|Subject||Posted By||Forum||Category||Last Activity||Activity|
||lecter||Microsoft||Hardware||4 years ago||
||lecter||Microsoft||Windows||4 years ago||
||lecter||Microsoft||Mobile||4 years ago||
||lecter||Microsoft||Mobile||4 years ago||
I've been a user of Windows for about 2 decades now and it, desktop PCs, PC gaming and video piracy have always been part of my computing experience.
These days, though, I've been reexamining what I need and what I want to do in this arena and have come up with some conclusions which do not bode well for my relationship with Microsoft:
- I've always pirated video content, even while maintaining a cable (w/HBO) HDTV subscription, a BluRay collection and a Netflix account. The simple reason is that I never felt the quality was anywhere comparable to a torrent file if I wanted to watch a specific movie right now. I tried using the Microsoft video store experience and its Movies & TV app and it was deeply unsatisfactory - things like surround sound audio passthrough to my AV receiver, mobile app support and even the stability of the Windows app are either total crap or non-existent. I came across the iTunes video store, which although iTunes itself in Windows is terrible, does offer what appears to be an excellent video experience on the Apple TV - the video quality is good, it has Dolby Digital 5.1 and I can actually use the US store in my country by simply buying gift cards, with no ridiculous region lock in place. Thus, I can finally say goodbye to video piracy and with it the need to maintain things like torrent clients, subtitle downloaders, batch video file utilities and other such things for which I needed the full Windows client.
- PC gaming has always featured better quality graphics than consoles and still does, but this difference has become much less visible to the naked eye, consoles have standardized features like HDR way before the PC and my favorite genre for which there is no console equivalent (RTS) hasn't had a good game in years (RIP Westwood, Ensemble and Blizzard). Thus, I've arrived at the point where just so that I can play an occasional game of Civilization I am maintaining an ATX behemoth under my desk...and now with Cities: Skylines available for Xbox, it seems that with a bit of developer cleverness a console's traditional input limitations can be overcome. Pretty much any other game I have on Steam is available on Xbox and even though it will lead to some repurchasing, at least I will never have to deal with a game crashing again (I'm looking at you, Fallout 4!) or worry that cloud saves are not available.
- I am a geek at heart and have always loved to tinker, but with a new child in the past year I have much less patience for the time I'd need to put into things because of the instability and unnecessary complexity inherent in certain aspects of the Windows computing experience. There has been a lot of headway in purpose-specific appliance computing and web apps to the point where looking at my classic Uninstall Programs list what I see are 7-Zip, iTunes, Chrome, Office 365, Media Player Classic, Origin, Plex Media Server, Skype, Steam, some games and a wide variety of "support" crap like drivers & C++ runtimes. Thus, except for Office 365 there is literally nothing there that I can't get on a combination of an Android device, Xbox and Apple TV, so why maintain a complex OS?
- Now for the big elephant in the room: Office 365. Fortunately, I have an ultrabook from work in which they also provide Office (2013) but if I think about it, there is literally no non-work office task in the past few years which I could not have done with Google Docs/Sheets, my home office needs are very limited. I've kept my Office 365 subscription going for compatibility reasons and the 1TB storage space, but guess what? Since Google Photos no longer counts photos towards their space quota, I have less than 100GB of non-photo personal things I want to keep and back up, so a 25$ yearly 100GB Google Drive subscription would fill that void neatly.
Thus, my plan over the next month(s) is to tie my printer to my router (Google Cloud Print FTW), purchase an Apple TV, an Xbox One S and a NAS (I already have an Android phone and tablet) and I can quite literally wave Windows-outside-the-workplace (a sad) goodbye, for there will be nothing left in my daily activities which it will do more than slightly better and quite a few activities for which it is currently worse than those appliances.
Also, you know what? I miss Ballmer...I now realize that almost my entire tenure of Windows usage was under his leadership and it was fun and exciting. Windows XP, Windows 7, all the Xboxes, Pocket PC, Windows Phone 7 (and I'm sure the list could go on and on) were all excellent experiences for their time and I honestly don't find myself in Nadella's new Microsoft.
I don't know about you guys, but if as a huge, long-time Microsoft fan all I actually need is their Xbox (and even that for only one reason that is exclusive to it - 4K BluRay), it feels like they are doomed to a business niche from which they will never emerge (so yeah, IBM).
Having found a Zune HD in near-perfect condition online for 30$, I figured this was too awesome a deal to pass, so I now own one :)
I did have a Zune 30 about a decade ago and this improves on it in (nearly) every way.
Some impressions of it so far:
- The hardware design is truly beautiful, if you think about the fact that it appeared at the same time as the 3rd gen iPod Touch or (in my opinion its more direct competitor) the 5th gen iPod Nano, I really think it out-Appled Apple.
- One hardware decision does truly baffle me, though: what the hell were they thinking with button+touchscreen volume controls? I don't recall a single device that I've ever owned that could play music and didn't allow you to change the volume in some hardware-only manner. Crazy!
- Sound quality is competent, or at least I have no complaints using my 30$ earbuds.
- Screen is only 480x272, but OLED. It looks quite good given the dark-themed Zune interface, but switching to the Samsung S7 in my other pocket exposes a rather glaring difference :) Again, though, given that its context in 2009 was an iPhone 3GS with a larger screen that ran at 480x320, it must have been pretty awesome for its time.
- I still think the Windows Zune software is one of the best (if not the best) personal music management solution out there, so using it even in 2017 is still an excellent experience. Since subscribing to Google Play Music I had moved on from a personal mp3 collection, but figured the "Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs Of All Time" would be a nice pack to try out. Getting album art for most of it and syncing it took less than an hour, good stuff.
- It is apparently one of only 2 portable players ever released (the other one is a Best Buy house brand one :D ) that support HD Radio and amazingly there are 4 such stations here in Romania. The "HD" name is a real mistake, though, since in this case it stands for Hybrid Digital with no enforced quality difference over regular FM. The format supports things like surround sound and album art, but they are completely optional and as such not used over here in FM/DAB-country. It's funny how when the signal starts dropping out, instead of the FM static you hear things more akin to a CD skipping :)
- Formatting a Zune in 2017 leads to a fun process in which it wants to reload the firmware from a Microsoft server, which of course no longer exists. Thanks to the wonderful people on Reddit, a firmware dump, a localhost web server and a HOSTS file modification later, I was sorted.
Overall, with battery life a solid 30ish hours, I might get more than just novelty value out of this device, with usage on planes/trains so that I don't drain my phone's battery a strong possibility.
As mentioned in a previous post, I had a SIM card from the workplace that I was only using to make international calls, so I figured that it would be nice to put it in a more interesting phone than the Moto G2 they had provided.
Thus, I bought a white Microsoft Lumia 650 running Windows 10 Mobile Anniversary Edition.
My main phone is a Samsung Galaxy S6 and it is very much needed for the more or less obscure apps I use, as well as the better screen, processing power, etc.
I was however surprised at how much I started using the Lumia 650 for any task that did not require an Android-only app.
Even in terms of external hardware, the Lumia 650 is a very pleasant phone to use, its poly-carbonate sides and metal band making it much more hand-friendly than the "slippery as a bar of soap" design that the glass-covered Samsung uses.
I also like the fact that it has MicroSD card support, although it's ironic that the S6 can use the Netflix download feature but doesn't have external storage, while the 650 has a card but can't download Netflix content.
In terms of app & service support, I tried to limit my expectations and as of right now I only use Microsoft's own apps, the Uber app (a backup in case I run out of battery on my Samsung and urgently need a car) and various Xbox Live games.
In fact, I had forgotten how much fun it was to use Xbox Live on mobile (my only previous Windows Phone was an LG Optimus 7 ages ago) and it's gotten to the point where I use only the 650 on the subway, plugging away at simple old favorites like Fruit Ninja, Plants vs. Zombies, Age of Empires Castle Siege or Temple Run 2.
The OLED screen on the 650 is fantastic and really works well with the general interface of Windows 10, making it look like the tiles are floating in space...this makes me really want an OLED laptop :)
In terms of performance, I haven't yet done anything which makes it crawl, so it's adequate so far even with just 1GB RAM and one of Qualcomm's slowest chips. It's also interesting how much better it performs than the Moto G2 which technically has a faster chip but in reality made me wait for eeeeeverything.
Overall, this experience has actually made it very tempting to get a 950, which I've found locally for 190$ new-in-box. The even better screen, performance and wireless charging would be neat to have.
Anyone else using a Windows Mobile phone in such a way? It sometimes feels like what I have is actually a Nintendo DS that can make calls :)
I have a SIM card from work (and a Moto G4 2nd gen which I really don't want to use) and the only thing I still need it for is work-related international calling.
Thus, I'm contemplating getting a Windows 10 Mobile device since apps don't matter (have a good Android main phone for that) and it would be nice to have smthn different on my desk for such usage. I guess I also would like to get in a few mins of Age of Empires: Castle Siege on breaks, so that would be a bonus :)
On the local version of eBay I found the 550 for 50$ and the 650 for 65$...both new-in-box, the main difference between them seems to be the OLED screen and the 16GB of storage on the 650.
What would you get? Should I contemplate a 640 instead?