Nokia Lumia 810 and 820 review

Nokia managed to implement Windows 8 Mobile into a sleek, modern handset that’s comfortable to hold and use. The use of tiles makes one handed use of the phone easy and efficient.

What’s not so great about the Nokia Lumia 810/820

Public Wi-Fi

Connecting to Wi-Fi should be easier. It takes 4 steps to connect to a Wi-Fi signal. The steps are swipe left, swipe up, settings, Wi-Fi, choose signal. This is particularly irritating since Nokia does not have an agreement with public Wi-Fi providers such as AT&T to bypass the confirmation screen automatically. The result is no connection is made without user intervention. By contrast, the Samsung Note on AT&T connects automatically to AT&T public Wi-Fi and does not time out and disconnect. This means synching, updates, and other alerts are automatic once you are in range of an AT&T Wi-Fi hotspot using the Samsung Note. It’s unclear if this is an AT&T feature but the Lumia 820 using AT&T did not auto connect to AT&T’s network. If an app requiring an Internet connection launches and there’s no connection, an error displays instead of prompting the user to connect using an available Wi-Fi connection or reverting to the wireless connection. This happens even if the user is connected to Wi-Fi but has not clicked the acknowledgement screen yet. The result is the user is stuck in this no man’s land where the device will neither connect to wireless nor connect to Wi-Fi without some user intervention. This can be prevented by turning off Wi-Fi but doing that will run up your data usage and prevent you from taking advantage of public Wi-Fi hotspots. These kinds of minute refinements are signs of an immature operating system. Both iOS and Android went through these growing pains but they had years and millions of users to refine the process. Windows 8 suffers from this lack of refinement.

Both the Lumia 810 & 820 has an irritating habit of timing out and disconnecting from Wi-Fi after some predefined period. If you’re connected to a public Wi-Fi which required an acknowledgment, your connection will stop working until you re-confirm. It will even disconnect in the middle of downloads. This is not a public Wi-Fi policy issue as my laptop, tablet and Samsung Note never disconnects from the same Wi-Fi. It appears to be a combination of the Lumia and public Wi-Fi as the Lumia connected to a private Wi-Fi network does not disconnect.

On both the 810 and 820, when trying to connect to AT&T’s (Starbucks) open Wi-Fi, the user is sometimes presented with the web page www.msftncsi.com/ncsi.txt instead of the usual Starbucks welcome page. While I know enough to change the url to www.yahoo.com to receive the Starbuck’s Wi-Fi acknowledgement page, your average soccer mom will just be baffled and sit there with a blank stare wondering why there’s no connection. Looking at the explanation for ncsi, I am convinced this is the evil spirit of the dreaded Windows Vista coming back to haunt Windows 8 users.

Apps

Although Windows 8 Apps are limited (35K+ vs 700K iOS and 675K Google Play), essential apps include: Facebook (by Microsoft, not Facebook), Twitter, Shazam, Skype, Yelp, Groupon, iHeartRadio, Weather Channel, Amazon Kindle, foursquare, IMDb, Netflix, Flickr, Fandango, & YouTube. If there’s a particular must have app for you, check for availability before adopting this new ecosystem.Here are some apps that I use but are nowhere under Windows 8: Flipboard, Waze, Instagram (3rd party only), Pandora, and Snapseed.