Microsoft and Windows-related gear we love on Valentine’s Day
Infatuation: Microsoft’s Surface Pro X
Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central
I’ve been a Surface Pro user since 2017, though I reviewed earlier models before sending them back to Microsoft. That 2017 Pro, though, that’s the one that made me really fall in love with the form factor. I didn’t upgrade in 2018 to the Pro 6, because the form factor was the same and there weren’t enough compelling updates to justify the investment. Then came the 2019 Surface Pro X announcement — and I was smitten. Love at first sight. I promptly passed on my credit card details to Microsoft as soon as preorders went live. When it arrived, I tore open the box like a starving man who came across a carton of Oreos. The hardware has proven to be an absolute DREAM. It’s thin and light, sleek, and, yes, I’ll say it, better looking than any computer (or tablet) Apple’s ever made. The new keyboard is even better than Microsoft’s previous Pro keyboards, and the new Surface Slim Pen is also a step up over previous versions. I’m legit in love with the Pro X design. I think my wife is even a bit jealous this Valentine’s Day …
— Al Sacco, Future Mobile content director
Windows 10 on ARM
The thinnest and lightest Surface Pro available
Surface Pro X delivers the most exciting design for the Surface Pro yet. For people who need a light, thin, LTE-enabled productivity laptop, the Surface Pro X offers a unique set of features not found anywhere else.
Infatuation: Microsoft Edge
Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central
Until recently, I’d not been using Microsoft Edge as my primary browser. Instead, I’ve been using Google Chrome for a long time. I tried to switch multiple times to the default browser on Windows 10, but because of website compatibility, speed issues, and the lack of extensions, I found myself switching back to Chrome, even though the browser is known to use a massive amount of memory and battery life.
However, since the new version of Microsoft Edge based on the Chromium engine was released, I decided to give the browser another shot. I have to say, I’m very impressed. The main reason is the decision to switch to the open Chromium engine developed by Google, making the browser lightning-fast. As the majority of developers build for Chrome first, websites are now more compatible.
Another thing I love about the new browser are the extra features and benefits. Although the legacy version included support for extensions, it didn’t have the variety found with Chrome or even Firefox. Now, thanks to the new engine, I can use all my favorite Chrome extensions. Also, I like that it’s cross-platform, so I can use it on my Android phone for a more integrated experience. “Tracking prevention” is a great feature to stop websites from tracking your activities. “Profiles” let you easily share the browser with other people. And since the browser is no longer tied to Windows 10, updates are available regularly with improvements and features.
Perhaps most telling, I no longer feel the need to switch back to Chrome.
– Mauro Huculak, contributing how-to writer
A huge improvement
Microsoft’s new version of Edge is a complete rebuild with new features, better performance, and cross-platform support. Download today!
Infatuation: Project XCloud
Source: Windows Central
Project XCloud is a dream come true for anyone who’s ever seen a Nintendo 3DS (or more recently, the Nintendo Switch) and wondered what an Xbox handheld might look like. Sure, there are caveats that come with cloud-streaming, such as speed requirements, 5GHz WiFi, and having a controller clip for your phone, but it’s still early days. The fact I can play my games, anywhere, on any device is something that I find to be incredibly exciting, and even at this early testing stage, I have been blown away by XCloud’s speed, and vast potential.
– Jez Corden, Gaming Editor
Take your Xbox One controller on-the-go with ease
This foldable Jovitech controller clip effortlessly mounts any phone safely and securely. Plus, it’s conveniently affordable.
An easy essential for Project xCloud testing.
Infatuation: Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition
I’ve been playing Age of Empires II since 1999 when it was initially released, through the HD remake and into the latest Definitive Edition. Microsoft and the studios beneath its umbrella did a fantastic job on the remake, and I’ve been playing on a weekly basis since the release. The new 4K graphics, the new civilizations, updates to campaigns, and balancing tweaks have been, for the most part, a success, and the game has never been easier to play thanks to plenty of quality-of-life changes. There’s likewise new AI that puts up a better fight for times when you don’t want to test your skills against other players in ranked or casual multiplayer games. Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition is an example of how to remake a classic game without angering the fans — no doubt because of a lengthy Insider Program that harvested valuable player feedback — and it should stand up for years to come. If you’re a fan of RTS games, give my love a try.
— Cale Hunt, Windows Central staff writer
An RTS For The Ages
A classic remade properly
Infatuation: AMD Ryzen 9
Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central
AMD really brought the fight back to Intel in the CPU space, but it’s the Ryzen 9 series of processors, specifically the Ryzen 9 3900X that blew me away. In my review of the CPU, I praised it for its incredible performance for your buck. The fact that AMD was able to launch a 12-core (with 24 threads) processor at an aggressive price, all whilst actually ensuring each core is capable of serious workloads, makes the Ryzen 9 3900X one of my favorite processors of all time.
It was exactly what AMD needed in 2019, and Intel also took notice of its competitor by slashing the price of its enthusiast desktop processors, as well as bringing forward product launches. Just when we thought AMD was running low on steam with Ryzen, it showcased some well hidden tricks. And because it’s not a Threadripper, you could throw in the 12-core 3900X (or other Ryzen 9) CPU inside a small compact case with a Mini-ITX motherboard. Madness, I tell you. And love. Mad love.
— Rich Edmonds, Windows Central staff reviewer
Loving each and every core
Gone are the days of multi-core useless FX processors and here is a processor that offers 12 cores, 24 threads and bags of performance at an aggressive price.
Infatuation: Surface Precision Mouse (DTL)
Source: Windows Central
I’ve talked about my love for the Surface Precision Mouse before, and it continues to be a favorite in my ridiculously large stable of mice. Ergonomically, it feels great in the hand, and I’m a big fan of the way you can switch between a clicky or smooth scroll wheel feel with the push of a button. If you use more than one PC, you can also pair the mouse with up to three machines and nearly seamlessly scroll between them on the fly. That alone is worth some adoration.
I wish it were available in more colors, but its Surface grey color is okay. In terms of feel, the only other mouse that comes close is Logitech’s MX Master 3. If you haven’t tried either out, I highly recommend picking one up and giving it a trial run. You won’t regret it. You might even fall in love.
— Dan Thorp-Lancaster, News Editor
Feels good, man
If you spend long hours at a desk, the Microsoft Surface Precision Mouse feels great in the hand. Add in that it can be paired with up to three PCs at a time, and you’ve got a solid performer.
Infatuation: Xbox Game Pass
Source: Windows Central
While we’ve seen a share of innovations throughout the lifetime of Xbox One, few have shaken up my routine like Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft’s Netflix-style subscription service for gaming, currently available on Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs, features over three hundred games across both platforms. And while a simple concept back at launch, its continued growth has positioned the service among the best deals in modern gaming. That $10 baseline subscription (or bundled under Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for a premium) has encouraged me to diversify the games I play, with regular additions and supporting quests pushing me further into its offerings. While Xbox Game Pass drew me in with Microsoft’s flagship blockbuster titles, finding those hidden gems makes this a genuinely lovable package. It’s a perfecting coupling for any Xbox newcomer or veteran.
— Matt Brown, staff writer
Save on Microsoft’s now six-in-one Xbox and PC subscription
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Wrapping together Xbox Game Pass for Xbox, Xbox Game Pass for PC, and Xbox Live Gold, this trio of services delivers the full experience in 2019. Microsoft’s ongoing promotion cuts three months to $1, including Spotify Premium, Discord Nitro, and EA Access.
Infatuation: HoloLens 2
Microsoft announced and launched the HoloLens 2 in 2019, and it’s a huge leap forward for AR. The new HoloLens is a major upgrade over the original, introducing more natural ways of interacting with holograms. With HoloLens 2, users can interact with holograms by touching them, reducing the barrier between the user and virtual objects. It also has eye-tracking capabilities and Windows Hello integration in the form of iris-scanning. It’s also Microsoft’s first device to ship with a new, modern version of Windows called Windows Core OS. In addition, HoloLens 2 is an ARM device, meaning it has instant-wake and great performance. It’s not a device designed for use by everybody, but it certainly deserves some widespread love, because it’s a dramatic improvement over its predecessor.
— Zac Bowden, Senior Windows Editor
HoloLens, but better.
HoloLens 2 takes everything that made the original great and turns it up to 11. With a new carbon fiber body, extra padding, eye tracking, and a wider field of view, the headset should have no problem finding success among developers and firstline workers.
What a time AMD has been having of late. Since the launch of the Ryzen CPU lineup it seems that everything the red team touches turns to gold, winning near universal praise for its CPUs. In the past couple of years I’ve gone from just being impressed by AMDs hardware to the point that I won’t consider anything else for my personal PC.
And it’s not just about the stuff I can afford to use, either. AMD is grabbing headlines for many different reasons. Ryzen has now hit 7nm as has the Navi GPU architecture used in Radeon graphics cards, and we’re now at a point where 64-core CPUs are a thing. AMD is a prime example of a company doing everything it can to push the boundaries at every opportunity, and I’m now looking forward to seeing what happens with the Xbox Series X, powered by Ryzen.
— Richard Devine, Reviews editor
The best CPU around
A third-gen six-core Ryzen processor that doesn’t cost much more than the older Ryzen 5 2600X, but comes rocking many benefits. This beast is unlocked, comes with a good stock cooler, and even supports PCIe 4.0.