Friday, 9 December 2011

Nokia DC-20 Universal Dual USB Car Charger

This week I purchased a Nokia DC-20 Universal Dual USB Car Charger as I needed a new one with a higher output (1000mA). After looking around this one had the specs I was looking for and the price too (£10 on Amazon UK). It has two ports that can both give the full output so you can charge any two USB powered gadgets at the same time.

There's not much you can say about a car charger other than it works well, is well presented and very good value! I would strongly recommend it to anyone that needs one, not just Nokia users.

Nokia's product link for the DC-20:

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

My Nokia Lumia 800 Likes & Dislikes

This article is a list of my personal likes and dislikes so far of the Noka Lumia 800 after using it as my main phone for a few days.  In general i'm really enjoying the device so far and finding it great to use as an every day device.  

Many of my opinions are most likely influenced by the N9 i've been using (and enjoying) for the last month or so.


Keyboard - I've used many on screen qwerty keyboards on many operating systems (Meego, Symbian, Android and iOS) but so far the Windows Phone keyboard has to be my favourite.  It has good prediction, correction and i'm finding myself being able to type faster and more accurately than any of the others, even the 3rd party ones I used to use on my large screened android phone.

Calendar on lockscreen - It's a very simple feature but being able to see my next recent calendar entry on the lockscreen is a welcome touch.

Speed - The Lumia is fast, not spotted any lag, pauses or freezes with it yet, it's just always silky smooth. This really adds to the overall user experience.

User interface - At first I wasn't a fan of the tiles but found they've grown on me very quickly. The whole UI is a joy to use and is just so simple to get to grips with. Love the transitions between screens and apps which along with subtle design touches really adds to the experience.

Apps - The windows phone marketplace seems to be developing at a rapid pace now with a great selection of apps and games available. Many of the well known and popular apps from other platforms are now available. So far i've found most of what i've wanted and really enjoyed the way those apps look and work.

Camera button - I've really missed not having a physical camera button on the N9 so am really glad that the decided to put one on the Lumia 800.  I like the way that the camera launches if you hold the button in whilst the phone is locked, makes it quick and easy.

Xbox Live - I've never been much of a mobile gamer but have been an Xbox360 gamer since day one so being able to earn achievements for mobile games is an incentive to play them. Being able to message Xbox live friends through the phone is a good feature as I hate using the Xbox's on screen keyboard! 

Music controls - The music controls on the lock screen and on the volume box are very useful, gives just enough information and control without looking cluttered. It's great that they also work with the spotify app which is a very welcome touch.


Lack of notification light - This has to be the thing that annoys me the most, if i've been away from the phone the only way I can tell if I have a message is to press the lock button and look for the message icon.  It would be great if they could implement something in the future such as flashing the windows button or even a sleep screen icon, like on the N9.

No sleeping screen clock - One of the features I love about the N9 is the clock that's always on the sleeping screen but uses little power. I really miss not having the option to do that on the Lumia 800.

No double tap to wake - Being able to double tap the screen to wake it is another feature I miss from the N9. It's quite amusing how many times i've tapped the Lumia before realising that it doesn't have that feature.

Track skip controls don't work - I listen to music using the Nokia BH-111 Stereo Bluetooth headset and so far i've been unable to get the track skip controls on the headset to work.  The play/pause button does work so hopefully track skip will work in future. 

Wi-fi switching off when screen off - I don't like the way wi-fi switches off whenever the screen is off, would much prefer that it stayed on so that emails and other push notifications used wi-fi rather than my data allowance. It reconnects quickly when the screen is unlocked but would like the option to keep it on.

Game prices - When compared to other platforms the prices of some games is pretty high. Hopefully as more people buy windows phones the prices will come down as the market becomes more competitive. 


So far my likes outweigh my dislikes and most of what I dislike is pretty minor. It's going to be interesting to see how Nokia and Microsoft develop the operating system in future but so far it's very good. I intend to use the Lumia as my primary device over the next month to see how it suits me in the long term. At the moment I do recommend the Lumia to anyone that wants a fast, easy to use, great looking phone.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Nokia N9 - Simply Beautiful

When the N9 was first announced I was blown away by the device, it was stunningly beautiful, powerful, slick and unique but then the bombshell dropped that it wasn’t coming to the UK. For months I’d been lusting after this phone after various teasers hit the internet and when it finally did go on sale I was tempted to import one but couldn’t quite justify the cost to myself (or to my wife). Before and during Nokia World I got to spend quite a bit of time playing with N9’s and instantly I loved the phone, I knew I just had to have one, and very shortly after Nokia World I got one, a black 64gb model.

I’d been taking a break from Nokia devices since March after falling out with my N8 and using a Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc Android phone instead. The Arc was a good phone and did everything I wanted well but there was always something missing that I could never quite work out. The N9 seemed to fill that gap for me and as soon as I set about getting my own up and running I could tell instantly it was the device for me. As usual for a Nokia device it was well packaged and presented that actually made it excited to unbox, I won’t bore you with an unboxing video, plenty of those already on youtube! The inclusion of a high quality skin case in the box is a great idea and hope to see more devices include one, it’s a good example of Nokia’s quality accessories and makes me want to buy more in other colours.

My first impressions of the N9 was how futuristic it felt, swiping around the UI reminded me of the MinorityReport movie, very slick and very easy to learn. Reading messages is as easy as swiping the notification after waking the screen (either with the button on the side or by double tapping the screen) and unlocking the device is just a simple swipe to drag the wallpaper away. Once unlocked you have three screens, one is a feed of events which can be from twitter, Facebook, AP News or any RSS feed of your choice. It’s a good way of getting a quick news fix but if like me you have a busy twitter timeline I suggest you don’t have it showing on the feeds screen, use the twitter app instead. Also on that screen is the date which when pressed opens the calendar and the current weather for a location of your choice that when pressed opens an attractive Accuweather app. The next screen is a list of all your installed apps, you can change the order by holding your finger on an app then dragging it around the screen. The third screen is for multitasking where any apps that are running can be found, touch an app and it opens again. Swiping down on an app will close it, if you’ve enabled that option, swiping left or right within an app returns you to the main screens. I found it all to be very intuitive and refreshing not having to use back or home buttons.

Setting up the device was easy with a good set of options for services such as Google, Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, CalDAV, Mail for Exchange, Nokia Account, Skype, SIP and YouTube, oddly the classic option, SyncML is not available on the N9. Various chat services are available out of the box too like Google Talk, Skype and Facebook Chat, I’ve not had the opportunity to use them much but was happy with the way Skype messaging worked on the N9, very easy and felt no different to sending an SMS. Facebook and Twitter apps are present on the N9, both do a good job of both services, especially since the recent software update. After being used to twitter apps like gravity and twitter for android the N9 client feels a little slow and missing a few features (like push notifications) but it is still very usable. Hopefully it shouldn’t be too long before more alternative twitter apps appear for the N9 or the built in one gets another update.

One of my favourite features is probably one of the most simple and that’s having a clock and notifications showing on the homescreen.  I love being able to pull the phone from my pocket and see at a glance if I have any missed events without touching it. I’d forgotten just how much I’d missed having this feature on a phone until I got the N9! I would love to see a port of Nokia’s sleeping screen app to the N9 one day, really hope that happens. It’s also been great being able to customise the clock screen by using your own logo, as mentioned in my previous article. I’ve also modified my N9 to show the clock in red, instead of white but that involves messing around with it in developer mode which I don’t recommend anyone does unless they know what they are doing.

Since the major update last week (PR1.1) I’ve been very happy with the N9’s performance, it’s been rock solid stable and very good on battery life. I’ve not encountered any major issues and have thoroughly enjoyed using it. There’s been a steady stream of apps recently too and can’t really think of much that’s lacking that’s essential to me, a QR code reader would have come in handy the other day but I’ve yet to find one. Through headphones the audio quality of the N9 is very good to me but I’d never consider myself remotely close to being an audiophile. I use spotify for my music and was surprised to find a choice of two apps for using it, spotify and meespot (both available through the store app). So far I’ve got on better with meespot as it’s been updated a couple of times and is far more stable than the other option. Both apps have a nice interface that to me is more attractive than spotify apps on other platforms. Other apps perform as expected, such as contacts, messages and calendar with the data attractively presented. I’ve been more than happy with the N9’s camera too, great interface and the results for a phone camera are good, not N8 good but still more than good enough for my usage (some samples at the end of the article).

Several people have asked me is the N9 better than this, better than that but all I can say is that it’s different, some will love it’s unique approach whilst others will hate that it can’t do things how they want them to or lacks apps they are used to. If you want a slick, stylish device that’s fun to use then the N9 could be for you, but if you are wanting a massive selection of apps and games you do need to look elsewhere.  I would say that the N9 is a breath of fresh air that has brought me back to using, and enjoying Nokia devices again.  Announcements from Nokia back in February cast doubt on the N9 and it’s operating systems long term future but as a device for now it is very good.  I live in hope that the N9 will one day get a true successor but even if it doesn’t I can still say that it was worth trying and that I love it!

My cat Robbie, asleep as usual.

This is "Big Pig".

A stuffed bird, looking quite angry.

A random bench in Leeds.

Leeds Town Hall.

Poppit & Scruffy, our two fat ladies.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Nokia BH-111 Mini Review

Today I took delivery of a Nokia BH-111 Bluetooth Stereo Headset which I purchased from amazon. It was packaged to Nokia's usual high standards and reasonably priced at £29.99.

It's a very lightweight device which should make it easy to carry around and use on a regular basis. To me the audio quality is good from a device in this price range with the bundled matching coloured earbuds and would recommend it to others. I'm no audiophile but I liked the sound when using them, quite crisp with decent bass.

My only gripe is the cable length, it's a bit short for my liking as I prefer to clip it to my trouser pocket when listening to music, it's a shame that a cable extender wasn't included in the box. Fortunately you can use it with any standard earbuds or headphones that use the standard 3.5mm connector.

For people that want stereo bluetooth audio but have a tight budget this is the perfect device.

Neatly packaged in classic Nokia blue.

The entire contents of the box.

The round part on the top left is the volume control.

Close up of the earbuds.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Customising the Nokia N9's Lock Screen Logo

Recently an app was released that allowed N9 users to add a logo to their N9's lock screens. As a person who loves customisation and phones with sleeping displays this was instantly appealing to me.

The app is called LPMcustomizer by Nick Leppanen Larsson and is available here, along with instructions:

When creating your own logo's you need to choose your colours wisely as only certain colours will work when the screen is in low power sleep mode. Colours that work are black, white, red, green, blue, cyan, yellow and magenta. I've yet to notice a significant drop in battery life when using these logos but if you do you may want to try a simpler designs using less pixels or switch the logo off.

Below are some of my early efforts, anyone is welcome to download and use these. I'm also open to requests if anyone would like a logo modifying or creating for their lock screen.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Best Thank You Note Ever!

I'm a little late in posting this and most of you will have already seen it on Friday but I just had to post it here. Off to get a framed version of the large original made today.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Nokia World, Lumia and the N9.

Hello all, thanks for reading! This is the first post on my new blog, it's work in progress at the moment but hope to improve it soon. This is my review of my recent trip to Nokia World and some of the products I encountered.

I’ll start by saying a massive thank you to Juhis & Wayne (from Nokia Support Discussions), lots of Nokia employees, Nokia Connects and lots of other great people for making this trip possible and enjoyable, all I can say is AWESOME! I won’t bore you all with a blow by blow account of the trip, just a summary of my personal highlights.

Nokia World

The scale of the event was way beyond what I’d expected and was impressed to see how slickly organised the entire event was, kudos to the crew there. The event kicked off with the traditional keynote speech and a very special mention for four people in the crowd, including me! Was blown away by that, think we all were! The speakers were all entertaining as the 90 minutes went on but the real highlights were from Stephen Elop and Kevin “AWESOME” Shields. If anyone hasn’t already seen the keynote it is worth watching. I’ll stop saying awesome now.

Shortly after the keynote we were invited into the conference area for a series of meetings ranging from forum feedback to Q&A sessions about products and accessories. The main meeting was in a packed room with 25 or so popular bloggers where we were introduced to the Lumia 800 up close. In fact so close that we were each handed a box containing a Lumia 800 and a micro sim. After a few questions the bloggers started their unboxing videos, I started play time and thoroughly enjoyed it! We were allowed to keep the Lumia’s for the duration of Nokia World which was a massive bonus. Other sessions featured Nokia’s accessories which all had stunning looks and build, really felt my wallet twitching at the sight of them! Even had a visit from the main man himself, Stephen Elop, during one of the sessions, the entire room was shocked, but very happy.

As the day went on it was great to have demos and chats in the experience lounge and saw a lot of interesting products and concepts. Later in the day a massive party was held, the entertainment was awesome (sorry) featuring circus style entertainers and a good chart covers band. I certainly made the most of the free beer on offer and was easily persuaded to join the after party in Soho, think I crawled back to my room sometime after 3am. Both days were packed with great experiences with great people, way too many for me to type about today.

Nokia Lumia 800

There’s already a lot been said about this device so I’ll try to keep it brief. The build quality is beautiful, very little else feels as good to hold and use as this phone. I would describe the size as perfect sitting nicely in the gaps of the smaller screened iPhones and larger screened high end Androids. Some people have commented on the fact that it’s not metal like the N8 but to me this polycarbonate feels seriously premium. The OS is slick, simple and fluid, can really see Nokia’s Lumia’s stealing some iOS customers away as it feels so much fresher compared to it, it will appeal to many Android users too, in fact it’s just appealing. The Lumia is more than just the OS though, it’s the whole device experience. As my time went on with the Lumia I encountered a few niggles and issues but I’m sure that given the time to sit down with one in a quiet place I’d have it running more my way. I actually managed to kill my Lumia at the end of the first day (it wouldn’t charge), but it wasn’t running release software so issues like this are to be expected, was handed another one in the Morning.

Nokia N9

Finally I had the pleasure of playing with an N9 and wow is that device good! I was angry when I found out this device wasn’t officially coming to the UK and I do hope Nokia change their minds on this along with giving it a future successor. The OS is a genius touch and can’t compare it to other platforms, it’s just so different. It’s easy to use and very powerful, a great phone for the masses and the geeks out there. On the outside the N9 and the Lumia are essentially the same phone with a few minor differences, the enlarged button-less screen area being the main one. When given the choice between the Lumia and the N9 I choose the N9 as it suits me that little bit better.

If anyone wants to ask any questions or wants further details from me about anything feel free to ask! Again a massive thank you to all who arranged this and another thank you to Juhis for being a great host these last few days. To end this post I’ll share with you an email I received this morning which really made my day!