Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My First Week With a Windows Phone

As you are probably aware, I suffer from a malady called gadget lust.  Whenever cool new tech things come out, I find myself really wanting one.  I go through several iterations of justification and, usually, it turns out that I don't need it and I wouldn't really use it very much if I got it.  So, I have to say a tearful goodbye and get over it.  However, sometimes, it turns out that the return on investment is justified.

Recently my wife's phone died.  Coincidentally, her two year contract with T-Mobile was just about up as well (which means we could get a subsidized phone).  So it was time to look for a new phone.  I cruised around the T-Mobile site to see what was available - plan-wise as well as phone-wise.  I found that combining my prepaid and her individual account into a family account would actually cost a little bit less that what we were paying now (since I started managing projects, I use a lot more minutes on my phone).  Then I found that we could get smartphones for just a little more than we were paying now.  I talked it over with my wife and we decided it was time.  So we got a pair of Windows Phones.  Specifically, we got the Nokia Lumia 710.

Here's the reasons we decided to get smartphones:

  • Shared Calendars - This is a killer feature for us.  Now I can see what my wife's schedule is as well as my own and my wife can see my schedule.  It makes things easier for planning events and coordinating responsibilities.
  • Contacts - Now we always have all of our contacts with us.  No more trying to juggle between email, phone, and paper address book.
  • Reminders - This is something I really missed from my Palm Pilot days.  I love that my phone reminds me of appointments.
  • Online Docs - This is pretty useful.  With a Windows Phone, I can see all of my docs on my SkyDrive account.  This is nice for taking notes (Microsoft OneNote is a great note-taking app) and if we need to refer to any of our docs while we're not at home.  Honestly, I don't see us using this one very much but it's pretty cool.
  • Texting - As much as we've tried to fight it, texting is just a reality of life.  There are so many people and businesses that use texting constantly (I just had the pharmacy text that our prescription was done).  However, on our old phones, texting was clumsy and awkward.  Now it's much, much easier.
  • Family Pics - Go ahead and laugh but it's important to me.  I like having pictures of the family always available.
  • Camera - I've missed lots of picture opportunities because I didn't have my camera with.  Well, that's not a problem any more!
It took some adjustments to get our calendars where we need them and a little time to get used to the interface, but I'm already wondering why I waited so long.  Not only do the phones simplify some of the things we do, but it has some pretty cool features that I hadn't even thought of - but now I love.

  • Voice Commands - It seems a little silly but just telling the phone to call my wife is convenient when my hands are busy and we searches using voice commands is a lot faster.  Heck, the kids treat it like a game!  "Find McDonalds", "Find ColdStone", "Find Krispy Kreme" - you see a pattern there?
  • Local Scout - This is a handy little app that gives you everything going on in your area - restaurants, movies, events, etc.  It's a lot of fun to play with.
  • Custom Alarms - It's nice to have an alarm for Monday through Friday but to be able to sleep in on Saturday and Sunday (just so you know, 6 AM is sleeping in for me).
  • Live Tiles - I'm a gadget person and I like to see what's going on at a glance.  Live tiles on my Windows Phone shows me, at a glance, my next appointment, missed calls, messages, etc.  It's very useful.
One thing that I have to recommend, if you're getting phones for you and your spouse, get the same phone.  When my wife needs to use my phone for whatever reason, she's already thankful that the interface is the same.  I am too - it's so frustrating to have to spend a few minutes to figure out somebody else's phone just to make a phone call.

So, it's been almost a week and I'm very happy with my phone.  There was one little hiccup setting up the email but that's been resolved and we're all good now.

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