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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Nokia Lumia 920 Windows 8 Phone

Although this is typically a blog about fashion related subjects, I figured I'd divert a bit into a different realm.  This time I want to talk technology and my great experience thus far with the new Nokia Lumia 920 Windows 8 Phone.  First, I should clarify that I am in no way being paid or forced to write this by Bill Gates holding a gun to my head while Steve Ballmer shoots the video, but just felt like it was worth my time.

I originally graduated from a dumb phone to a smart phone a while back when I upgraded to an Apple iPhone 4.  I believe this was the climax of AAPL.  Steve Jobs was still at the helm with his ridiculous business and marketing acumen attracting the masses to his products.  Aside from the initial antenna glitches which made the first batch of the phone famous, it was a sturdy piece of technology that lent much credibility to the prowess and quality of Apple and its designs.

However, with the passing of Jobs an era came to an end.  Although, in my opinion the train hasn't halted completely.  The steam that kept it chugging at almost 4g speeds was entirely fueled by Job's creative genius.  Now that train, although at 4g speeds, is consistently slowing down as its reserve steam left over by the former company's leader wanes.  As of late, other trains in adjacent tracks pick up speed and one that is apparently blazing by the Apple train is the Samsung Bullet train.  I firmly believe Samsung will soon take over that top spot and sit at the throne of the technology sector for some time.  Their products are very resilient and unlike apple, they are always innovating.  They are not stuck to a business model of releasing new technology once or twice per year with specifications that are semi-obsolete come launch time.  This is clearly being played out right before our eyes via each respective company's individual share prices.

In order to quickly summarize the aforementioned, AAPL's steam is failing with the iPhone 5.  Production output from their manufacturers had to be decreased due to lower demand for these units.  The phone itself is a solid piece of technology, and this is by no means an article to bash Apple's abilities, but just to point out facts of current market trends.  For their sake, I hope that their new phones and models are a bit different than what they have been putting out as of late.  Luckily, they still have a lead on the tablet market, but who knows how long this will last.  It is a shame that they've had to engage in monopolistic actions with regard to patent acquisitions and other nefarious means, effectively cornering the IP market.

Not only has Samsung been doing very well for itself, other lesser known brands have been reinvigorated and reinventing themselves in this ultra competitive mobile technology market.  With the release of the newer and more stable platform of the Windows 8 operating system for cell-phones, a new player has entered the market that carries with it a heavy footprint.  Microsoft, even though it is now considered a monolithic entity from the popularization of desktops in the mid to late 90s, is trying to destroy that stigma and advance forth as a big player in this ever more dynamic market.

Nokia partnered with Microsoft and has come out recently with some very respectable options and models. I won't go through the veritable cornucopia of other models and options because I want to focus here on one phone.  The Nokia Lumia 920.

I decided to put down the apple cart and pick up the 8-ball and run with it.  After being severely disappointed with the specs and upgrades announced for the iPhone 5, I made my decision to switch to something brand new.  I had used Android before as well, but wasn't entirely sold on it.  After all, each OS has their pros and cons, but I wanted to also be an early adopter.  Therefore, I plunged into the small niche percentile of Windows 8 users.

Fast forward to a few months of ownership and I must say that I am very pleased with it.  The phone is solid, the hardware is great, the camera is of superb quality, and Windows 8 OS is very respectable.  Sure, as any new product has its certain shortcomings, so does this one.  I won't outline them for the sake of not turning this into a finely combed technology article, so I'll stick to my exclusive experience and leave the rest for Engadget and Gizmodo, respectively.

The system is smooth, the UI is beautiful, the colors are crisp, the live-tile is still a technology in its youth, but I believe that once it reaches adulthood, it will be a revolutionary way of viewing a listing of applications on your mobile screen and PC as well.  This truly gives the phone's screen a hitherto never before seen life.  The operating system is showing you current updates without notifications like the others do.  Instead of a cemetery with application tombs spread around and arranged in neat folders akin to app-catacombs, Windows 8 with live-tile technology raises those corpses from their dead icon app caskets and allows their spirit to live on by showing what their inner essence is projecting outward.  Granted still at its infancy and paradoxically at geriatric speeds, once cemented and coded for ultimate use, this will be an amazing method of losing oneself in a screen that is just teeming with life, looking like an overhead shot of Pudong during business hours with information exchanges just zooming past each tile.

Anyway, I'm done waxing poetic here with regard to its UI.  Moving on to the available apps, this is one of the key factors where much is left to be desired.  I do miss Pandora, Instagram, and other key applications which have become a staple in almost every smart phone user's screen.  However, not to be left behind, many of the big name apps are starting to recognize that Windows 8 is here to stay and is trying to become a big player as well.  These application businesses know that the source funding this product is one of behemoth-like proportions.  Ergo, they are quickly developing their own versions that support Windows 8.

I will list below some key-apps that come to mind that are fun, educational, and entertaining that I highly recommend be downloaded by new users or those that aren't aware of them yet.  Aside from Twitter (which some third party twitter apps actually perform better), Facebook and Foursquare (same issue), there are others that really stand out:

-Metrotube - An amazing app that makes YouTube surfing a great experience.  The layout is super user friendly and its features outshine those of the standard YouTube app.

-Bloomberg - For those like me that get their daily high from checking current market prices, this app looks about 10x better than it does on Apple's OS and android.  It is extremely dynamic and animated and easy to navigate as well.  Live Tile allows for its main headlines to be projected on its icon skin on the main screen.

-Flixter - Also a great version that is better than its other OS counterparts is available for Windows 8.  Live Tile allows new releases (movies) to be displayed on the home icon on the main screen.  The layout is easy to use and fun to navigate through as well.

-WeatherFlow - Putting the standard weather channel app to shame, this is hands down the best app for weather that I have seen in the Windows 8 market thus far.  Accurate forecasts are provided for any location around the globe and can be set as the lock screen background which will also display a picture in accordance with the state that the current weather presents itself, e.g; cloudy - cloudy background, sunny - sunshine as wallpaper, etc...

-Cocktail Flow - A beautiful app for those aspiring mixologists.  This displays a large inventory of a variety of drinks that one can make at home, along with colorful pictures of ingredients, and pictures uploaded from users that have tried their hand at putting together some of these tasty concoctions.  This app will definitely put a damper on that 6 month AA chip you were aiming for; downloader beware.

-Baconit - If you enjoy the shenanigans at reddit, then this app is for you.  A great layout that if it was any more user friendly it would be your BFF.  Feeds upload very fast and smoothly, you can navigate through the maze of posts without needing a guide or a map.  This is pure entertainment.  One down-side is that it has no live tile functionality, but considering some of the NSFW content from reddit, it may make sense to not enable this tool.

-Fantasia Painter - This is like having your own mobile version of photoshop.  The learning curve is a bit tight, but once past it, it is a straight road leading to a post-air brushed better looking you.

-StarChart - Another beautiful app that will make anyone want to become a pseudo astronomer.  As you calibrate it, the star chart map appears and surrounds you in a virtual space that makes the user feel like a dim white dwarf in the middle of grandiosity.  A definite astronogasm.

That about sums up the brief selection of apps I wanted to outline here.  The one downside is that most of them are not free, although some have a free option available with ads.  

Overall, the Lumia 920 is a great phone and the Windows 8 Mobile platform is going to be a solid player in this market.  I could be wrong, but this type of technology is not one to pass up, their live-tile niche is a one leg up on the aesthetics game that tends to speak louder than specs for most users looking for the cosmetic table top appeal instead of what is under the hood.

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