As many of the gentle readers of this blog might know, I took the plunge into Windows Phone about two years ago when I changed over from my iPhone to use a Nokia Lumia 800. During that time not all of my experiences with the Lumia have been positive but overall I found Windows Phone 7.5 and 7.8 to be as productive a mobile operating system as the iPhone-iOS combination, at least for my purposes. For instance, the relative paucity of apps available in the Windows Marketplace never bothered me because the apps that I wanted could be found. I certainly never felt under pressure to look for a new whizz-bang-wallop app that would transform my life. I just don’t do that kind of thing. Email and Office compatibility are far more important to me and Windows Phone scores very heavily on that point – at least its developers know how to synchronize with an Exchange server (or Office 365 in my case). On the other hand, I’m the only Windows Phone user in the household as the other four are quite happy to continue to use their Apple iPhones.
In any case, the Lumia 800 has now been sent to be recycled. Its quirks (like an occasional reboot) persisted until its last day in use. Hallmarks, I guess, of first generation modern Windows Phone hardware from Nokia.
Because I liked the design and feel of the Lumia and because I have always been keen on photography, I decided to replace the 800 with a Lumia 1020 (black, of course – the yellow is a tad garish). The phone arrived some weeks ago and although I am still getting to know its foibles, so far it’s been a real pleasure to use. You can see the additional maturity in design and implementation over the 800. The extra bulk of the phone is not unpleasant and the protrusion of the lens required for the 41 megapixel camera has not been an issue. I think I might invest in the camera grip as this would definitely make taking pictures easier and provide some useful extra battery too.
So far the camera has only been used for occasional pictures and I am quite pleased with the results. For instance, last week we hired a car in Nice Airport only for the car to be rear-ended by a brand-new Monaco-registered Rolls-Royce Phantom (a snip at €300K list) whose driver had just dropped its owner off at the private aviation terminal. No great damage was caused to us or the car but it was good to have a camera that produced very sharp and clear photos of the situation. It certainly made completing the accident report and explaining the situation to the car hire company much easier.
I don’t think that the photos produced by the Lumia 1020 match the sharpness and clarity of those taken with my Nikon D800. Having tons of pixels to play with is important when it comes to cropping images and playing tricks in a digital darkroom, but you can’t beat good lenses when the time comes to creating sharp images. That being said, the 1020 is much easier to carry around than a D800 complete with (say) a 28-300mm lens and that’s exactly what lured me to buy the 1020. I now carry my D800 when I know that I will be taking photos of a particular situation. The Nokia can handle everything else with aplomb and I have confidence that the images generated by the 1020 are perfectly adequate in all but the most exacting circumstances.
One thing I do not like is the Windows Phone app (for the PC) that replaces the Zune app for Windows Phone 8.0. Zune was very good at synchronizing new episodes from podcasts such as those created by the UC Architects that cover the latest developments in Exchange, Lync, and associated technologies. The Windows Phone app is not anyway as good as Zune in this respect but it handles photos, music, etc. pretty well.
Alongside the 1020, I decided to invest in Bose’s latest noise-cancelling headphones. I have used Bose in-ear headphones for years and like them very much because I listen to music, podcasts, and the radio when walking (the initial lack of FM radio support in Windows Phone 8 was one reason why I did not move from the Lumia 800 earlier). For the last year or so I have used the Bose IE2 headphones, which are generally excellent. However, the IE2 are not so good when there is a high level of ambient noise around, such as in airplanes. I also think that they have an engineering flaw in the lead as several sets used in my family have developed holes in the covering within a year or so. Thankfully, Bose has always replaced the problematic earphones without question.
Previous experience with the Bose over-the-ear noise cancelling earphones convinced me that their in-ear technology would be worth trying, so I invested $300 in the QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones (QC20). So far the results have been great. I can listen at a much lower volume in noisy airplanes where the earphones do an excellent job (albeit not quite as good as the over-the-ear earphones). They also suppress most traffic noise, which makes it easier to listen when out walking. It’s interesting that Bose has engineered the QuietComfort 20 to use a stronger and somewhat less flexible set of leads that might avoid the problems that we have seen with the IE2 earphones. Overall, a very worthwhile purchase that I recommend if you’re in the market for a new set of earphones.
I’m sure that I will discover some more about the Nokia Lumia 1020 in due course. After all, what could fill some endless hours more profitability than messing around with a new device?
Follow Tony @12Knocksinna