OnePlus, an offshoot of Chinese company Oppo, wants to break free of the mold. Their first phone, simply called “One,” matches 2014’s flagship phones in every appreciable way, dropping gimmicks in order to refine what a user’s base expectation of a smartphone should be. It has the same processor as the Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One (M8), and LG’s G3. It has a screen as big as or bigger than the competition, with a resolution that is eclipsed only by the G3. It meets or exceeds the competition in regards to RAM and storage.
The big difference? It costs half as much as anything else on the market.
Microsoft has been trying to merge the two concepts into one device with their Surface Pro line, and the first two models met with some success. I reviewed the original Surface Pro about six months ago, and found the concept compelling but the execution lacking.
I'd actually reserved an Nvidia Shield last year, but cancelled at the last minute and put the money toward a PS4 instead. The device was getting middling reviews, and I didn't have a PC powerful enough to use one of its main selling points: game streaming. Furthermore, gaming on Android, like iOS, is a mixed bag: lots of games, most of them not great. This is further complicated by the fact that while the Shield has a touch screen, it’s not particularly easy to use. There’s a controller in the way. My main motivation for picking up the Shield was playing retro games via emulation, and since I have a laptop I carry with me everywhere, I already have a decent emulation machine. My opinion changed when I got a bunch of cash for selling my old portables. I decided to take a chance and give the Shield a whirl.
Bravely Default sounds like a foolish debt-management strategy. Surprisingly, the title is quite fitting, though oddly obtuse until you understand the game’s main battle mechanic. Built upon the well-regarded battle system of older Final Fantasy games, Bravely Default adds a turn management strategy to the mix that allow players to breeze through simpler battles and hedge their bets on more challenging ones.
Unlike most tablets, the Surface Pro is not running a stripped-down mobile operating system. It runs actual Windows on a laptop-class processor. This means that if you are a Windows user, the Surface Pro will run all the software you’ve grown accustomed to. The Surface Pro is a tablet in shape only. It’s Microsoft’s attempt to merge the best of both worlds. It doesn’t always succeed, but the attempt should be lauded.