My bricked Nokia Lumia 800 returned from maintenance on February 25, some 27 days after I left it in because the phone had decided that it did not want to turn on. Nokia made several attempts to fix the problem and eventually had to replace the main board, work that was fortunately covered by the two-year warranty covering Nokia phones sold in Western Europe. The phone was wiped of data and applications but came back updated to Windows Phone 7.8, so some work was necessary to return it to my preferred configuration.
During the week of February 18, I was in Redmond for the annual MVP Summit, a gathering organized by Microsoft for their Most Valuable Professional community, basically a geek-fest that allows the MVPs to be updated about the latest and greatest developments in various Microsoft technologies. The trip was the first time since 1993 that I had been on the road without a mobile phone and the first since 2002 since I had lacked a phone with email capability. I could just about tolerate being without a phone in Dublin but being away was very different. In short, I was disconnected. In a big way.
To cheer myself up, I visited the Microsoft Store in Bellevue and bought a 64 GB Surface Pro, a device that is not yet available in Ireland. The Surface RT was launched here on February 14, some three months behind our U.K. neighbor. Even though Ireland is a reasonably small market in global terms, I thought this was a little strange because Microsoft does a lot of software engineering in Dublin, roughly a mile away from my house.
In any case, buying the 64 GB version seemed like the way to go. Many people have been worried about the lack of disk space available for user data and applications, but after moving the recovery partition to a bootable USB, installing Office 2013 Professional, and synchronizing my 2 GB mailbox with Exchange Online, I have 29.8 GB free. I think this is quite enough for what I view strictly as a companion device, something that will be much easier to take on the road for a few days. Although the Surface Pro boasts an excellent screen, I doubt I will do much photo editing on it. Likewise, any serious document creation or editing will be done on my “large” laptop. And even though some folks have experimented with running a little datacenter on their Surface Pro, I think I shall leave my virtualized activity to other more capable boxes. And in any case, I bought a 64 GB MicroSD card to boost storage for files like photos and music.
All in all, I’m happy with the Surface. The handwriting recognition with OneNote is particularly good, even if my ability to read electronic scrawls is at a level with my handwritten efforts. I bought the Type cover instead of the Touch as I thought this would be better for someone who is largely keyboard driven. The keyboard is fine as long as it is on a firm surface. Things are a little more “interesting” when it’s balanced on my lap as it seems that this causes the keyboard to miss keystrokes from time to time. At least, I type, but nothing shows up on screen. This also happens when the cover is on a flat, firm surface but less often. I figure this must be something to do with the pressure I put on keys as I type and that it will improve with practice. Here’s hoping…
While I was in Seattle, I picked up 16 GB of memory to upgrade my HP Envy 17 (3002ea) laptop. All of the online documentation and the configuration utilities for memory vendors that I checked (for instance, this one) indicate that the Envy is limited to a maximum of 8 GB. However, some online forums indicate that it was possible to go higher. After searching around, I settled on some Corsair Vengeance 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz (PC3 12800) memory and Amazon.com delivered the modules to my hotel. I’ve installed the memory and the Envy is flying as it wallows in memory. Running four virtual Windows 2012 servers with VMware Workstation is very much easier than before.
Back to the phone, despite the efforts of others to dazzle me with Nokia Lumia 920 (large, heavy, but delightful) and HTC 8X (light and impressive), I think I shall stay a little while longer with my refurbished Lumia 800. It does everything that I want and the Windows Phone 7.8 upgrade appears to be a little snappier than I remember (at a distance) Windows Phone 7.5 was. The Lumia 800 also includes an FM radio, which I like. So I will wait and see what happens later on in 2013 when the price of the current models drop and some new models appear. There’s no rush…
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Update 26 March: Seems like FM Radio capability is coming for the latest generation of Nokia Lumia phones. I might just upgrade after all!