Monthly Archives: April 2012

My favorite Windows Phone apps

lumia900cyan

With the recent Nokia Lumia 900 release here in the U.S., I’d like to share my favorite Windows Phone (WP7, aka Mango) apps. If you have any favorite apps you’d like to mention, feel free to leave a comment.

First, a tip:
Follow these steps to access the Nokia Lumia 800/900 hidden diagnostics tool. Note:  Doing so will also add the app to your app list
– Go to your Lumia phone dialpad
– Press ##634# (the tool will then automatically open)
– Check out all the Diagnostic options, including Battery Status

My favs (in no particular order):

USAToday: Aside from being a great news app, the live weather tile is both attractive and handy

NY Times: Nice app if you’re a NY Times fan

BBC Radio Player: The most robust BBC radio app I’ve found on WP7. App provides a large variety of BBC Radio Channels

GoVoice: A must have app if you Google Voice — I use Google Voice instead of AT&T voicemail

Livescape: If you’ve used “Lose it!” or other food tracking / health apps, you’ll love Livescape.

Wordament: This great word game should come with a warning, it’s that addictive!

Amazon Kindle: To keep up with your reading

Amazon Mobile: To shop!! (There’s even a separate AmazonFresh app.)

Bing Picts Downloader: Find gorgeous wallpapers via recent Bing featured photos

Das Image: Another versatile wallpaper source

Chrome Bookmarks: If you are a long-time Chrome desktop  browser user, this is a great way to access your Chrome bookmarks. (There is a similar app which also appears to sync with your recently opened Chrome tabs, called Chrync, but I haven’t tried it yet.)

Nokia Drive: Accessible via the Marketplace… Fabulous Nokia software that provides voice turn-by-turn navigation. Be sure to also check out  the Nokia Maps and Nokia Transit apps.

Rowi: A fast, full featured twitter app

Netflix: To watch Netflix on the go

Tech News Now: A nice news aggregator

Windows Phone News: A nice news aggregator, focusing on Windows Phone coverage

WpFandora Pro: An attractive Pandora app

Zillow: The zillow app you may know and love from iOS, Android, etc. I used to love Zillow until I noticed my home value is lower each time I check. Smile with tongue out

Zune Pass: Although not considered as cool as some other music discovery services, I LOVE Zune Pass. Well worth the $10 monthly fee.

Samsung Galaxy Note (N7000): My review

Once upon a time not so long ago, there was a phone called the HTC EVO 4G. When photos and reviews began appearing on the web, I scoffed at how impossibly huge the EVO seemed with its 4.3 inch screen. I went to see it at a Sprint store. I left, satisfied that I’d seen what I’d come to see. The next day though, I kept thinking about the EVO and how much I’d enjoyed using it at the store. I returned that day to buy it, and became a delighted, long-time EVO 4G user.

In 2011, Samsung released the Galaxy Note (international version) with its 5.3 inch screen. I didn’t become interested in the Galaxy Note until AT&T released the Note in February 2012, giving me an opportunity to see and handle it. I was surprised that it didn’t seem outrageously large when I handled it, and realized it might fit the sweet spot between the portability of a phone and the easy-on-the-eyes screen of a tablet.

I bought the white AT&T Galaxy Note (model I717) — I loved it for the beautiful, easy to read screen and S-pen (stylus). I realized, however, that the AT&T model had some features that I found to be impediments:

  • The LTE data capability would have been wonderful if I had LTE network coverage in my area. I don’t though, and was disappointed that I couldn’t find a way to turn LTE off! My battery life suffered, and I didn’t even get super fast data speeds to compensate 😉
  • I missed being able to wake up the phone easily by pressing on a physical home button. Instead, I needed to reach up, locate, and press the power key to wake the phone. Possible, yes. Convenient, not so much.

So I decided to return the AT&T Note, and bought the international version (model N7000) instead. It solved the two AT&T Note issues I’d experienced since it didn’t have an LTE radio but did have an easy to locate/press physical Home button.

Now that I’ve had the Note for about 6 weeks, is it right for me? Read on:

  • Screen: I still love the big, bright, easy to read screen. I haven’t normally been one to browse the web on my phone but the Note makes it such a pleasant experience that I’m doing more browsing on the go.
  • S-pen (stylus): My handwriting makes chicken scratches look good, it’s that bad! But the Note’s handwriting recognition software is good enough that I can use the S-Pen to take notes on my Note and accurately convert it to text. The S-Pen is fabulous for making annotations. And it’s also quite handy for playing “Draw Something.” 😉
  • Samsung TouchWiz interface: I actually like TouchWiz. It’s fairly customizable, and I love how it allows me to do two things not easily done on all Android phones:
  1. Take screen shots
  2. Change the system font
  • Battery life (on the International model): I’ve found battery life to be quite good. I tend to leave GPS & Mobile Data enabled all the time, although I do use WiFi for data at home.
  • Phone Audio & Voice quality: I’ve found Audio & Voice quality to be good. However, I should mention I normally use a bluetooth headset with mobile phones (including the Note).
  • Camera (Still & Video): Photo and Video quality is very good.
  • Easy to update firmware: Especially with the international model, it’s super easy to update the firmware using Odin PC software and firmware available on xda-developers.com. No rooting required!

I’ve found some excellent accessories which others may find useful as well:

  • Skque Clear TPU Gel Case: A no frills clear case that protects my Galaxy Note, but lets the lovely white Note finish shine through. (The white Galaxy Note does not provide a textured back, and it can be slippery without a case!)
  • Generic Horizontal Belt Clip Case: Nothing fancy, just a way to clip the Note to my slacks. Although no longer sold on Amazon, probably available on ebay and from other outlets selling Galaxy Note accessories.
  • Desktop Dock for Samsung Galaxy Note: Gorgeous charger dock that can be used in either portrait or landscape orientations. Expensive but worth it.

So, there you have it… my Galaxy Note review along with buying considerations if you’re trying to decide between the AT&T and International models. Questions? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment.