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After The Buzz – Pocketnow

26 May

logoPocketnow has posted a video blog entry titled: After The Buzz, Episode 1 AT&T NOKIA Lumia 900, saying:

Most new phone launches go the same way: usually the press gets review units before they’re widely available, and we get to use them for a few days -or a week if we’re lucky- as we work on our review.

Then press day arrives. The embargo on media coverage lifts, and everyone posts their reviews and videos at the same time. It’s a huge frenzy, commenters go nuts, and it’s a giant explosion of frantic opinion-sharing activity.

…after that initial blast, not many people revisit the device to see how it feels a few weeks or months later, because everyone’s already focused on the next big deal coming down the pipe.

So let’s do something about that. Let’s see how we feel about phones when they’re not shiny and new anymore. Click ahead for Episode 1 of After The Buzz, featuring the Nokia Lumia 900 six weeks after launch.”

After The Buzz via Pocketnow.com

After The Buzz: 7 Weeks Later…

Taking a cue from pocketnow’s post: overall I have to say that my experience with the Nokia Lumia 900 and Windows Phone 7.5 has been delightful. I have grown to appreciate the intuitive, smooth and lightweight nature of the OS. The phone itself is solid, well built and has a great feel to it. It is heavier than some other phones, but to me that is actually a good thing; the heft adds to the solid feel. In spite of the body being made of  polycarbonate [plastic] there is no cheap plastic feel here.

As one might expect however, regardless of how good a device may be, technology does not come without its fair share of hiccups, and there have been a few that I have encountered using this phone.

Starting With The Good

The OS remains stable and fluid – “Get in, get out, get on with your life.” An odd catch phrase to be sure, as I really do enjoy “being in” the phone.

In spite of the modestly spec’d single core 1400 MHz processor, 512 MB’s of RAM, 16 GB’s internal memory (14.5 GB available to user) plus SkyDrive [7-25 GB’s of free storage depending on whether you are a new or current user] cloud storage, I was absolutely surprised at how much I like this OS [dreary Joseph Volpe notwithstanding] with only an occasional stutter or scroll lag, although these seem to occur primarily in “data heavy” or “live feed” apps like Facebook.

In my experience Windows Phone OS has just worked better in pretty much every aspect than my admittedly tempestuous two years with Android, and favorably compares to my use iOS. It is fluid, fast and veryoffice-callout-office-hub responsive. Gone for me is the constant [at the OS level] lag of Android, screens with icon grids and the odds-and-ends of quirky frustrating misbehaviors. While this OS may not be for everyone, I think most people looking for an easy, quick and intuitive phone OS will like it. The integration with Office and the ease of email, contacts and calendar setup is fantastic. The onscreen keyboard beats any keyboard I have used in Android and the iPhone, and the built-in voice control – while limited in scope and not as fun as Siri – works well.

people-concept-hubThe built in People Hub is a place I visit more and more with the “what’s new” section gathering relevant updates via Facebook [this is awesome to grab a quick status or post view since the Facebook app, while head and shoulders above the Android version I had been using on the HTC Aria, is still PAINFUL to use], Google and Twitter. Phone call, messaging and email threads are aggregated into the “history” page and there is a “pictures” page as well with links to photo albums created by that person if they have any. All accomplished without having to leave the OS. Again, I really do enjoy “being in” this phone.

Call quality is excellent – As a phone [people DO use these things as phones still, yes?] the call quality hasphone-screen-new-voicemail been great. People on the other end of the line say I sound much better than I did with the HTC Aria and on my end the conversation is practically as clear as a landline. With the HTC Aria I had continuous issues with signal strength, dropping calls with alarming regularity [though not as frequently as my iPhone friends]. On the Nokia I seem to consistently get a stronger signal and I have yet to drop a call, something that was happening on the HTC almost daily. The speakerphone is plenty loud, MUCH louder than the HTC Aria was, which is great when driving and using the built in GPS navigation.

The screen – Despite being a “paltry” 800 by 480, the screen is really beautiful. It hits the sweet spot for me that sits right between the iPhone’s rather smallish 3.5” screen and the behemoth Android screens stretching over 5”. The clear black technology actually works and the screen is quite readable even in bright sunlight. While the blacks are truly black on this screen, the whites are not quite white, exhibiting a slightly bluish tint. This is something that is not apparent until you hold the device up to a computer monitor or another phone with a very white display.

musicvideos-concept-hubMusic + Videos Hub – Think of the Music + Videos Hub as a Zune player within your Windows Phone. All your music and videos are always just a few taps away. You can also create playlists, listen to FM radio, and subscribe to podcasts. The music side of this of course requires a $9.99 monthly subscription to the Zune Music Pass service [which I have been subscribed to since the second generation Zune was released] or you can just load it up with your existing [DRM free] catalog of music and videos. Podcast subscriptions are of course free.

Apps – App selection has not disappointed me beyond the missing odd blockbuster title like Angry Birds Space.

Apps of note that I use most frequently

:

primaryImageCA9W4S2DUSA Today ~ The latest news stories, sports scores, weather and photos.

 

primaryImageThe Daily Beast ~ The quickest way to get breaking news from across the Web on your phone. The Daily Beast offers instant summaries of the Web’s must-read stories, plus original news reporting, opinion, and photos.

primaryImageARMED! ~ A sci-fi turn-based multiplayer strategy game that puts you in command of a fleet of futuristic tanks, turrets, and robots with one mission: infiltrate enemy territory, crush their forces, and destroy their headquarters.

primaryImageFable: Coin Golf ~ This game draws upon the wealth of traditional British pub games like Shove Ha’Penny, Bar Billiards, and Skittles, and combines them with elements from very popular modern puzzle games to create an addictive skill-based game that is entirely in keeping with the Fable pub game universe.

primaryImagegeoDefense ~ A Tower defense game. Devastate creeps with blasters, lasers and missiles and watch their energy debris swirl through the gravity wells of your vortex towers.

primaryImageWordament ~ A unique kind of word game—a word tournament—where you are competing with the whole internet to be the best word searcher in every game. Every player is competing on the same board, in real-time, to get the highest score.

primaryImageCAUJWSX4BBB: App-ocalypse ~ This is not the usual tower-defense experience, there are many mini-games that will blow your brains out. You’ll control a group of five survivors to prevent their fortress from being overtaken by zombie hordes.

primaryImageEndomondo ~ Use your mobile as a free personal trainer and fitness partner! Using the built-in GPS, the app tracks your fitness – running, cycling, walking and any other distance based sport! On top, you get audio feedback on your performance during your workout and your friends can follow you live and send you peptalks in real-time.

primaryImageCAVJXMDJWeather Flow ~ One of the most beautiful weather apps on the Marketplace.

 

primaryImageCAICBN4JESPN ~ Exclusive to Nokia

 

primaryImageCAPLWC6SPhototastic ~ You can create fantastic looking collages of your images with frame borders or choose from one of the film templates like polaroid, photo booth or filmstrip. Once finished with arranging your photos apply one of the many effects, such as vintage, Lomo or the brand new ‘sketch’ to make them look even more unique!

primaryImageCAASL0L3Star Chart ~ A virtual universe in your pocket! Uses your phones GPS to calculate – in real time – the current location of every star and planet visible from Earth and shows you precisely where they are even in broad daylight! Curious about that bright star? Point your device at it, it might just be a planet!

primaryImageCA7Y00NRSpace Weather ~ You are only a glance or a few taps away from real-time space weather.

 

primaryImageCALG7L2AVimeo ~ All the best parts of Vimeo into one app for your Windows Phone. Now you can upload, manage, and watch videos from anywhere.

imagesCAEF3M0LNokia Drive ~  Exclusive to Nokia

And Then There Is The Not So Good

I have experienced a couple spontaneous phone reboots – This occurred two times and it was after I had enabled wireless sync within the Zune desktop software. Both of the reboots occurred after I unplugged my phone from the power charger and after the screen timed out when I was done checking email and Facebook. I disabled the wireless sync [to be honest, I don’t need to “sync” much; my calendars and contacts are all on GMAIL, Facebook and Live and I only occasionally manually sync a smart playlist or two on the phone since I stream in my music via the built in music player] and the reboot issue appears to have resolved for now.

The camera is just average – The camera is adequate. In some ways it reminds me of my first digital camera, the LEICA DIGILUX 1. Like the Nokia Lumia, the Leica had a spectacular lens [f/2-2.5] that let lots of light in. And like the Leica, the Lumia exhibits a surprising lack of detail and a remarkable amount of luminance and color noise. This even in full bright sunlight, though noticeably diminished compared to low light situations.

Click each image for full size view:

 

Original UnretouchedOriginal Noise CropPost Processed Lightroom 4

 

Below is an example of four attempts to capture the wildflower in the foreground. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the camera to focus where I wanted.

 

Windows Phone Sample (14 of 21)Windows Phone Sample (15 of 21)Windows Phone Sample (16 of 21)Windows Phone Sample (17 of 21).

Unlike the Leica though which was tack-sharp in focusing, the Lumia appears to have a focusing issues, which show up most annoyingly when shooting up close.

A small collection of samples:

Syncing issues – There have been frequent hiccups with email syncing. This seems to occur primarily on the Wi-Fi networks and while a little annoying, is not a huge issue. I happen to have my browser open full time, whether at home or at work, so notice that while I have read my new emails on the phone, the browser doesn’t show them as having been read, or vice versa. Also, when deleting emails via the phone, there is not an immediate sync, so sometimes my “deleted” emails remain in my browser until the phone gets around the syncing up. If I didn’t have the browser open, I don’t know that I would even notice this.

Wrap-Up

So, 7 weeks in how am I feeling about my plunge into the Windows Phone 7.5 ecosphere? Quite good. There are roughly 80,000 apps in the Marketplace and counting. Sure, some standards, like Pandora and Angry Birds Space are missing at the moment, but there are a number of developers waiting for a critical mass to create a demand for the platform, and when that happens that may change.

Having spent some time with the Nokia phone and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.5 operating system, I’m really pulling for it.

The operating system delivers much of what a user wants. It has a great deal of promise as it matures in the near future with Windows Phone 7.5 OS and then with Windows Phone 8 assumed to be announced around June and released later this year.

OH, and did I mention that at $99 [via AT&T] it’s a bargain?  And at $49 via Amazon Wireless, even better.

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