In October, staff writer Kay Rodriguez took a trip to New York with Microsoft. Here is what she learned:
A slow, nondescript elevator took a somewhat haphazard group of us up to the top floor of a seemingly ordinary apartment building. We stood, making light jokes in between gaps of breathy silence, a random assemblage of fashion writers, tech lovers, travelers and moms. I didn’t quite know what to expect, especially since I wasn’t exactly a technology connoisseur, but as you learn while traveling, it’s always work trying new and strange things.
The doors opened to reveal a haven of light, space, and color. This, I would come to learn, was the Microsoft One Lounge, an apartment the Microsoft folks had been occupying for a while. Product showcases lined the walls while light, color, and music reflected throughout the open space. I thought to myself, I’d really like to live in a place like this. It seemed unreal.
Tablets, phones, games, and apps were all part of the conversation, one that I soon found myself enthralled in. I didn’t realize that the day had passed so quickly until the growls from my stomach hinted that dinner was near. To our surprise, Microsoft had arranged a dinner in a private loft kitchen called The Kitchen Table. Charred brussels sprouts, thyme ice cream and buttered scallops were among my favorite dishes at the dinner. More importantly, though, we got to pick the brains of one of the Research & Development Teams from Microsoft. They told us stories about software they built that enabled plants to send tweets, automated community Instagram posts, and much more. I could tell that these women were passionate about technology by the energy and radiance that they displayed during our conversations.
The next day brought me to a helipad alongside the water. I never thought I would have the chance to see New York City as a bird, but on this day, I did. It was incredible. I saw the likes of Central Park, the Empire State building, and the entire skyline speckled with the colors of autumn. We finally landed in upstate New York and headed to the Storm King Art Center, an expansive, gorgeous sculpture sanctuary.
It was magical in the fall air, crisp and cool to complement the warm colors of the season. The leaves burned orange and yellow, a perfect backdrop for the towering sculptures hidden throughout the park. It was the perfect photo opportunity, and I was glad that I had one of the Nokia Lumia phones on hand to snap some of the wild colors (since my phone was out of memory and my camera’s battery had died earlier in the day).
Throughout the trip, I really wanted to test the durability, portability, and practicality of the various devices I had the chance to use. Throughout our various adventures in the city, I was able to judge everything from the graphics to the battery life to the usability of these devices, and I wasn’t left disappointed! Though I wouldn’t consider myself a “tech person” by any standards, I found myself fascinated with most of the devices I got to try out during the weekend. As a traveler, I am always looking for lightweight, fast, and durable gear that I can take with me to the ends of the earth, and I definitely found some amazing travel gadgets while I was there. Which devices did I find the best for long-term travelers? Here are my top picks:
1) Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Hands down, this was my favorite device to use as a traveler. Because it’s both a tablet and a computer, it easily fits into any carry-on bag, but it functions like a tablet. With the Surface, I can edit photos using a stylus (fancy, I know) and do some reading like on a Kindle. I can also do some serious work in Excel and PowerPoint and multitask as if I were using a desktop. It’s a win-win solution for the traveler that wants to travel as light as possible, with the full functionality of a computer setup.
2) Nokia Lumia products
During our visit to the Storm King Art Center, I was able to take some pretty stunning photos with the Nokia Lumia 1520. Here are a few of my favorites:
The cameras on these phones (both the 1520 and the 1280) are amazing, and the photos display beautifully on the device’s sleek screen. They also seemed to be fairly durable phones – mine didn’t even need a case. Every traveler wants durability and top-of-the-line graphics, and I think the Nokia Lumia series definitely fits that description.
OneNote is basically the common person’s organizational dream. Think text messages meeting a cloud storage system. With OneNote, you can save itineraries, photos, screen shots, and more. By organizing in notebooks and pages, you can separate the different categories of information in your life (for me, that’s school, blogging, travel, and work). You can also access OneNote from any kind of device, from Macs to PCs.
The best part of OneNote is that it’s FREE to download and use! I now have it on all of my devices, and I use it to write blog posts, take notes in class, and save important information from the Internet.
Needless to say, it was basically a techie’s dream weekend. However, even without extensive technology knowledge, I still learned a ton about the merging of technology, art, and travel throughout these few days. Combining the amazing features of the Microsoft lineup with my traveler’s mindset and the beauty and intrigue of New York made for a trip too sweet to forget.
This opportunity was kindly provided by Microsoft, but all opinions within this article are solely my own.