Continuing with Continuum

Had a play with continuum these last few days and the verdict: It’s cool, but I don’t get it!

As I’ve said in a previous post Microsoft aren’t the first to try this trick of turning your phone in to your laptop or PC and for me I don’t see the point. The idea, I think, is to make your PC smaller, more versatile and flexible meaning you can take it anywhere. Reality is you need your phone, a mouse, keyboard, a monitor and Continuum plus all the wires that connect them. Not sure how Microsoft think this makes the phone easier to carry around?

Connecting Continuum up was super easy and it all powered up with no issues at all. I thought the idea of using your phone home screen as your start display was great. The dynamic twisting and turning of the app tiles worked perfectly and I was super impressed when loading and shutting down apps.

The big sell for Microsoft, at the moment, is the professional programs like Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. You get a scaled back version of these desktop apps, but you still get everything you basically need to do anything you want. I personally ran large files with over 15 years of financial forecasting connecting more than 6 spreadsheets and it work swimmingly. Something I didn’t expect it to be able to handle.

The multitasking was really quite buggy though. As the above image shows, whilst you have something on the big screen you can play around on the phone accessing other apps and continue what you’re doing. I found that if I tried multi tasking like this the Excel, Word or Powerpoint file would crash. One time I was on Skype on the phone discussing the spreadsheet in front of me and the phone completely froze and I had to reset the whole thing.

The first time I used Continuum I had a few user error issues with the mouse and the phone. You can use the phone as the mouse if you wish, but if you put the mouse and phone too close together things get confused very easily and the portable mouse wont work. It took a few curse words before I figured that one out. Very red faced!

For me one thing Microsoft has never struggled with is hardware. Believe it or not Microsoft have been in the hardware game a lot longer than people realise, nearly as long as Apple. They just didn’t make huge volumes of laptops or desktops. The devices they’ve always come out with have always had good looks and appeal (other than the Lumia 950XL that’s been hit with the ugly stick like the 1520). And again they’ve always had great software, but because Microsoft are so late to the smart phone/device market they’ve been left so far behind that they are really struggling to catch up. Even though they deliver great software and are trying to make developers lives easier with their cross platform technologies developers are still not really interested. And I feel this could happen again with Windows 10. With Windows Phone 7 and then 8.1 they still didn’t have many of the big apps and looking at the apps coming out no one is developing for Windows Phone and I don’t understand why developers are doing this. I’m involved in three big apps coming out this year in Fintech and Insurtech sectors and each one of them I’ve made sure will be available on Windows Phone. Though the numbers may not be as high as Android or iOS the users are loyal and deserve great apps.

Overall Continuum is a great concept, but reality is very different. I’d rather a good looking, solid and robust phone (which the Lumia 950 has in abundance and I recommend) and a fantastic bit of kit like the Surface Book or Pro 4. They’ve made these two so great I think that they’ve already made Continuum redundant.

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Lumia 950 Trial

On Thursday (my 32nd birthday) I received Microsoft’s new device the Lumia 950 as part of a trial they’ve asked me to do. As you’ll see in my last post I gave the launch of the Lumia 950 and 950XL  a real hard time, so it’ll be really interesting to see how they really shape up in my hand.

I’ve been in the Windows Phone ecosystem since the beginning with the HTC Titan running Windows Phone 7, which I thought was a great phone. I now have the Lumia 930, which I’ve had for a very a long time and is also a very good phone, however does come with a heating issue. I’m now looking at the new crop of Windows Phone devices so this has come at a fortuitous time for me to review.

So what did the lovely guys over at Microsoft send me I hear you ask? I’ve got the Lumia 950, Arc mouse and keyboard including Continuum with all the wires that connects everything up.

Lets first start with the Lumia 950. Overall its much better looking than its bigger brother the 950XL. It’s surprisingly light, thin and fits well in the hand. Overall, I’m quite impressed. It charged as quick as they say, so within half an hour I was ready to start downloading apps and heading in to town to give it a proper test.

The keyboard and arc mouse are as slick as ever, which leaves Continuum. As you’ve probably read in my last post the Lumia 950 and Continuum aren’t the first device to try and turn your phone in to a laptop or PC and I’m sure it wont be the last, but the way Microsoft have structured Windows 10 and the use of this little black box they call Continuum is different to everyone else. This little box is about 5cm square and for it’s size is fairly heavy. However, it’s very discreet, currently sitting under my TV in the lounge. It connects up very simple and I’m looking forward to giving it a thorough test drive.

Overall, I must admit, I am a lot more impressed with not only the device, but Continuum as well. Initially, I thought this was a Microsoft PR stunt, but looking at it they’re very serious.

I’m going to try and get a post out every day on my journey with this new phone and gadgets over the next two weeks so keep reading and keep coming back for updates.

Ciao…

Windows 10 Lumia and Surface Launch

Yesterday we saw the launch of Microsoft Windows 10 Devices. The categories that most interested me, as I’m not a gamer were the 2 new Lumia’s, Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book.

In this blog, 1 of 2, I want to talk about the Lumia 950 & 950xl. I was really quite disappointed and yet at the same time not surprised by the Lumia launch. For me this was a leftover from the Nokia overpayment. Fingers crossed the Lumia brand will disappear in the next 18 months as Microsoft, I believe, will release new flagship phones mid-late 2016.

I’m following the internet here and think the branding ‘Surface‘ is perfect for all their device names. It’s a cool name and forward thinking as it applies to every possible product they could create. It’s much better than Lumia.

950-940-800x450The phones themselves, are ugly. No real design has gone in to them like previous Lumia devices. For example I run the Lumia 930. It’s a great phone, good weight, great design with a great camera. The new Lumias 950 & 950xl not so much.

Other than how ugly they are I was really disappointed with the new feature of the sign-in. I realise that using the retina to sign-in is intriguing idea moving forward, however, according to other reviewers who have had the device in their hands, the phone has to be high up and close to the eye for it to work properly. For me it’s like the Google sign-in with your face feature it’s more a fad/cliche with no actual reasons to use it.

I’d have much preferred a stepping stone enhancement of finger print recognition to lock and unlock the phone like Google and especially the iPhone. As a man in Fintech I think it has been revolutionary of Apple to incorporate this in to the phone and I’d like to see Microsoft do the same.

android-features-heroI am also disappointed with the idea of linking the phone to a monitor and keyboard via a docking station. This may sound revolutionary, but Ubuntu have been doing this for years with their devices. Ubuntu even tried to raise a world record $32m for its Ubuntu Edge device, which actually looked really cool, think they managed to raised about $24m in the end. Not only did Ubuntu work with Android to make this happen, but Motorola got in on the action07-moto-webtop-accessories_610x377 with ‘Webtop’ that is available with your Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and up Motorola
devices. Not only could you link the Motorola Razr to a monitor and keyboard, but also a laptop.

The next step is quite obviously utilising the Cloud, especially Azure, with your mobile phone, I just expected more… but I don’t know what more… Maybe, like it always does, it comes down to the design of what they’re presenting. You have people working seriously hard to make products sexy and make us want to use them but the let down of how the Lumia’s looked really took the wind out of the sails for me and I think it will for their sales figures. And yes I did see there was a PUN opportunity, but come on reader you’re better than that.

Overall I’m looking forward to the hangover of Nokia sailing off in to the distance and seeing some great design coming in the next iterations and love the liquid cooling systems in the 950xl, but am still concerned with the potential of how hot it may get. I’ve personally sent 2 930’s back for overheating.

As a first mover on devices think I’ll have to wait for the next iteration of hopefully a SURFACE phone. However, don’t think this is the case for the Surface book or Pro 4.