Monday, October 31, 2016

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

There’s no doubt in our minds that the Surface Pro 3 was a success. In fact, with its flagship tablet, Microsoft went so far as to inspire its manufacturing partners to make their own award winning 2-in-1s in a similar vein. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that when the next iteration rolled out, the Surface Pro 4 made only slight revisions over its predecessor. But we’re not complaining.

The slimmer form factor and increased display size do wonders for the Surface Pro 4. Even the Type Cover keyboard has seen subtle changes. While it may not seem like much on the surface (ha), Microsoft Devices team lead Panos Panay and company have written a love letter with the Surface Pro 4 to their long-time supporters who’ve taken the time to issue feedback along the way.

It’s further evidence that Microsoft is listening, and its response is stellar.

Recent developments

With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update release behind us, the Surface Pro 4 has spiraled towards an anniversary of its own, celebrated by the fact that overall Surface sales are up 38% over last year.

And, although a Surface Pro 5 may not land until spring 2017, that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from preparing even more Surface products. A Surface Studio all-in-one PC was revealed at the company’s October 26 Windows 10 event, alongside two new keyboards and a Surface Mouse. 

Next up, Surface Dial was revealed as a companion accessory for artists and designers using either a Surface Pro 4, Surface Book or Surface Studio. Paint 3D was also shown off as part of the Windows 10 Creators Update in addition to Game Broadcasting and improved social integrations.

Now, let’s discuss Microsoft’s winning hardware design already, shall we?

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review

Design and display

Perhaps the most obvious way in which this year’s Surface Pro model is iterative is its looks. The same all-magnesium, unibody casing is still here, though the “Surface” logo has been replaced in favor of Microsoft’s new logo in chrome.

Microsoft managed to up the device’s screen size by a few hairs, from the 2014 model’s straight 12 inches to this year’s 12.3 inches, without affecting its footprint at all. That is, unless you count the Redmond firm shaving over half a millimeter off of its thickness, from 9.1mm to 8.4mm this year – all while maintaining support for full-fat mobile processors.

How did they do it?

For one, Microsoft’s product team decided it was time the capacitive Windows button said goodbye, especially with Windows 10 providing easy access to the Start menu, thus the extra room for that three tenths of an inch.

Secondly, the team managed to bring the display’s optical stack – the series of sensors, diodes and pixels beneath the glass – even closer to the glass this time around, a key point of Microsoft’s trademarked PixelSense screen technology. This helped the firm bring the slate’s thickness down by half a millimeter.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review

The idea here is to bring the sensor elements of the touchscreen as close to your finger or Surface Pen as possible, and it works awfully well. The display is incredibly responsive to touch, and the further sensitivity it brings to the stylus experience is huge. In tandem with the new Surface Pen, the screen detects 1,024 levels of pressure, even during a single stroke.

Now, let’s talk pixels. Even though it really didn’t have to, Microsoft went and boosted the Surface Pro’s resolution from 2,160 x 1,440 (216 ppi, or pixels per inch) in the old model to 2,736 x 1,824. That makes for a huge 267 ppi put forth by the Surface Pro 4, which blows its main rival, the MacBook Air (128 ppi for the 13-inch), out of the water and narrowly edges out Apple’s new, 12.9-inch iPad Pro at 264 ppi.


But more importantly, the new screen proves to be far more luminous and more color accurate than the Surface Pro 3 display at all brightness levels, as you can clearly see. That’s bound to be a key selling point for creative folks, namely artists and designers that have yet to leave the Wacom tablet and calibrated monitor combo behind.

For the rest of us, it simply means more realistic-looking movies and more vibrant photos and games. However, considering Microsoft kept to its rare 3:2 aspect ratio to best emulate the notepad experience for the stylus users, you’ll see even thicker black bars sandwiching your favorite films in 16:9 – and even more so for those in 21:9, or widescreen format.

It’s a fair concern for folks that watch plenty of movies and TV on a tablet. But fear not, workers, for you’re the very reason Microsoft made this decision. The 3:2 aspect ratio is wider and shorter than 4:3, but taller and slightly more narrow than 16:9, the most common aspect ratio for TV and desktop (and laptop) screens today. The result is a middle ground between the two that is ideal for both photo and design or drafting work, wherein 3:2 is much more common, as well as getting computational work done, given the extra vertical space.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review

Surface Pen and Type Cover

To best make use of that extra space, Microsoft has given its Surface Pen and Type Cover accessories some serious upgrades. In addition to the aforementioned 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, the new-and-included Surface Pen is redesigned to feel more like a pencil. The stylus now has one flat side, as if a Number 2 pencil had all but two of its angles rounded off.

The reason for this is two fold. For one, this stylus is even more comfortable to hold than the last as a result – your index finger rests just above the main function button on the flat end. Secondly, this surface (no pun intended) is coated with thin, powerful strip magnets that allow it to cling onto the tablet’s left side. The age of stylus loops is over.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review

The Pen also sports a new, and actually functional, eraser button up top that not only does what it says on the tin, but offers up three unique use cases. In addition to opening OneNote with a single press, the button now takes a screenshot and then opens OneNote with a double press. Finally, a long press summons Cortana to answer to your every whim.

Microsoft seems to have expertly weighted the Surface Pen to make it feel not much heavier than your average clickable pen, despite all of the tech inside. Plus, now that Microsoft offers additional pen tips right out of the box only sweetens the pot.

Suface Pen

Coupled with Microsoft’s PixelSense display, the duo makes for the best stylus experience I’ve had on a tablet yet for as little as I’m wont to use it. Now, I’m no artist or designer, but between the superb palm detection and the accuracy and nuance of the Pen tracking, the Surface Pro 4 looks to have Microsoft’s best shot at luring in that crowd yet.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review

Sorry, artsy folk, but these improvements almost pale in comparison with the Redmond firm’s new-and-still-not-included Type Cover. This time around, Microsoft managed to greatly widen the spacing between the keys for a chiclet-style approach. What this does is make keeping track of which keys your fingers are on by feel much easier, and it allows for each key to be individually backlit.

The new Type Cover is also slightly thicker and far more rigid than before, allowing for deeper key travel and punchier feedback – not to mention a sturdier, quieter surface to type on – that brings it so much closer to the true laptop keyboard. Panay’s team also managed to widen the touchpad and coat it in glass rather than plastic.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review

These two huge improvements make a world of difference in answering the question of whether Microsoft’s tablet can replace your laptop. The Surface Pro 3’s keyboard cover was excruciatingly close to honestly providing a laptop-level typing experience. Now, the new Type Cover has all but closed that gap.

Microsoft upgraded the Surface Pro 4’s Type Cover with biometric functionality. The Surface Pro 4 Type Cover with Fingerprint ID has gone on sale in the US and Australia at a cost of £135 (around $192 or AUS$258). The new keyboard cover, which is only available in black, uses Windows Hello to login to the Surface with a fingertip press. The scanner can also authorise app purchases from the Windows Store, and because the keyboard is backwards compatible, it can be used with the Surface Pro 3 too.

First reviewed: October 2015

Kane Fulton and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this review

Jumper EZBook 2

In the world of technology lookalikes, the Jumper EZBook 2 is probably the one that comes the closest to the original masterpiece. Let’s not muck about, this is an almost perfect copy of Apple’s ground-breaking MacBook Air, more specifically the 13-inch model, but it’s available for a fraction of the price.

The 13-inch MacBook Air costs £949/$999 while the EZBook 2 retails for £162 ($195, or about AU$260) at the time of writing from online Chinese retailer Geekbuying (who provided us with the sample for this hands-on review).

(These costs are exclusive of any taxes that may be levied by HMRC or the courier companies on behalf of the outlet. Want to buy tech from online Chinese retailers? Read this first.)

Our first encounter with Jumper was the EZpad 5S which is a well-made Microsoft Surface 3 lookalike convertible tablet and, on the whole, it was a positive one. Will the EZBook 2 prove to be another decent product? Let’s see.

Make no mistakes, while the EZBook 2 aspires to look like its illustrious Apple competitor when it comes to appearance, it uses an entirely different material to achieve this.

It’s no surprise, really, that Jumper’s MacBook Air clone is made up of plastic, shaped and finished in a way to mimic the aluminium finish of the product that inspired it. 

There’s even a backlit Jumper logo which, well, is a clear nod to the company whose logo is a half-eaten apple.

The laptop is bigger than we were expecting – this is a 14.1-inch model which is the usual display size slotted between the more popular 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch sizes, and is made even bigger thanks to the massive inch-thick bezel used by Jumper, another nod to Apple.

Like the MacBook Air, this device adopts a wedge-like profile with its thinnest edge about 6mm, and the thicker end reaching 18mm. With a footprint of 347 x 230mm, it is far bigger than an A4 sheet, and at just a smidgen under 1.4kg, has a manageable weight for a product of those dimensions.

The notebook being this big gave the design team a bit more leeway, and allowed for dedicated buttons for home, page up, page down and end, as well as a power button on the keyboard itself. 

The latter makes it easier to switch your laptop on and off, and is a definite bonus compared to some notebooks where you have to walk your fingers along one edge to find the power button. However, it’s a mixed blessing because it also increases the chances of accidentally putting the laptop to sleep with a stray tap.

The keys are larger than expected at 15 x 15mm, with a very comfortable travel and a decent 3.3mm gap between them. They were however a tad too sharp for our liking and a little bit wobbly; we didn’t detect any flex under normal use.

The touchpad is surprisingly large and comfortable to use. While not on par with the touchpad on the MacBook Air, the fact that it’s almost twice the size of a credit card (yes, twice) ranks it amongst our favourite efforts at the entry-level end of the market.

As for the display, the 14-inch panel offers good colour reproduction but has some issues with brightness and contrast. It is a matte Full HD model, so while the pixel density is not as high as some of its competitors, it is perfectly adequate for everyday usage.

Connectivity is one area where Jumper flexed its muscles, offering the following: a microSD card slot, a Mini HDMI port, two USB ports (one USB 3.0), a headphone jack, along with Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11n on the wireless front.

The Jumper EZBook 2 comes with a massive 10,000mAh battery which is powered using a 12v3A (36W) charger. That translates into a charging time of roughly four hours and a battery life of around 8 hours 30 minutes on default settings, which is one of the best results we’ve seen on an entry-level laptop.

Don’t expect too much from this machine when it comes to performance though. The device is powered by an Intel Atom x5-Z8300 clocked at 1.44GHz; that is the slowest commercial processor available.

The benchmarks shown above indicate that the EZBook 2 is in line with what can be expected from a laptop equipped with such a processor – the 4GB of memory and 64GB eMMC storage are adequate for lightweight tasks, but this is no powerhouse.

The two speakers provided produce a boxy sound which is characteristic of entry-level devices in this price range. There’s a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, and as is sadly the case for almost all Windows-based devices coming from China, the operating system is pre-registered.

Early verdict 

This is the second iteration of the Jumper EZBook 2. The first one, released earlier this year, was panned by some reviewers for some very fundamental mistakes (like the inability to connect an external hard disk drive). Fortunately, this model has better cooling, improved packaging, and solves the USB port power issue.

Competition is ferocious at this end of the market. The EZBook 2 faces some impressive rivals such as the Voyo VBook V3 convertible laptop, a Lenovo Yoga clone with the added benefit of a stylus and a touchscreen.

But this notebook does hold its ground – initial issues have been ironed out and the design of the EZBook 2, while in no way ground-breaking, is familiar and well enough realised. 

Is this laptop a deal at this price? Yes and no. If you’re ready to take a punt, especially when it comes to the warranty, then go for it. Otherwise, you will have to spend north of £300 (about $365, AU$480) to get something with similar features, but at least you will also receive a UK-based warranty to rely on if anything goes wrong with the device.

For businesses, the Jumper EZBook 2 provides an attractive alternative to Chromebooks and other lower-specced models available in that price range. It might even be worth buying a few extra units to eliminate any potential downtime associated with failures.

Intellectual property strategies for startups

Intellectual property protection is an important consideration for most startups. Obtaining intellectual property protection, such as patents, can minimize competition and act as a defensive mechanism against infringement claims from others. Intellectual property also can attract or solidify funding and partnerships. In formulating an intellectual property strategy for your startup, consider the following.

File early, and keep quiet

Your time to file for patent protection is limited and patents should be contemplated early on in development. In the United States, an inventor has a one-year “grace period” from first publicizing an invention to filing for patent protection, after which it is too late. However, you should not wait even that long. In 2013, the U.S. patent system switched from a first-to-invent to a first-inventor-to-file system. This subtle difference in terminology could mean dire consequences for those who delay seeking patent protection.

Under the old first-to-invent system, you could be the first to conceive of an invention and still obtain patent rights over an earlier filer by showing that you conceived first and continued to diligently work on your invention. Today, it is a race to the patent office. Regardless of who conceived of the invention first, the first one to file their patent application “wins.”

While patents are a valuable asset to any startup, they are only one piece of the puzzle.

Also, it is important to note that the one-year “grace period” to file a patent application is not available in most countries outside of the United States. If you plan to seek patent protection abroad, publicizing your invention at any time before filing a patent application could put your foreign intellectual property rights in jeopardy. Therefore, file early and keep quiet until you do.

File again as the invention evolves

As your startup continues to develop its product or products, consider each new feature as a possibility for patent protection. Startups that file one early patent application and stop may find that, once the patent issues, the product has moved far beyond what was in the original patent application. The product may end up being under-protected or not even covered by the patent at all.

It is important to reevaluate patent protection on a regular basis and consider filing on new features of the invention when applicable. If the product is evolving quickly, consider filing a provisional patent application or a series of provisional patent applications within a year before filing a utility patent application.

Do not wait for your patent to issue

Patents take time. While there are avenues available to expedite examination, on average it takes more than two years for a patent to be granted by the U.S. Patent Office. About 30 percent of patent applications do not make it through at all.

Having an issued patent may help to get funding for your startup and secure your place in your market. But, do not wait until your patent issues to commercialize your invention. Keep your startup moving forward and keep developing. Chances are, you will solve additional problems along the way, which may lead to even more important inventions. In the meantime, you will be building your brand, reputation and revenue.

Consider design patents

When discussing patents, the focus is often on utility patents, but design patents should also be considered as part of a well-rounded intellectual property strategy. In general, a utility patent protects the way a product is used and works, while a design patent protects the way the product looks. By the end of 2015, the U.S. Patent Office had issued more than 9.2 million utility patents, but only about 746,000 design patents.

Design patents can provide significant value as a supplement to utility patents or as a replacement when utility patent protection is unavailable. Software utility patents are still available in the United States. But, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Alice v. CLS Bank, obtaining utility patent protection for software-related inventions has become more difficult and less predictable. Design patents provide a viable option to protect certain features of software-related inventions, particularly the graphical user interfaces.

The term of a design patent is slightly less, 15 years from grant for a design patent versus 20 years from filing for a utility patent, but so is the cost. Also, design patents often can be obtained much quicker than utility patents.

Do not rely solely on patents

While patents are a valuable asset to any startup, they are only one piece of the puzzle. First and foremost, a startup needs a good product or service to be successful. The Patent Office awards patents for new and non-obvious inventions. Receiving a patent does not mean, however, that it is necessarily a good invention or one that anyone will want to buy. Make sure what you are protecting is worth protecting.

Second, build a unique brand and protect it with registered trademarks. A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. Having a strong and recognizable trademark can be extremely valuable for distinguishing you from the competition. And, unlike patents, a registered trademark never expires as long as you keep using it. Trademarks do not have strict filing deadlines like patents, but it is best to start early and have a trademark clearance search done to ensure that there are no conflicts that could prevent your use of the trademark.

Finally, depending on the type of business your startup is in, copyright and trade secret protection also should be considered in your intellectual property strategy. Talk to an intellectual property professional as you begin building your startup to discuss what types of intellectual property protection will work best for you.

US bank authority warns of data breach that took 10,000 records

While treated as a “major” event, the practical risk to the government isn’t high. The data was encrypted precisely to prevent damage from a loss like this, and there’s no indication that any controlled or private info has fallen into the wrong hands.

More than anything, the issue is that the OCC let this data leave in the first place. The agency implemented a policy in August 2016 that bars employees from transferring data to removable storage without a supervisor’s approval, but it came too late to catch the thumb drive episode. Also, there’s a chance that this isn’t the only breach. Investigators spotted the data transfer on September 1st, or shortly into a retrospective review of file transfers that remains underway. It’s too soon to know if this was a one-off event or a sign of additional problems. Either way, it’s not good news for a government that’s still trying to mend its security.

Hive Active Heating 2

Turning your home into a smart home is still a scary prospect for many – mainly because it sounds like something that will cost a lot of money and there’s an assumption you have to go ‘all in’ to get any real benefits. This just isn’t the case anymore, however, with smart systems such as Hive allowing you to start off small and add some smarts to your home bit by bit. 

We’ve had Hive for more than a month now and as each week has passes we’ve found something new to do with it.

At its heart, Hive is a smart heating system, but the brand has been expanding over the last four years to offer up a whole-home smart setup. It’s this modular approach to creating a smart home that users will benefit from – you can use Hive to heat your house and have fun doing this, or you can allow it to take control of lights, sensors and more, all of which are easy to control through the accompanying Hive app.

The initial installation is the hardest part of the Hive setup but it’s something you don’t actually need to do yourself. Hive’s British Gas connection means that once you purchase the product the installation of Hive is included, although it’s worth noting that you don’t have to be a British Gas customer to use the smart home system. 

For its initial £249 price you get a wireless thermostat controller, the Hive hub, a receiver that connects up your boiler to the controller and a person to come install the thing. 

Yes, the price is a little steep but the technology you are buying into – more on this later in the review – is worth it. 

Hive is also boasting on its website, that by using its system over the course of a year you can save up to £150 on your heating bills. 

We haven’t had the system installed for long enough to test this claim but the smarts of the service certainly suggest a saving is possible. We’ll naturally return to this review in due course when we’ve got more data available. 

The installation was hassle free on our part. We have a combi boiler – two boilers in a house can also work, you just have to choose the multi-zone package which allows you to control the boilers separately – and already had a rudimentary wireless system attached. The installer simply replaced this with Hive and the whole process took under an hour. 

The Hive hub was also set up in this time. The hub is the beating heart of Hive. It connects up to your router and is the thing that each Hive product connects to. Again, setup for this was within that hour time, and included a walkthrough of the app.

13 Best 2016 MacBook Pro Accessories

The 2016 MacBook Pro completely changes how you connect everything you own to your computer. Here are the best 2016 MacBook Pro accessories you can buy to smooth the experience and connect your devices.

With new USB C connections, that deliver faster speed thanks to Thunderbolt 3, you will need new cables, adapters and dongles.


We’ll walk through the best 2016 MacBook Pro accessories that you can buy from Apple and from other retailers to save. Like notebooks, Apple charges a premium for adapters and cables.

The best 2016 MacBook Pro accessories you can buy.

The best 2016 MacBook Pro accessories you can buy.

We’re building this list of essential 2016 MacBook Pro accessories out as we find the items that most users will need from sources that are reputable.

Read: 2016 MacBook Pro 13 vs MacBook Pro 15

With two to four new USB Type C ports, you will need 2016 MacBook Pro accessories to connect your phone, SD card, monitors and more. There’s simply no way around buying some new cables and adapters.


USB C cables also deliver power, allowing you to charge your MacBook Pro using any of the ports. You can’t just use any cable though, since not all will be able to handle the power draw needed.

You can save when you buy from reputable third parties, but keep in mind that not all USB C cables and accessories are equal. There are bad USB C cables that could damage your devices. Not all USB C cables will deliver the same speed, since not all support ThunderBolt 3.

Google Daydream View gets shown off in new Verizon commercial


This post originally appeared on our sister site, VRSource

While Google’s Daydream View smartphone-based VR headsets are not officially on sale yet, that is not stopping Verizon Wireless from promoting it in a new commercial for its Pixel smartphones.

Obviously, the ad focuses mostly on the Pixel phone, as passengers on a train are shown how it works by a fellow traveler. He also conveniently happens to have a Daydream View headset as well, and one of his friends gets to try it out for herself.

The appearance of the headset in the commercial is brief, but it does show that Verizon wants people to know that the new Pixel and Pixel XL phones can be used for more that just chatting or surfing the web. Why people are using a VR headset when they are on a train and can look at some great scenery out their window is an exercise we will leave to the reader.

In any case, both Google and Verizon are currently taking pre-orders for the Daydream VR headset. It costs $79 and at the moment only works with the Pixel and Pixel XL phones (more support is coming soon). It is scheduled to begin shipping sometime on November 10 from the Google Store, and November 16 from Verizon. Only the gray slate color is currently available from both sources; white and red colored versions should be available sometime in the future.

Pre-order now from Verizon
Pre-order now from the Google Store

33 Xbox One Tips for a Better Experience

It’s ironic that we still consider living room entertainment systems like Microsoft’s Xbox One a living room console or device. Really, the Xbox One is anything but a “device.” When many hear “device”, they think of less complicated, feature-specific things that don’t require much management and aren’t that intricate. The Xbox One isn’t complicated, but it is intricate. There are tons of features and options available through its software.

Here are some Xbox One tips to help you better navigate the Xbox One interface, use the integrated features and more. These Xbox One tips will be especially helpful for gamers who’ve just picked up the console or are expecting to in the near future.



Xbox One Tips: Get a Kinect 2 Sensor

Starting out, there was just one version of the Xbox One with an included Kinect 2 sensor that allowed users to control their cable boxes, play motion games and control everything with their hands and voice. Quickly, Microsoft introduced another version that doesn’t include Kinect 2 sensor and is just $349.99.

Don’t buy that version. Invest the extra $100 and pick up an Xbox One with Kinect 2 sensor for $399. If you have already picked up that version, it’s worth buying a used Kinect 2 sensor from GameStop for the voice and motion controls alone. As you read more of tips, you’ll learn why.


Xbox One Tips: Follow Xbox Live Game Hubs for the Latest News

There was never an easy way to get information about the latest feature additions to games directly through Xbox Live. Game Hubs are accessed by pressing the Menu button when a video game is highlighted. Users can follow a title’s Game Hub for a list of friend’s who’ve played the game, leaderboards, video clips and a list of Xbox One owners who are popular for creating clips and broadcasts. There’s also an area for purchasing downloadable content.


How to Change the Background on Xbox One (24)

Xbox One Tips: Like a Game? Look for a Related VIP

VIPs are new to the Xbox Live ecosystem. They’re special people, individuals that Microsoft has chosen to highlight on the Xbox One and Xbox Live for their live broadcasts and video clips. Look for them in the game hubs and individual game pages. Again, VIPs are also listed in each Game hub.

Xbox One Tips: Connect a USB Keyboard

The Xbox One doesn’t have a ChatPad accessory. Most believe that’s because Microsoft wants users to install the SmartGlass app on their phones to send messages and more. Whatever the reason, composing messages with a controller is horribly time-consuming and cumbersome. For that reason, Microsoft lets users plug-in a USB keyboard to their console for faster messaging. Any USB keyboard will do and it doesn’t matter which port you plug it in to.

You can also pick up the Xbox One ChatPad.


xbox one chatpad

Xbox One Tips: Join the Preview Program for Early Updates

Microsoft’s Xbox Preview Program lets Xbox One owners get the latest updates a month ahead of schedule in exchange for providing feedback about new features. Joining the program is free, but you’ll have to find someone already participating to invite you.

Read: What is the Xbox Preview Program 

Xbox One Tips: Use the Double Tap Menu for Easy Snapping

Multitasking on the Xbox One is simple with a Kinect 2 sensor. Just say, “Xbox, Snap” and you’re good to go. Users who don’t have a Kinect 2 sensor have a more complicated routine. Press the glowing Xbox logo on your wireless controller twice quickly to bringing up the Xbox Guide and the Snap menu. This menu also lets you record videos in games if you don’t have a Kinect 2 sensor or don’t feel like saying “Xbox, Record that.”

Xbox One Tips: Share Your Digital Xbox One Games With Friends

When you buy a game digitally it’s always available to download directly from Xbox Live. You can store it on a hard drive too. You can’t trade it in, but you can share it with your friends and family thanks to a feature called Xbox Live Home Gold. Just go to the Settings app on the Xbox One that  other users play your games and set it to your Home console.


Read: How to Share Xbox One Games


Xbox One Tips: Free Movie Weekend

Microsoft makes a few games available for free and a ton more available on the cheap through Xbox Live Games with Gold. Most people don’t realize that Microsoft lets users watch videos for free through its Free Movies Weekend promotion too. Just look for the banner when you log into Xbox Live. You’ll be able to watch the movie for one weekend and then it’ll disappear from your collection. In January Microsoft offered Justice League: New Frontier free for Xbox One owners to stream.

Xbox One Tips: Find Other Players Quickly with Looking for Group



Xbox Live stands to get its biggest upgrade yet when Looking for Group launches sometime soon. Available right now to Xbox Preview Program members, the feature lets users set a time and a date to gather Xbox Live users to play their favorite titles. When someone is interested, Xbox Live sends the person that created a Looking for Group entry their Gamertag so that they can jump into a party.

Xbox One Tips: Pre-Order Games for Early Download

Making digital games more popular is crucial to the Xbox One’s future success. To get to the point where more and more users are purchasing their games directly from their console, Microsoft needed to take all the pain out of digital purchasing on release day. That’s where pre-orders come in. Xbox One owners can pre-order a game before its release and have it silently download to their console. You won’t get to play until the release day actually arrives, but it saves you from having to spend release night downloading the game.

Pro-orders also work from the Xbox website.


Xbox One Tips: Add a Hard Drive for Extra Storage

Most Xbox One consoles have 500GB of storage built-in. Thankfully, users can add more. If you purchase an USB hard drive with more than 256GB of storage you can plug it in directly to the Xbox One’s USB ports. You’ll need to format the hard drive, but once you do, your Xbox One will store all of your games and add-ons on the external drive instead of the one built into your console.

What’s more, adding external storage makes sharing games easier. You can unplug that hard drive and go to any Xbox One, login and still play them. Without an external hard drive to hold your games you are stuck downloading them again at a friend’s house.

Xbox One Tips: Get a Headphone Adapter

You can use the Xbox One Chat Headset included with your console or you can buy the Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter and use the headphones you already have.

Read: Essential Xbox One Accessories

Xbox One Tips: Search from Anywhere and Use a Code

Some Xbox One Kinect 2 voice commands are only available in specific apps. Other voice commands work wherever you are. “Xbox, Snap” “Xbox, Go Home” “Xbox, Bing” and “Xbox Use a Code” are all available at any time. So are device specific commands for your television volume.

Xbox One Tips (9)

Xbox One Tips: Web Apps Are Your Friend with Microsoft Edge

The Xbox One has a ton of entertainment apps, but it’s still missing a few. Fill the holes using the Xbox One version of Microsoft Edge . You can use Microsoft Edge  to stream videos from sites like PBS or podcasts using web apps like Pocket Casts. For the best experience, you may want to control Microsoft Edge with the SmartGlass app.

Xbox One Tips: USB & DLNA Media Streaming

Late last year Microsoft rolled out a free app that lets users stream video and music directly to the Xbox One from their PC or play anything stored on a flash drive or hard drive. It’s called Media Player. Download it from the Xbox Store to enjoy the content you already own.

Xbox One Tips: Download Demo Central for the Latest

The Xbox Store is a mess when it comes to finding demos. Strictly speaking, the Xbox One doesn’t have a lot of them anymore, but they’re a few still lurking around. Download the Game Demo Central app to get the latest high-profile video game demos.

Xbox One SmartGlass on iPhone

Xbox One Tips: Rebalance Volume

Unlike Sony’s PS4, Microsoft’s Xbox One allows users to snap multiple things to their screen. This means you can play a video game and listen to music at the same time or browse the web while watching a television show. The key to all of this is rebalancing the console volume so you can clearly hear one over the other. You can rebalance audio in the Sound mixer area in the Xbox One’s Settings app or the Guide.

Xbox One Tips: Use & Xbox SmartGlass and Xbox SmartGlass allow users to stay connected to Xbox Live even when they aren’t on their console. Access them frequently to keep an eye on your friends, monitor achievements and follow other game news. Purchasing games from either of these locations starts the download on your Xbox One, making it easy to get going on a new game when you finally do get in front of your console.

White Xbox One rumored to arrive this year

Xbox One Tips: HDMI Pass-through Port Can Be Used for Other Stuff

The Xbox One’s HDMI Pass-through port is intended for use with a cable or satellite box. That being said, you can connect just about anything to itincluded a PS4, your old Xbox 360 or even a Chromecast. Anything plugged into the port is available through the TV app, allowing you to multitask just as easily as you could before.

Xbox One Tips: Xbox One App Channels

Many Xbox One apps include channels that plug directly into the Xbox OneGuide. Press the X button on your controller or say “Xbox, OneGuide” to look through what’s available in other apps. Twitch puts popular game streams here. FX Now makes new shows available here. OneDrive includes a built-in camera roll.

Xbox One Tips: Go Directly to TV

Say you’ve connected a cable or satellite box and want to watch a show. Don’t back out of your game, the Xbox One won’t close it. Instead, just say “watch” and the name of the channel to instantly go to that channel from anywhere


Xbox One Tips: For Quick Navigation, Use the Triggers and Bumpers

The Xbox One’s software involves navigating to a lot of different panels. You can rely on the joystick for these, or go ahead and take some shortcuts.

Press the left and right triggers to quickly move up and down long lists. Press the left and right bumpers to go ahead and switch panels from left to right.

Xbox One

Xbox One Tips: In the Activity Feed, Hit X to Like Something

The Activity Feed directly inspired by what Facebook has done for its users. There’s status updates from developers, screenshots from your friends and status updates stuffed in there. To quickly like something, press the X button while it is highlighted.

Xbox One Tips: Pin Games to the Home Screen for Easy Access

The Games and Apps area on the Xbox One needs an awful lot of work. Honestly, you should avoid going there. Go into the Games and Apps area. Then highlight your favorite apps and games and press the Menu button on your controller. There’s an option in this menu to Pin apps and games to the Home area and skip My Games and Apps altogether.

Xbox One Tips: Press Y to Re-Order Pins

On the home screen, you don’t have to remove all of your Pins to get them in the order that you want. Instead, navigate down to the Pins area, then highlight the Pinned app that you’d like to move. Now press Y. You can move the pinned app anywhere that you want now.

Xbox One Tips: Listen To Music on Xbox One Offline

How to Play Music in the Background on Xbox One (4)

Xbox One has forced users to let a music app take over a third of their screen to play songs while in a game. Thankfully, that’s not the case anymore. Beginning with the Summer Xbox One Update, audio apps downloaded from the Store can play music in the background. Groove Music expects to roll out the feature in the very near future.

Read: How to Play Music in the Background on Xbox One

Xbox One Tips: Hide Apps and Old Game Betas

Game betas show no signs of slowing down. They’re everywhere, and a new one is always on the horizon. On Xbox One, there’s no way to remove a beta client from your collection of games. Why that is, no one knows except Microsoft. Thankfully, you can’t hide them.

Go to the My Games and Apps area and highlight the game beta that you wish to hide. Press the Menu button on your controller. Now select Hide from the pop-up menu.

Xbox One Tips: Get Updates from Developers from the Game Hub

For a long time now, the best way to get news about a game has been straight from the developer. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have made this very, very convenient. Problem is, when you’re on your Xbox One, getting at those social networks is difficult.

Xbox One Anniversary Update (3)

Game Hubs allow you to get the latest news straight from the makers of your games. The moment you purchase a game or play it, Xbox Live automatically follows that game’s Game Hub updates. Players can manually follow their favorite Game Hubs too. Look for news of fresh content or updates on downtime the game is experiencing.

To open a Game Hub, highlight it in your list of games and press the Menu button on your controller. You should see an option to open a Game Hub in the pop-up menu. Note that Game Hubs links for your most recently played titles are on the Home screen.

Xbox One Tips: Join A Club

Working hand in hand with the Looking for Group feature, Clubs can be created by anyone and set to public or private. Think of the feature more like a typical gaming clan; the Clubs come with their own invitation system, chat board and Looking for Group area. You specify which games your Club is for. You all set parameters on what is and isn’t allowed in your Club.

Xbox One Tips: Switch on Cortana for Even More Voice Commands

Cortana, the personal assistant from other Microsoft devices and Windows 10, is now available on Xbox One. In addition to understanding the commands that were already available on Xbox One, Cortana can tell you what your friends are playing and send Party Invites.

You can turn her on from the console’s Settings.

Read: How to Use Cortana on Xbox One

Xbox One Tips: Play Xbox 360 Games On Your Xbox One

How to Use Cortana on Xbox One (14)

In 2015, Microsoft shocked everyone by introducing the Xbox One Backwards Compatibility Program. The program allows publishers to make their games for the Xbox 360, available to Xbox One owners that already own a disc or digital copy. Multiplayer still works in these games. What’s more, they all support video recording and screenshots, just like an Xbox One game would.

Read: Xbox One Backwards Compatibility: What You Need to Know

Xbox One Tips: Start a Club


Finding friends to hangout out with on Xbox Live is getting a lot easier lately. First, Microsoft started recommending new friends to users through the Xbox app and the console. Now it’s ready to introduce Clubs.

Clubs are exactly what you’d assume they are. Everyone on Xbox Live can create their own Club based around different topics and games. Microsoft makes it easy to manage Clubs by giving users decide details, like who’ll be let in and what requirements they have. You can choose for your Club to be open to everyone or only the people that you invite. Each Club has its own message board, profile image and option for finding other gamers interested in playing the same thing.

Xbox One Tips: Xbox Play Anywhere

If you’ve ever hoped that Microsoft would get back to PC gaming, you’re in luck. Xbox Play Anywhere is a new effort to do just that. Xbox Play Anywhere sort of behaves like a cross-platform Buy One Get One Free Scheme. When you purchase a digital version of a qualified title on Xbox, you get another copy to enjoy on your Windows 10 PC. It works the opposite way too.

Read: Xbox Play Anywhere: What You Need to Know

Game saves and the Xbox accessories you already have work between your console and your Windows 10 PC.

Good luck with your Xbox One!

Vine's biggest stars asked for money to save the app

These clips, they argued, would keep the public interested in the service. If the team declined, each of the ‘stars’ would naturally transition to rival platforms, where audiences and money-making opportunities are greater. The group demanded some product changes too, including better comment filtering for overly negative and harassing viewers. (Vine eventually rolled this out, according to one user, but it was “too little, too late.”) Ultimately, the company turned down the deal, trudging along the path that led to last week’s sad but not all that surprising decision.

Would the proposal have changed its fate? Probably not, however the fact it was deliberated at all shows just how much power social media “influncers” can wield, particularly when their platform is struggling.

2016 13-inch MacBook Pro vs 15-inch MacBook Pro

This is how the 13-inch MacBook Pro vs 15-inch MacBook Pro comparison shapes up so you know which one to buy. The new MacBook Pro 2016 updates include more than just differences in screen size.

Yes, picking the best new MacBook Pro for your needs will include the screen size, but there are some options only available on the more expensive 15-inch MacBook Pro 2016 like more powerful quad-core processors, better graphics and 2TB Storage.


The screen size also dictates the portability of the 2016 MacBook Pro. Apple reduced the overall size of the 15-inch and 13-inch models, but there is still a decent size difference between the two. The new 13-inch MacBook Pro is smaller than the 13-inch MacBook Air, which really ups the ease of taking this notebook with you.

How the 2016 MacBook Pro 13-inch vs 15-inch models compare.

How the 2016 MacBook Pro 13-inch vs 15-inch models compare.

While there are only two screen sizes, there are three specific MacBook Pro models to choose from if you want the newest models, but only two of them come with the Touch Bar and Touch ID.

Here’s how the 2016 MacBook Pro 13 vs MacBook Pro 15 specs and features compare.

2016 13-inch MacBook Pro vs 15-inch MacBook Pro Specs


13-inch MacBook Pro


13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar & Touch ID


15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar & Touch ID

Display13.3-inch Retina Display13.3-inch Retina Display15.4-inch Retina Display
Resolution2,560 x 1,6002,560 x 1,6002,880 x 1,800
Dimensions11.97 x 8.36 x 0.59 inches11.97 x 8.36 x 0.59 inches13.75 x 9.48 x 0.61 inches
Weight3.02 pounds3.02 pounds4.02 pounds
KeyboardFull Size, BacklitFull Size, Backlit with TouchBar & Touch IDFull Size, Backlit with TouchBar & Touch ID
Processor2.0GHz/2.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor2.9GHz/3.1GHz/3.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor2.6GHz, 2.7GHz, 2.9Ghz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor
GraphicsIntel Iris 540 GPUIntel Iris 550 GPUAMD Radeon Pro 450 2GB/Radeon Pro 455 2GB, Radeon Pro 460 4GB
Networking802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2
Webcam720P FaceTime HD720P FaceTime HD720P FaceTime HD
Ports2 Thunderbolt 3 (USB C Ports), Headphone jack4 Thunderbolt 3 (USB C Ports), Headphone Jack4 Thunderbolt 3 (USB C Ports), Headphone Jack
Battery LifeUp to 10 HoursUp to 10 HoursUp to 10 Hours
Price$1,499 and up$1,799 and up$2,399 and up
AvailabilityOrder at Apple NowPre-Order NowPre-Order Now

13-inch MacBook Pro vs 15-inch MacBook Pro Screens

You need to decide if you want a lighter and more portable 13-inch MacBook Pro or a more powerful 15-inch MacBook Pro with a larger screen.

The smallest MacBook Pro includes a 13.3-inch screen and the larger offers a 15.4-inch display. The 13-inch MacBook delivers a 2,560 x 1,600 resolution while the 15-inch MacBook Pro offers a 2,880 x 1,800. You can change the resolution to fit more apps on-screen at once as well. These are the same resolutions as the 2015 models, but the screens aren’t the same as your old one.


Both of the new models include a brighter screen with more colors.

Both of the new models include a brighter screen with more colors.

Both of the new MacBook Pro sizes offer a brighter display, 25% more colors and a 67% higher contrast ratio than the older models. Thankfully all the new MacBook Pro models include this upgraded display so size and resolution are your main factors.

We use the 1,440 x 900 resolution on the older 13-inch MacBook Pro to allow for more space to use apps on the smaller screen. You can change the resolution on both to fit more apps on the screen.

The biggest deciding factor for many uses is the screen size, but there is more to it than just a larger screen. The 15-inch MacBook Pro includes more powerful processors and graphics as well as larger storage options.

13-inch MacBook Pro vs 15-inch MacBook Pro Performance

Apple packs more power into the 2016 MacBook Pro 15 than in the MacBook Pro 13.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro starts with an Intel Core i7 Quad-Core processor and a dedicated AMD Radeon GPU and 16GB RAM.

On the smaller 13-inch MacBook Pro users start with an Intel Core i5 dual-core processor, integrated Intel Graphics and 8GB of RAM. You can upgrade the 13-inch MacBook Pro to a faster processor and 16GB of RAM, but you will still be using a dual-core processor and integrated graphics.

While they use the same ports, you can only connect two 5K displays to the 15-inch MacBook Pro at the same time. The 13-inch MacBook Pro is capable of powering one 5K display or two 4K displays.

We’re waiting for specific 2016 MacBook Pro benchmarks to compare the integrated Iris graphics to the dedicated AMD Radeon Pro graphics, but we already know that the dedicated 15-inch MacBook Pro will be more powerful.

Even with the difference in performance, the 2016 MacBook Pro battery life is the same 10 hours of web browsing across both of the models.

13-inch MacBook Pro vs 15-inch MacBook Pro Size and Weight

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro is smaller than 13-inch MacBook Air and it is just as light, which makes it a very tempting choice for users who want portability.

With a 15-inch MacBook Pro there is a larger footprint, but it is still smaller than the model it replaces. It’s not as small as the older 13-inch MacBook Pro, it takes up less space and weighs half a pound less than the one it replaces.

How the 13-inch MAcBook Pro vs 15-inch MacBook Pro sizes compare.

How the 13-inch MAcBook Pro vs 15-inch MacBook Pro sizes compare.

Head to head the 13-inch MacBook Pro is a pound lighter and 0.6 mm thinner than the 15-inch model. If portability trumps power, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is the one you need to look into.

All of the new models include a larger touchpad that is 2X as large as the one on the 2015 MacBook Pro.

13-inch MacBook Pro vs 15-inch MacBook Pro Price

You’ll need to spend $900 more to get the 15-inch MacBook Pro when you compare it to the 13-inch MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar.

  • 13-inch MacBook Pro – $1,499

  • 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar – $1,799

  • 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar – $2,399

You can customize the MacBook Pro models with many options including more RAM, more storage and by the time you add in everything you need and the dongles, the new MacBook Pro is more expensive than you think.

You can get a student discount on the new MacBook Pro to save $50 to $200 and you can also check out how to get Apple financing to afford the new MacBook Pro.


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