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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Nokia Lumia 930 review: the best Windows Phone yet” was written by Samuel Gibbs, for theguardian.com on Thursday 24th July 2014 10.07 UTC

Microsoft’s latest Lumia 930 top-end smartphone is still a Nokia for now, and shows promise as a viable competitor in the flagship smartphone battle with Apple, Samsung, HTC and Sony.

Aluminium meets glass and plastic

The Lumia 930 is another example of Nokia’s legendary hardware build quality. It’s solid, gives the impression it could take a knock or two without issue and feels nice in the hand.

An aluminium band around the outside meets Gorilla Glass on the front and a quality soft touch plastic on the back – in this case bright green. The screen has a sculpted edge that tapers down to the aluminium side, which feels nice to the fingers as they slide across it, but makes me worry that the main screen area could get more easily scratched if the 930 was placed on its screen.

Nokia Lumia 930 review
Aluminium edges contain Nokia’s characteristic colourful plastic back, which isn’t removable. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

It’s about as different as a black slab smartphone can get, and while I think it looks fresh and interesting not everyone will like the hard aluminium edges and vibrant colour scheme.

The excellent 5in full HD OLED display is vibrant, crisp and bright (although very reflective outdoors making it slightly difficult to read), but makes the 930 a big phone. Those upgrading from an iPhone 5 will feel it’s enormous, but it has a slightly smaller profile than the Samsung Galaxy S5 and other large Android phones.

Weighing 167g it’s also quite heavy compared to all the current crop of competing Android smartphones, 4g heavier than the Sony Xperia Z2, 7g heavier than the HTC One M8, 22g heavier than the Galaxy S5 and 37g heavier than the Google Nexus 5. It’s also heavier than the 139g Lumia 925 that came before it.

The Lumia 930 feels reassuringly weighty, but isn’t too heavy in the hand or pocket, although it might be too big for some.

Specifications

  • Screen: 5in full HD OLED
  • Processor: 2.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
  • RAM: 2GB of RAM
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Operating system: Windows Phone 8.1
  • Camera: 20-megapixel PureView camera, 1MP front-facing camera
  • Connectivity: LTE, Wi-Fi (n/ac), NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 with BLE and GPS
  • Dimensions: 137 x 71 x 9.8mm
  • Weight: 167g

Wireless charging built-in

One of the benefits of Windows Phone is that almost all Windows Phones feel alike in their operation. The Lumia 930 has a powerful processor, but it doesn’t feel any faster or zippier than previous models.

Multitasking is handled with aplomb and no unintentional lag was noticeable anywhere in while using the phone. Some of Windows Phone’s animations take some time to do their thing, making getting into and out of menus take a bit longer than you’d expect, but that is Microsoft’s choice on the software side.

Nokia Lumia 930 review
Volume, power and a dedicated shutter button sit in the right-hand edge of the Microsoft smartphone. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The powerful processor does come into its own when dealing with photos and advanced affects, which are chewed through in record time.

On paper the Lumia 930 has a fairly small 2,420mAh battery compared with its size (the Galaxy S5 has a 2,800mAh cell), but the Windows Phone manages to last a good day in use with lots of email arriving throughout the day, a bit of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as a few short videos and an hour or two of listening to music.

Some other larger smartphones will make it through two days, with most benefiting from more power efficient newer processors, but the Lumia does have built-in Qi wireless charging.

With a wireless charger in the box, there is certainly some joy and convenience to be had just plonking the phone on a pad to charge at night instead of having to scrummage around for a microUSB cable in the dark.

Nokia’s battery-saving mode, which limits the number of apps that can run in the background, helps extend battery life without inhibiting functionality too badly and can be switched on automatically when battery charge is low.

Windows Phone 8.1 – the best yet

The Lumia 930 runs Microsoft’s latest Windows Phone 8.1 software, which is a big step forward to catching up to Android and the iPhone in terms of usability.

Nokia Lumia 930 review
The live tiles on the home screen are a cross between small widgets displaying at-a-glance information and app icons. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The unique cross between app icons and widgets called live tiles are great, showing at-a-glance information. Microsoft has added a proper notifications shade that pulls down from the top of the screen complete with quick settings for turning Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, flight mode and rotation lock on and off.

One particularly nice feature is that the wallpaper on the home screen slides behind the tiles, some of which are transparent giving making them look like little windows. It’s a small thing, but a nice touch.

The majority of the rest of the software works as well as Android or iOS. There aren’t any customisable keyboards, but Microsoft’s built in one is decent. With a lot of apps installed the list of all apps is rather long and tedious to navigate.

Nokia Lumia 930 review
The app list scrolls on forever if you have a decent amount of apps installed. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Microsoft’s worked hard to bring big-name apps to Windows Phone, and for the most part it has succeeded. Spotify, BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Evernote Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are all there. I missed Pocket (the saved for later app), Marvel Unlimited and Google’s apps like Google Maps and Hangouts.

Microsoft’s apps are solid, including Office and OneDrive (the service formerly known as SkyDrive). Nokia’s Here Maps works well, with decent offline maps too, plus Nokia’s MixRadio, which is about to be spun out into a separate company, is a particular standout.

Games, on the other hand, aren’t up to par with Android or Apple’s iOS. There are some games, but the majority of the good ones aren’t available on Windows Phone yet. Microsoft might sort that out with better Xbox integration, but it hasn’t yet.

Great camera

Nokia Lumia 930 review
The Lumia 930′s camera is one of its best features combining Zeiss optics including optical image stabilisation and a 20-megapixel sensor. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Lumia 930 has the same 20-megapixel “Pureview” camera as the Lumia 1520 with a two-stage shutter button like a compact camera. While not quite as powerful as the 41 megapixel monster on the Lumia 1020, it is still one of the best cameras on a smartphone.

Nokia uses “supersampling” to make a 5MP image from a 20MP sensor – which removes artefacts from images – but also gives users the option of accessing the full image. Low light performance is good aided by optical image stabilisation to prevent shake blur, as is detail, saturation and colour accuracy in good light.

Nokia’s Pro Camera app is great, providing both a simple but intelligent point-and-shoot experience, as well as every option a camera phone photographer is likely to want, all clustered under an intuitive ring interface.

Nokia’s Refocus app also allows users to refocus images after taking them, just like every high-end smartphone seems to do these days.

Nokia Lumia 930 review
Outdoors the screen is highly reflective making it quite difficult to see when in direct sunlight, even with the brightness on maximum. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Price

The Lumia 930 is a high-end smartphone – the top of Microsoft’s current lineup – but costs from around £440. Officially it costs £550 direct from Microsoft, Nokia’s website has multiple listings from resellers for £440, which undercuts quite a lot of the competition including the Sony Xperia Z2, iPhone 5S and HTC One M8.

Verdict: solid for something a bit different

Nokia Lumia 930 review
The 5in smartphone is considerably bigger than an iPhone, but is about the same size as the current crop of flagship Android smartphones. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Lumia 930 is the best Windows Phone yet. It looks as unique as a black slab can, is solidly built and will appeal to those looking for something a bit different. It’s even got an FM radio, which is becoming rarer these days.

Windows Phone 8.1 is the best version of Microsoft’s software to date, catching up on some features while most of the biggest apps are there, unless you’re tied into Google’s services. Some users will miss the games and other less mainstream apps, while you’ll also have to put up with coming third when it comes to app updates.

Overall, the Lumia 930 is a solid phone, but not a remarkable one. Worth buying if you’re looking for something different, but there are better smartphones around for the same amount of money.

Pros: Great camera, wireless charging, 32GB of storage, Nokia apps, solid build

Cons: Lack of games, lack of non-mainstream apps, reflective screen makes outdoor viewing more difficult

Other reviews

HTC One M8 review: a lightning-quick, five star phone

Samsung Galaxy S5 review: bigger, faster – but still plastic

Sony Xperia Z2 review: powerful, waterproof, but just a tad too big

Moto G review: the best smartphone you can buy for £135

Google Nexus 5 review: a flagship smartphone that costs the same as a mid-range device

iPhone 5S review: Apple’s best is all about fingerprints and software

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ZNF regular Chucky shares some satircally exclusive details regarding rumors that Apple has pitched the cable industry

In a stunning anouncement, Apple has reached a deal this morning with almost all US major MSO’s to offer cable service via the magical new Apple TV Pro.

All cable billing for the Apple TV Pro will take place through iTunes Billing, with Apple taking their god-given 30% tax off the top, and an ‘Expanded Basic’ sub priced at $220/month, and HBO at $80/month for consumers.

Eddy Cue of Apple was quoted as saying, “We decided to way to get the MSO’s to get past their iTunes billing objections was to stuff their mouths with gold”.

Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast, was quoted as saying, “That Tim Cook really understands supply chains. This is a great deal for…” Roberts attempted to continue his statement, but collapsed in uncontrollable laughter.

The magical Apple TV Pro will feature live cable TV, AirPlay, and Siri, but no DVR. Tim Cook was quoted as saying, “We think we have the cash to run saturation Sam Jackson and Zooey Deschanel ads to get folks beyond their irrational attachment to the DVR.”

developing… Continue Reading…

Transformers: Dark of the Moon. It’s either a giant robot movie or the next Twilight film. Now we’ve got a full-length trailer that answers that question.

Shia LaBeouf is back to periodically interrupt all the anthropomorphic car action with nervous stammering and John Turturro is back to finish the job of burying all the good memories we had of him in Coen Brothers films from the 90s. Megan Fox is not back. I’m sure we’ll all miss… whatever it is she did in the first two movies. All I recall is that she arched her back in front of a car one time.

So what do we have in this new trailer? Transformers. On the moon. Except when they’re in DC blowing up monuments. We also get music that sounds suspiciously like a mashup of the film scores from various Christopher Nolan movies.

What we don’t get in this trailer is cutesy Shia LeBeouf quips. Maybe he won’t talk much in this one? Maybe we’ll get less boring human stuff and more repetitive Optimus Prime robot punching?

That’s the genius of Michael Bay. He answered one question only to leave us with more. See it July 1.

I was a history minor in college which means a bunch of people unfairly expect me to know something about history.

But I don’t actually know much history and Immortals isn’t burdened with those expectations. Combined, these facts allow me to accept a version of Ancient Greek events that includes a flaming whip attacking a male Statue of Liberty and bad guys with crab helmets. It seems likely director Tarsem Singh and I both only completed our history minors because we had a bunch of AP credits from high school.

You might know Singh as the director of The Fall and The Cell. The Fall has been in my Netflix queue for awhile now and The Cell had Jennifer Lopez. It’s inexplicable I haven’t seen either yet.

Immortals comes out November 11th of this year and stars Henry Cavill (the guy cast as Superman in Zack Snyder‘s Man of Steel) and Mickey Rourke (the guy who looks like he got punched in the face a lot by Superman).

Caution… potential movie spoilers ahead.

Many characters in film and television have wrestled with the question, “Does she really love me for me?” But only a select few, including Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) and that guy from Quantum Leap, have had to answer it in another dude’s body.

Source Code, Duncan Jones‘ sophomore directorial effort, after debuting with the vastly superior Moon in 2009, is the kind of movie where you can sort of accept the things that are happening on screen until people start trying to explain them. Our hero, Captain Stevens, wakes up on a train and spends the rest of the movie exploding for a good cause.

Stevens is part of an experiment that transports him back to the last eight minutes of one passenger’s life on a Chicago commuter train to figure out who placed the bomb that wiped out everyone on board. Nothing Stevens does can affect the outcome in his own timeline, so he’s strictly gathering information to thwart a possible future attack. Every time his host body dies, Stevens is forced back on the train to try again. Think Groundhog Day meets Seven Days. Continue Reading…

Entering the Atrix

Guest Blogger —  January 17, 2011 — 6 Comments

By itself, the Motorola Atrix was but one of the dozen or so large-screened Android smartphones that invaded CES 2011, but what really set it apart was its lapdock accessory. This clamshell combination of a full-sized keyboard, screen and battery allow the Atrix to function more like a Linux smartbook.

Extending the processing and connectivity of a smartphone to notebook proportions is, of course, not a new idea. The pre-Elevation Palm sort of tried it with the Foleo, which was a mostly independent device and in some ways a closer ancestor to the BlackBerry Playbook. Celio implemented it with the Redfly, although that product was tied to the unpopular Windows Mobile OS and later BlackBerry, where it was poorly integrated. Rather than a dock, both solutions were able to use bandwidth-constrained Bluetooth to pair the input and output enhancement to the phone. In the case of the Redfly, a cable could also be used.

The Atrix 4G lapdock solution seems like it will work better than those approaches, but in the excitement over a smartphone that can apparently transform into a laptop, I think we’ve been too quick to overlook the lapdock’s strange design, in which the Atrix is docked behind the screen. This allows for easy connection and disconnection of the smartphone, but it doesn’t allow for use of both screens simultaneously. More importantly, it doesn’t allow you to easily transport the docked Atrix within the lapdock. I’d be surprised if a competitor taking a crack at this didn’t make it so that the phone is inserted securely inside the clamshell, allowing for sufficient ventilation, of course.

This post syndicated from Ross Robin’s Out of the Box. Ross is executive director of industry analysis for consumer technology at market research and analysis firm The NPD Group, a columnist for abcnews.com, and senior columnist for Engadget.

It’s a weeknight. You’re at happy hour when suddenly your internal “I’m too old to be up this late on a school night” alarm goes off. So you say your goodbyes and head to the metro to make your way home. Except you get there just in time to see the train pull away from the platform dooming you to a 20 minute wait. 19 minutes later your friends show up from the bar and get on the same train you do. It’s only 20 minutes wasted, but it’s the principle of the thing. It’s not fair they’re going to get home at the same time you are.

Apps like the Washington Post’s DC Rider are doing what they can to eliminate this minor injustice for Washingtonians. Provided you have a smartphone, of course.

The DC Rider iPhone app layout is simple enough. You’re presented with the standard DC Metro map. Touching a station brings up a webpage inside the app with the arrival times for that station updated in real time.

What the app does isn’t particularly groundbreaking – it’s pulling information directly from WMATA’s website – but it’s free and more efficient than their mobile page which isn’t very user friendly. The app also comes with a few interesting bonuses. Continue Reading…