Penguins!I don’t think blogging events come much better; free entrance to London zoo, lady of the manor and little monsters invited too, food and drink, a chance to meet reindeer and the icing on the cake a free phone. Unsurprisingly this was an event I said yes to very quickly both for the chance for a great family day out but also to have a play with a phone I’ve been curious about for a while.

Some of you know that I work in the tech industry, so Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are things I hear a lot about but have never had a proper chance to actually play with. If you follow the tech industry at all you’ll know that this latest version of Windows hasn’t had the greatest reviews but I’ve always wondered if that’s simply because the testers aren’t used to a system that relies on touch so much.

Once the lady of the manor was settled at the event with the children and a whole pile of toys we were given an overview of Windows 8 and handed a very bright and yellow Nokia Lumia 1020. Not my personal choice in colour but actually quite nice using a handset that wasn’t simply another ‘me too’ device. It looks and feels very different from an iPhone that’s for sure.

Having had a Windows phone now for a couple of weeks I’m going to sit on the fence a little and say I’m still undecided. It’s such a different design to Android and iOS (which let’s be honest are essentially the same) that I need to give it more time in use before deciding if I like it or not. Is different good or bad in this case is really the question. But no matter what the final decision it does have some really nice features.

Bright enough for you?

Bright enough for you?

Kids Corner

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has children that see their parents using their smartphones and want in on the action. I’m also sure I’m not the only one who has had a child send an email or text from said phone while playing with it. Technology is a good thing and has some great benefits to our children’s learning but sharing a phone or tablet with them isn’t always easy.

This is where kids corner comes in, you can set up a separate profile on your Windows 8 tablet or phone where you can choose what apps your child has access to. This means no more sending emails to your boss containing gibberish of course managing to rack up some costs through using apps etc.

On my shiny new Nokia this means swiping to the right once set up and another log in screen appears. Your child can then swipe up to log in as you normally would but they see only the features and apps you want them to see. Now I’m not how much I truly want to share my phone, I already resist doing this today but that’s mainly because a phone to me is personal. It’s ‘my’ device so I don’t want someone else using it, but maybe that’s an adjustment needed as phones get bigger and more powerful.

Windows phone home screen

But for a tablet this feature would be perfect, I’m sure you could achieve something similar on other tablets but the fact this is already built into the software makes it very easy. Plus I would expect it to be more robust set up this way than simply a normal profile and you adjust the settings.

Customised start menu

The tiled start menu takes a bit of getting used to, but in terms of being customisable it’s streets ahead of anything else. You can choose exactly what to see on that menu, what size it should be and where it’s located. I’ve gradually tweaked mine until I have all the apps exactly where I want them based on my usage.

The resizing in particular I like and how it isn’t just horizontal rows of apps, once you’ve used it for a while it feels like it’s more intuitive and efficient than what I have on my iPhone.

Henry at London zooThat camera

I can’t finish without saying something about the camera, it’s quite simply awesome. I’m still learning about all the controls and settings I can adjust but in its simplest form as a point and shoot (which let’s face it is the main use of a phone camera) it takes some incredible shots. You’ll see a few here taken on the day at the zoo, the focus is fast and the colours on this autumnal day were captured really well.

If you want you can play with the ISO, shutter speed, aperture etc much as you would with a DSLR. I haven’t spent enough time on that but it certainly gives you the opportunity to get rid of anything but a DSLR. Sure we’re probably heading that way already with smartphones but this should at least mean you don’t have to compromise on picture quality.

That’s all for now, I’ve also been testing out some of the children’s apps so look out for a review of those soon. That’s if I actually let Matilda touch my shiny yellow phone!

Me and my boy