Nokia Lumia 800 as a Remote Office

, posted: 16-Apr-2012 12:58

This is my first blog post for Telecom and Geekzone and I’m going to evaluate the new  Nokia Lumia 800 smartphone, on Telecom XT network, in my busy world. I hope to guide you to getting better value from your smart phone if you are a sole trader, small business exec or if you’re just busy enough to want a PA some days. 

In my previous post (Nokia Lumia 800 as a PA), I covered getting setup with a new smartphone for a busy person. Today, I have a look at how to spend more time with your customers and work remotely using just the phone and some low cost software. If you have less than 10 people in your organisation, you will save a lot of money working as described here. I am available to help your business setup and use the services described here.  

Small Business Offices of Today  
For many years, I have worked in some capacity where visits to small business offices were routine. In these kinds of organisations, spending money on current technology and working smarter, not harder, has traditionally been limited by software licensing fees and the like.  

In these cluttered environments, desk time is required daily and that also means less time on the road or on-site. For remote access to files and emails, I tried Microsoft Small Business Server, SMEServer and other home office based remote software always arriving at the conclusion that the Internet connection was too slow, in at least one direction, for remote access.

The only solution it seemed was to have the files on a higher speed network somewhere out there, on the Internet.  

Small Business Offices of the Future  
Many software companies offer software as a service (SaaS), over a secured Internet connection; pay per month, per user for example. An example of which is an Office365 account, from Microsoft. Each user account (on the Plan P1 subscription) gets 25GB of space made up of a mailbox, private and public website and some application rights for around NZ$10 a month. The only requirement being a domain name per organisation (as little as $10/year or it can co-exist with your current domain name).

The combination of applications on offer let most users do most things they usually do with Microsoft Office. The private website allows users to share and manage files, the mailbox has an instant messaging client, calendar and contact management and you can download discounted or free software or use the web applications. The web applications are versions of Microsoft Office applications that only need Internet Explorer to run. The public website is a simple, wizard driven template affair – enough to get your name and basic business details ‘out there’ - here is mine: www.arcainsula.co.nz - like I said, basic and functional.  

The big corporations have started to embrace this way of working because they can see the benefits quicker, small businesses will follow as demand brings the price down and they'll never look back to servers in broom cupboards. As this happens, the information everybody needs is available from anywhere to the right users whether they are suppliers, customers or staff.  

Nokia Lumia 800 and Office365
After the initial setup of the Office365 service, I found the Windows Phone ‘Office365’ app under applications, a free client. From the smartphone, access is granted to the same information as the office desktop: email, calendars, contacts, files and applications are easily avaialble.

The office work is synchronised immediately as the desktop computer optionally saves files directly to the private web site as much as the Nokia Lumia 800 does, which means everybody can see the same updated document, from anywhere a modern browser can run; like on the Nokia Lumia 800.  

Navigation of the Office365 application is easy with the quality of the Lumia 800’s screen. Due to the size of the on screen ‘keyboard’, though, I cannot edit a document easily, but I can definitely view any of my company’s saved documents in the most recent Microsoft Office formats. For documents that are not made with Microsoft products, PDF files for example, applications exist in the marketplace to support these formats. So far I have only needed an additional PDF reader, which is a free download and works without any problems.  

The Nokia Lumia 800 synchronises all contact information from the Office365 account and this is the same contact information the office desktop will have via the Office365 included Microsoft Outlook 2010 Client, which means contact details are always at hand and always current and most importantly, backed up by this replication. The same applies for email and calendar information; available anywhere and always replicated out.   

This 'always replicated out' also means that any newly acquired Windows smart phone or desktop can be setup in minimal time and have access to the most recent versions of any document, contact detail or calendar appointment once connected to Office365. This really pays off when setting up new workstations or replacing lost or broken smartphones.  

As a Remote Office  
The Nokia Lumia 800 and Office365 combination allows me to work from anywhere an Internet connection is available (the office WiFi or Telecom XT for example). And by work, I mean 

- contact anybody who knows somebody I know (via Office365, Facebook, Linked-In et al.) and see all their - most recent posts, details and social or professional inclinations prior to hitting dial,
- read emails and  view all the types of attachments I received over the trial period,
- view, organise, manage and make minor amendments to Micrososft Office documents,
- view, organise and manage other documents (like PDFs),
- view, organise, manage and make changes to calendars, task lists and contact details,
- get guided instructions to any address or location in the world (and make meetings on time).  

I found some Office365 limitations around document uploading and management which can be easily overcome with a SkyDrive account from Microsoft. This service is a free remote store, like DropBox, which has a native client on the Nokia Lumia 800 and a desktop client via web interface or mapped drive. I use this store for all non-work related content as I am the only person who has access to this facility. The tight integration allows for taking photos and havng them automatically upload, for example.    

In Summary  
Your small business will quickly become an agile player with this low cost, high tech way of working. This smart phone will allow you to look up old quotes, previous supply agreements and scanned invoices, for example, while on the road. Don't stop there, have a few basic powerpoint slides setup for any imprompt presentations or learn how to setup and use a SaaS applications like Psoda for project management on the go or Xero for billing from the road, for example.  

My next post will share my experiences of using the smartphone to better my interaction with my kids in an educational and fun way.  

Best Use Hints 
- Services like LinkedIn offer additional features at low monthly costs as do most SaaS providers if you feel you need more power or feature per dollar. 
- If you are having troubles, check you have good connections where you are or opt to 'offline' important documents for meetings that may be in areas of dodgy coverage.
- Encourage your clients and suppleirs to share your office wifi as much as you have access to theirs, they will gain from low cost, mobile productivity as much as you will.
- Most SaaS providers will give you a trial account for up to 30 days, take advantage of this to ensure the application works for you as much as you get the first month free.
- Keep a spare charger in your car, always.
- Practice presentations and 'rehearse' client meetings if you are going to use technology to present your product or self (but you know this already, right?).
- Compare network offerings prior to long term plan commitments to make sure you have coverage where you work - some mobile companies offer month to month plans, take advantage and trial the technology before committing.
- Compare your current data plan's actual use before switching or upgrading to a new plan.  

Pros
- Tidy seemless integration and easy to use basic office access.
- Most SaaS applications are low cost and well supported.
- Easily shaves an hour off most days, often more.
- Telecom's XT network is well suported in Hamilton and other big centres and the smartphone allows for offline files when working really remotely.  
Cons
- Some minor improvements in some applications could be rounded out in later patches but I was hunting for bugs and testing everything, something most users won't do or find.
- When using this type of feature set, battery life needs to be monitored and managed. 
- Screen may be too small to create or edit Office documents but is perfect for reading.  

Still worth 4.5/5.0 if I had a awesome-o-meter.

About the author:
Hi, my name is Gund Wehsling (gundar on Geekzone). I am a freelance ICT contractor in Hamilton. I also share the care of my two year old twins out of work hours and support local community groups with the little spare time I can find. I have had several smart phones over the years and find them to be very helpful when used as a business tool. My expectations of the Nokia Lumia 800 are high given the hype and fanfare that was the launch. In my blog posts I will share experiences using this mobile phone as a tool in a busy and demanding lifestyle. Meanwhile, if you need some experienced long or short term ICT help, my contact details are here: www.arcainsula.co.nz



Nokia Lumia 710: The Good

, posted: 10-Apr-2012 12:12

I wanted to end on the Good.

There are lots of good things about the Nokia Lumia  710 and the Windows Phone OS.

There are things that I will really miss when I move back to the Samsung Galaxy SII.

I’m in love
The things I love are the screen. I really find the screen a pleasure.  And in fact it’s my choice first thing in the morning to catch up on email, Twitter and Facebook from the Lumia 710.

Launching the camera by pressing down on the shutter button, and being able to take a photo by pressing the screen are just simple things done really well.  Clearly someone was thinking.

The feel
The phone just fits so nicely in my hand. It’s a good feel. It’s not heavy. You’ll notice it in your hand. This is good in my opinion. The shape is really good too. It’s curved, it’s designed well for your hand to mould around it. Pressing the power button while holding the phone in one hand is easy to do. There’s no strain to reaching the button.

Camera/Video
The camera is good, really good. It's 5MP, not the highest spec’d camera but it does a great job. Videos also are smooth and play well on the phone.

And the icing on the cake is that you can automatically upload to SkyDrive, a free 25 GB storage service from Windows Live. 

Ok, this is going to use some data, but the convenience when you’ve got limited storage on your phone makes this a smart move.

Setting the Quick Share Account is a nice touch.  And the best thing I like is that whatever you’ve typed as the “status” is there to be reused if you choose to send the same picture to another service.

Nokia Drive
I know I’ve mentioned in another post strange directions, or that the notification of you reaching a street is just marginally off, but for all that Nokia Drive is a fantastic piece of software, and it’s FREE.  I can’t believe you can download maps from other countries …. FREE!

This is a huge deal for me.

And I know for my mother-in-Law this application alone will be the deal breaker for her. This one thing will be a life saver to her navigation challenges.

The other thing that goes hand-in-hand here is the GPS.  GPS is just so quick, and accurate.

Groups
I’ve really enjoyed the ease at which I can keep up with specific people by adding them into a specific Group.  This is an excellent way of weeding out the pieces of information that make sense to read together.

I find it so useful to see this live tile flicking over the recent Tweets that have been going on, and from there I can easily decide if I want to select the tile and delve further into the conversations/information that is being shared.

People
Something I wish would be integrated into Android is the cleverness of being able to “mention” on Twitter, write on the Facebook “wall” or email a contact right from the contact.

Another nice touch is the ability to “map” the home and work address. You can then use your current location to get to the End address (the address of your contact).

Not rocket science, but it’s done really well.

The other cool thing I’ve just discovered is as you scroll through the directions the map changes to keep up with where you’re at with the driving instructions. This is slick. And with a single press of the button the map is added as a tile to the home screen.

Wrap Up
Nokia has some great arsenal up its sleeve. You can’t go past some of the free applications it's developed and still developing.  They have beta testers, real people in the real world using the phone and applications in real situations. They are providing feedback to Nokia who then fine-tune the application ready for deployment.

But all this goodness isn’t much use if you’ve got a fickle provider.  Telecom has a great network on Telecom XT, a stable reliable network that provides service in parts of the country that I’ve not seen with other providers.

When you spend decent money on a smartphone, you want to make sure you’re going to enjoy the experience when you’re out and about.  And to me Telecom makes perfect sense.  It was due to the extensive coverage I had where others had failed that won me over to porting my number.  Not due to this trial, I did it during another review.  And I’ve not looked back.

The phone is just half of the partnership. Make sure that you’re getting the best fit for your needs with your telco provider too.

About the author:

Hi, my name is Anita, on Geekzone and other social network sites I’m known as Neets, sometimes with a “_”, sometimes with “_nz”. I’m a proud kiwi living/surviving in Christchurch. I’m not blogging about this Nokia Lumia 710 because I need a new phone. In fact I love my existing Samsung Galaxy SII. When offered the opportunity to review the Nokia Lumia 710 I took it up because, in truth, it was an honour to be asked, but I enjoy writing reviews, I like learning new things and I’ve got a bit of a fascination about how far you can push smartphones. The brief is fairly simple, use the phone as much as you can and then write about your experiences. My reviews will be honest about the good the bad and the ugly based on how I use the phone, which undoubtedly will vary to the way anyone else uses their phone.



Nokia Lumia 710: The Bad

, posted: 10-Apr-2012 12:11

Remember this is all personal choice.  I know my frustrations may not be echoed anywhere else. I might be a lone solider out there.  That’s ok, I like individuality :).

So what’s not Ugly but still a PITA for me?
Zune, or should I say the method in which you copy files/photos to/from the phone/computer.

Zune makes no sense to me. But then I’m one for tinkering and rooting my Samsung Galaxy SII, for swapping files around via USB.  So I was expecting a similar experience, well at least for moving files.

So not everyone will be familiar with using the phone as a portable device where you simply drag and drop files from the phone to the computer and vice versa.  It seems basic to me.

I get why you’d have a piece of software like Zune, but I’d love to have had an option. Zune is a clunky way to do something that can be done in fewer steps.

Waking the phone
The only way to wake the phone up is to press the power button.  Yes this makes perfect sense. Buy why only that one button?

When you wake the phone the only things available is the date/time and a display of the number of email. All sitting on top of the background. You can see how you’re connected to data and a visual of the health of your battery.

Very quickly the screen goes back to sleep.  To actually do anything with the phone you have to swipe up to fully wake the phone up.

I’m unclear why the Windows button on the phone can’t be used for the same purpose.  Having just one way to wake the phone up just seems more restrictive than it should be.

The number of times I’ve been caught out by pressing the Windows button and getting a non-response are too many to count. So much for those promises that you’ll only do something 3 times and you’ll learn.

Of course it doesn’t help that the SGS2’s home button will wake the phone up in the same way as the power button works on the Windows OS.

Customisation
I’m finding the customisation somewhat limiting. I want to do more with customising the UI and I’m pretty much restricted to choosing a default colour for the tiles and moving the tiles around. Hopefully there will be some applications that will allow more personality to the phone.

Storage
I won’t harp on here, I’ve written an entire post to the limited storage on the phone.  I’ve just put in a 64 GB Micro SanDisk SD card in my SGS2.  Yes I’m heavy on usage.  This meant the limited space offered in the Lumia 710 was never going to satisfy my needs.

I find the lack of external storage capability a major drawback, in fact an oversight on the part of Nokia. I’m unclear why they didn’t include this.  Sure it would add a few more bucks to the price of the phone. Or maybe they wanted to encourage people to go for the Lumia 800 with 16 GB of space. But even 16 GB wouldn’t have helped me out much.

Refreshing applications
I’m yet to understand why Facebook doesn’t restart where you last left off. I’ve mentioned this before too. I’ll launch Facebook to see it appear at some historic post while it’s now actively searching for new content to display. Why? I would be happy if it started at the last post I had read.  I don’t know how it picks where to start from. But whatever the point, couldn’t it work out where I was when I shut the application down last and make that the new start point? Seems logical to me.

Twitter picks up at the most recent tweet.  I want Twitter to take me to where I last left off too. Sure it might have been many hours ago but life changes really quickly in the Twitterverse.  I don’t want to read the most recent update on a person’s account, it’s a bit like jumping to the end of a book to see how the story ends.

Of course there are other Twitter clients. I’ve been using the official Twitter client, and dabbling here and there with alternatives like Seesmic and Rowi. Others do pick up where you last left off. No more having the plot ruined by reading the ending first.

Threaded email
I find email another area where it’s counter intuitive. I have lots of Geekzone email for the same forum.  These email show in a threaded conversation. Typically I’ll go to the first email in the thread.  At that one time I’ll go through all the posts on the forum which means the other email in the thread are no longer of any value to me.

Once I’ve read the forum and used the back button to return to the email, I’ll press the rubbish bin icon to trash the email. And there are all other email notifications.  I wish that when you selected the last email and deleted it that it deleted the earlier emails.  Or at least had an option where you could choose it as a setting.  Yes I know you can press to the left of the “main” email notification and it will pre-tick all the child email and delete them in one hit. It just doesn’t work quite as smartly as I think it could.

Wrap up
Some of the things here might seem a bit nit-picky. Can I live with them?  Not the lack of external storage, but the other things are things I’d get over. I might not agree with the methodology, but I’d adapt. 

And to be honest, if I hadn’t had the Samsung Galaxy phones (I started with the original “S”) then I wouldn’t have given some of these things a second thought.

There are people who have moved from Android to Windows Phone OS. I’m not sure why, it doesn’t make sense to me, but clearly there are elements of Windows Phone OS that others are finding far superior to their prior experiences.
As the saying goes, “each to their own”.

About the author:

Hi, my name is Anita, on Geekzone and other social network sites I’m known as Neets, sometimes with a “_”, sometimes with “_nz”. I’m a proud kiwi living/surviving in Christchurch. I’m not blogging about this Nokia Lumia 710 because I need a new phone. In fact I love my existing Samsung Galaxy SII. When offered the opportunity to review the Nokia Lumia 710 I took it up because, in truth, it was an honour to be asked, but I enjoy writing reviews, I like learning new things and I’ve got a bit of a fascination about how far you can push smartphones. The brief is fairly simple, use the phone as much as you can and then write about your experiences. My reviews will be honest about the good the bad and the ugly based on how I use the phone, which undoubtedly will vary to the way anyone else uses their phone.



Nokia Lumia 710: The Ugly

, posted: 10-Apr-2012 12:10

I say in my bio below that I would be commenting on the Good, the Bad and the Ugly on the Nokia Lumia 710.  This post is dedicated to the Ugly.

Things that make no sense
Audible notification for Facebook.  Phone is in sleep mode. Swipe the notification away. Swipe up the wallpaper/screensaver for Facebook to automatically open. But it doesn’t open to the notification at all.  It’s just launched Facebook. You still need to press the notification button.  So what was the point?  You save one step. What’s the big deal?

Things I can’t forgive
This is a big thing for me. It might be my need for order and neatness and pegs that match colour on clothes hung to dry. I might have some issues. Deal with it ;-)

Why oh why does the screen have to have the next page just sneaking into view? This really annoys me, but perhaps not as much as the home screen with its wasted space:



The space used to display the arrow button to indicate that swiping to the left will reveal more:



Windows Phone users aren’t stupid, or at least not from what I’ve seen.  Why do they think you need to waste real estate by showing an arrow button?  So much about the UI is about swiping but nowhere else do I see this little “tip” pointing out the need to swipe to see the next screen.

After having used this “helpful” tip you end up at the list of applications and settings menu:



Here you get an arrow to take you back to the home screen and a search button. Why can’t the hard search button on the phone work here instead of providing a soft touch search button?  If the hard search button could be more useful (than just searching Bing) then you could do away with any on screen buttons. 

I can’t see the point of these buttons.  Someone must have thought they were vital to screw around with the UI.  Or to use 100% of the screen UI wasn’t important. Of course if they did use all the space the dimensions of the tiles would need to change.

I can’t help feel we’ve been robbed. And to the best of my knowledge there’s not setting where you can “hide” these on screen buttons if you decide you don’t need the “trainer wheels” and trust yourself to remember how to swipe left and right to reach the screens.

Annoyances
Here’s another design “flaw”, in my opinion.  I can’t use a USB cable with a protector case. Now admittedly not everyone is going to want a case for their phone. And perhaps not everyone will want to transfer files/music via Zune. And perhaps the “cheap” case I picked up on EBay isn’t the same as an official Nokia case. Perhaps it’s thicker than the official. But I cannot get the USB cable to connect into the phone. Charging the phone isn’t a problem though. Having to remove the case to connect the phone is obviously an annoyance.

Lack of applications
This piece of Ugly will undoubtedly become a non-issue in time. One of the requests was to use the phone like I would use my own phone. But I simply can’t. There are applications I have on my Android phone that aren’t available, or don’t provide the same functionality.

I seriously feel like my hands are tied. The Windows Phone OS only goes so far for my needs.  I’m trying to remain faithful using the Lumia 710 as my daily driver, which results in me missing out on things that I would have otherwise have had access to on my Samsung Galaxy SII.

Round up
It’s not that I’m not enjoying the Windows Phone OS Lumia 710 experience, it’s just that it doesn’t quite go far enough for what I want to do with a phone. I want to tinker, to customise and to have what I want now.

I’ve pretty much come to the realisation that the Windows Phone OS is not for me. But I think it’s a fantastic OS for doing everything it says it will do smoothly.

This is going to be a great phone for my mother-in-law who wants everything to work the first time in a fashion that is easy to follow and doesn’t constantly change.  The phone is smart, simple (but not stupid – other than the wasted UI space) and 100% dependable.

About the author:

Hi, my name is Anita, on Geekzone and other social network sites I’m known as Neets, sometimes with a “_”, sometimes with “_nz”. I’m a proud kiwi living/surviving in Christchurch. I’m not blogging about this Nokia Lumia 710 because I need a new phone. In fact I love my existing Samsung Galaxy SII. When offered the opportunity to review the Nokia Lumia 710 I took it up because, in truth, it was an honour to be asked, but I enjoy writing reviews, I like learning new things and I’ve got a bit of a fascination about how far you can push smartphones. The brief is fairly simple, use the phone as much as you can and then write about your experiences. My reviews will be honest about the good the bad and the ugly based on how I use the phone, which undoubtedly will vary to the way anyone else uses their phone.



Nokia Lumia 710: Working out with my phone

, posted: 4-Apr-2012 16:48

I have a phone case that is totally water proof. I sometimes swim with my phone and listen to music. It’s great but almost all of the time I am only able to listen to my own music while swimming. I know, I am so hard done by...

Well, I tried it with the Nokia Lumia 710 and to my surprise I was able to listen to the radio while swimming this time! Also I received several texts from my daughter while swimming. I know I can hear you all saying why would you want to text while swimming. I don’t but every now and again you need to always be on call.

I have found that the reception on this phone is better than my other phone. I have had no trouble with calls when in underground car parks, and some shops that I usually lose reception on my normal phone. I normally am not on the Telecom XT network if that is important.

It is so nice to have a 3.5 mm headset jack that will take any 3.5 mm headset. As I like many others have a certain headset that we only use on our phones or mp3 players. It’s very simple to set up your favourite radio stations, ready for when you want to listen while on the move.

I found it was easy to sync my music, videos and photos to the phone.

I enjoyed watching a movie while walking on a treadmill. Although the movie had been converted to be viewed on the Nokia Lumia 710 it was very good and I was able to watch the full movie without the picture quality being compromised.

My phone is my music and video centre on the move. I need to be able to enjoy both music and movies whenever I want to relax or exercise. I want choices and this handset gives me those choices while I am out and about.

About the author:

Hi I am Dreamy, a 54 year old mum of two teenagers. Ten years ago I didn't know how to work a computer, and my phone was a Nokia 3315. To keep up with my children's interest in everything to do with the Internet, xbox live, computer games, I turned on a computer and the rest as they say is history. Now I wouldn't be without my smartphone. Being connected to my children, my family and friends around the world. Able to read the news anywhere at anytime.



TelecomTech's profile

Telecom New Zealand
Auckland
New Zealand


Telecom Tech is a different type of blog. We're sponsored by Telecom New Zealand, but most of the posts here are from every day users like you.

We choose tech savvy Geekzone users to "test drive" the new handsets from Telecom New Zealand.

The team will post firsthand reports on using these smartphones on New Zealand's smartphonenetwork. Make sure to keep an eye on this blog. Who knows who might be our next "test drivers"?

   

Catch up on previous Telecom Tech reviews - read about the Nokia Lumia 1020Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Galaxy Note II, Nokia Lumia 800, Nokia Lumia 710 and HTC Sensation.





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