A little over two weeks ago I orphaned my wounded and disloyal iPhone 4, that I have had since it launched, for a Nokia Lumia 800 Windows Phone. I have been adamant that I love this device, but today the honeymoon period came to a jarring and abrupt end.
First, what is good:
I feel that the design and construction of this device are the best on the market right now. I am continually fascinated with the attention to detail. The cover for the charging port, for example, leaves such a smooth physical experience; it’s incredible. The polymer construction provides another wonder. Somehow my phone acquired a small nick on the lower face, but since the colour is consistent through the construction, it is quite camouflaged. It is ahead of the iPhone 4(S) simply because there is only glass on one side. Samsung especially could really take a page out of Nokia’s book on this account.
On first blush Windows Phone is a refreshingly smooth and thought out and cohesive experience. The dark, futuristic design language is one thing that immediately drew me to the platform. Here, Microsoft isn’t trying to recreate physical experiences, à la Apple. The out-of-the-box integration with Facebook and Twitter through the People app is spectacular. They provide an arguably better social experience than any of the stand alone apps that I have used. On first blush, Windows Phone isn’t the blank slate begging you to download apps,
The first break in the wall was finding a pod-catcher. Instacast was an immediate favourite of mine on iOS, and I expected to find something of that caliber in the Marketplace. I was left shockingly disappointed. I have used: Podcasts!, BringCast, SlapDash Podcasts, DriveCast, just to name a few. The first three have appauling user interfaces and experiences. Podcasts! and BringCast have absolutely no way of scrubbing through audio. This becomes a problem when the user wants to listen to a podcast and employ a sleep timer. It becomes evident as a sleep timer function not being a core function in the OS. I went and found an app called Stop Music, that I thought would fill in the blanks. However none of the apps actually stop the podcast when the timer finishes, they either revert to where you started or simply keep playing silently. On the subject of DriveCast, I thought this was THE app, however I have been left wanting yet again. It actually remembers where you pause your show! Unless you employ the controls on the lock screen, and it also doesn’t obey Stop Music. This is completely ludicrous.
I do not understand how Microsoft justifies that multitasking has actually been implemented, other that background audio. Today I went for a run, so I prepared by downloading ‘Sports Tracker.’ I walked outside, started the app, and then switched apps to start some music. Ten minutes later I stopped to check my progress, only to find that the app had closed and reset. Frustrated, I set it again, changed songs through the music app, and carried on. I thought maybe accessing the app through the multitasking menu, which often prevents an app from refreshing, enabling you to continue from where you left off., would solve this issue. This was not the case, as I found out a kilometer or so later. Begrudgingly, I set the timer again and made sure not to close the app. Throughout the rest of my journey I check my progress with success. However when I returned home I found out that the app closed all by itself. This is also ludicrous.
I have been assuring myself that the overall experience of Windows Phone outweighs the lack of Draw Something, Words With Friends, and Internet Sharing to name a few apps and features. Don’t get me wrong, I believe there is less of a need for an abundance of apps to have a complete experience. For example, Bing can accomplish the same task as Shazam. I have been adamant that using the Zune software, rather than the hideous incarnation of iTunes on Windows, will also outweigh the shortfalls. Today, I am unsure.
I work as a a salesman at a Telus retailer. Do I regret selling this phone to people? No. If someone doesn’t ask for an iPhone or Android device right off the bat, I often present Windows Phone, as my $25 first recommendation. I feel that someone who is not coming from another smartphone will not be starting out with the same expectations as I did. A friend of mine got the Lumia 800 the same day as I did, upgrading from a cheap Android phone, or a feature-phone, I am not sure which. I have yet to hear him say anything negative about his experience, and I certainly do not want to taint it for him.
The long story made short is that I am left longing for a more comprehensive experience, such as my iPhone. I grew bored of it quite some time ago, but I have found that the grass isn’t always greener. I am willing to infect my PC with the cancer that is iTunes, to gain the experience from a smartphone that I want. I have very little experience with Android, and it is in contention to be my next smartphone, but the immediate solution to my issue here and now is my iPhone. Unlike Palm, Microsoft has an abundant amount of cash that it can throw at increasing its mobile presence. It isn’t going away anytime soon. Windows 8 “Apollo” is on the horizon, and I sincerely hope that Microsoft can pull off a strong showing.
The Shure SE115 in ear monitors fit in to the low end of Shure’s lineup at a retail price of $107. At a significant investment compared to the ‘white buds’ included with iDevices, and being at the bottom of a selection that reaches a price point of $470, are the SE115s worth the money?
My impressions, and subsequent review of these headphones will be slightly weighted by the fact that I justified spending upwards of one hundred dollars on headphones long ago, and have never looked back.
My black SE115s arrived yesterday, directly from Shure. I purchased them to replace my Shure SE210s, which I purchased in late 2009, for around $200. I chose the SE115s for a myriad of reasons: Shure is known for outstanding, and superbly balanced sound quality; I thoroughly enjoyed my SE210s; and the price was right.
My term with the SE210s proved to me that inorder to achieve superior noise isolation, and fit, triple flanged sleeves are the way to go. Unfortunately, the SE115s do not include a pair, so I purchased them separately, for $11.
Included in the quaint packaging is a soft carrying case;
two different styles of sleeves, in multiple sizes, dubbed the ‘Fit Kit,’ as well as a cleaning tool;
and an extension cable, since the headphones only have about nine inches of cable.
First Impressions - Build Quality:
Upon first inspection, the build quality of the headphones seems top notch. The reinforcement at the pole of the short cord seems sturdy, and the bulbous ear module seems quite robust.
First Impressions - Sound Quality:
Shure is renowned for the sound quality of their products. Key characteristics of the ‘Shure sound’ include a wide tonal range, pronounced highs, deep but not overpowering lows, and an overall great, and very balanced sound. These characteristics will be achieved most affectively after a break-in period. Like any other audio device, after anywhere from fifty to one hundred hours of use, the sound quality will become markedly improved.
My first impressions are based on a variety of selections, mostly in Apple Lossless or FLAC format. I notice that the low end is very pleasing, but no where near over-powering. The highs are pronounced, and what I would determine to be accurate. The isolation that is a product of the triple flanged sleeves is truly remarkable, it leaves the listener feeling immersed, and would be perfect for use in a noisy environment such as an airplane.
After only twenty four hours of use I am very pleased with the Shure SE115s. I am greatly anticipating the improvement in sound quality that will come after the break-in period. I will follow up with a more in-depth review in the future.