Τρίτη, 29 Ιανουαρίου 2013

Expensive toys: Nokia Lumia 820 Le User Review.

 

Yes. I am an overspender. In grim times of economic crisis, some people are losing their jobs. Some others are losing their homes. What do I do about that? I bought an expensive ass phone. Do I feel guilty about it? Not really.

I’ve been into Windows Phone for a while now. In fact, I got into Windows Phone right at its humble beginning with the LG Optimus 7 (Which still sits on my desk) and Lumias just got my hunger for a better handheld device skyroket. I don’t know why, but I always felt that a WP phone makes me happy because I everything I need to do can be done with minimal effort.

The love affair

Let’s talk about my relationship with the Lumia series. Being a Windows Phone affectionado, I never touched any Lumia handsets because they were the same exact thing with my Optimus 7. Thus, I never felt that a Lumia 800 would offer me anything besides the nifty map app and considering the prices, I didn’t think my 200euros investment scored way below on what a Lumia at 600 euros offered at the time. Yes, the form factor is fantastic and the Nokia brand always ensures a quality device. But I had them all into the face of my pretty LG.

When Nokia announced their Windows Phone 8 lineup, I fell in love immediately. The 920 to my eyes is the ultimate Windows phone. But having in mind that it’s a flagship device, I never really thought of buying it. What I felt immediate affection with though, is the other “second best” device: The Lumia 820.

The outsides

Lumia 820 bears a way more conventional design. Having it in my hands for a whole day, it felt like something that HTC would have made. It’s basically a retangle with rounded corners. The back cover is matte and I preferred to have it black, because I’ve felt that the color matches the screen bezels and the color scheme of the OS.

The back cover is removable of course, and so is the battery. In the battery tray you can find the Micro SIM slot and the Micro SD slot.

The front of the device is all screen. The bezels were kept minimal except for the bottom of the device where the three usual WP buttons are located.

The screen is adequately bright and the viewing angles are extraordinary! Clear blacks make the OS pop out extremely vibrantly and it’s a joy to behold the tiled homescreen.

The handset overall feels great. It’s a bit heavier than the competition, but the way it’s seated into your hands is not a problem at all. Trying to torture it a bit, I heard no creaks nor I felt that the device is fragile.

The only issue I had with the form factor is that it’s conventional. If you want to pop out and get noticed, you’d better off buying a 920 or an HTC 8S/X. If you still want a 820, you might go and buy a vibrant red back cover or a Banana Yellow one. You WILL be grabbing all the attention, way too much.

The insides

Let’s go to the insides of this device. Looking at the specs, you might think it’s a bit outdated: Dual Core Snapdragon S4 processor and 1GB Ram may not seem that it’s the score anybody would want for their precious euros. And they’re quite right. But the phone doesn’t feel sluggish at all.

Lumia phones do what Nexus devices do for Android. They use moderately good hardware but the engineers take the time to optimize the OS, so it can run crazy smooth. Somethimes Nexus phones do better job than more expensive Android devices.

So, looking at Lumia that way, it comes to no surprise that games, apps, and the whole OS runs with no stutters. Even having it updating my contacts while downloading snazzy Nokia apps and talking to MSN messenger at the same time, the device didn’t stutter at all.

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To Nokia’s credit, the phone doesn’t come up vanilla to the end-user. After having everything set up, you’re greeted by the homescreen that shows immediately what apps are already in the phone.

Nokia maps, Nokia Drive and City Lens are the most noticeable. Nokia’s perfect map service with offline maps and such, is always great to have and many who have chosen WP8 phones from other manufacturers might have missed. Nokia drive is still in Beta, but compared to the DestinAtor PNA my brother has, it works exceptionally great. Did I mention that it also has voice? Including a Greek one, Nokia Drive is your next GPS pathfinding app.

The local scout works even in Greece!

Nokia spices up the whole package in the Nokia Selection of apps in the Store. Fun apps like Cinemagraph that produces semi-static GIF images to really imprsssive apps like PhotoBeamer, that beams the photos to everything that can run a simple website, the Lumia has a lot of fun to offer with photos, music e.t.c. My absolute favorite is the Ringtone Maker which allows you to crop music from your music library and set it easily as a Ringtone. So long Audacity-edited MP3’s that needed to be fiddled with tags on Zune.

Also, Goodbye Zune. And fuck you, really. Windows Phone 8 has its own managing software but it’s far less needed than Zune for managing the phone’s content. you can just open up those folders in your favorite file manager (as the phone appears as a Composite Mass Storage Device) and drag and drop your stuff inside.

Now let’s talk about the camera. The 8-megapixel shooter is sharp at best but I can’t help noticing the colours being a bit washed out. It also needs to stay clean in order to avoid glaring and artifacts in the pictures. But it’s more than adequate for your point-and-shooting as it’s capable of really high resolutions and the Carl Zeiss lenses really help on keeping things clear and sharp. Just have a microfibre cloth with you…

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As for the phone being actually A PHONE, I haven’t tested it as I should. I had a couple of conversations with loudspeaker, hands-free and holding the device at my ear and the phone performed admirably. The earpiece is loud and nice and it has some extra bass, so high pitched noices won’t penetrate your brain. Which is a nice touch.

The downsides

Lumia 820 is not god-made. As everything that man has made, it has its downsides that one might consider before buying. First of all, let’s talk about the screen. It’s vibrant, it’s colorful and neat as hell, but the resolution stands at 480x800. Yes, the resolution isn’t what we’d expect on a middle-end device of 2013. That’s not to say that pixels are visible, creating a distracting grid. In fact, I haven’t noticed edgies anywhere, but it’s still a bummer.

Also, the problem with ALL Windows Phone devices, is the luckluster app ecosystem. Even if there are neat apps all around and most of everyday tasks are done perfectly, it still lacks the rich apphouses Apple and Google boast.

Another thing that might be a miss for the ones who consider migrating to Microsoft’s latest Phone shenanigans, is the way multitasking and app managing is done. Many apps don’t have background agent support yet, so updating in the background isn’t a thing. Adding to the fact that some DO have toaster notifications, waiting for the app to resume or reload anew upon touching on a notification is a bit awry.

The verdict.

I love this device, even though it’s clearly a flawed one. And why not? It has everything my good trusty LG had but maximized to the awesome. Well built, and all around a well produced phone. It might be a no-no for the ones who don’t want to spend too much for a phone that expensive, but if you’re considering a contract, or you’re willing to wait, it’ll definetly pay off. But if you’re really look for a high end handheld, you can just skip this one and go for it’s bigger brother, Lumia 920.

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