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01/25/2013

A BlackBerry addict's review of a Windows phone

By Emma Waverman

The satisfying click when my thumbs hits the buttons gives me an endorphin rush each and every time. My name is Emma and I am a keyboard addict.

We’ve been enmeshed for almost a decade. There was a time that I couldn’t imagine living without my BlackBerry, but lately I have been missing out on some of the fun extras of the newer smartphones — like a good camera. So when Microsoft gave me an opportunity to try out the Nokia Lumia Windows 8 phone for a month, I eagerly, cautiously said yes.

I am a fairly average phone user — I use it for searching, email, Twitter and as an actual phone (yes, I’m a “voice’ dinosaur) as well as for kid distraction purposes.

The Nokia Lumina 920 is much larger than what I was accustomed to, and doesn’t fit comfortably in my back pocket.  Whenever I pull it out, people want to see it. I’m not used to this much Kids corner screenattention from baristas and teenagers. The good thing about the size is the massive screen, which means that I can read whole articles without too much scrolling, watch videos (something I'd never do before) and play games. I have dropped it a couple of times, without an issue. A major bonus right now is that you can use the screen with gloves on, not just tech-savvy ones either.

The screen is customizable with “live tiles”; different tiles can be pinned and moved around according to my needs. I can pin my shopping list, an important email or an article I’m reading to the front for quick reference. 

The phone has a great feature called ‘Kids Corner’ which means that I can load up the kid’s favourite apps that they can access in their own area without access to my phone apps. And yes, they can play Angry Birds.

I use Windows 8 at home, so everything I put in One Note, contacts and calendar seamlessly moves into the cloud and is accessible from my desktop at home.

The camera is amazing. Suddenly I am taking pictures and videos all the time. The 8.7-megapixel camera uses Carl Zeiss optics and takes really great photos, even in low light. There are picture editors such as Aviary, and I can take Panorama shots. Unfortunately, I can’t upload to Instagram yet, though there is an app that gives me access to my account so I can see what everyone else is doing. Photos can be uploaded to SkyDrive so I can access them from any
computer.

WP_20130103_009 (2)The integration of all the social feeds is much more useful than I had ever thought. The ‘People’ tile brings in all the information about my contacts that can be found on different parts of the phone. When I bring up a contact I see their picture, their Twitter handle, LinkedIn bio, phone numbers and latest tweet.

As of yet, I have not found a Twitter app that I like as much as UberSocial. I’ve been using Gleek which has some good functions, like quick access to conversations and people’s profiles. But, it doesn’t update often enough.

One of the big surprises with my Windows phone has been the Xbox music service (a paid subscription service). I can pick an artist and create a playlist on the spot and stream music pretty much wherever I am. The artist selection is excellent and I use it all the time.

The Facebook app is not very good, but neither is the Blackberry one. So that’s a draw.

One thing that I do miss is my Blackberry Messenger (BBM) and my group BBM feature. The Windows phone has a similar service, called Rooms where you can share photos and calendars as well as text, but you can only join a room with other Windows 8 phone users, which means my son who has a Windows 7 phone and I couldn’t link.

My biggest hurdle has been the lack of keyboard. The predictive typing is very good and the phone is starting to learn my idiosyncrasies but typing on the smooth screen takes me much longer and I am less likely to send long emails. This is obviously something I have to get over.

Over 20 bloggers took part in the Windows phone swap; most of us have elected to keep our phones.  One blogger even wrapped up her iPhone and gave it to her daughter for Christmas.

I am also keeping my Windows 8 phone; now that I have become accustom to a large screen and variety of Apps, I want to keep them. I expect the Apps will improve with time, as will the selection.

I admit it though; sometimes I get an itchy feeling in my thumbs longing for that satisfying click.

 

Emma Waverman is the author of the blog Embrace the Chaos on MSN Lifestyle. 

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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