Upgrade or Die

Enhancements in technology move at a blistering pace now a days and before you know it that device which was once “state of the art” is now a museum piece. Of course there’s some hyperbole to that statement but some of it holds true. This movement can easily be found in mobile devices and carrier data plans.

So after two years of worthy service it was time to put to rest my Samsung Focus and upgrade. I wanted the new Ativ S but everything I’ve read and heard (at least right now) is that Samsung is not bringing that device to the US. Bummer. That narrowed the choice down to either the HTC 8X or the Nokia (820/920). I’ll let you peruse the specifications but for me the 820 fit the bill.

The differentiator for me between the 820 and 920 was that the 820 has a removal battery, MicroSD card slot and is slightly smaller/lighter than the 920. There was also a $50 difference in price that favored the 820 but that really wasn’t a concern. Of course if it was a few hundred dollars then it would’ve played more heavily into my decision but the prices were similar.

Having been accustomed to the UI (i.e. v7.5 – aka: Mango), the Windows 8 version incorporates some good improvements as well as additional features. Where the Nokia (either model) really shines are the built in apps. The Maps, Music, City Lens and Drive+ are great and certainly elevate the platform. Can you find other apps that are similar? Sure. However not having to pay an app charge or use a low-quality free app is definitely a big benefit.

I should mention the camera as it seems everyone is a photographer/videographer and with the likes of social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Skype, YouTube, etc.) pictures and video are omnipresent. The 8 megapixel rear facing camera takes clear pictures with the help of choosing the right Photo Settings and if applicable, a specific lens. Having the ability to rotate, crop and fix an image is a nice bonus. There is also a front facing camera for video calls and it serves its purpose well.

On the Microsoft side, all the original players are included like Office (i.e. Word, Excel, OneNote and the ability to edit PowerPoint presentations), Bing search, Xbox, etc. with the Store replacing the Marketplace. Speaking of Xbox, if you have one (and can break away from playing Halo 4) then you should definitely download Smartglass.

While I absolutely loved not having to reload my contacts, photos and videos because I use a Microsoft Account (formally known as Windows Live ID), the one “fly in the ointment” is music management, specifically around playlists. Let me save you hours of frustration by telling you that if you have a large number of playlists that reference local content (e.g. 50 playlists | 3,000+ MP3/WMV files) that the tool to use is the non-modern app version for the Windows Phone 8. That version (which can be downloaded here), although Beta will provide you the ability to sync not only playlists and music but also photos, videos and ringtones. It has a Zune-esque type feel (without all the animations and such) so if you're familiar with that then you’ll have no difficulty transferring files between your PC and phone.

A word of caution though: if you’re like me and have upgraded your laptop/desktop through the years than you may have Windows Media Player (WMP), Zune, XBOX Music, Windows Phone 8 modern app and now the Windows Phone app for desktop installed. Outside of WMP and Zune, all will be able to sync “stuff” to a Windows Phone 8 device which means you may come across some difficulties if you’re going to use multiple synchronization methods. 

That being said, the new hardware and software (along with 4G) are fantastic and if manufacturers keep pushing the boundaries then in 2 years I can only imagine what the next mobile devices will be able to do. Here’s looking at you 2014!