In the midst of all the review work for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 about a month ago, something unexpected happen. I was so engrossed with shooting and planning what to write that some small things have slipped my mind. One of them being my Nokia phone being left in my jeans pocket and did some acrobatics in the washing machine. It died. My fault, I destroyed it.
Alright, here is the full story. I came home on a Friday night after shooting at Bukit Bintang (click here for the full entry). I was extremely exhausted from my full day engineering work on site (if supervising construction work under hot sun is not tiring, I don't know what is), rushing to Bukit Bintang to meet up with Sanjit after work, and shot the streets, coming home close to midnight. Even after a full day out, I had plentiful things left in my mind to do before I call the night off: back-up photos from my computer into the external hard-drive to clear some space for the E-M5 photos, install the updated Olympus Viewer 2 to convert E-M5 RAW files, to transfer the photos from the E-M5 to my computer. As you can see, there are plenty of waiting times in between the backing up of computer files and transferring of photos from the camera, hence I decided, in that almost flattened state of mind, to do some multi-tasking so I can save some time. Bad, bad idea. The first thing that popped up in mind was to do my week long laundry. It did not occur to me that I had so many things running in my mind concurrently I have forgotten to even take my phone out of the jeans pocket. Laundry I did, and I did not realize the phone was still in the jeans pocket until I wanted to charge the phone battery. It was too late.
Now spare me the lecture of using the hair dryer or sun-bake the phone or whatever resuscitation techniques or myths that so many people have shared. The truth is, the phone died. Full stop. End of story.
The interesting part was, I felt no pain, or shock, mainly because I was soooooooo exhausted, my mind could not respond emotionally to the dead Nokia. Do not get me wrong, I loved the Nokia phone dearly, and I have never loved any phone that much before. Also, add to the fact that I just came home with a set of photographs shot with the E-M5, and the desire to see how the photos look on my 22 inch LCD screen overwhelmed everything else that night: not even my exhaustion or the grief for the dead Nokia can surpass the amazement as I pixel-peeped the images shot with E-M5, for the first time.
So the old phone was dead. I used a cheap Philips RM99 phone (which I have blogged before here) as my temporary back-up phone.
I was only fooling myself when I said I do not need a Smartphone. I know, I know, who would believe that, right? After using Nokia C6-01 for more than a year, having a smartphone has become a necessity in my life. It is time to find a replacement.
Here are my considerations in getting that new phone to replace my dead Nokia.
1) Cheap. There is no way for me to pay over RM1000 for a phone. I would rather use the money elsewhere. I cannot justify spending so much money for just a phone. No, I won't go for I-Phone. Unless they lower their price tag to below RM1000, but I think the world will end sooner than that.
2) Good Audio. I need my music on the go. I already have a good pair of Sennheiser CX300 earphones, so I need a good audio player to go with.
3) Decently sized screen, for photo viewing, and comfort of web browsing and texting
4) Small size and light, compact enough for pocket storage.
5) Reasonably good camera, with macro shooting capability.
6) It has got to have better overall function-ability and more powerful than my old Nokia, obviously.
Alright, lets just cut to the chase, and I was drawn to the newly launched HTC One V, an Android based phone, running on the latest OS Ice Cream Sandwich, with HTC Sense 4.0. The reason why I was attracted to this HTC, was because it ticked all the above-listed requirements. Most importantly, it fits my intended budget of not spending over RM1000. I am not going to bore you with the specifications and "hands-on preview", because you can find that everywhere else in the internet. Why would I want to repeat what others have done?
I was at the Pavilion HTC One Roadshow, and as I was fiddling the phone, I knew it felt right. So I made the purchase. Sometimes, it is about how the device feels in your hands, if it is right, you will know it.
I am a first time Android user, so I really have nothing to compare this phone to. The only smartphone I have used was the now dead Nokia C6-01, which I admit I was very happy with, running on the latest Symbian Nokia Belle.
The following are some image samples taken with the HTC One V's camera.
Camera specifications: 5MP, AF, 28mm wide angle, F2 lens, fast 4 frames per second shooting.
View from the outside of Ampang Look-Out Point, Hulu Langat.
Nasi Goreng Ayam
Glass Reflections. I do not like how the blue colour is rendered here.
Unhealthy sugary treats
Pudu Jail walls
Testing the 28mm lens. Well... not quite wide enough but, good enough.
Nonetheless, let me list down my thoughts and first impressions with this HTC One V, after using it for one week. Bear in mind those are my own opinion, so they are all entirely subjective.
1) I like the music player.
HTC marketed their ONE series phones with built in Beats Audio. Not surprising, because HTC owns a large chunk of share in Beats. Nonetheless, people who know will know that this is nothing more than a mere marketing gimmick, and the Beats Audio technology is really just the plain old "equalizer setting" to enhance the audio sound. There is no magic here. However, listening to what this HTC One V can scream out of my modest Sennheiser CX300 aging earphones, I dare say the audio is better than I expected in the first place. The sound quality is miles ahead of what I heard coming out from my previous Nokia phone, or even the much loved Olympus M:Robe MP3 Player. Oh, in case you do not know, my first ever Olympus consumer product was not a camera, but an MP3 player. And yes, Olympus used to make MP3 players many years ago, and their MP3 players were very good.
2) So and so camera
While HTC may have scored well with their audio capability, they may have oversold the camera part. The built in camera has F2 lens (wow.....) and "presumably" good low light shooting. To be honest, I was rather disappointed with the camera image quality. Images taken outdoors show plenty of "noise", which should not have been there at all. Those were not sharpening artifacts either, because I can tell them apart, believe me I can. And used in low light shooting, the camera is rather.... well, I am trying to find a better word, but I can't, so I am just going to be blunt and say..... useless.
3) Android-Nice !!
I am completely alien to Android, but it only took me one night to set up the phone, and installed all the necessary apps. I can see now why Android is gaining such a huge fan-base and followers. You can do so much with your phone, and my HTC One V is not even that powerful. It only runs on a single core 1Ghz processor, and 512Mb RAM. Nonetheless, I felt that the HTC One V specs is a lot more than I need. I do not play games, and I do not intend to play games at all with this phone. I want a phone which is still a phone, and does a little more, like web-browsing, personal organization (to-do notes, calendar reminders, etc), checking and replying emails on the go, and all the basic functions. I do not have high demands on the phone.
4) Cheap build quality
I have only been using thee the HTC One V, and the paint on the plastic cover at the back started to wear off already. I do miss my Nokia though, it was built like a tank. The back-cover on Nokia was all metal, and feels solid like a brick. HTC One V on the other hand feels more like a budget phone, and I guess that was intended to sway most people to their flagship overpriced model: One X.
5) Good Screen
The 3.7 inch super LCD screen is splendid, and I treasure the larger size in comparison to my older 3.2 inch screen on Nokia. I can type SMS text messages a lot easier without errors, and web-browsing has become more comfortable. Viewing images were good enough, though we all know larger screens would have been better. I must complain about the screen colors though. The colors appear too vibrant and over-saturated. They look almost cartoonish and fake to me. I would have preferred a more balanced and neutral color profile on the LCD screen, coming from a heavy photography background.
All in all, HTC One V is just a budget smartphone, targeted at those who do not intend to burn holes through their pocket, like myself. For that, I believe it is a very good smartphone, and performs its duty very well. Obviously I am not expecting any miracles, and no one should.
I seriously hope the camera on the big brother One X is much better than what I have in One V. Or else, Nokia Pureview with 41MP is going to roll everything over.