Nokia Lumia 800: Luminance through Windows

Nokia Lumia 800I thought i would do a post on my recently bought phone. I did tons of research online between the Nokia Lumia 800 and the Apple iPhone 4S to weigh out the odds, through the pros and the cons. By the end of it all there wasn’t much of a difference on both sides. This was an open minded non biased research method. The last thing to do was to demo each handset and their running Operating Systems; Apple’s being the IOS 5 and Windows’s being the Windows Phone 7.5 Mango operating system. After visiting a few shops and demoing the devices it was the Windows OS that intrigued me more, but the comfort of the iPhone was slightly better. In short i was choosing the phone more for its functionality than its comfort and although it had to feel right in my hands they both weren’t far off. Nope i won’t be comparing much between the devices but more analysing and giving tips and information on the winner. Surprised or not, i chose the Nokia Lumia 800 and its WP 7.5 Mango Operating System. This post is for both people wanting to buy and people with one already as I’ll also be giving some tips and information.

*Everyone greatly inhales!*

Now that we have that in stone, i can move on. I have had the phone for a little over five months now and have used it thoroughly, without abuse. As we came to know Nokia was on the brink of being bankrupt and this phone was its make or break. It looks like it was a make. Nokia and Windows combined to make the aesthetics and functionality. Here’s my Lumia.

My Nokia Lumia 800

Aesthetics

The size and shape of the device is fairly medium for modern day touch screen devices. Devices in the near past used to be much smaller but with the addition of touch and higher resolutions, screens have become much larger, thus making the overall phone larger. But i still don’t like the sizes of many smartphones of today, as i find them too large to be practical. The iPhone and Lumia seem to fit a shape that is somewhere in between for a nice perfect large screen while maintaining practicality. The Lumia’s size comes in at 116.5 mm in height and 61.2 mm in width, while being only a little over 1 cm in thickness. Most phones are cuboid in shape and its seems to work just fine that way. The one annoying thing about it is that the corners of the phone are in fact corners and if held with a corner in your palm, can be rather pokey. One of my favourite aesthetic parts of the phone has to be the curved, ClearBlack, AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic LED), corning Gorilla Glassed screen. Yeah that was a mouth full but had to be said. The glass curves to every side giving a smooth edge and a crystal clear vibrantly accurate picture. There are only 4 buttons on the right side of the phone; 2 being the Volume buttons, 1 for Power and 1 for Lumia Charging PortCamera. The final aesthetic point is its compartments for the necessities such as charging port and sim card slot. The mechanism in which it works is very intelligent so that everything remains clean around the edges, which for some like me with OCD is awesome. This also helps all ports stay clean and not get filled with dust and fuzzballs. One possible downside is that the little door that opens up to reveal the charging port, looks flimsy enough to easily break. I have been lucky enough to not break it, but having OCD, i probably won’t break it. JINXED! Anyways the audio port is also located at the top which is handy.

Functionality

The touch screen itself is smooth and accurate. Gliding your finger across can be done without great friction or greasy smoothness. So far i have had no problem with the touch screen, which is capacitive and not that annoying pressure sensitive type of screen. Although a lot of people complain about it having only one CPU at 1400 MHz, they forget that as long as everything runs smoothly on the device then single core, dual core or 20 core should not matter and from what i have tested, every swipe, application, and game has run perfectly smooth. The camera is 8 megapixel which is perfectly high for a mobile device, with auto focus and a bright flash. The interface is the interesting part. Microsoft are well into their Metro design, which is the design of an interface using simple shapes but mostly focusing on typography. This is what they have done to Windows 8, to the Xbox 360 dashboard and to Windows Phones. In my opinion, it’s a whole lot better than just the standard glossy icons that most other devices adopt. The phone interface is comprised of “Tiles”. Tiles are large square or rectangular icons that interact and update according to what you are doing or what things around you are doing…like the wasp hanging from your ear lobe. A tile can update with images and/or text. This means that you don’t even have to run an app to get information. All this plus multi-tasking on other apps and games without lag or crashes. So far over 5 months and not a single crash on my phone. Pretty good for the modern age where crashing is as frequent as having toilet breaks.

People

One thing that got me a bit confused at first was the “People” app. Instead of a simple contacts app, the People app houses all your contacts and friends from other places, such as your email accounts, or Social Networks. Luckily you can filter it properly so that you don’t have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MSN and hundred of people from other sources all i one contacts list. Later on i realised how useful this was. Not just for checking up on how your friends are doing and what they’re up to -if you like that sort of thing- but to have everyone you need there together so that you can contact anyone with ease all through the phone and without having to open up tedious apps to do all the work separately.

Windows Phone 7 People Hub


Windows Phone 7 Messaging IconDID YOU KNOW? When you get texts the notification tells you how many texts you have received and depending on this number, the little face on the front of the tile will also change, from a smile to maybe a wink or even a shocked face.


Organising

The Calendar, To-Do, and Agenda together make the perfect organisation tools to keep you knowing what is happening around you, and as always the Calendar Live Tile updates on your home screen telling you directly what is happening. Also all calendar entries are synced up with your Hotmail email account so you don’t lose anything. Talking of organisation, the email linking feature also does wonders. You can either have all your emails separate or link them together into one Inbox. By selecting the options menu in one of the email inboxes you are able to select “Link Inboxes” and link other inboxes to it. Once all your email inboxes are linked, a Live Tile automatically appears on the home screen which will regularly update telling you how many emails you have received.

Windows Phone 7 Calendar

PinningWindows Phone 7 Home Screen

One of the core features of the Windows Phone OS is the Pinning feature. You can pin just about anything to your home screen, whether its a single contact of a friend, which will tell you everything happening with that person; or maybe an app so that you have quick access to it, or even a game, note, picture gallery, music, website and more. There’s even apps that let you pin headings so that your home page can also be organised, but more on apps later.

Internet BrowsingWindows Phone 7 Internet Explorer

The browser being of Microsoft origin is of course Internet Explorer and it doesn’t fail. With HTML 5 and tabbing it runs every website perfectly. It doesn’t support Flash which most devices don’t for two main reasons; one is that flash is vulnerable to hacking and virus planting and the other is that Flash is eventually going to be phased out in time and devices won’t need it anymore as it can be quite power hungry. Zooming, pinching and swiping all work great with the browser. One thing i hope Microsoft update in the future is to have bookmark folders so that all bookmarks don’t just run in one list.

Music

The Music interface has also been praised by many and i have no exception. It is very organised and looks sleek to use. The only downside to it is that i really do like the organisation of the iTunes computer software application, and all music has to be transferred using the Zune software application which isn’t actually that bad and is pretty straight forward to use. The 16gb internal memory gives enough room for all my music and more.

Windows Phone 7 Music

SkyDrive and OfficeWindows Phone 7 SkyDrive

SkyDrive is the Microsoft cloud storage usable with this phone, and the storage is an absolute plus that is worth having alongside your device. You can store anything online onto your SkyDrive and that anything is accessible from your phone to see, watch, read, edit, remove or lick. This coincides well with the phone having Microsoft Office so that you can create, edit, and update any Word, Excel and PowerPoint document.

Settings

The settings are very simple and some may say too simple, but i guess its good as i haven’t had any problems with it. All the basics like Ringtones and Themes, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Mobile Network, Date, Time and so on are easy to access and easy to change. The Applications side of the settings gives you access to Background Tasking, Games, Internet, Messaging, Phone, People, Camera and so on, type of settings. all easy to access and change.

Windows Phone 7 Settings

Ringtones

I mentioned ringtones earlier and i thought i would delve a little deeper into that as modern phones are becoming much more reluctant to use your own ringtones or tell you how. On the Nokia Lumia 800 or Windows Phones you must make sure your music track is under 40 seconds long, is under 1 MB in size, is MP3 or WMA and finally not DRM protected. To actually get the track on your phone simply change the genre of the track to “ringtone”. You can change the genre in Zune or if you use iTunes you can do it in that but remember the track needs to be uploaded using Zune. By changing the genre to ringtone, the phone now recognises it as a ringtone and will appear only in the ringtone section and not in your music section which for people like me is awesomely organised.

GamesRatman7891

There are a vast variety of games on the Windows Phone Marketplace. These games come in two categories. Xbox Live Games and well just Games. The difference with Xbox Live Games is that they directly impact your Xbox Live Account and have achievements that update on your Xbox Live Account, which you can see on the web and more commonly on your Xbox 360 console. The downside is that, there is not a super large library of these Xbox Live game titles and the marketplace is growing in time. The other downside is that because these titles have Xbox Live features such as achievements, the games tend to be a little more expensive than their Apple App Store counterpart. although recently these games have been coming out onto the marketplace cheaper and with the weekly Deal of the Week, there’s plenty of incentive to buy a game, or buy it when it appears cheaper. But with all that said there are hundreds or non-Xbox Live games, many of which are free. Yay freebies!

I will do a follow-up blog post on some of the best and most interesting titles i have come across.

Apps

The apps library is very vast in the Windows Phone marketplace, you will usually find what your looking for. there are many apps to fit all types of people, environments, feet and so on and so forth. With the Nokia Lumia 800 also comes the Free Nokia range of apps, including a Satellite Navigation System app that works very well minus the Yoda voice – sad face.

I will do a follow-up blog post on some of the best and most interesting apps i have come across.

Windows Phone 7 Marketplace

Summary

So overall, the shapes good, with an awesome glassy screen and the touch screen works great. The People hub is a great new way to stay in contact with people whether just contacts or friends from social networking websites or people you wish to stalk (i do not condone such behaviour). Functionality in terms of organisation, tile pinning and calendar are excellently incorporated and keep you in the loop with ease. Internet browsing is easy and fluid. It is a great device to listen to music on. Document syncing and editing couldn’t be better with SkyDrive and Office, including features to upload pictures to store on SkyDrive to be accessible anywhere. Settings are simple and easy to change, while ringtones although a little tedious to make are placed well on the device. The final things are games and apps which are available in great masses and although Xbox Live game titles are a little more scarce, they are growing exponentially. I will follow up this blog post with probably two more posts; one for apps and one for games.

Hope you enjoyed reading and hope the information was useful to you. Thanks again, and remember ….. PHONE …HOME!

Bungie Jumped Where No One Else Could

My love for the Halo game franchise reaches beyond just that of general gamers. I love the gameplay, the intricate story, the graphical and artistic detail and also something which people often forget…the company behind the creation, Bungie.

It all began with two people. First Alex Seropian in May 1991 where Bungie was founded and later Jason Jones. The two worked side by side to produce amazing games such as “Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete” a sharply detailed role-playing adventure game based on exploration developed in 1992 for yep the Mac OS (Woohoo *chokes*). I really like the tagline for the game being,

“Kill your enemies. Kill your friends’ enemies. Kill your friends.”

The next in line was “Pathways into Darkness” a unique first person adventure shooter created in 1993 for yeppers Mac OS. This was their first commercial breakthrough.

After this, came the first game of theirs that i have actually played. For those who play games deeper than the average playing will notice hundreds of so called “Easter Eggs” or hidden secrets in the Halo games based on this. The game is “Marathon”. This trilogy of games is a sci-fi first person shooter developed in 1994, about a Security Officer who must defend his ship against countless attacks from an alien race known as the Pfhors. Hmmmm Master Chief, Covenant…. Anyways the ship he must protect also has AIs known as Leela, Durandal and Tycho in which one of these begins to act weird and cause trouble. Hmmm…..Halo…Pillar of Autumn…Cortana…Serina. So many similarities. Even untrusted AIs going rampant which in this case for Halo is the 343 Guilty Spark. Even the Mjolnir armour can be seen in both.  You may or may not know all these names that i am throwing at you -besides that apple pie- but they are indeed characters in the ever extending story that is Halo. Many, including me, think of Marathon as the building blocks and possible spiritual predecessor to the Halo Saga. This is where you begin to realise that everything Bungie make in some way tie in together. Their passion succeeds continuously game after game.

After this and before Halo, two more games were made. The first being the Myth Series developed in 1997; a real-time strategy game with once again great graphics and a great story following through. I love this incident. One of the biggest mistakes Bungie has ever made (i think it’s the biggest) was that the sequel to this game “Myth II – Soulblighter” had a serious bug in it, in which the uninstaller would erase the folder that the game was installed in. If then however a user installed the game to the root of their hard drive, the uninstaller would in fact erase all the contents of the users hard drive. Now that is both scary and hilarious but it cost more than a million dollars to fix…Ouch. Luckily it is said that the bug was replaced before the game was actually ever sold to any consumer, except for the marketing lady who found the bug, yep a clean wiped drive, all her dirty videos collection on mud, dirt and soil erased…she didn’t really have dirty videos on mud…or did she?

The second game and their last before halo, was Oni, a 3rd person shooter/beat ‘em up about a dystopian Earth where pollution has dwindled Earth’s population. To make things worse although all the nations of the world have joined together into one collective group, the police force in which the protagonist works in is not all what it seems. This plus the main enemy, a criminal organization known as the Syndicate, make the protagonist’s quest for self discovery and of course saving the human race indeed more difficult than eating a Tiramisu cake, well for me that is. The game is obviously influenced by Ghost in the Shell as the protagonist is a woman code-named Konoko who does in fact look similar to Ghost in the Shell’s Motoko. Hahah Konoko…Motoko…talk about influence, but  i would also call it inspiration. Music from Myth, and to me it seems some sound effects and armour permutations from Oni were also Easter Egged into Halo, or included through inspiration…or inspiracluded. If you ever work out where in fact Bungie have secretly put the Myth music track “Siege of Madrigal” in Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo: ODST and Halo: Reach then you are in fact awesome. If you haven’t then you are still awesome but just a tiny winy bit less hahaha, just kiddin’ i love you all, even you little monkey. But really if you do find them then you will be amazed at where Bungie have hidden them and how to activate them. I indeed tried all of them and darn are they really funny.

Bungie didn’t start out as a professional straight up organization with all A stars. They began as a few people having fun and doing what they love most, making games on the Mac OS platform for people like us to enjoy. Inevitably they grew and grew. And it is this that lead to their current ultimate baby…Halo.

Released in 2001 Halo is a super detailed, story focused game which began life as a Real-time Strategy game, then 3rd person shooter and then ultimately became a 1st person shooter. The game was originally codenamed “Monkey Nuts” and later “Blam!”. It is based on an all out war between humanity and an unprovoked enemy known as the Covenant. This however is too brief as there is also a greater threat, threatening the galaxy and possibly the universe. This threat is the Flood, an infectious parasite that consumes all life-forms in order to live and spread. A super intelligent pre-human race known as the Forerunners found a way to contain them, until the Covenant naively released them once again, threatening all that lives. The game story features far greater detail than just this but to know the most you can means to play all the games a few times over, finding all secrets and hidden story information, read the books, read all the Wiki, Wikia, Bungie and Halo Waypoint website page on Halo inside out, read the comics/graphic novels and there are probably more that i just can’t remember right now, including the still to be released Reclaimer Trilogy, beginning with Halo 4. Wow sounds like Star Wars now. Halo is too big a universe and so many new posts will be done on this.

Possibly Bungie’s biggest mistake and best decision was to sell the game to Microsoft, the PC company. I believe is was the best decision dominantly because the Microsoft had the power, the knowledge of the gaming market, hands on the world next largest console the Xbox and of course the money to build. The game in my opinion would have been just as amazing without Microsoft, however i believe it is Microsoft’s input that got the game out into the world. The reason why it was the worst decision, but inevitable was that as soon as Bungie would feel it is time to end it at a perfect story ending, Microsoft would know that more money is to be made from Halo, and also the fans would be wanting more, and so the way the business world works, you lose partners and you gain partners. On March 31st this year all Halo server data will be transferred to 343 Industries Waypoint website and Bungie will not be continuing anything based on the Halo franchise…sad face indeed. Many fans of Halo seem to be annoyed at Bungie for this, but it is not their fault and is simply the business way of life, the rest of us know that Bungie are the true geniuses that began it all and without them there would be nothing. Already with 343 Industries newly released remake of Halo: Combat Evolved, know as Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, i have noticed that it just doesn’t feel like a Bungie game anymore and not feeling like a Bungie game means not feeling like a Halo game. In all the Halo games the main protagonist the Master Chief was this hard, rough and powerful Spartan soldier with limited speech and movement. 343 Industries are doing a great job so far but the Chief all of a sudden began to move and animate a little bit too much and soon i was beginning to feel the hard, rough soldier feel slightly fade away, not completely but enough to irritate beneath the skin. Also Bungie knew how to polish a game because even the little fades in visual and audio content that 343 Industries seem to miss out immediately irritate me. But we knew this would happen and we knew the game would change without Bungie, but the key is to be open minded and hope Halo 4 does a good job. Follow Bungie at Bungie.net.

If you have an hour spare then have a watch of this video about Bungie’s 20th Anniversary. I found it very amusing and interesting. Or if you want you can skim through it.

Bungie Documentary: “O Brave New World”. Video from YouTube by IGNentertainment.

I’ll end this transmission with my words to Bungie. Thank you for filling our gaming hearts with awesome games and giving me hope that the world hasn’t yet lost its imagination. Can’t wait for your next awesome game series which we are aware is in development. May you continue your goal for world domination and succeed. Thanks for reading folks.

R

P.S. Watch out Bungie you’ll be seeing a job resume one day, in fact I’ll be sending one all the time, after all, what’s more important is working with a team of super talented people that not just know how to make awesome games, but know how to have fun with it.