Editorials

On November 22, 2013 the Xbox One launched in the US and several other territories. The first new console from Microsoft in 8 years, the One was long overdue. But at launch, the Xbox One faced an uphill battle due to a series of PR blunders, poor pre-leadership from former Xbox chief Don Mattrick (who tellingly departed for Zynga in July that year), and a $100 price disadvantage against its competitor the Playstation 4.

In our comprehensive launch review, I praised the Xbox One as a games and entertainment machine, but criticized its underdeveloped user interface, social features, and other major and minor failings. Luckily, Microsoft has worked hard under new Xbox head Phil Spencer's leadership to improve the Xbox One in the first post-launch year. Now we're back with another massive review that looks at the console's many strides and areas that continue to need improvement.

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2014 Holiday Gift Guide

Holiday shopping can be tough, we know. Finding the best gift for your loved ones can be a pain, but we're here to help. This is the Mobile Nations 2014 Holiday Gift Guide so we can help you find the perfect gift for every name on your list. And this doesn't have to be for just that special someone — it's perfectly okay to get a little something special for yourself too. You've earned it.

So as we roll into the biggest and craziest shopping and gift-giving season of the year, it's time to find out what should be on your wish list — and what's on everybody else's lists. So let's dive right in to the Mobile Nations 2014 Holiday Gift Guide for the very best gifts for everybody from the writer and the student to the home automator and the businessman.

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As Microsoft solidifies its rebranding of the Nokia mobile division heading into 2015, there is one rumor that just won't die: Nokia wants to make smartphones again.

Certainly there is nostalgia behind the iconic brand, something that current Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri clearly understands. However, there is just too much navel-gazing these days for 'clues' in Nokia's Facebook and Twitter posts that Nokia wants to make phones again. Luckily, Suri today made it clear that Nokia has no plans to return to smartphones.

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Buying a new device like a Surface Pro 3 is a significant decision. Not only is it a substantial financial commitment, but there are many other questions that come along with it. Which configuration should you get? What accessories are "must haves" from the start?

Today, we want to answer another question: Is it worth buying the extended Microsoft Complete warranty?

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The Lumia 535 fixes many of the Lumia 530's ills, but comes at an odd time

Late last night, Microsoft announced the Lumia 535, the latest addition in the admittedly growing and confusing Lumia line. The Lumia 535 is confusing because it borrows many of the strong points from the Lumia 630 and Lumia 730 line, blurring the differences between the two.

Having said that, the phone itself is in many ways a welcome addition, mostly because it addresses many of the concern reviewers have had with the 5xx line of Lumias.

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This morning, AT&T began to sell the new Nokia Lumia 830 (yes, it is still branded as a Nokia) and the HTC One for Windows, which thankfully lost its Verizon-exclusivity.

So, the big question for some people is which one to get? Naturally, this presumes you are willing to fork over money for a new Windows Phone today, as opposed to waiting until sometime in 2015 for a new 'flagship' Lumia. If you are in the latter group, feel free to skip this article.

Let me break the pros and cons of the Lumia 830 versus the HTC One down for you.

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Halloween 2014 Contest Winners!

The judges pored over the hundreds of submissions in this year's Halloween Photo Contests, and they have finally narrowed them down and chosen winners for each site! There were so many incredible entries, from funny to scary and everything in between, and all of them were so very creative, so as always this was a really hard contest to judge! It took a little bit longer than we had hoped, but prizes are worth waiting for, right? We appreciate all the pictures that were submitted, and hope that you all had as much fun entering as we did getting to see everyone entries.

You can check out the winners for each site below, as well as see who has won the Mobile Nations No Tricks, Just Treats Halloween Contest grand prize!

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Earlier in October, Lenovo wowed the tech media, including us, with their new Yoga 3 Pro ultralight Ultrabook. Coming in at just 2.6 pounds and being as thin as a pencil, the third edition of the popular consumer Yoga PC line looked outstanding.

However, since its release, the pricey 2-in-1 laptop has garnered some less than impressive reviews, including one from me. Although the hardware and design are admirable, the promised 'up to 9 hours' battery life seemed to be a major exaggeration only obtainable in some undiscovered perfect universe.

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When it comes to fielding questions about the Surface Pro 3, the most popular thing we are asked is, "Which Surface should I get?" Although our goal here at Windows Central is to keep you informed, we cannot give you one clear answer on this subject.

The truth is that different configurations could be right for different people. I spent years as an IT consultant, often advising my clients on what equipment to buy based on their needs. Based on that experience, I have tried to put together a guide to help you decide which Surface might be right for you. This is just my humble opinion, but hopefully, you find it useful.

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This week, Microsoft entered the health and fitness wearables business with the Band. The Microsoft Band is meant to crush the competition, take on Fitbit, Jawbone, Apple, and Android Wear. Therefore, it makes sense that Microsoft wants limited supplies so that they can garner 'sold out' headlines everywhere, creating the appearance of high demand.

The only problem with everything I just wrote is it is entirely wrong. Let me squelch some myths here about the Microsoft Band and what Microsoft is trying to do.

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Straw is a new Windows Phone app that aims to help you get instant feedback from your friends and followers on social networks. Recently, we covered the polling app and its public beta on Windows Phone. Since our initial coverage, the app has received numerous updates fixing bugs and addressing feedback from a growing user base. We figured it was as good a time as ever to talk with Straw co-founder Ben Rudolph about the founding of the app and its future.

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New stats from Kantar WorldPanel reveal that Windows Phone sales have seen a slight decline for the three months to September 2014.

The Kantar numbers, while not dramatic, reflect two aspects of the current Windows Phone ecosystem: lack of new phones and a substantial portfolio from the competition, including new iPhones.

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US Prepaid Carriers Buyer's Guide

Sponsored by MetroPCS

With kids back in school and budgets tight, prepaid carriers are often the way to go for anyone with a smartphone. Instead of paying your monthly bill after having used your wireless service, you pay beforehand for a set bucket of data.

There are compromises to be made when signing up for a prepaid carrier, but for the most part, the added flexibility makes it all worth while. Conditions and service plans vary wildly across providers, but we're going to sort through the big ones and hopefully point you in the right direction.

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A few days ago, I managed to pick up a Yoga 3 Pro to review for the site. See my unboxing and tour here if you missed it. I am still feeling out the ultra slim Ultrabook, but I can already answer one question for you. If you are choosing between buying the Surface Pro 3 and the new Yoga, you should pass on the Lenovo.

This conclusion is not to say the Yoga 3 Pro is bad, but rather I so far find it underwhelming. Let us compare.

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I've recently taken a deeper step into the connected world. A step that some will describe as being interesting, and that some will describe as being crazy. To be honest, as happy as I am since I have taken this step, I have to admit that I fall on both the interesting and crazy sides myself. Before getting any further, I should mention that the "step" I took was implanting an NFC chip in my hand.

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Although many in the United States are still waiting for the Lumia Cyan update, most of the focus in the Windows Phone world is shifting to Lumia Denim. Currently, Lumia Denim comes installed on the Lumia 730, Lumia 735, and Lumia 830, with the Lumia 1520 and Lumia 930 slated to get an over-the-air update first, likely starting in the coming weeks.

This morning, a few fan sites began running articles about 'Lumia Emerald' alleging that it is the next firmware update following Denim. For now, I am calling these sightings a hoax for various reasons.

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Right now it's crazy season for new phones. Between the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Android L, the BlackBerry Passport and Classic, and Windows Phone 8.1. There's never been a hotter time for new gadgets. So we want to know what you think — what phones are you looking forward to, what's important to you in a phone, and what you think of your carrier. So we have a survey, and one lucky survey-taker will win a $600 towards a brand new phone!

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I've been using the Lumia Icon for a while, but recently switched to the Hulk, also known as the green Lumia 1520. I didn't back up and restore any of my previous items since I wanted to start fresh. I've noticed my new Start Screen is different on the new device, so this is a perfect time to show it off.

Daniel started off the series, with Sam, George, and Seth sharing their Start Screens, too. Read on and watch the video to see what's on my Lumia 1520.

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Over the weekend, an article appeared on Digital Trends entitled "Microsoft needs to stop starting over with Windows Phone". The commentary in question put forth the idea that Microsoft is rebooting Windows Phone a third time with Windows 10 in 2015 and that this is an issue. The odd reasons cited for this being a problem span from the OS being inconsistent to "driving app developers and users crazy".

The Digital Trends article is flawed in many ways, but I believe this is, once again, a perception issue that is probably not uncommon in tech media, especially ones that do not live and breathe Microsoft news. For that reason, I would like to articulate a more accurate position on the changes Microsoft has gone through in the last few years.

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