Friday, April 25, 2014

I Remember Nokia Devices

From left to right: Nokia N6682, Nokia 6650, Nokia E71, Nokia N82, Nokia N71, Nokia E61

The day has finally arrives that Nokia Devices becomes a part of Microsoft and Nokia will no longer produce devices for the next 2 years.  Many of my phones have been a Nokia so I've experienced Nokia's growth from the old black and green screens to S40 to S60 to Maemo to Windows Phone.  They've brought so many innovations such as ringtones, games, changeable covers, and mechanical image stabilization to phones.  The industry is going to lack a little innovation without one of its oldest companies.

Since I'm in the mopy mood, let me reflect on some of the Nokia devices that I have owned

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

HTC One M8 Launched in Canada

The new HTC One (M8) debuts in Canada.

Tonight HTC held a mingling event at the Burroughes in downtown Toronto to showcase the new HTC One (M8) to Canada.  Various press, vendors, and HTC Elevate members were invited to the event.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

HTC One 4.4 Kit Kat Impressions

A day after Android 4.4 Kit Kat was announced, HTC USA announced it would release 4.4 for its HTC One within 30 days.  Surprisingly, HTC USA delivered on their promise and Android 4.4 was available OTA on November 30, 2013, exactly 30 days after their announcement.  That is really impressive in this day of product and update delays.  It's expected that carrier specific HTC One will receive 4.4 sometime before February.  In the meantime, here are my impressions of Android 4.4 Kit Kat with Sense 5.5.

The brief OTA change log:

Updates noticed:
  • Added Lock screen widget capabilities.  Switch to the right pane to add widgets.
  • Changed Lock screen keyboard no longer uses the Android keyboard you selected but defaults to the system keyboard
  • Updated Gallery app adding additional online sources like Dropbox.  Now you can view from: Google Drive, Dropbox, Facebook, Flickr, and Picasa
  • Added HTC Apps
  • Added HTC Backup
  • Added Google Photos
  • Updated to Polaris Office 5
  • Updated YouTube
  • Updated Google Maps
  • Updated Camera firmware from 5.1.658161 to 5.5.2321372617 - will show the green box immediately when you open the camera app to display it auto-focussing
  • Battery life seems to be improved the same.  I will update this posting with my findings after a few more charge/recharge cycles but right now I'm estimating about a 10% improvement
  • Updated Weather app now opens to all favorite cities rather than the last city
  • Added emoji to the HTC native keyboard but they aren't the same as the official Google Keyboard emoji
  • Music app now shows play progress in a circle rather than a bar
  • Adds a new "Highlights" drawer to Blinkfeed when you swipe to the left
  • Updated TV App
  • Updated Google Hangouts that can now integrate SMS
Some features from KitKat you won't see:
  • Smart Caller ID - there is no search built into the dialer (I personally wouldn't like this or would like to have the ability to disable it)
  • Google Now Launcher with Google Now on the left pane and home screen listening for "OK Google" voice command
This update isn't as dramatic as the Android 4.2 to Android 4.3 update, which brought significant performance improvements, updated a bunch of Google apps, and updated most of HTC's apps like TV.  I haven't noticed any negative aspects to the 4.06.1540.2 update with Android 4.4 so I'd recommend any HTC One users to get the upgrade when it's available.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Nokia Lumia 1020 Photo Review Compilation

Even after a year of releasing the 41MP Nokia 808, the 41MP in the Lumia 1020 still wowed the crowd with this year's announcement. The Lumia 1020 is the first time Nokia has attached a 41MP camera into a Windows Phone 8 device. That's a lot more pixels than any point-and-shoot commercially available right now and steps into DSLR territory. A lot has been said about the Lumia 1020 being better than a DSLR or better than a point and shoot so I compiled some comparison reviews that I found to do a fair comparison of the photos and gave my thoughts to them.

Camera Specifications
Although they both the Lumia 1020 and Nokia 808 sport 41MP, the Lumia 1020 camera is different than the Nokia 808. The Lumia 1020 gains optical stabilization but loses the NP filter.
  • Main camera sensor: 41.3-megapixel BSI CMOS image sensor
  • Optics: Carl ZEISS
  • Sensor size: 1/1.5 inch
  • Main camera f-number/aperture: f/2.2
  • Camera focal length: 26 mm
  • Camera minimum focus range: 15 cm
  • Camera image formats: JPEG, Adobe DNG (RAW)
  • Maximum image size at a 4:3 aspect ratio is 7136 × 5360 pixels (38.2 MP)
  • maximum image size at a 16:9 aspect ratio is 7712 × 4352 pixels (33.6 MP)
  • Flash type: Xenon flash, white LED focus light
  • Flash operating range: 4.0 m
  • Flash modes: Off, Automatic, On
  • Camera Element Lens: 6

Performance Times
  • Start-up time: 4 seconds
  • Focus time: 0.7 seconds
  • Shot-to-shot 5MP: 3.6 seconds
  • Shot-to-shot 38MP: 4.2 seconds

Feature Comparison to an Older Point-and-Shoot
FunctionNokia Lumia 1020Canon SD850 IS (Older Point-and-Shoot)
ISOYes (Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800,
1600, 3200, 4000)
Yes (Auto, High Auto, 80, 100, 200,
400, 800, 1600)
Shutter SpeedYes (1/16000-4s)Yes
White BalanceYes (4 presets: cloudy, daylight,
fluorescent, incandescent)
Yes (5 settings: cloudy, daylight, fluorescent, fluorescent high, incandescent, and 1 programmable)
Xenon FlashYesYes
Fill FlashNoYes
Focus Assist LightYes (white)Yes (red)
Self-TimerYes (2, 5, 10 seconds)Yes (2, 10 seconds)
Optical Image StablizationYes (mechnical)Yes

My Usage Impressions:
  • Unlike a point and shoot, with the shutter button half pressed, Nokia Camera doesn't lock the brightness.  It just locks the focus.
  • Taking "close up" photos require you to be at least 16cm away from the subject.  That's a lot further away from typical cameras or even camera phones.
  • After holding the camera key half way to focus, there are occasions that pushing it fully down will causing a re-focus again then takes the photo.  It doesn't happen when you touch the screen to focus and take a photo.
  • There is no visual indicator that focussing was successful or failed (because the focus circle looks the same in both situations) so if you're taking a photo of something far away, remember to review your photo before away.
Photos I Took:

eric.images' Nokia Lumia 1020 photoset eric.images' Nokia Lumia 1020 photoset

Photo Comparison Reviews and my Thoughts:
These photo reviews cover different aspects of the camera.  One way of comparison that I find poorly written photo reviews by phone bloggers to do is compare details of a fully zoomed in 38MP photo compared to a fully zoomed in 12MP photo.  Here are some better reviews.
Comparison ReviewMy Thoughts
Nikon D800e vs. Lumia 1020 (part 1, part 2)When the Nikon D800 uses the same type of lense (an older 28-105mm Nikon Macro) as the Lumia 1020, the Lumia 1020 captured sharper details than the D800.  The D800 fared better in the night with better details and freezes moving water better.
Lumia 1020 compared to Canon PowerShot G12 and Nikon D90 (translated)The Lumia 1020 produced sharper photos with more detail than the PowerShot G12.  The xenon flash on the Lumia 1020 is also stronger than the one built into the PowerShot G12.  The Nikon D90 still captures subtle details better and cleaner than the Lumia 1020.  The external flash on the D90 blows away the Lumia 1020's flash.
Zoom Review of Lumia 1020 compared to Canon S120When the Canon S120 is zoomed in to the same level of the Lumia 1020, the S120 has slightly better details.  And full zoom of the S120 exceeds the ability of the Lumia 1020.  But unzoomed, the Lumia 1020 captures much more detail than the S120.
Color Accuracy Lumia 1020 vs. Olympus E-PL5The Lumia 1020 colors are more saturated.  The E-PL5 has more accurate colors and better dynamic range.  The Lumia 1020 doesn't handle macro the way you'd expect.  You have to take the photo further away than other cameras and rely on cropping the 41MP photo.

My Overall Impressions:
The Lumia 1020 is impressive as a camera.  Its 41MP Carl ZEISS lens is comparable to 2 year old point-and-shoot camera in photo quality and detail.  The larger sensors found on DSLRs are still able to capture better details than the Lumia 1020 even when they have a lower pixel count.  While color and saturation in the Lumia 1020 are not exactly true to life like photos taken by point and shoots and DSLRs, they do give photos more "pop".  Although the Lumia 1020's 41MP photos provide a zoom level that's comparable to 3x on a point-and-shoot, current point-and-shoots usually have more than 5x zoom which the Lumia 1020 cannot match.  The xenon flash built into the Lumia 1020 competes well against typical point and shoots but can't compare to the external flash modules normally found on DSLRs - and you can't easily direct the flash to a wall like you can with an external flash.

For most photo situations, the Lumia 1020 can take as good photos as point-and-shoots from 2 years ago while DSLRs are 7 years ahead of the Lumia 1020, much more flexible, and have larger sensors.  DSLRs are not dead yet but more people will find less reason to bring a bulky camera with them on trips.  And just don't count on fashion or wedding photographers to drop their DSLRs for a camera phone.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Photos from the Nokia 1020 compared to HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S II

A took a scroll with my Nokia Lumia 1020, HTC One, and Samsung Galaxy S II and took photos from each of the phones just to see if the Lumia 1020 is really as good as what people say it is.  Here are some of my photos and some comparisons:

Nokia Lumia 1020HTC One

A closer look...
Lumia 1020 (top) compared to the HTC One (bottom)

 The HTC One doesn't have much detail and looks fuzzy compared to the Lumia 1020.

Nokia Lumia 1020HTC One

Nokia Lumia 1020HTC One

Nokia Lumia 1020 (manual white balance adjustment)HTC One

A closer look...
Comparison of HTC One (left) to Lumia 1020 (right)

The HTC One was widely recognized for it's ability to freeze some action such as water falls but the Lumia 1020 can do the same and capture much more detail.

Nokia Lumia 1020Galaxy S II

White balance issues on the default auto settings on the Lumia 1020 is evident above.  Changing it to daylight solved the problem.  The SGS2 was more accurate to colors.

Nokia Lumia 1020Galaxy S II

A closer look...
Comparison between Lumia 1020 (top) and SGS2 (bottom)

You would think 8MP would fare a lot better than the HTC One but here you can see the SGS2 also has a lot of fuzzy photos with details lost.

Nokia Lumia 1020Galaxy S II

A closer look...
Comparison of Lumia 1020 (top) to SGS2 (bottom)

Is there even a point to compare?

I was left blown away the detail captured by the Lumia 1020. Although the Lumia had some white balance issues when it's left in auto mode, they can be fixed by changing settings before taking a photo.  I hope Nokia can fixed this in a later firmware or Nokia Camera app.  From these photos, I truly agree with what others have said, the Lumia 1020 is the kind of mobile photography.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Quick Comparison of the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S 4

The two hottest Android phones for 2013 duke it out for people's hard earned cash.

CategoryHTC OneSamsung Galaxy S 4 (SGS4)Brief Rationale
WeightWinThe SGS4 is lighter at 130g while the HTC One weighs 143g
DimensionsWinThe SGS4 (136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm)is shorter and thinner but a tad wider than the HTC One (137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm)
Build MaterialWinMany reviewers complain that the SGS4 plastic build is cheap compared to the HTC One's aluminum unibody
Manufacturing QualityWinThe SGS4 has a lower defective return rate and gaps are smaller than the HTC One.
ErgonomicsWinHTC One has odd button placements compared to other Android phones has a difficult to reach power key, flush volume keys, and slippery body.
CPUWinBoth HTC One and SGS4 use Qualcomm's Snapdragon 600 but SGS4 is clocked at 1.9GHz while HTC One runs at 1.7GHz. The difference is very minimal in real life usage.
RAMBoth have 2GB but SGS4 has faster RAM with DDR3 (HTC One uses DDR2)
Display SizeWinThe SGS4 fits a 5 inch display in a body that isn't much wider than the HTC One. Both are 1080p displays but the HTC One has a higher pixel density but you can't tell the difference between the two with your naked eye
Expandable MemoryWinThe SGS4 supports microSDs up to 64GB and includes 16gB onboard memory while the HTC One is usually found in 32GB variants (a AT&T and developer version are available with 64GB)
BatteryWinSGS4's battery is larger and software better optimized to last longer
Camera (Daylight)WinSGS4's 13MP camera captures much more detail
Camera (Night)WinHTC One's large sensor captures more light
LTEIf you're in Canada, only the SGS4 supports band 7 LTE (2600MHz) providing up to 100Mbps.  Otherwise it's equal for both phones.
SpeakerWinHTC One has front facing stereo speakers
FM RadioWinHTC One has a FM radio while the SGS4 does not
WiFiBoth support 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
NFCBoth have NFC
GPSBoth support GPS and GLONASS
CategoryHTC OneSamsung Galaxy S 4Rationale
SkinLighterHeavierThis is subjective of what you like more.  The SGS4 is more cartoony while the HTC One is more flat and modern. But the HTC One is missing some functionality like clearing all applications in the multitasking window
Included SoftwareWinThere is more usable included software with the SGS4 like a file browser, task manager, better video format support, and notification toggle out of the box.
Speed of UpdatesWinHTC is known to update their phones more quickly.
Longevity of UpdatesWinSamsung issues updates for longer time for their flagship phones such as their former flagship, Galaxy S 2.
Price and Availability
CategoryHTC OneSamsung Galaxy S 4Rationale
PriceWinThe HTC One MSRP used to be $579 USD, now $599.99, which is cheaper than SGS4's $649.99 USD. On contract prices are currently still a $50 difference in HTC One's favor.  On top, HTC has also been running a trade in program that will give you $100 or more back for your old phone.
AvailabilityWinSGS4 is more widely available on various carriers such as Verizon.

From a check list comparison, the SGS4 heavily wins against the HTC One.  I personally chose the HTC One over the SGS4 because of the look of the phone.  You really can't go wrong going with either phone.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review of the HTC One from a Samsung Galaxy S II User

With two huge flagship phones released to the market so close together it's inevitable that they would be compared to each other - which explains all the reviews comparing the HTC One to the Samsung Galaxy S 4.  But if you're like me and bought Samsung's earlier smash hit, the Samsung Galaxy S II (SGS2), you're probably looking to upgrade about now so here's a Samsung Galaxy S II user's impressions of the HTC One.

I'm reviewing a HTC One Unlocked US edition running 1.29.1540.16 (Android 4.1.2) and comparing it against a Samsung Galaxy S II GT-I9100 UK Unlocked running Android 4.1.2.

The former Android flagship has finally met its match in the HTC One