Six weeks with the Nexus 6

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Having spent over a year with a Nexus 5 I was itching for a new phone, something bigger (as the five inches of the Nexus 5 didn’t feel over-large) and had considered an iPhone 6+, a Samsung Note and a Nexus 6.  A month of dithering was cut short by the announcement that Google had dropped the price of the Nexus 6 to just over £300 so I bit the bullet and ordered.  This turned out to be a good move as the Nexus 6 has since returned to £479 on the Google store.

The first thing that struck me as I held it and tried to power it up was the sheer size of the beast.  It was remarkable difficult to hold in one hand and using it one handed seemed virtually impossible.  I’ve always been a user of phone cases to help with grip (and the protection makes a good backup to my accidental damage insurance) and I ordered a couple from Amazon.

Fortunately a case solved the slippery case problem and the phone felt safe and secure in my hand although it is now larger and slightly harder to slip into my pocket (I’m far too old for skinny jeans which would not accommodate the frame of the Nexus 6).

The screen in gorgeous and I soon got used to the size and quality of the display.  An extra row and column of icons on the homescreen have yet to be filled but the space is welcome when reading text in emails or social media.

Battery life is much improved over the Nexus 5 and I find I rarely have to charge the phone, even with bluetooth media playing and moderate use.  My Nexus 5 was usually dead by 3pm so having a USB charger in my office became a necessity.

Software on the phone is virtually the same as both are Google Nexus phones with stock Android and none of the nasty skins that plague the phones from other manufacturers.

Notifications are an area where the Nexus has lost some functionality with the removal of the Notification LED below the screen.  Together with the Lightflow app I could pick up my phone and know what notifications had come through without having to wake the phone (for example red light for GMail, green light for work emails).  This functionality has gone from the Nexus 6 but instead the screen does periodically wake and give a black & white display showing the lockscreen notifications.  Not quite as good but useful anyway.

Six weeks on and one handed use is still not easy but with practice and the excellent Google keyboard it is possible to send simple texts and status messages.  I don’t have the largest of hands but users with smaller hands will struggle with one-handed use.

Camera is excellent but the app is slow to load and slower still to focus.  I’m still hoping that software updates will improve this but unless you need to quickly capture a fleeting moment it is possible to live with this delay.  An example of the camera quality is shown below

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Another feature I find myself using is the always listening “OK Google” detection, although it took a couple of factory resets to get in working initially.  It isn’t a must-have feature or deal-breaker but again it’s useful to have there when you need it.

Six weeks in I love my Nexus 6 although I came very close to returning it initially as the size took some getting used to.  Of course now using the phone is second nature and I wouldn’t go back to my Nexus 5 (which feels like a toy phone in comparison)

Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or want to share your experience of using the Nexus.

Need a new laptop? You could do worse than a Lenovo.

I recently had problems with my laptop (read about it here) and I decided to treat myself to a new one.  After much researching I decided on a Lenovo Edge 15 because I’ve always wanted a ThinkPad (even if this is an economy version). Specs:

  • Widescreen 1366×768 screen (With ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5145 dedicated graphics)
  • Core i5 processor 450M ( Dual-Core )
  • 4Gb RAM, 500Gb hard drive
  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Wireless b/g/n and integrated 3G broadband

 

 

 

My thoughts: The screen has a matt finish as opposed to the glossy finish on consumer laptops.  I haven’t got a preference – my work-issued Dell laptop has the same finish and it is much easier to read under bright lighting.  The laptop feels very fast and responsive, and I’ve not come across any software that seemed to significantly slow it down.  The laptop comes with a suite of software from Lenovo for making recovery disks, backups, managing the wireless, battery and even a selection of on-screen indicators for volume, caps-lock etc.  The laptop plays games with very little fan activity and the laptop never seems to get hotter than lukewarm.  I’ve yet to use the integrated 3G but the Lenovo software pre-installed sits on the taskbar and manages all aspects of networking, disabling unused devices to save power. The keyboard is responsive, and looks good too.  For track-pad haters there is the ThinkPad pointer in the middle of the keyboard which can be used to control mouse functions if you prefer (though mastering this method will take some practice).  Layout of the ports is a little awkward with power and USB ports on the right hand, where they get in the way for right handed users using the laptop with a mouse. I’m impressed with the build quality and the materials used to make this laptop – it feels like a much more expensive laptop and a snip for £660 (£560 after Lenovo cashback!).  I’d recommend this laptop to anyone who is in the market for an all-purpose machine (and the 3G makes it good for use on the road too, subject to battery life).

Nokia N900 proof that a good phone is more than just hardware

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I was lucky enough to be given the chance to trial a Nokia phone for two weeks by womworld.  I chose the N900 because it supposedly represented where Nokia thought the future of mobile phones should be.  Of course since it was released we’ve seen the rapid evolution of iOS and Android, and even Nokia have even tweaked Symbian so the N900 isn’t quite the cutting edge mobile it was intended to be.What did I think of it?I have to say I was extremely disappointed.  In fact so disappointed that I didn’t use it for the two weeks of the trial – I soon went back to my Nokia 5800 which felt much more usable.  So where did Nokia go wrong?The build of the phone is very good (although a tad chunky) and feels well built and made of good quality materials.  The keyboard is small and fiddly but you soon get used to it (I’m sure Blackberry users find this too!).  The interface is fast and responsive, and similar in functionality to Symbian so most features are easy to find.Browsing – web browsing is a pleasure on the N900, whilst no-where as slick as using Safari with multi-touch on the iPhone, web pages are displayed well and navigation is easy (aided by being able to type on the keyboard).  The only criticism of the browser is that text fields aren’t highlighted when you type in them – and you can sometimes lose your place on a page.Messaging – this was where I started to fall out with the N900.  I live in Gmail and all my contacts, emails and calendar are in a single account.  My 5800 is able to sync contacts, calendars and my email if required using the Exchange protocol.  The N900 should have been capable of this but struggled to pull in my contacts, and then they didn’t show up until after a reboot.  I wasn’t able to get exchange sync working (and I wouldn’t even consider using POP3/IMAP on a high end phone in this price bracket!).Apps – although the Ovi store does have Angry Birds for the N900, there is precious little else in the App store (with the exception of the excellent Firefox mobile browser).  Whilst the Ovi store is generally full of low quality free apps and the odd useful but very overpriced app, there was virtual tumbleweed blowing through the N900 store – and this doesn’t seem set to change.Camera – the camera took good quality pictures – on the 50% of occasions they came out in focus.  It may have been because my test photos ended up being close up photos, but my cheapo 5800 has no problem with these shots (and the Share-online support is much better in the 5800 too).Interface – whilst Nokia has tried to embrace widgets, all you can add to the homescreen(s) are contacts, web-links and other static content -I couldn’t find anything worth adding or any dynamic content like Android offers.That’s not to say the N900 is a bad phone – but we’ve come to expect more from a modern high-end smart phone.  We expect a good selection of apps, a good camera, reliable push email and good text entry (or am I alone in seeking these features in a phone?).  The N900 would suit someone who uses their mobile as a phone, and perhaps just uses the camera, Facebook and texting.I’m sorry Nokia but you are going to have to do much better than this if you are going to hold your market share against the threat of Android and iOS!Photos taken with N900: