If you occasionally read this blog, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Windows Phone but that my opinion of Nokia has slowly been declining. Well, that was until I got my hands on a Lumia 800 a while back.
The Lumia 900 is essentially a beefier model, with a larger screen and the addition of a front-facing camera so I’d assumed I’d like just as much as the 800, if not more.
I planned to have this review as a sort of comparison between the Lumia 800 but they are just too similar, so that would be pointless. Instead, I’ll be focusing on whether bigger really is better.
I think the 3.7 inch screen on the Nokia Lumia 800 is brilliant; the resolution may not be anywhere near the best on the market but the brightness and clarity are something to be marvelled at. My only other criticism was that it felt a bit thin and media playback could look a little cramped.
Then the Lumia 900 comes along, with its 4.3 inch screen. The perfect solution? Well, I know its only 0.7 of an inch extra but, trust me, it makes all the difference.
Both handsets have the same resolution at 480 x 800 and both work well even outdoors, partly down to the Nokia ClearBlack display, but the 900 just gives you so much more room to play with.
This is where the Lumia 900 starts to slip, it runs on the same processor, with the same amount of memory as it’s little brother. If you can’t remember, that’s 16GB of storage with 512MB RAM and a single-core 1.4GHz Qualcomm APQ8055 Snapdragon chipset.
Nokia claim that this doesn’t hinder the performance. I’m sad to report that it does.
I had to restart the handset a handful of times after it froze opening an application. If it didn’t freeze it often took longer to open some apps than it would have the same app on a handset with more processor punch.
As for size, I’d be lying if I said that it felt normal from the off. It didn’t, it took a while to get used to the size, 127.8 x 68.5 x 11.5 mm. Even now I still feel a bit like Dom Jolly if I walk around holding it to my ear.
Thankfully, despite its size, it is comfortable. That is mainly down to the material and shape of the body. The curved polycarbonate shell, weighing 160g, was exceptionally snug in my hand.
Don’t start thinking it’s all cuddly though. This device can also take a bit of abuse. If the all-in-one shell is scratched it will be harder to notice than on other handsets. That’s because the Lumia’s casing is the same colour all the way through to the innards.
Again, the same camera as the Lumia 800, a 8MP snapper with 3264×2448 pixels and Carl Zeiss optics. Two samples for you to feast your eyes on: One, Two.
The 900 also has the welcome addition of a secondary front-facing camera for video calls. Certainly a massive plus, even if it is only a 1MP VGA effort.
Video recording is also the same, offering up 720p HD @30fps. Here is a sample (note you need to manually change to 720p):
Windows Phone 7.5
Unfortunately the operating system doesn’t really directly benefit from the larger display. Other than having more room to look pretty. You can read all about the OS in my Lumia 800 review if you still aren’t familiar with it.
The “live tile” homescreen is still as good and refreshing as it was on the 800 and the full list of applications still flows as smoothly as before.
The Windows Phone Marketplace is growing every day, with now well over 100,000 apps available for you to peruse and download at will.
Thankfully, Nokia is back to its best on this front.
I’m not sure if the size of the device has a hand in this, given that the microphone is now even closer to your mouth, but I am glad to say I didn’t have the horrid experience of having to repeat myself over and over, getting increasingly agitated each time. The Lumia delivered crisp and clear call quality.
After losing signal the 900 can take a noticeably longer than other handsets to regain connectivity but that’s my only criticism here.
Also, a quick thanks to Three for providing the Micro SIM card for this handset.
As expected the Lumia 900 has a bigger battery to power the larger screen, a Li-Ion 1830 mAh if you are interested.
This doesn’t just even out the standby time, it actually increases it, offering up to 300 hours.
You should already have picked up on it but I’ll come clean, I don’t ‘get’ or find large screened smartphones or tablet hybrids appealing in the slightest. I was really hoping that because the Lumia 900 has a screen that measures less than 5 inches I would want to own one. But I don’t.
If it was thinner, maybe like the HTC One X, I’d probably change my tune. And yes, I am that shallow.
The fact that Windows Phone 8 is on the horizon and there are numerous larger screened handsets with much more processing power leads to me draw the conclusion that the Lumia 900 is just a bit of a waste of space and materials.
Thankfully this experience has only made me appreciate the Lumia 800 more. It is an amazing phone and WP7 is an excellent OS, one I hold in higher regard than Android.
I think that devices like the Asus Padfone, in one way or another, hold the answer here. It is actually both a phone and a tablet, not something trying to be both and failing miserably at being either.
Last night Microsoft finally unveiled its first tablet computer, the Surface.
The Surface will be available in two different models:
The Windows 8 pro model, which will run on a Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor, offer USB 3.0 connectivity and come with either 64GB or 128GB memory when using the MicroSDXC. It measures 13.5mm thick and weighs 903g.
The Windows RT model, which will run on a Nvidia processor, offer USB 2.0, Office Home & Student 2013, offers 32GB or 64GB memory thanks to the MicroSD. Surprisingly, the RT is thinner and lighter than the Windows 8 Pro model at 9.3mm and 676g.
They both offer 10.6″ ClearType HD screens (although with varying resolutions for each device), front and rear cameras, dual Wi-Fi and, as a little extra, a kickstand.
Unlike Apple and its iPads, these tablets will ship with acccesories included. And not just poor quality, uncomfortable headphones.
The Touch Cover is a 3mm magnetic sheet that doubles as a pressure sensitive keyboard.
If you aren’t the best touch typer in the world, no need to worry. There is also a slightly fatter option, the Type Cover, a 5mm physical keyboard with a multi-touch trackpad.
Fingers crossed Microsoft go full steam ahead with the Surface and we could see them hit the shelves in the next few months. The Windows 8 Pro is likely to land first, with the RT following a few months behind. No official pricing has been released as yet but speculation is pointing toward a pricepoint of between £350 and £620.
Personally, I can’t wait to get my hands on a Surface and I hope that they give the iPad a run for its money. While the OS and UI might not be as simple or friendly as the offering from Apple, it offers far more versatility and functionality, something that should appeal to businesses far and wide.
Having created this blog and nurtured it for the past four years, I’ve decided to put the best blog posts/videos from the best on one page.
Diary of an outcast: Apple’s Special iPad 2 Event I will start with my favourite post, the infamous Apple event. I had been invited to Apple events before but somehow started getting missed off the list. I hate Apple so it was no surprise that they didn’t want me there. Safe to say that after this post not only was I missed off the list but Computer Weekly never received an invite from Apple ever again.
iPhone Vs N97 This was the first big video project that me and David (video editor) put together. At the time I was so happy that I’d got the N97 I decided to make a video pitting it against the iPhone while mocking Apple’s advertising campaign. Little did I know that the N97 would prove to be the worst purchase I’ve ever made in my life.
HTC Desire HD Review David (who stars in this video) and I wanted to do something different and create a cool video review. This is what we came up with.
Sadly once we started recording David (and the department he worked for) were made redundant. It didn’t effect the video but it wasn’t a happy time for us. Having cleared out his desk he set up at home the next day to finish it. This was our last hurrah and the last video I made. Very proud of it.
What is the best mobile OS around? At this point, no one wanted to be in any of my videos. The company was starting to cut back on them and so I tried to play four roles with four outfits and a moustache before I got told that what I was doing wasn’t a productive use of my time. Honestly, how could they say that?
This video used to have a voting element that has since been removed because we couldn’t afford to pay for the server the flash sat on.
The most ambitious video we ever tried.
Video: The future of business cards, I’m not taking the Poken There was a girl I was desperate to go out with at my work. I needed to do a video to have a reason to talk to her but the only thing I’d been sent was a Poken. No phones or cool gadgets. Somehow I persuaded her to help me make this video. We’re still together 🙂
He would stand there saying “That’s not funny” every time I cracked a joke or did something stupid. Or one of my favourite lines of his was “You might think that’s funny, but it isn’t”.
Video: Palm Pre vs the iPhone – The big debate I had 2 weeks before Christmas to do a video armed with my wit and a white wig that was left over from a very bad ‘Back to the future’ spoof I’d made where I played the Doc. That video was so bad that the company we producd it for sent us a letter saying that if the video ever saw the light of day, they’d sue my a** off.
David went on holiday with a week left of editing/filming to do so I didn’t have anyone to tell me that what I was saying wasn’t funny and some of the editing is a bit off. It’s still a good video but we felt it was rushed.
Video: Flip Mino HD review This video took 84 takes. For no reason at all I couldn’t stop laughing during recording. We got in trouble because it was meant to take a couple of hours but took almost two weeks.
Sony recently gave (what it called) “power to the people”.
Actually, what it really did was allow people to click a button bringing the launch date for a mystery handset forward a few seconds at a time.
Granted I’m a miserable sceptic but I’m sure it will have done all the necessary calculations and worked out a new time launch date, and that time is now, I’ve received a press release about it and everything.
Here we have the Sony Xperia Miro.
I have no idea what Miro stands for and a Google search left me even more confused, apparently it is a tree native to New Zealand that is used for lumber and often features in interior carpentry.
Think Sony may be on to a winner with that name, I mean, that’s what everyone wants from their phone, an interesting wooden interior feature.
Anyway, the real facts:
Screen: 3.5″ 320 x 480 pixels
Under the hood: 800 MHz Qualcomm processor, 4GB RAM (just over 2GB usable)
OS: Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
Camera: 5MP, auto focus, digital zoom and flash. Front facing VGA cam.
Battery: Talk time up to 5hrs, standby time up to 470 hours.
So, what’s new?
Well Sony is boasting about increased Facebook integration on this handset, making it easier to like, comment and share. They have also developed a variety of illuminations for the different notifications you will receive.
Other than that, it seems to be business as usual for the latest addition to the Xperia family, with it’s xLOUD technology and DLNA connectivity for effortlessly streaming media.
They also announced the Tipo, essentially a budget version with lower specs and limited features.
Both handsets will be available in a range of colours, showcasing Sony’s commitment to increasing its focus on styling.
Black, black and pink, white, white and gold are the colours of choice for the Miro.
As for the Tipo, classic black, classic white, deep red and navy blue.
I have no idea what the difference between black and classic black is, maybe its old paint so they’ve cleverly called it “classic”. Good marketing that.
Looks to me like Sony is just ironing out all the creases in its Xperia range, offering little tweaks and developments with each new handset whilst also trying to span as much of the market as possible.
That worked for Nokia………. back in the late 90s and early 00s. I can’t see these handsets being snapped up by everyone but they at least have enough appeal to warrant a space in the market.
HTC have unveiled the One X as their flagship phone and this one is a beauty.
The white polycarbonate shell feels comfortable in the hand yet sturdy. I really wanted to throw this phone on the floor to test it but decided not to, instead watching Youtube videos of others abusing it. The results showed that the One X not only held together but that when the shell was scratched it stayed white which is nice.
This phone is incredibly light and while it hosts a beautifully clear and fantastically curved 4.7 inch screen, it doesn’t feel too big and just about fits nicely in the pocket.
It is almost exactly the same size as the Samsung Galaxy S3 in every way.
Speed/processor and spec-wise, the Galaxy S3 and One X are very similar both boasting great screens and amazing cameras.
The main differences are which one you like the look of and whether you prefer Sammy’s Touchwiz or HTC’s Sense. Personally I like Sense, especially in Android 4.0 as HTC has pulled back on all the flash and streamlined it so it’s less obtrusive and more useful.
Again, it comes down to personal preference because Touchwiz is also very good.
The One X comes equipped with the Tegra 3 quad-core 1.5GHz processor backed up by 1GB of RAM, this is quite a statement by HTC as this phone is ‘best in class’ in almost every department.
The specifications for the One X read:
Running on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with HTC Sense
Quad-core 1.5GHz Tegra 3 processor
1GB of RAM
4.7″ 720p Super LCD2
8MP f2.0 camera with its own image processor
1.3MP front-facing camera (capable of HD video chat)
32GB internal storage
25GB of free Dropbox storage
The phone is one of the slimmest the world has seen measuring at 7.9mm, compared to the iPhone 4s’s 9.3mm, mainly due to its polycarbonate shell.
As well as Dropbox, the One X will also come with Beats by Dr Dre audio built in. Unlike previous HTC handsets, Beats is built into any audio that your phone puts out including video, Spotify or YouTube.
To sum up, this phone is brilliant. It will be my next phone. It looks and feels great with power and a truly amazing camera.
Stylish, quick and clever I genuinely enjoy using it and it truly gives you the best that Android has to offer. This phone has pulled HTC from the brink and thrown the company to the forefront. It may not come with as much fanfare as the Samsung Galaxy S3 or whatever Apple unveils but blow for blow the One X matches and exceeds.
The only question you have to ask is whether the Galaxy S3 has more to offer, for me it doesn’t.
Question: What do you get if you cross a Microsoft Kinect controller, some 3D glasses and an augmented reality platform with an SAP HANA in-memory real-time big data-ready database?
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post in which I questioned whether Augmented Reality is really ready for the masses, concluding that while the technology and platforms themselves are getting close, a lack of real purpose and compelling content may be AR’s Achilles’ Heel.
Augmented reality – heads up display concept (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
But then last week, at the annual SAP Forum event in London, I saw perhaps the most innovative application of AR for the business yet.
As part of my original story I interviewed Matt Mills, Head of Innovation at Aurasma, part of Cambridge-based/HP-owned firm Autonomy and one of the main software houses developing commercial augmented reality platforms and applications.
While the offerings from the likes of Aurasma and Blippar are primarily consumer-focused (typically around marketing campaigns), Matt was also able to share with me some tantalising and genuinely useful applications of augmented reality in education and business.
And then at an event I had naively considered an unlikely candidate for showcasing gadgety innovation, I stumbled across what can only be described as Augmented Reality for the Enterprise.
“Spatial Operating Environment”
Keytree is a UK-based company who, in partnership with SAP, has developed a unique product called CEO Vision which it showcased at the SAP Forum event last Tuesday.
CEO Vision combines an Augmented Reality platform with Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect controller to deliver a distinctly futuristic-looking data visualisation tool.
Aimed at non-technical executives, CEO Vision sources its data from an SAP HANA in-memory database and using an assortment of 3D eyewear, motion control and display technologies presents what Keytree calls its “Spatial Operating Environment”.
Viewers wearing the headset can peruse and interact with rich, animated datasets retrieved in real-time from the back-end database.
Parallels will inevitably be drawn with Google Glass which last week also released sneak peek of some footage filmed using its AR goggles, although CEO Vision perhaps scoops top marks inasmuch as anybody can try it for themselves right now.
Big Data means Big Glasses?
Personally I believe that technologies such as these from Keytree and Google will be essential tools as we attempt to visualise, digest and capitalise on ever-growing volumes of both business and personal big data.
But wearing my actual reality glasses for just a moment I don’t see that the technology is mature enough quite yet. The CEO Vision user interface boldly aims for Minority Report but currently lands somewhat closer to Lawnmower Man.
Nevertheless it’s still impressive to see it in action at all and, as with Google’s intentions when announcing Glass, I suspect it acts as more of a signpost to the near future than a genuine stake in the ground for now.
Here, I’m going to do a quick rundown of some of the biggest real-time, “free” – in that they don’t consume the SMS allowance, only using data through either 3G or Wi-Fi – messaging apps.
BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is probably the most well known real-time messaging application but it appears to have been labelled the preferred communication method for youths and “hoodies”, with the app even being singled out for criticism during the London riots. The other downside to BBM is that it is only for BlackBerrys, so unless all your workforce or friends own BlackBerrys, this one is out of the picture.
The same can be said for Apple’s equivalent, iMessage. The majority of iPhone owners I know aren’t as attentive as they could be when it comes to the latest updates so they haven’t even experienced iMessage and, even worse news for Tim Cook and co, those that have, have disabled it.
FaceTime, however, has been a lot more successful. Free video calls across Wi-Fi and possibly 3G in the near future were always going to be an attractive proposition for businesses.
Skype Technologies S.A. logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Microsoft-owned Skype has dominated the VoIP landscape for a number of years but despite being one of the first real-time messaging apps to be released for iPhone and Android handsets, it hasn’t experience the same level of adoption in terms of smartphone uptake.
WhatsApp, one of the top selling apps in the iTunes store, must be experiencing increased adoption as it has consistently remained one of the top 10 paid apps for over 6 months. I would describe WhatsApp as a blend of all three of the above.
Another reasons for WhatsApp’s success is that it is available on Symbian, iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry handsets, allowing for communication across all devices regardless of their operating system.
It offers real-time messaging, photo, video, audio, contact and location sharing.
Once a message is sent the sender is given a tick to let them know everything is okay. Then, they receive a second tick when the recipient reads the message. This and the fact you can see when your recipient is typing mean you don’t need to bombard them with emails on deadline day. The ability to remove the ol’ “Oh, I didn’t see that message” excuse is surely an attractive one.
Given that WhatsApp is so established, even TU Me’s timeline and history won’t help it.
Although, should TU Me switch its focus to the business sector, offering document attachments, multiple messaging and a built in appointment builder it could well take off as it seems businesses are increasingly open the possibility of using out-of-house/third party apps to manage communications while lowering costs.
Augmented Reality is a technology that has promised much but delivered little. Mixing the physical and virtual worlds by overlaying text, images and video content on top of real life in real time, AR has long been touted as the next big thing, both in the consumer and professional technology arenas.
But despite such augmented expectation, the actual reality is that AR has failed to capture public imagination, suffering from poor platforms, uninspiring apps and lacklustre content.
However, there are some signs that Augmented Reality is finally coming of age. Mobile AR platforms such as Aurasma and Blippar have recently announced significant commercial partnerships, Amazon Flow is narrowing the gap between shopping in the physical and online worlds, and the Google Glass project unveiled last month reveals that AR may be a difficult to ignore strategy for the search giant.
The smartphone revolution should have been the golden bullet for the AR industry, mobilising the masses with devices that integrate the cameras, colour screens and network access that are key to the technology’s execution.
But while the AR platforms have themselves become technically capable, in practice few applications of any substance have gone beyond the gimmick to fully engage with the public, with most use cases being pushed by advertisers and marketers rather than genuinely pulled by the consumer.
AR versus QR
Both the limited content and public awareness have been major barriers to wider AR adoption. The popular but lo-fi QR Code has parallels with AR implementations inasmuch as it relies upon image recognition to identify a ‘trigger’ (the QR matrix barcode) and then present relevant extended content. The benefit here is that the QR barcode itself is immediately visually distinctive, inviting curiosity and engagement.
The intelligent visual recognition at the heart of AR technologies from the likes of Aurasma means that any object, be it a business card, shopfront or landmark, can potentially become a trigger. Clever technology, but herein may lie its Achilles’ Heel as there is often little advertising additional AR content other than an optional small graphic. For example, some red-top daily newspapers in the UK conceal AR content on their front page but with little or no indication to the reader that they do so.
Nevertheless, outside of entertainment and commerce there are professional many applications for AR technology. The Head-Up Display, or HUD, has been successfully deployed by the military in aircraft for decades and similar technology now seeps into consumer vehicles; there are examples of AR being used by field engineers to assist with the installation of hardware; and providers of educational materials in schools are also beginning to flex their creative muscles with the technology.
One of the main players in the consumer AR market is UK-based Aurasma. Developed and owned by Autonomy, famously bought by HP in a $12 billion deal last year, the Cambridge company has been feverishly building commercial partnerships to promote its platform.
Key to raising awareness of a consumer product are the brand tie-ins, and Aurasma has plenty. Its logo appears on Tottenham Hotspur Football Club’s players’ shirts, Aurasma ‘auras’ feature throughout the BBC’s Top Gear Magazine and it has been partnering with Universal Pictures in its 100th birthday celebrations this year.
As Aurasma’s Head of Partnerships and Innovation, Matt Mills is a man with his finger on the pulse of both the present and future for Augmented Reality. At an event showcasing Aurasma’s technology on Sunday I asked Matt about AR and its applications outside of entertainment, how Aurasma fits with Autonomy’s strategy, and what innovations we can expect in the coming months:
While gaming would seem to be an integral part of Aurasma’s strategy for growing its AR footprint, it may be that user-generated content and experiences could trigger the fastest growth for AR.
Mashups combine multiple sources of (often publicly available) data to create new understandings and visualisations; a classic mashup example is chicagocrime.org in which maps provided by Google Maps are overlayed with neighbourhood crime statistical data from Chicago’s police departement to create a visual heatmap of crime hotspots across the City.
If one of the key challenges for Augmented Reality platforms is to build a comprehensive catalogue of AR triggers and genuinely useful content then developing and opening the platform to enable real-time augmented reality mashups could be an ingenious and compelling move. Of course, the risk for companies such as Aurasma would be a disruption of its partner pay-per-click revenue model.
With further high-profile partnerships, immersive gaming and (hopefully) genuine value-added experiences on the slate, AR’s visibility is building. As Google’s Glass/Goggles combination further whets appetites and inspires the imaginations of both content creators and consumers, it finally seems that the momentum behind Augmented Reality has, well, augmented.
Honestly, I know the last two posts I’ve done have been about patents and this will be a third in a row, but I’m not obsessed. They’re just very newsworthy.
Defensive statement out of the way, on with the news.
I came across this patent from Samsung while browsing the web yesterday.
It is a concept sketch that was included in a patent filed over a year ago, in March 2011. The application was made for an “ornamental design for a mobile phone”. Intriguing I hear you say.
As well as echoing the Sony P tablet design, with its dual screens, it also bears a striking resemblance to the Galaxy Note. Although, is the Note an ornamental mobile phone? I’ve always just though of it as either a miniature tablet or a gigantic phone. Never a tabphone though, no one should ever use that word. Ever.
Like the Note, this concept design comes with (what looks like) a stylus. All of this makes me scratch my head, stare at the ceiling, ponder and then deliberate as to whether this could be a route that the next or third generation incarnation of the Note could go down.
The clamshelled Sony P tablet hasn’t really been much of a hit with consumers or businessmen, whereas I have seen the odd Note coming out of a businessman’s bag or pocket on the tube. As a side note, I’m sure most suits would have to have their pockets altered by their tailor to allow the gigantic Galaxy hybrid to fit. Am I right?
However, with Ice Cream Sandwich and TouchWiz at their disposal, Samsung have carved out a much sturdier fanbase in the Android marketplace than Sony so consumers and businesses alike could be more inclined to warm to a dual-screened Samsung phone/tablet offering.
I didn’t fancy changing the afore mentioned post into “6 of the weirdest phone patents” for two reasons. One, this new patent I’m about to discuss deserves its own post and two, “6” doesn’t have the same ring to it as “5”. If it was “7” however, that would be a whole different kettle of fish.
So, this is the second Microsoft smartphone patent to catch my eye in recent times, after this of course.
This new patent outlines a dual-screened smartphone, with the rear screen being labelled a chuckle inducing “backside display”.
It is unclear as to whether Microsoft plans to go it alone with this hardware or if they plan to offer it out to other manufacturers who utilise Windows phone OS on their handsets.
The paperwork reveals plans for the rear display to act as lower powered, watered down, interactive panel. Sort of like a Kindle display, but most likely with colour.
It would be powered by a secondary, smaller, processor and, as you can see from the patent, would display information such as time, signal, alerts and battery life. Not only that, Microsoft detailed that the display could also be used to display customisable logos.
This raises the question, could it spell the end for those market stalls up and down the country that have been selling substandard and unlicensed tacky phone covers for years?
Jokes aside, the real question it raises, for me at least, is what material will the phone or, more specifically, the rear screen be made out of? Gorilla glass?
It’s a shame that on the off chance this patent does actually make it to production, it probably won’t be anytime soon.