Here’s what our readers are saying about the Surface Pro 3

Surface Pro 3

With the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft tried yet again to build a tablet that can replace your laptop, but critics found it fell just shy of that goal. Engadget’s own Dana Wollman said that despite being “easier than ever to use as a tablet,” the Surface still has some “serious usability flaws,” including a keyboard that “offers a subpar typing experience and a frustrating trackpad.” CNET liked the keyboard, but says that the Pro 3 “still doesn’t fit perfectly on the lap” and that it’s “more successful as a tablet than a laptop replacement.” But despite these issues, there’s still plenty to like about the Surface Pro 3, as evidenced by the readers who added the Pro 3 to their have list and wrote a user review recounting their experiences.

The size and shape of the Surface Pro 3 were generally well-liked by users, with eca637 calling it “very thin, light, and sturdy feeling,” while nerva2940 says “I hardly feel it in my shoulder bag.” But comfort proved to be a contentious issue, as hkh222 says its sharp edges make it “uncomfortable to use on the lap,” though nerva2940 found the Pro 3 “more comfortable and adjustable on the lap than any laptop.” Users were okay with the keyboard, with gorbay calling it “the most satisfactory piece although it feels flimsy.” The trackpad on the Type Cover was a bigger hit with users, with ajcosgro noting how it “senses your finger better and is slicker to slide across” than the trackpad on its predecessor. Siri325, meanwhile, goes so far to say it’s “just as good as the Macbook Air’s mouse pad.”

The star of the show was the Surface Pro 3′s pen input, which Siri325 says is “like writing on a sheet of paper,” though he “will miss the ability to just flip the pen to erase.” It’s so good for note taking that nerva2940 says “I no longer carry paper” in class because “OneNote 2013 is an incredible program for compiling information and writing notes.” However, not everyone was pleased with the switch in pen technology from Wacom to an N-trig digitizer, with gorbay saying it “doesn’t compare” since “the pen can act weirdly depending on where your hand is positioned” and “with the insufficiently calibrated pressure curves right now, all you end up doing is [pressing] harder and harder, which pushes the glass down so much that you start seeing the ripples on the LCD.”

But, though nerva2940 feels it “performs flawlessly in most categories” and geeky says “it’s faster than my laptop” with “a gorgeous screen,” is anyone ready to actually replace their laptop with a Surface Pro 3? The answer is an emphatic ‘yes’ for nerva2940, who uses it “as a full desktop replacement” and says “unless you’re a hardcore gamer, you’ll be able to use it as a full desktop replacement at home as well.” On the other hand, gorbay “quickly gave up on the hope that I can have only one device. The form factor is everything for tablets and MS seems to forget that a lot. It is very light for a laptop but not light and small enough for a tablet. My work device and my leisure reading/web surfing device can still be separate for now.”

So while the Surface Pro 3 has quite a few crowd-pleasing features, it’s not quite there yet for most users. If you’ve picked up a Pro 3 for yourself, which side do you stand on? Simply add it to your have list and write your own review to let us know.

Don’t have an Engadget account? Sign up here. And if you don’t have the Surface Pro 3, feel free to write a review of something else — our database contains thousands of other products that you can review, like the OnePlus One or the Wii U. Just add a product to your “have” or “had” list and you’re ready to tell us what you think.

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New Apple TV game brings the ‘Dance Party’ to your living room

Apple’s set-top hobby has come a long way since its major refresh in 2010, thanks largely to a variety of services bringing different content to the platform. When it comes to gaming, however, the Apple TV isn’t exactly a powerhouse, despite being able to support it through AirPlay features — something similar to what Real Racing has done in the past. Another developer that’s made use of this particular second-screen kind of experience is Rolocule Games, and it just announced a new free title (with in-app purchases) dubbed Dance Party.

The game, which clearly takes a cue from Dance Central, comes in the form of an app and uses an iOS device as a motion controller, allowing players to see their virtual, groovy moves on the bigger screen by way of Apple TV. Dance Party also lets you challenge other people who have the application, even if they’re not in the same location as you. It may not be the best way to play games on the tiny box, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be fun.

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​Google is reportedly buying Twitch for $1 billion

What’s the internet’s most popular game-streaming service worth? About $1 billion, if VentureBeat sources have their story straight. Earlier this year, Variety and the Wall Street Journal reported that Google was in talks to acquire Twitch, but conceded that the two companies were only just starting negotiations. Now, sources familiar with the deal say an agreement has been reached, though its unclear when the reported acquisition will be officially announced. Naturally, there are some concerns that a Google acquisition of Twitch would stifle competition for rival services, but the tried and true platform could certainly bolster Mountain View’s own streaming efforts. If nothing else, perhaps the deal will validate emerging market shared gameplay in the eyes of its doubters. Both Google and Twitch have declined to comment on the report.

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MIT students modify a 3D printer with a height-measuring laser

It’s happened to all of us: you queue up a print job, your old desk printer starts up and it unceremoniously jams halfway through. It’s easy enough to resume a botched print job when you’re dealing with paper, but what do you do when you’re printing in 3D? A small team of MIT students may have an answer: a depth sensing scanner cobbled together from a laser and a simple webcam.

The team modified a Soliodoodle 3D printer to scan its printing bed, assess the height and shape of the objects there and print on top of them. It sounds like a complicated task, but the hardware used to accomplish it is pretty simple. A $26 laser, attached to the Soliodoole’s print head, draws a horizontal line across the printing surface, distorting slightly as it passes over objects that raise above the flat base. A nearby $30 webcam measures the changes in the line and feeds that data to a PC, which can use it (and subsequent laser repositioning) to create a model of the objects below. The team was able to use this method to print a cube on top of an already half-printed pyramid, completing an print job that was aborted earlier.

Unfortunately, modifying the printer was little more than a class project — the team doesn’t have any immediate plans to develop the low-cost scanner any further. Still, similar features could be a boon to the next generation of 3D printers, allowing the machines to resume interrupted print jobs or even detected a botched print before wasting precious materials. Want to see it in action? The video below awaits.

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The ‘Destiny’ beta is now open to everyone

Let’s say you wanted to give Bungie’s latest shooter, Destiny, a go before the game comes out in September, but the idea of pre-ordering video games goes against the very core of your being. Well, Bungie’s just announced that it’s opening the floodgates on the test-phase for the game and is letting everyone get in on the fun. At 7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific, you’ll be able to head to the digital marketplace on your gaming platform of choice (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One) and grab the multi-gigabyte file for yourself and see what everyone’s been raving about. And remember, on Saturday at 5 p.m. Eastern, 2 p.m. Pacific, Bungie is promising a special reward for whoever is playing, and that it’ll carry over to the game’s final version come September.

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Comixology now offers DRM-free comic backups, but only from select publishers

When Amazon purchased Comixology, it was a herald of change: iOS users lost the ability to purchase comics in-app, Android users were gifted with a new purchasing system and, now,the digital book seller is going DRM-free. Sort of. Comixology CEO David Steinberger announced today that DRM-free backups of select comics are now available to download in PDF and CBZ format, giving readers the ability to enjoy their content outside of the Comixology ecosystem for the first time. That said, it’s somewhat limited: backup downloads are only available to book published by Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Zenoscope Entertainment, Thrillbent, Top Shelf Productions and MonkeyBrain Comics — in other words, publishers that have already dabbled with DRM-free comic distribution.

There’s no word if publishing juggernauts like DC or Marvel will make their books available for download (don’t count on it), but the option seems to be available for both big and small publishers. Even so, there’s quite a few title available (this editor’s list of downloadable backups tallied over 300 comics), all of which can be accessed under the “My Backups” tab of the user’s library. Sounds like a winner to us — though, Comixology does caution that fans of its “guided view” reading mode won’t be able to access it in their downloaded backups.

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Here’s the first look at Ridley Scott’s live-action ‘Halo’ project

Back at this year’s E3 we learned that Halo: Nightfall would tell the origin story for a new character in Halo‘s sci-fi universe, and we’re finally getting to see some of the show in motion. And, well, there are a couple of instances where it looks pretty similar to the Alien not-a-prequel, Prometheus. That almost assuredly isn’t a coincidence given the fact that Prometheus‘ director Ridley Scott is serving as executive producer for the show. It’s hard to tell exactly how the episodic series is going to turn out based on a teaser trailer (embedded after the break), but we can tell you that in its 74 seconds there’s a distinct lack of Master Chief and a whole lot of talk about an element that “selectively kills humans.” How’s that for mystery? You’ll be able to check out the exploits of Agent Locke and his crew after Halo: The Master Chief Collection releases this November.

Halo: Nightfall SDCC ’14

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Data Cuisine creates meals based on cultural statistics

We’ve seen IBM’s Watson computer serve up unlikely food pairings, but Data Cuisine takes culinary experimentation to a whole new level. Developed by data-visualization specialist Mortiz Stefaner and curator Susanne Jaschko, it’s an initiative to create recipes that reflect a particular set of statistics. In the case of a workshop in Helsinki, that meant translating local fishing data, ethnic population stats and crime rates into a variety of dishes, from different types of fish stacked to represent various kinds of crime to a map of the country’s alcoholic consumption made with various amounts of wine and regional dishes. (See the photo above for the latter.)

What makes these edible visualizations so compelling is how different ingredients are used to represent the statistics in question — there’s a reason behind every culinary decision. In Barcelona, for example, a cake based on the amount of national science funding for 2013 contained 34 percent less sugar than a cake representing the funding for 2005. Even if the results are not always delicious, it certainly changes the way we consume facts and figures. The Data Cuisine will likely expand to more cities around the globe, translating more information into food in the process.

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Google wants to define a healthy human with its new baseline genetic study

Google’s got a big new project and it’s you. Well, not just you, but a genetic and molecular study of humanity that aims to grasp at what a healthy human should be. It’s in its early days, collecting anonymous data from 175 people, but it plans to expand to thousands later. The project is headed up by molecular biologist Andrew Conrad, who pioneered cheap HIV tests for blood-plasma donations. According to the WSJ, the team at Google X current numbers between 70 and 100, encompassing experts in physiology, biochemistry, optics, imaging and molecular biology.

The Baseline project will apparently take in hundreds of different samples, with Google using its information processing talents to expose biomarkers and other patterns – the optimistic result hopefully being faster ways of diagnosing diseases. Biomarkers has typically been used with late-stage diseases, as these studies have typically used already-sick patients. “He gets that this is not a software project that will be done in one or two years,” said Dr. Sam Gambhir, who is working with Dr. Conrad on the project. “We used to talk about curing cancer and doing this in a few years. We’ve learned to not say those things anymore.”

Information from the project will remain anonymous: Google said that data won’t be shared with insurance companies, but the shadow of privacy issues hang over pretty much anything the company touches. Baseline started this summer, initially collecting fluids such as urine, blood, saliva and tears from the anonymous guinea pigs. Tissue samples will be taken later. “With any complex system, the notion has always been there to proactively address problems,” Dr. Conrad said. “That’s not revolutionary. We are just asking the question: If we really wanted to be proactive, what would we need to know? You need to know what the fixed, well-running thing should look like.”

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Engadget Daily: the Oppo Find 7, shoes that vibrate in the right direction and more!

Today, we review the Oppo Find 7, learn where not to fly drones, contemplate Apple’s rumored 12-inch Retina Display MacBook and take a look at smart shoes that vibrate in the right direction. Read on for Engadget’s news highlights from the last 24 hours.

Oppo Find 7 review: A solid phone that faces stiff competition

What you’re looking at is the Oppo Find 7. This Android-powered handset has a gorgeous Quad HD display and plenty of horsepower under the hood, but can it compete with the Galaxy S5 or LG G3? Read our review and find out.

Apple reportedly releasing OS X Yosemite in October alongside 4K desktop and 12-inch Retina MacBook

The OS X Yosemite public beta just went live today, and now… more rumors. According to 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman, the final version of the OS will be released in October, accompanied by a 12-inch Retina MacBook and 4K monitor.

These smart shoes vibrate to point you in the right direction

Tired of being a distracted walker? Lechal’s interactive haptic footwear can help. These shoes pair with your smartphone and guide you around town with vibrations, no screen required.

Want to fly a drone? Don’t do it here

You’ve probably never tried to pilot your drone through a nuclear power plant, but that’s not the only sort of no-fly zone that should be avoided. Check out this map of locations where you should never fly your UAV.

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