed. The other issue with using the Ativ as a tablet only is its weight! After a few minutes of using this I had to rest it somewhere because it is big. It’s also long which makes using it in portrait feel a little bit odd.

So to sum up if you plan on using it as a tablet only it maybe worth looking at other options unless you need the sheer power of this machine. However if like me you want a good mix and a hybrid machine then don’t let my experience of using it as a tablet put you off.

Day Three

I think I’ve got a good grasp of how well this tablet performs now. I went into this wondering if I would be getting rid of my MacBook and using only one device. My expectations were low, Windows 8 hasn’t exactly had a great ride since it’s launch. So what’s the outcome?

I love it! Sure there are things that aren’t up to scratch within the OS but for the most part it does what it needs to and its got a lot of polish and even better it offers a full desktop OS unlike any others offer right now. I can load up all my old applications and also play full PC games on my tablet. No other OS gives me this power right now and that’s where Windows 8 beats Android and iOS hands down.

When it comes to hardware I love pretty much everything about the tablet. It gets a little hot when under heavy load but its not uncomfortable. The biggest let down is the keyboard dock which has an appalling trackpad and is missing so many features. It’s just too light so tips over on non flat surfaces, could have been solved with an additional battery and the disconnection issues… the less said about that the better. If Samsung can manufacture a better dock then this device will be absolutely fantastic.

The tablet market is about to get flooded with Windows 8 devices but in my opinion the Samsung Ativ PC Pro is head and shoulders above the rest. I just really hope that manufactures don’t start pulling out of the Windows 8 space. I thought I was going to hate it but this has been a refreshing experience. It’s a no compromise device and I all I can say is that if you’re in the market for something portable but with power then this is your device.

For a full spec list and current prices check out Amazon for details:

http://amzn.to/Yb7ih6

For a full list of accessories available check out Amazon for details:

http://amzn.to/11Ul2kL

Ordered My Samsung Ativ Pc Pro

Just got around to ordering my Samsung Ativ Pc Pro so I can see how well it performs in replacing my MacBook Air for productivity and writing! I was holding out for the Microsoft Surface Pro but it seems like they have no interest in letting us in the UK know pricing or availability so I gave up.

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