Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Windows Phone 7–it’s a keeper

Yesterday I was invited to a Windows Phone Get Together event by Microsoft in Schiphol Airport. This is an informal and extremely interactive event organized by Microsoft. There were enough device to change hands last night and I felt I was in paradise already.

As we @ Avanade still waiting for our HTC 7 Trophy devices to be delivered by HTC (shame on you HTC for not being able to stick to your commitment), it was extremely interesting to hold and play with the not less then 4 different Windows Phone 7 devices. These were:

  • HTC 7 Trophy
  • LG Optimus 7
  • Samsung Omnia 7
  • DELL Venue PRO (preproduction model, but final)

I must say even after reading endless reviews and watching the videos showcasing the new WP 7 devices it was a real thrill to be able to hold them in my own hands and play around with devices filled with content. I must mention that the WOW factor was even higher then when I got my iPhone 3G in my hands.

OK so here is goes! I’ll discuss each of the devices in short later on, but for now the general impression. (Before I go on I want to mention that I have been on Windows Mobile platform for over 10 years now. Meanwhile I have an iPhone 3G which I used for more than a year, and I have walked around with an android phone. I have also used BlackBerry. So what I am trying to say that I have seen and actively used all the above mentioned platforms and have formed an opinion which I do believe is objective since I have actualy used the platforms and not just held them once in my hand and read a review).

The OS feels extremely snappy and fast. The touch experience is just as good as with an iPhone (the touch phone king, well until now). everything is on the right place and it is very intuitive. The back button is perfect, I can not understand how iPhone does not have one yet, so for those of you coming from windows mobile or blackberry or android it feels logical and welcome to have the back button. The phone feels alive with the LIVE tiles. By iPhone all you see is a static icon for mail with the amount of unread messages, the facebook icon is just the same. In WP 7 the People tile is alive it rotates between the latest updates from the contacts from your social networks. There are a lot of cosmetic effects which is difficult to describe (e.g. when you are waiting for maps to load for example you see a subtle little dots scrolling across the top). These little things add a lot to the WOW experience. Interface feels very crisp, and fast (oh I said that already). OK now to the specific devices.

HTC 7 Trophy:
This Device feels good in the hand and everything besides the power jack is in the right place. The power jack is on the left bottom side of the device. Seriously HTC – who thinks of the design by you? the Power Jack MUST be on the bottom, so when you step into the car you can just slide the phone into the holder and it starts charging. In this case you still will have to play around with the cable trying to find the ‘hole’. For the rest there is nothing special about the device in particular.

LG Optimus 7:
LG device feels very solid in the hand and well built. I remember some windows mobile devices form LG and the build was pretty bad. Well LG turned around 180 degrees and have actually produced a solid well built phone – my compliments. What makes LG unique is that they integrated a DLNA Play-to app. LG was there to demonstrate it. Let’s say you were out with the kids and you took some pictures and made a few short videos (LG device is capable of recording video in 720P), when you come home you want to see those pictures of videos, well you can stream the content directly to the TV via WiFi (must be N for HD video). And it works with any DLNA renderer. This means you do not have to run and buy an LG TV right away (this is an interesting business case: “Honey I have a phone that can stream content to the TV – we need to buy a new TV”) if you have an XBOX or PS3 you can stream your content using these to as well. And if you do not have an LG TV you can buy a little box (made by LG of course) which will turn any TV into DLNA renderer – price= €99. So well done LG for being so flexible. The streaming of the content also works with any PC with Windows 7 on it since Windows Media Player 12 supports DLNA Play-To as well.

Samsung Omnia 7:
This is by far the most exciting device for 3 reasons:

  1. A flabbergasting 4” SUPER AMOLED Screen
  2. 1500 mAh battery (HTC & LG have a 1200 mAh batteries)
  3. 138g wight including the whopping 1500 mAh battery

An immaculately built phone, screen is absolutely amazing and because of that very WOW, even more than iPhone 4 with it’s retina display – eat that Apple. One HUGE disadvantage – the power jack is on the top – and those idiots also put a sliding lid on it… so when you climb behind the wheel you’ll have to first slide the lid and then look for the ‘hole’ to plug the charger in. C’mon Samsung – this is really unacceptable, and simply stupid!

DELL Venue PRO:
This was until yesterday evening my favorite, because it is a portrait slider – much like BlackBerry Torch revealing a nice size qwerty keyboard. Build is amazing, design – Top notch, one very, very, very big disadvantage, the weight - it weighs more than HTC HD2 which is 157 gr. I think DELL is about 200 gr. Way too heavy IMHO, next to Samsung I had a feeling I am holding my iPAD in one of my hands – hey wait a minute it’s the DELL Venue Smile. 4” screen with guerilla glass for scratch proof experience. Well the problem of the weight is that when you slide it out the weight balance shifts to the top making it actually tiring to type (my wife, who has BlackBerry Torch since a couple of weeks complains just about that and the Torch is 163 gr.)

Enterprise Features:
Well WP 7 is a consumer device nevertheless it is running the latest version of ActiveSync v14 which supports all the policies offered by Exchange 2007/2010. The fact that there is no side loading makes the device even more secure for the companies since you can not install .cab files. WP 7 does not sync with Outlook either, you’ll need ZUNE software to sync content (I advise you all try it out ZUNE desktop software is much and much better media manager then iTunes- it is much faster and more logical, and actually does what you want and not what the programmers decided for you). There is no Support for MDM (MDM=Mobile Device Manager is Enterprise grade product from the System Center family) currently, but the Microsoft man responsible for Enterprise market of Windows phone division NL was there as well and he told me that Microsoft is cooking something already to mitigate this as well.

OK it’s time to round up. The Windows Phone 7 I believe is the new COOL kid on the block and worth while trying out (all of you whom I know who live in my vicinity will have a chance to extensively play with my Trophy once I get it – hopefully next week if HTC does deliver finally). There were some complaints yesterday – but Dutch people are always complaining:

  1. Dutch Language missing at launch
  2. No copy/paste

Well if I may remind you – iPhone was not available in Europe for the whole year when the first version came out and also did not have Dutch language – but all the same people went after an iPhone like their lives depended on it. And about copy/paste – it took Aplle 2 whole years, that’s 24 month to implement this feature. Microsoft is promising copy/paste in early 2011, and looking at the recent record of Microsoft on delivery they are going to deliver. Dutch Language is coming in the middle of 2011.

Thank you for reading and feel free to comment…

4 comments:

  1. Great article!
    Waiting to see your device and decide which one to pick for myself.

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  2. That is interesting. I will check at Microsoft Store in my area what do they got to play with...
    I saw that AT&T has Samsung Focus, HTC Surround and LG Quantum (Pre-Order) with WP 7... Well different names for the same devices I guess.

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  3. Can't we send back those trophies and order the Samsung Omnia phones? Nice and clear article. A little jealous here that you already tried them out.

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  4. Hi Leiby, nice article... Tethering is missing as well...

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