Engadget Readers Choice Awards SmartPhone of the Year to Nokia Lumia 920


    eng-award-2012-rc[1]This week Engadget announced their Readers Choice awards, no less than three Microsoft products were featured including the Nokia Lumia 920 as SmartPhone of the Year.


    Engadget just announced their 2012 readers choice awards. I’d like to take a minute to look at each of the Microsoft products that earned an award. Starting with

    SmartPhone of the Year: Nokia Lumia 920

    I smiled as I read the Engadget review, because I do love Windows Phone 8, but in particular, the camera on the Nokia Lumia 920 quite literally blew me away (with the flash turned off especially) I’d like to share a story from a fellow gadget geek, Microsoft Certified Trainer, Christopher Harrison (@GeekTrainer) about how he discovered and fell for the Lumia 920. He was kind enough to share it. Thanks for the story, Christopher, it seems you are not the only one who likes your Lumia 920.

    Vegas and the Nokia Lumia 920

    I love taking pictures. Mind you, I’m not overly skilled at it, and I don’t have the best eye for what makes a good picture. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to take lots of pictures.

    What does stop me from taking lots of pictures, however, is the lack of a good camera. I have a digital Canon Rebel, which I love. But lugging that around everywhere I go isn’t really an option. And considering my most common subject for photos is food and cocktails[1], breaking out a dSLR makes me feel like a bigger dork when getting the shot. The one camera I, and virtually everyone else, has at their disposal at all times is their phone. Cameras on phones share one thing in common – they’re all terrible, especially in low light situations. And if you’re anything like me[2], the most common time you want a picture is in a low light situation.

    Thus enter the Nokia Lumia 920.

    I had the Lumia 900 for quite a while, and I loved it. But as interested as I was in some of the new Windows 8 features, including NFC support, I wasn’t interested enough to spend the money to upgrade out of contract to the Lumia 920. Until my birthday trip to Las Vegas.[3]

    A friend of mine had recently upgraded to the Lumia 920. Whenever it was time for a group shot, we’d hand a point & shoot camera and the 920 over to someone nice enough to take the picture. Mind you, we weren’t trying to do a “taste test” of the two devices and which took the better, it was just how it happened. Invariably, the kind person would use the camera first, and the 920 second. The response after taking the picture with the 920 was universal – “Wow”. Every. Single. Time. After a little while everyone in the party was making sure we used my friend’s phone to take pictures.


    After that I had to have one. And it paid off when I went back to Las Vegas for the Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon.


    I was in New York, NY[4] for work. I went to visit a friend in the Dyker Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, which is famous for over-the-top Christmas lights displays. My friend, with their iPhone[5], and I with my Lumia 920. While I wasn’t able to get all the pictures the way I wanted – it’s challenging in that type of a lighting situation – I had a much higher success rate than my friend.


    Every phone has its strengths and weaknesses. This phone meets my needs. The OS gives me the social networking integration I desire, and the camera, well, the camera is finally a good camera phone – much to the chagrin of my friends who can now expect several more pictures of cocktails and food on my Facebook wall.

    [1] Yes, I’m that kind of a geek
    [2] ...and I know I am
    [3] Yes, I know – going to Vegas for one’s 40th birthday is cliché. I’m OK with that.
    [4] The city so nice they named it twice
    [5] This is not to call out the iPhone specifically, it was simply what they had.

  • Go DevMENTAL

    Build a Windows 8 app with an iPad or Android device. No, I am not kidding!


    touchdevelop Microsoft Research has developed an app called TouchDevelop that lets you build Windows 8 apps by touch. You can run the app from an iPhone, iPad, Android, PC, Mac, or Windows Phone.

    Touchdevelop is a project by Microsoft Research that allows you to build an app with touch. You write scripts by tapping on the screen. Scripts can perform various tasks similar to regular apps. Any TouchDevelop user can install, run, edit, and publish scripts. You can share your scripts with other people by publishing them to the TouchDevelop script bazaar, or by submitting them as an app to the Windows Store or Windows Phone Store. It takes a little while to learn how to navigate the application, but once you get going, you can build some pretty fun little apps in very little time.

    Got a Windows Phone?

    Download the touchdevelop app from the Windows Phone store. Visit the Learn tab to find instructional videos and documentation. A good starting point is the video tinter. This video gives you step by step instructions on how to create a phone app that will display a random picture from your phone when you shake the phone. The person doing the videos does have a tendency to go a bit fast, so be prepared to rewind to figure out what buttons she pressed! But, I was able to follow along, and now have a neat little app that randomly displays a picture on my phone when I shake it, the app took me about 60 seconds to build :)

    Got an iPad, iPhone, Android, or Mac?

    Use the touchdevelop web app. When you first visit the site you find tutorials that explain how to use the web application to build an app.

    Yes this builds REAL apps you can publish to the store

    This is a fun little application to explore, but what’s really cool is the fact that after you’ve played with it for a while and you build something cool, not only can you share it with other touchdevelop developers you can actually use the app to help you publish it to the Windows 8 or Windows Phone Store! Just follow the detailed instructions on how to publish.

    Here’s a little peek at how to create a Magic 8 ball app to whet your appetite. Now what are you waiting for, go play!

  • Go DevMENTAL

    Engadget Readers Choice Awards Microsoft Surface RT Tablet of the Year


    Engadget readers choice awardsThis week Engadget announced their Readers Choice awards, no less than three Microsoft products were featured including the Microsoft Surface RT as tablet of the year

    Engadget just announced their 2012 readers choice awards. I’d like to take a minute to look at each of the Microsoft products that earned an award. Yesterday I talked about the SmartPhone of the Year: Nokia Lumia 920. Today I’d like to talk a bit about the

    Tablet of the year: Microsoft Surface RT

    I bought a Surface RT when it first came out, and the number one question I am asked when someone sees it for the first time is what’s the difference between a Surface RT and an iPad. So I thought now would be a good time to point out some of the differences. This is not a complete list, but will give you a sense of how they differ.

    You can see the specs for each device yourself by clicking on the headers for each column.


    Microsoft Surface RT iPad
    Weighs 1.5 lbs weighs 1.44 lbs
    9.3 mm thickness 9.4 mm thickness
    10.6” screen ClearType HD display 9.7” screen Retina display
    Built-in kickstand No kickstand
    8 hours battery life up to 10 hours of surfing web, watching video with wifi, 9 hours using cellular network
    USB 2.0 Port No USB
    Micro HDMI Connector Lightning Connector
    micro SDXC Card slot No SD Card slot
    32 GB or 64 GB storage 16GB, 32 GB, 64 GB, or 128 GB storage
    CPU: Quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 CPU: Dual core A6X with quad core graphics
    2 microphones 1 microphone
    stereo speakers 1 speaker
    Bluetooth 4.0 Bluetooth 4.0
    Accelerometer, GPS Accelerometer, GPS
    Can connect to Wi-Fi Can connect to Wi-Fi and there is a model that supports Cellular data
    Front & rear camera Front & rear camera
    Compatible with existing Printers wireless printing requires AirPrint
    Can have multiple users each with their own login Single user account
    Supports RDP and remote apps no built in desktop virtualization
    Snap (so you can have two apps running side-by-side) One app at a time
    comes with Microsoft Office can use iWork or 3rd party apps
    supports cloud based storage on SkyDrive which supports folders and can be accessed from any web enabled device supports iCloud which can be synced to Macs, iPhone, and iPads
    Windows Store has apps (but not as many apps as iPad) has more apps than Windows 8 store
  • Go DevMENTAL

    Template of the week: Movie App design template


    Movie1This is a design template for a Windows 8 movie app that contains photoshop source files, images and an HTML/CSS Blend project

    If you missed any other templates of the week, you can find them here.

    A great app deserves a great User interface (UI). Some of us are good at coding, some of us are good at UI design. My last two templates were more focused on the code. This week’s template is focused on design. This template was originally published on the RIA Blog by Kok Chiann, a user experience manager at Ezypay and MVP on Expression Blend.

    Here is how Kok Chiann describes his design template.


    As a big movie fan and cinema freak, I’ve always wanted a quick app that will allow me to browse the top movies in the box office, check out trailers, ratings and more. So when I was thinking of what kind of Metro Style Apps to create design templates for, I guess it was a natural choice to create a simplistic app to fulfill my movie craving needs, and hopefully yours as well.


    As a Windows 8 user, I want a quick and simple means to watch trailers of latest movies, check their ratings, and share it with my social network.

    Movie App


    What will you need to use this design template?

    • Photoshop will be needed for the .psd files
    • Blend for Visual Studio will be needed for the Metro Style App Project

    What is in this design template?

    Do note that this is a design template that only contains:

    • Photoshop Source (.psd)
    • Images (.png)
    • Blend Project – HTML/CSS

    Which means it does not contain any back-end coding, snazzy javascripting, complex business logic or more

    Note: Based on the comments on the Ria Blog, The templates may have been built using the Release Candidate version, so you may have to remove the Reference Microsoft.WinJS.1.0.RC and add a new reference to the current Windows Library for JavaScript. Then in every HTML page, in the WinJS Reference section remove the RC part from the code

  • Go DevMENTAL

    Template of the week: Crowd sourcing and location based Windows 8 apps


    Windows 8 location appThis template gives you a great start for an app which allows the user to submit location based information.

    This blog is part of a series

    Have you ever wished there was an app you could use to tell the city about the potholes that on your daily commute? Or maybe you just want to an app for fellow runners to share notes on where to find public water fountains or good hills for hill training. The concept of crowd sourcing, letting the app users provide the information, is both popular and powerful. If you have a crowd sourcing idea that requires recording the location associated with the information, check out the Win8 Hero template.

    This template will give you a great jumpstart for any app that requires a user to submit information about a particular location.

    Platform: Windows 8

    Programming language: HTML, CSS & JavaScript

    The template includes a web based back end written in Node.JS

    You can download the Win8 Hero App Client template

    You can download the companion NodeJS server for the Windows 8 Hero template

    You will also want to look at the Quick Start Guide to the Windows 8 Hero App Template and Server written by Mark Arteaga.

    Don’t forget when you are finished your app you can publish it and get rewards through the Developer Movement.

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