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Guide To Choosing The Best VR Headset

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VR guide
You’re about to take the plunge in virtual reality (VR). You see how much fun your friend is having playing with his Oculus Rift. Your Galaxy S7 toting friends are showing off their Gear VR. You’ve played with an HTC Vive in the store, and now you are ready to get into VR. How exactly do you do that? What VR platform should you invest in? Virtual reality broke out in a big way in 2016 with big names such as Sony and Facebook (via Oculus) releasing VR headsets for the masses.
While virtual reality isn’t new by any means (the first VR headset was built in 1968), 2016 was the year that VR truly broke out into the mainstream. Cheap VR headsets can now be found in several big box stores and even grocery stores such as Wegmans. Despite the coming out party for VR, it’s still very much an early adopters market. How the rest of the market responds to VR in the long term remains to be seen since we’re still on the first versions of current VR headsets. With that said, here are the top VR headsets to look at: 

Oculus Rift

oculusStarting out this list is the Oculus Rift. The Rift started out as the brainchild of Oculus founder Palmer Luckey and id Software cofounder John Carmack. After Luckey created a Kickstarter for the Rift back in 2012, it quickly became the darling of the gaming industry and raised upwards of $2.5 million. The Rift has gone through several iterations starting with the Development Kit 1 or DK1. Each successive iteration of the Rift improved on the specs dramatically such as screen resolution, refresh rate, and frame rate.In 2014, Oculus was bought by Facebook for $2 billion. The influx of cash from Facebook allowed Oculus to finish development of the Rift and it finally went on sale on March 28, 2016 for $600. Oculus formed a partnership with Microsoft to allow Rift games to be played natively with the Xbox One controller (which was also packaged in with the Rift headset). Initial reviews of the Rift were overwhelmingly positive with many reviewers praising the comfort of the headset and truly high end graphics that don’t compromise.The major drawback was the lack of the Oculus Touch controllers at launch. The Oculus Touch Controllers free the user’s hands and allow more immersive VR experiences. The Touch controllers were later released in early December. The Touch Controllers connect to the Rift via Bluetooth thereby freeing up a USB port. However, even with the two cameras, the tracking may occasionally go out.The solution is to buy a 3rd camera sensor which eats up another USB port and costs $80. Unfortunately, in order to render the detail required of Rift in a manner that doesn’t make the user nauseous, a PC with a high-end graphics card was required (NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290).In October 2016, Oculus lowered the system requirements a little by adopting the “motion interpolation” technology which allows games to run at lower frame rates. This would also allow cheaper computers with lower specs to run VR games on the Rift. That said, computers that can run VR games comfortably still cost around $600-700 not to mention the cost of the Rift itself. 

HTC Vive

viveUp until March 2015, HTC was primarily known as a smartphone maker. The Taiwan based company unveiled the Vive at Mobile World Congress on March 2015 as a collaboration with gaming company Valve. HTC engineered the actual VR headset while Valve created SteamVR operating system for use on the Vive. The Vive was designed as a whole room experience from the beginning.It utilizes two IR cameras placed on opposite sides of the room as well as two motion controllers to allow full movement in a VR environment. Up until the release of the Oculus Touch Controllers for the Rift, the HTC Vive was the only one allowing full room scale VR.Most early VR games for the Rift were created for traditional couch gaming using the Xbox One controller, just with the added benefit of VR head tracking. In order to prevent users from bumping into the wall or furniture, the Vive has a feature called Chaperone which actually shows a cool “Tron” view of the real world using the built-in camera on the front once the user gets too close to an obstacle.Reviews for the Vive were also favorable with many lauding the complete immersion offered by the motion controllers. Unfortunately, some reviewers complained how bulky and uncomfortable the Vive headset was compared to the Rift.Additionally, be prepared to set aside about 15-20 minutes setting up the play space if you want the full room-scale games. The Room-Scale mode requires you to place the IR cameras (called Lighthouses) on opposite sides of the room. The space requirement can be as small as 6.5ft by 5ft or as large as 15ft by 15ft.Fortunately, there is a Standing-Only setting that allows you to use the Vive in tighter spaces. Like the Rift however, all of that VR goodness doesn’t come cheap.In fact, the HTC Vive retails for about $800, a good $200 more expensive than the base Oculus Rift. That’s also not factoring in the cost of the high-end computer needed to render the VR graphics on the Vive.   

PlayStation VR

playstationNot to be left in the dust, Sony released their PlayStation VR (PSVR) on October 13, 2016. Unlike the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, the PSVR was designed to be connected to the PlayStation 4 console instead of a PC. The PSVR is meant to be a more affordable entry into the VR space as most people who purchase it will probably already own a PS4. Also, the price the PSVR itself is only $400.The complete system consists of the headset itself, a processor box to output video to the TV and 3D audio, the PS camera, and two PlayStation Move controllers. Some readers may recognize the Move controllers from Sony’s previous foray into motion controllers to compete with the Nintendo Wii.The main drawbacks to the PSVR is that it’s not quite as powerful as the Rift or the Vive. The PS4 is much weaker than high end gaming computers and thus the PSVR is limited to 1080p resolution. While 1080p is crisp from a distance, the pixels can be seen when viewed up close.Also, while the Move controllers are a welcome addition and do provide more immersion than a PS4 DualShock controller, the limited viewing angle of the camera can cause the loss of tracking of the Move controllers. While the setup doesn’t require you to place cameras everywhere, the plethora of cords can be a real pain. Regardless, for the price, the PSVR remains a solid entry into the VR market. 

Google Daydream View

daydream viewGoogle’s Daydream View headset utilize smartphones to provide the VR experience. Before Daydream, there was Google Cardboard. It’s literally what you think it is: a cardboard box with two lenses inside that had a slot for sliding in a smartphone. Google wanted a cheap and easy way for people to experience VR for themselves.Google also positioned Cardboard for education and schools. Teachers could use Cardboard in the classroom for more immersive learning experiences. Unfortunately, VR on phones was still a budding concept and experiences, while novel, were not the best.To remedy that, Google unveiled the Daydream VR platform and Daydream View headset alongside the Pixel smartphone on October 4, 2016. Initially designed just for the Pixel, Daydream View is a small VR headset made of fabric that has an opening for the Pixel.It also came with a simple motion controller for pointing and interacting with virtual objects. Nothing as fancy as the Rift and Vive or even the PSVR Move controllers but for affordable VR, it gets the job done. Google is leveraging the Daydream VR platform on Android to allow developers to easily create VR experience for Android based devices such as smartphones. 

Samsung Gear VR

samsungSamsung also stepped into the virtual reality ring with its Gear VR. The Gear VR was originally released in November 2015 for use with Samsung’s flagship smartphones such as the Galaxy S6/S7. It was developed with input from Oculus and provides a cheaper alternative to high end VR headsets.The first edition of the Gear VR was released to developers in December 2014 and only worked with the Galaxy Note 4. Technically, consumers could buy it as well but it was marketed towards developers so they could get a handle on the technology in order to create applications for it.There are currently around 185 applications for the Gear VR. In fact, Six Flags Magic Mountain partnered with Samsung to create the first roller coaster with VR in North America.So which VR headset should you pick? That question largely hinges on what your bank account is looking like. If you own a gaming PC with a relatively newer graphics card then go for the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. Both offer uncompromised VR experiences allowing you to fully utilize a room. Because of the high-end graphics and resolution, there’s much less chance of feelings of nausea or motion sickness.If you own a PS4 and don’t want to shell out for a high end gaming PC, then the PSVR would make a better bet. While the screen resolution isn’t as high as the Vive/Rift, it’s not so distracting that it takes away from the experience. Plus, because the PS4 already has a huge install base, game developers are more likely to create games for it.On the downside, the Rift, Vive, and PSVR all suffer from a copious amount of cables that must be managed. If you don’t own a PS4 or high end gaming PC (or maybe you just don’t want to shell out $400 for PSVR), the Samsung Gear VR or Google Daydream View are viable options especially if you own a Samsung or Google phone.In fact, most people will probably use these as stepping stones into the world of VR. However, the VR experiences on these devices still pale in comparison to the higher end VR headsets, not to mention significantly eating into battery life on the smartphone. If you’re interested in the Daydream View but don’t own a Pixel, don’t fret.Google announced that companies such as Samsung (ironically), HTC, LG, Alcatel, Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE, and Asus will all create Daydream ready smartphones.

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The Best Expandable MicroSD For Samsung Galaxy Phones

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Microsd options for samsung phones
One of the benefits of owning an android (specifically a Samsung) is that you can expand storage by inserting a microSD card. You can insert anywhere from a 32GB MicroSD card all the way up to 1TB, depending on your budget and your need for storage. But finding the right one can be difficult as there are so many variables involved. And most people don't know even know what SDHC/SDXC or A1/A2 are. Choosing a MicroSD can be a confusing endeavor unless you understand the jargon and know exactly what you want. Luckily for you, we decided to do the homework to bring you a comprehensive list of all the best available options for MicroSD card on the market today.

Samsung Evo Plus microSD card

No surprise here. Choosing a Samsung MicroSD card for a Samsung phone does sound like a logical thing to do. While it's not the best on the market, it's guaranteed to work well with their phones and does come with pretty acceptable performance stats while being relatively inexpensive. The Samsung Evo Plus gives you the storage option of anything from 32GB all the way to 512GB. With 100MB/s of reading speed and 90MB/s of writing speed speed, it's a good and safe choice.BUY IT HERE

SanDisk Extreme Plus microSD card

Sandisk's very own Extreme Plus MicroSD is a versatile and sturdy card that's great for all purpose. From recording 4K videos, dashcams, to using it for your phone, this little microSD can do it all. It claims to read up to 95MB/s and write up to 90MB/s, making it reliably fast. It's also made to survive and protect your data even under the most extreme conditions, hence the name. It claims to be temperature proof (we don't know how much it cna handle), waterproof, shockproof, and xray proof.BUY IT HERE

Samsung EVO Select

The Samsung Evo Select is great MicroSD card if you're looking for something that delivers both fast read and write speed and also affordable. It offers 100MB/s for reading and 90MB/s for writing, which is pretty fast. It also comes with an adapter for standard SD slots if you want to connect to your computer to extract media. The Samsung Evo is also equipped to handle 4K videos and can withstand a good beating.
BUY IT HERE

Lexar Professional 1000x

The Lexar Professional 1000x is one of the fastest MicroSD available now. With transfer speeds up to 150MB/s, it can easily handle 1080P to 3K videos, and even 3D format. Keep in mind though that it's only lightning fast at reading. Despite boasting 150MB/s reading speed (great for data transfer to PC), it's writing speed is only about 45MB/s. It's a great microSD used by professionals to increase the efficiency of their workflow and for those who simply need ridiculously fast transfer speeds.BUY IT HERE

Silicon Power Elite

For those who are on a tight budget and just needs something with decent storage speed, decent performance, reliable, and affordable - look no further. The Silicon Power Elite can cover all your basic needs for less than $20. It's not the fastest MicroSd card around, but it has all the essential features, security, and flexible enough to be used in a wide variety of devices. Surprisingly, it's considerably sturdy and also temperature resistant, waterproof, shockproof, and X-ray proof similar to it's higher-end competitors. In terms of value, the Silicon Power Elite is a tough one to beat.BUY IT HERE

SanDisk Ultra

The Sandisk Ultra is a great choice if you plan to buy a microSD card for a smartphone or tablet given it's A1 rating. Read speed clocks in at 100MB/s, making it a joy to run most of your regular day to day multi-media. However writing speed doesn't support anything behind 1080P HD, so you won't be able to enjoy 4K content. However, it's a great microSD that comes with all the bells and whistles you'd expect, at a fantastic price, and from a reputable company.BUY IT HERE

PNY Elite

 The PNY Elite is another reputable brand to join the list. The Elite boasts up to 100MB/s of transfer speed and A1 rated, making it a great choice for phones and tablets. It can handle 4K videos. It also comes standard with the 4-proof technology making it extremely reliable and can handle a good amount of abuse.BUY IT HERE 
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How To Choose The Right MicroSD For Your SmartPhone

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Choosing the right MicroSD
What does "SDHX", "Rated A2", "100MB/s", "Class 10", and "V30" even mean?! Choosing the right MicroSD to extend the storage capacity of your smartphone can be complicated especially if you don't know what all the industry jargon means. There's a lot of variables to consider in addition to the storage capacity (32GB or 512GB) and price point. Most of the listings on Ebay, Amazon, and even Bestbuy simply just list things out like "SDHX", "Rated A2", "100MB/s", "Class 10", and "V30" as if you're suppose to know what they mean. We decided to make a quick tutorial to give you, the educated consumer, a crash course in what these terminologies all mean, so that you can make a better decision on which microSD is right for you.

SDHC vs SDXC

SDHC is short for Secure Digital High Capacity. Meanwhile SDXC is short for Secure Digital Extended Capacity. There's no real discernible differences between them except that SDHC usually caps off at about 32GB. Meanwhile SDXC can go up to 1TB. SDXC tends to be a bit more expensive the higher the capacity. In terms of image/video quality, they are identicle. A

Read/Write Speed

The Read and Write speed designates the relative performance of the card. Generally, if it has a fast Read speed, your media will load faster and it will be quicker for you to accessing them. If your Write speed is fast, then recording or transfering files to the card will be seamless. A good performing microSD card will have an average Read speed of about 95 - 100MB/s and a Write speed between 80 - 90MB/s.  The higher these numbers, the better.

Class and UHS ratings

Each microSD will have a "Class" rating attached to it. The Class rating just means the minimum transfer speed it allows for. UHS is short for Ultra High Speed, and cards classified as UHS will usually have higher minimum transfer speeds. V Classes are relatively new and more widely available today. You'll mostly need to worry about V classes if you plan to record a lot of HD/1080/4K videos and want fast transfer speeds. Below is a quick chart to give you an idea of the different classes and what their minimum transfer speeds are.Also, don't be confused by the minimum speed. This isn't the same as their read/write speed.
ClassMinimum Speed
22 MB/s
44 MB/s
66 MB/s
88 MB/s
1010 MB/s
UHS 110 MB/s
UHS 330 MB/s
V66 MB/s
V1010 MB/s
V3030 MB/s
V6060 MB/s
V9090 MB/s
 

Application Performance Class

This is a feature specific for smart phones and tablets and something you should pay close attention to. For those who plan to save applications onto their microSD cards, the Application Performance Class (either A1 or A2) determines the random random read input-output access per second, IOPS for short. A1 typically has a read IOPS of 1500 and write IOPS of 500. Meanwhile A2 has a read IOPS of 4000 and write IOPS of 2000, making it A2 significantly better at running apps. You'll notice a performance boost when using apps saved to your microSD if it has either A1 or A2.In short, if a microSD is rated either A1 or A2, it's going to be great for smartphones and tablets. And if it's rated A2, it's REALLY good.

Video Quality

Make sure to check to see if the card offers 4K or not. If it doesn't, chances are you won't be able to record/save in 4K. Most modern smartphones will have 4K video recording as an option, so if you're using the microSD for a smartphone, this may be an important criteria.

Durability And Protection

MicroSD cards are built fairly enough nowadays. Most offer the standard protection such as being temperature proof, shockproof, waterproof, dust-proof, and x-ray proof. Be sure to check to see if the one you're planning to buy has the protection you need. The level of protection can be important if you're using the microSD in an outdoor security camera or if your device will be subjected to harsh conditions.

Price

And of course you want to make sure the microSD card you're choosing fits within your budget. Their price can range drastically depending on the brand, capacity, and features. We've compiled a list of the best microSD cards here.And there you have it, everything you need to know in order to make an educated decision on which microSD card to purchase for your newest Android smartphone. We've also curated a list of best microSD cards for Samsung galaxy phones here, so if you have the latest Samsung, be sure to check out this article first before committing.
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Adventure Assist Travel Journal Is A Must Have For Trips

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adventure assist
A twist to the classic notebook, Adventure Assist is a modern travel journal perfect for the before and afters of your trip. Mapping out your trip and keeping memories the old school way. Jot down the most important details of the trip as you are planning so you are ready once the time comes. Create a list of things to remember or missions to complete. Be ready for the accomplished feeling you get when you physically cross these things off your list. Keep quotes of silly things that happened along the way. Relive doodles of the funny dog you saw or the breathtaking view from the end of your hike.
The notebook was created by two adventure seekers, Jake Pritchard and April Onebane. Both studied abroad and have a passion for traveling with a purpose. Their mission is to “ better connect travelers to their destinations by inspiring authentic and purposeful travel experiences through streamlining planning and organization.” With that mission in mind, the Adventure Assist notebook was created. A heavy duty notebook with strong covers and thick sheets made to withstand the suitcases, backpacks and adventures it will be a part of.Broken down into seven section, the notebook helps travelers organize and keep track of the basic necessities when traveling. The sections starts with “packing” and moves onto “to-do”, “transportation”, “accommodations”, “calendar”, “contacts” and “journal” with journal being the largest section. Each section is divided as an easily identifiable tab to quickly navigate to the section. 

Packing

The first tab in Adventure Assist, Packing, tells you to “list adventure gear, regional specific clothing, travel documents and entertainment essentials for your journey.” With four pages to list what you are packing, you definitely won't miss a thing or over pack. A couple of things we would recommend: S-hooks, ziplock bags, mini-tripod.adventure assist

To-Do

Next, To-Do, is 10 pages, each page broken down into two sections. Each section is broken down into boxes: destination, attractions, activities, food and drinks. What are some things you want to do, see and eat at the destination? You will have an endless list of things you want to do on your next adventure but writing down the top 10 will help you keep track of the most important. Keep a smaller list for a higher chance of accomplishment while pulling from your bigger list when you run out. Nothing digital will ever replace the satisfying feeling of physically crossing something off of your Do-To list.adventure assist

Transportation and Accomodations

Where are you staying each night? When time do you have to get there, get out and who do contact if you have a question. Necessary, if not the most important, information of every trip. Now that you know where you are staying, how are you getting there? Getting around in big cities is easy if the language is one you speak and the technology available is similar back home. The difficult but somewhat exciting times when you are visiting somewhere completely different than what you are used to, transportation will not be so easy. You may need to catch a ferry, jitney...donkey?! Keep track of what time departure and arrival is and any additional notes like how many stops until your destination.

Calendar and Contacts

The calendar section provides blank monthly calendar views for you to see your month at a glance. There is a column for notes where you could draw a map key, like emojis, and add the keys to your calendar. Contacts - great for noting who the people from each destination to call in case of emergencies. We have so many contacts in our phones we don’t remember. When a panic situation happens, you have the information you need. In a more likely situation, you lose your phone or it runs out of battery. Now you have the contact information and can borrow someone’s phone.

Journal

This is where you log your memories and experiences. The reason you are traveling in the first place. Write, draw, sketch, whatever you want in this section. Anything that will bring back the best memories from your journey when you discover this notebook on your shelf when you are 80. Instax or Polaroid would be perfect for this section. The two envelopes on each end of the notebook are great for storing tickets, airport stamp tickets, napkins with doodles on them or anything else relatively flat.We will have our digital photos, videos, social media accounts to look back at. But the feeling from something handwritten or hand drawn is much more powerful and memory provoking than anything digital. Adventure Assist is personal and once you start writing, you won’t want to stop. adventure assist
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