Thursday, June 27, 2013

Me and My Windows Phone { #summerswitch }




I'm half-way through my test-drive of the Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone. Time for an update! What do I love? What do I not love? There's stuff on both sides to be sure.

Loves
- The screen size. This phone has a 4.5 inch display, as compared to my iPhone 4 with a 3.5 inch display. Huge difference! Whether reading an email, writing myself a note, or watching a video, this larger display makes for a more enjoyable experience, and easier on my eyes. The phone is bigger and heavier than my old phone, but neither is an issue. And it is really not heavy at all compared to phones I had in the past! I quite like the substantial feel of it in my hand.

- Live Tiles. These allow me to pin my most used apps to my start screen for easy access. But the tiles don't just sit there. Many of them update me with the most currently available information. My AccuWeather tile is constantly updating the current conditions and forecast highs and lows. My pinned email account lets me know how many new messages have arrived. The pin for my photos scrolls through my camera roll,
providing a constant slide show. One of my faves - "My Daily Planner" app gives me the option to pin a tile which shows me my daily events, updated automatically each day. I can do the same with my daily tasks. Super easy to keep me on track!

- The camera. Now, I've been reading some of the reviews from my fellow testers, who have mixed views on the camera. Primarily because of a lack of sharpness in the images. I have to admit that I probably just don't have the eye to notice that. Much like Hubs can't understand why I don't care whether or not we watch a movie in HD. For me, the quality of the 8.7 mp camera with image stabilization and a Carl Zeiss lens is great in normal shooting situations. I do find the zoom produces a very blurry image (not unlike my experiences with my iPhone camera), and shooting into a lighted area from a darker one creates a pretty spectacular field of just light. But, I have my Nikon for more challenging photo shoots. Overall I have been very impressed with the quality of the pictures I've taken with this phone.

- The camera related apps and lenses. Fun! The native editing tools in Creative Studio are awesome. The standard crop, rotate and auto-fix are available of course, but Creative Studio also provides a set of filters (like with Instagram) plus the ability to enhance focus and create blur, allowing you to highlight particular areas of your image. Edit your photos right on your phone!

For those of us with wiggly kids, a lens called Smart Shoot may become a best friend. When using this lens, the camera will take a quick series of 5 images with your single click. Then it will present you with the set of 5 so you can choose and save the best.  You might actually get everyone looking at the camera at the same time.

And CamWow is just a bunch of fun. This lens is packed full of filters and distortions to add some innovation to your picture taking. I'm a fan of the pop art look myself.
 This sketchy one is fun too.

And I can't forget panorama.

- Nokia apps. In particular I love the Nokia Music streaming service and Mix Radio. There are numerous curated playlists in different genres. You can buy a premium subscription for enhanced sound quality and the ability to skip an unlimited number of songs you don't like each month. But the quality and variety in the free service is great. These playlists are a great way to find new favourites, or to just find the music that suits your mood on a particular day. You can pin a playlist to your start screen for easiest access, and can even save material to make it available offline.

- Office functionality. I can open and edit Microsoft Office documents. Enough said. 
Document formats supported: Excel, PDF, Word, OneNote, Powerpoint

Things I Don't Love So Much
- Availability of apps. I mentioned this in my first post.  There are a number of apps I am missing, including Hootsuite, Instagram, and some games. Instance is an ok way to access my Instagram account, but it doesn't have the same or as many filters. I am using Rowi for Twitter, and I'll probably adjust to that.  My bank doesn't (yet) have a mobile banking app for the Windows Phone. The WPBlogger app is pretty useless. You can just type and post - no saving as a draft, no ability to add images. I gather the Wordpress app is much better though and have heard good things from friends mobile blogging with that. I hope more and better apps will become available over time, as the Windows Phones become more widely used.

Although this app issue may be allowing me to break my sudden Candy Crush addiction. Just saying.

- The search button. This little magnifying glass icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen has become the bane of my existence. I am constantly bumping into it and having my screen shift to the Bing search screen. I realise this is a my clumsiness issue, but it's in an awkward spot for me. It would be great if I could have a way to disable it. (I have disabled it from the lock screen, but that's the most I could find.)


So, it looks like the pros are outweighing the cons so far. Will report back again soon!

Disclosure: I am participating in a month-long #SummerSwitch challenge. I will receive compensation for my participation and testing of a Windows phone, which has been provided to me by Microsoft Canada. All opinions on the blog, as always, remain my own.

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