My new car-The baby is finally at home

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Finally June 20, 2012 happens be the day and it arrived.

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The arrival was delayed due to my change of mind about color at the last moment, which was silver earlier but changed to white at the end. Its over you to tell me if I made a right choice about color.

As about the model, then the choice is Tata Indica Vista VX Quadrajet Refresh (Sedan Class). Ufff… long name.

Nokia Music service-Unlimited Latest Songs at dirt cheap, did you knew?

The mobile market has an interesting nature, where I see many people buying mobiles solely based on the hype rather than actually giving their own requirements a realistic view. I see many a people around me talking of Android or other operating systems in terms of apps while their own needs are limited to feature phones of <5k pricing only. Such a mindset often skips some of the points that might have been of much worth if would have thought without hype. One of such service been Nokia Music Unlimited.

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Nokia and its commitment toward the music (just like camera part) is nothing new for the people, who might been following the developments, they would know that how Nokia has been synonymous with digital music in India at least. I seen their initiatives with officially pre-installed songs (DRM) when bought Nokia N70 or Nokia 5130 in past, we see launch of music albums on mobile phones and then there was Nokia Music Unlimited for many a hi-end phones.

The offering of Nokia Music Service on feature phones like Nokia Asha Series takes this commitment to just another big level where Nokia seems to be unsettling many of the trends and habits. Think of the situation, if you are allowed to download any number of songs for free and then can share it with any of your friends freely? That too in perfectly legal way?


Why you need such a service?

I know, I know, many of you would say that why they need such a service when they can download the music freely from internet or can even ask their neighbour shop for loading songs in their phones for a nominal charge?

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But do you know that as per Music Copyright laws, Copyright infringement is a criminal offense in India. The minimum penalty for knowingly infringing upon a copyright is six months in jail and a fine of 50,000 rupees. So, is it worth taking the risk, when there are really some ways out at a nominal price?

Nokia Music Unlimited:

Let me introduce you with Nokia Music Unlimited service that provides you songs at such dirt cheap that you actually start doubting if you are downloading it legally.

Nokia has already launched free music subscription from the Nokia Music Store for a number of its Symbian devices. The duration of these free subscriptions vary from device to device. According to the category of the device, the duration of the free subscription lasts for 3, 6 & 12 months. There are a total of 13 Nokia phones through which these free music subscription of the Nokia Music Store can be availed which are as follows:

Name of the device Free unlimited downloading for
Nokia Asha 200 3 Months
Nokia Asha 300 3 Months
Nokia Asha 302 3 Months
Nokia C2-01 3 Months
Nokia X3-02 3 Months
Nokia X2-02 3 Months
Nokia Asha 303 3 Months
Nokia 500 6 Months
Nokia 603 12 Months
Nokia 700 12 Months
Nokia 701 12 Months
Nokia N8 12 Months
Nokia E7 12 Months

 

Note that these are not the streaming options but you are downloading actual DRM free songs or entire albums. You can download them via web or even via your feature phone and they are DRM free means you can share your songs with any of your friends having any kind of mobile or devices (Android, iPod, anything).

Wanna see it in action? Here you go

 

And as about availability of songs, then Nokia Music Store includes extensive catalogues from major global labels like Sony Music Entertainment and EMI Music and Nokia’s local partnership with Indian Music Industry (a consortium of more than 150 music companies), Hungama that represents major labels including Yash Raj, Tseries, and SIMCA (South Indian Music Companies Association), amongst others. There are some 45 Lakhs+ songs already, can you imagine?

But its only for the new devices, no? Renewing subscription would be costly, right?

Nope! Not at all.

Its true that the service is for only those devices which came with Nokia Unlimited Music Offer, but renewing a subscription is not a big deal any more.

Once the free music subscription gets expired, an easy recharge of Rs. 113 (including service tax) can be availed which then lasts for a month. And the other denominations are : Rs 57 voucher(including service tax) for a week & Rs 281(including service tax) for 3months. After the recharge Full access to the Nokia Music Store is restored and downloading of songs can be continued. These recharge coupons are also valid and can be bought by anyone who was bought any of the listed mobile phones last year.

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The recharge procedure is pretty easy and the vouchers can be bought on the Oxicash website www.oxicash.in or Oxicash booths at selective NPP’s, NPD’s or Nokia CARE outlets. This is aimed at making the procedure to renew subscriptions to the music store an easy process and continuously give access to the ever increasing huge collection of songs on the Nokia Music Store.


So what do you think? Giving it a try?

Layman’s take on Nokia Lumia 710-Perfect fit for mid-range?

Its not been really long when I was at Nokia Lumia launch event for India and later on reviewed Nokia Lumia 800 in as high details as possible.

I was very impressed with Lumia 800 that time but one thing I knew that it would be Lumia 710, which will come out to be real VFM for Indian market.

It proves to be right, when during my short review period of Nokia Lumia 710, I seen four people around me ending up buying the same. The last maximum for me was Nokia E5 that also happened to be bought by four people around me coincidently (obviously different four Winking smile).

While we already know that how attractive Windows Phone might be, let’s see what I found about Nokia Lumia 710 here.


Nokia Lumia 710: The Unboxing

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As I had reviewed Nokia Lumia 800 package earlier, so I was kind of well aware that what’s gonna be inside the package of Nokia Lumia 710 and nothing came up to surprise me either …

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The minimal Nokia Lumia 710 Sales Package contains the following

  • Nokia Lumia 710
  • Nokia AC-10 MicroUSB Charger
  • Nokia Charging and Data Cable CA-190CD
  • Nokia Headset WH-208 (With 4 set of ear buds)
  • Quick Guide, User Guide and Product information leaflet

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The headset is the minimal one, good on quality though not great on addons like play pause buttons with headset itself. Additional Ear Buds sure caters variety of people.

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The USB cable shipped with the package is also feels to be the same (though it’s a different cable in make and model) as we have seen in case of Nokia Lumia 800.

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The charger is different than earlier one and in fact very different than the devices that I might have reviewed recently. Not a slim one but a rather big one, I would say awkwardly big one. Though positive part is, its still falls into fast charger category.


Nokia Lumia 710: The Exteriors

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Nokia Lumia 710 is no stunner like its big brother Lumia 800, but its not any ordinary mid range phone either, when it comes to looks. The material used is not the polycarbonate one like Lumia 800, but still the plastic used is not that filmsy either. The one piece removable back panel seems prone to dirt, but overall phone fits your hand very well with its very simple design. The phone actually feels much more premium than any of the other handset in the same price segment (sub 15k INR).

The colour scheme is interesting part about it. While officially its available in only two colours: White and Black, this official part refers to the front part only. You can have total five different colours for the rear panel and even exchangeable ones (not included as a part of the package like Nokia 500 though. I wish if it was).

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The front is fully covered with Corning Gorilla Glass from top-to-toe, with making room for the 3 traditional Windows Phone buttons in the bottom, microphone, earpiece, ambient light sensor and proximity sensors. The transparent keys at the bottom keep the looks still premium in white colour at least.

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The back houses a 5MP AF shooter that can take 720p videos at 30 fps without breaking a sweat. Having a physical camera key available and ability to open the camera even if the phone is locked, makes the functioning of the same as super quick, thanks to optimization within the OS as well. Who can forget this funny video featuring my friend @Bharadc23

Though specific tasks can never evaluate a mobile phone as a whole but they certainly make a good impression over n00b who might be watching you from a distance apart using the handset. Trust me, I myself felt people watching me in Delhi Metro while I use Lumia 710, not because the design of it but because the way it functions and feels super responsive in nature.

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At the right side of the phone, the upper side has Volume rocker while the lower side has a camera key. Left side of the phone provide just a small place for pulling out the back panel (Battery cover). There are no lock buttons in this minimalistic design and that task is left to power button on the top. The camera key takes a little time for getting used to if the person is coming from some two step shutter button handset as despite of being 2-step, it feels one step only.

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The bottom of the phone has slot for hook while the top hosts an unprotected MicroUSB port, a 3.5mm Audio Jack and one power key. All traditional design, no fancy sliders like Nokia Lumia 800 and as usual, I would thank Nokia for not giving a plasticky or rubber cap over MicroUSB port.

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The ClearBlack 3.7” TFT Screen with a resolution of 800×480 might not be that high end like ClearBlack AMOLED display on Nokia Lumia 800, but the good news about it is, its WVGA display with Nokia’s ClearBlack circular polarizer arrangement and a Gorilla Glass front plate means sharper images.

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The display fares ok under the sunlight, but lack of oleophobic coating makes it prone to fingerprints. Still I will give it full marks for the fact that its just a mid-range phone and its display still stacks up with high end smartphones extremely well on the common parameters like contrast, viewing angles and colours.


Nokia Lumia 710: The Interiors and where it stacks against its big brother Lumia 800

It might be jst formal to many but some of you actually want to go through the specs sheet when it comes to any review, so here you go:

  • Dimensions119 x 62.4 x 12.48 mm, 81.1 cc,125.5 g (Should be considered as light)
  • Windows Phone 7.5 a.k.a. Mango (Some Nokia apps inside but no Nokia specific changes in Core OS)
  • 3.7”CBD  TFT Corning Gorilla Glass Screen with a WVGA resolution of 800×480 pixels, 24 bit RGB Display (Lumia 800 had 16 bit colors)
  • 1.4GHz Single Core MSM8255 CPU, Snapdragon /Scorpion S2 chipset, Adreno 205 GPU (Exactly same as Nokia Lumia 800)
  • 512 MB LPDDR2 (Same as in iPhone 4S), 512 MB ROM, 8 GB Mass Memory (Plus 25GB SkyDrive), no Micro SD Card support though
  • HSDPA Cat10 14.4 Mbps, HSUPA Cat6 5.76 Mbps, WLAN IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
  • It got Penta band connectivity like Nokia N9 while Nokia Lumia 800 had Quad Band connectivity
  • 3D Accelerometer, Ambient Light Sensor, Compass (Magnetometer Sensor), Proximity Sensor
  • 5.0 Megapixels AF camera with an aperture  f/2.4 (No Carl Zeiss like Lumia 800, no f/2.2)
  • 1280 x 720 pixels video recording resolution with 30fps
  • FM Radio (with a very simplistic UI)
  • 2 Microfone inside, one serving purpose of noise cancellation
  • Micro SIM Support only
  • Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR (without capability of Dial up connection or Data Transfer)
  • BP-3L 3.7V 1300 mAh removable battery

So as we can see, though general conception is, Lumia 710 is a trimmed down Lumia 800, its not exactly the case.

  • It offers you a sharper display being a non-PenTile RGB display with 24 bit colors
  • Penta Band connectivity (though it wont matter for most of Indian users)
  • Camera is non-Carl Zeiss and also has f/2.4 means less light in, lesser low light performance and sharpness than f/2.2 Lumia 800.

Nokia Lumia 710: The software impressions

I already been through the software specific details in my Lumia 800 post with complete details and as its exactly same with Nokia Lumia 710 as well. For the same reason, I didn’t felt the need to repeat the same here again. You can check the link for the same. Will write about the differences here in short.

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What changed in these one two months was the fury of apps. I loved new version of Twitter Client Mehdoh with its Streaming timeline and got totally impressed by the outrageously innovative Twitter Client Twabbit. Liked the Carbon Twitter client as well but restrictions on Market free version annoyed me.

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In other welcome changes, a well deserved Nokia Creative Studio, about which I actually wrote in my last Lumia review that it was badly needed even though in-built auto-fix does a good job for causal snappers.

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Also the release of a beautiful Linkedin for Windows Phone client, came in to fill the another gap for me as it was awkward to see that LinkedIn is baked into the core of operating system but there was no official client for it and hence not that full fledge use cases.

It was lovely to meet the new version of Facebook and amazing Photosynth.

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Check out the above sample from Photosynth. Amazingly speedy and accurate stitching. Though uneven borders are annoying but on the other hand 3D mode is superb.

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I was a little sceptical about the non-Carl Zeiss 5 MP camera with Lumia 710 but the above unedited picture should clear any doubt about it.

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Though still Camera part leaves a lot to desire when it comes to handling uneven lights.

It might be software updates or may be a different product, it was good to see the absence of battery bug of Lumia 800 here that was leading to a dead phone if fully discharged (only way out was USB recharge).


Nokia Lumia 710: Top Five Things that I liked about it

I keep on reviewing many a products and its not like that if I feel some emptiness once they leave me but when it comes to Lumia, then there are a few things that I miss badly when I use any other phone than Nokia Lumia 710:

1. Amazing People Hub: You might have read praises about it via every person who might have used Windows Phone for considerable time and trust me, there is a reason that it impresses literally everyone.

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People Hub not only aggregate all your social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, but allows you to interact with each of those networks without the need of leaving the People Hub experience.

For example, you can update your own status on twitter/facebook or both, post comment\likes on Facebook status\ photos, reply\retweet Twitter statuses. This all feel very convenient as don’t need to go into some other app and still you know who liked your status or replied you on Facebook or Twitter.

And this is not all. People Hub can be divided into Groups or even Individuals and you can have tiles for each accordingly, which solves the issue of missing the updates from special ones. Like in my case, I am following some 800+ people on twitter and some 500+ people in my Facebook friendlist, obviously, I would miss if my wife who is very less active on twitter/facebook comparatively, updates something. But having a tile in her name or a tile in name of Family (a small group) solves the issue.

Top of all, this all happens with fabulous metro UI with animations and silky smoothness all the time. Yes! there is no alternative of people on any of the platform yet.

2. Amazing Windows Phone Keyboard: I remember the time, when in start of Windows Phone, people were talking a lot about Windows Phone keyboard and I was thinking that what’s big deal in that when it don’t even look like of my taste, neither do I have any flexibility to change it like I do have in case of Android. I don’t even have swipe on Windows Phone.

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Trust me, Windows Phone keyboard came as a big surprise to me once I given it some time to grow over me. You can think of the impression by the fact that I own Samsung Galaxy S myself which have gone through all kind of rooting, custom ROM, CM9 and multiple keyboard apps etc, but despite of using that since an year, I feel myself typing two-three fold faster on Windows Phone keyboard within a week. Yes! two three fold.

Not really sure that what is the magic about it, the amazing auto-correct without overdoing it or right amount of audible feedback on key presses without any mechanical looking feel, but it works and works better than any keyboard that I might have used either on Android, Symbian, iOS, BlackBerry or WebOS.

3. Beautiful Email Experience: I have said it multiple times that even if there was no other features as good as other platforms, I would have loved Windows Phone on the basis of its Email Experience alone.

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The UI is awesome, the speed is unmatched, Exchange Address lookups feel instant and the dealing with HTML formatted Email is just too perfect. Windows Phone is the only place where I know that mails will be displayed on small screen with the right amount of picture size or fonts. It just scales the mails so nicely that I feel like cursing my Symbian and Android phones that why they want to make a big fuss about it.

4. Microsoft Office for mobile: Having an office suit is another thing and having an office suit that handles heavy abuse like the desktop one is other, this is where, Microsoft Office Mobile scores.

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Either it be Excel, PowerPoint or Microsoft Word files, it handle even bigger than average files without a sweat, which is something that always been a desirable on other platforms.

5. Speed of operations and always responsive UI: Each manufacturer just feel like looking for an excuse to raise the processor cores or RAM on slightest of possibility and we are in an age where some mobiles have came with Quad Core and 2Gb RAMs with them. It really hurts when you see some 1GHz or 1.5Ghz phone giving you a slightest of lag in responding when you touch over any icon, but it happens and I have seen it on some “Dual Core” Androids even.

Despite of being limited to Single Core till the moment, Windows Phone is designed to keep user engaged with the UI in a manner that everything feels responsive, no matter what’s going on in background.

Either you pick a high end like Nokia Lumia 900 or pick a Nokia Lumia 710, you don’t feel ashamed in showing off speed of your mobile operations to others coz somehow it feels same speedy over both of them in exactly similar ways despite of hardware differences.

Trust me, its not some magic but so many rounds of R&D and optimizations in background. There is a reason that you feel your phone faster in uploading photos and posting statuses even no 2G networks otherwise like many  of the friends already said, an Android with a 2G Internet connection is an Android without an Internet connection. Nothing like that in case of Windows Phone for sure as I experienced.


Nokia Lumia 710: Top Five Things that I didn’t like about it

1. Horrible Notifications system: This is one of the painful part for Windows Phone as of now. Windows Phone has no single screen, drop down or a page for unified notification from various apps. It either sends the notifications to top of the screen in form of one liner or just will put them on some tile.

It definitely doesn’t feel that convenient for a user perspective when you don’t see multiple of notifications at once neither can control that for how many moments it should stay on top interfering the experience. Also it feels like sheer ignorance from Windows Phone design part that there is no always visible status bar at top showing battery life, network signals or any other such thing.

Though I seen that many a times, its possible to tap on top and see the status bar but it seems that most of the apps just want to override the same. So, its more of guidelines part I guess.

As raised by some of the friends on Twitter, there are privacy concerns as well like you can not limit if the part of message should be displayed on top or not. Strange to see that why Microsoft decided this part of user experience this lightly just like Apple was dealing with notification lately.

2. File management and its worse implications: When I heard about it for the first time, then I couldn’t believe it and was needed to check myself. Yes! you can’t send a document as Email attachment via Email App itself. I mean in name of holy God what kind of logic behind it? If I am a Business person, then do you think that emailing photos is more important or emailing excel, word files are?

Though yes, you can send any such file via share menu and it can  go as an email attachment, but most of the use cases of business or even personal emailing don’t work like that. You usually find yourself replying some email and all of sudden feel that you should attach something. If Email App wont let you do that then what’s point of such a fantastic Email App otherwise or fabulous Microsoft Office Mobile in it.

So, its again seem to be sheer negligence rather than some limitation of platform itself.

3. No file download in browser, not a perfect fit to screen either: First of all, there are not many choices for browser in app store and then native IE browser on phone won’t allow you to download any kind of media file. If you wanted to download a MP3 then it would rather stream it than downloading to phone.

In next, I have no issues if it doesn’t give me Flash Player abilities but what about a better implementation of fit to screen? If I double tap a page then it will zoom in or zoom out as one step toggle, but it doesn’t fit the page if you are doing a pinch to zoom for zooming the page a bit further.

4. Bluetooth: Nope.. I wont start the debate that one needs the option of sending files over Bluetooth or not even though I feel the need, but the story doesn’t end here. As of now, Windows Phone can’t stream audio to your car/ other devices over Bluetooth either, thanks to absence of rSAP protocol support.

Here goes my excitement about having the same feature in my coming car if I buy a Windows Phone.

5. Not great Phone operation handling: To start the conversation, this is a phone after all and smart dial like essential features should not be a luxury or some rocket science to implement into. Come on, its 2012, you make a Phone OS and tell me that I can’t just type a name and dial? I need to remember the full number or go via contacts to dial it? Get a life.

You know what? You don’t have ability to filter out online and phone contacts either. That should be icing the cake, no.


Conclusion:

So, this was Layman’s Take about Nokia Lumia 710 and as usual, if I am vocal about the good things in it, then I wont stop my voice from commenting over its negatives either. Still one needs to use his own mind and weigh the pro’s and con’s depending on his/ her own use cases. As much I use Windows Phone, I find it hard to ignore and really addictive. As about Style, then you can think of appeal when I see four people buying it just after watching it in my hands in last two weeks.

When I see a Lumia 710 at sub 15k INR price, then its sure a recommended deal considering the other goodies that are on offer with it being a Nokia. Did you know, you have Offline lifetime voice navigation with it?

So what’s your take?