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Microsoft Windows Phone at CES

Jan 12 06:34

Microsoft the Sleeper Hit Of CES 2012?

Nokia Lumia 900
Microsoft's final Consumer Electronics Show keynote on Tuesday was criticized for not delivering much in the way of interesting news, but the software giant just might be the sleeper hit of CES. Alongside big trends at this year's show such as Smart TVs, new display technologies, apps, and Ultrabooks, new handsets from HTC and Nokia running Microsoft's Windows Phone software are impressing the crowds at CES.

Titan II and Lumia 900

HTC's Titan II and the Nokia Lumia 900 are two of the most talked about phones at this year's annual gadget fest. Both phones are being hailed for their impressive specs, hardware design, and it doesn't hurt that both are designed to run on AT&T's next-generation LTE network.

Titan II
Titan II
The Nokia Lumia 900 features a 4.3-inch AMOLED ClearBlack display with 480-by-800 resolution, 1.4 GHz single core Snapdragon processor, 14.5 GB onboard storage plus SkyDrive access, 8 megapixel rear-facing camera with Carl Zeiss optics, 1 megapixel front-facing camera Bluetooth 2.1, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and LTE connectivity.

HTC's Titan II is sporting a 4.7-inch super LCD display with 480-by-800 resolution, 1.5GHz Snapdragon S2 processor, 16GB onboard storage, 16 megapixel rear-facing camera, 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera, Bluetooth, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and LTE connectivity.

Wired argues that Windows Phones are the most exciting handsets at CES, and GigaOm expresses similar sentiments. PCWorld's own Ginny Mies said that with the Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone finally "gets the hardware it deserves thanks to its sleek design and responsive hardware. The HTC Titan II is impressing largely because of its 16 megapixel camera, although the 4.7-inch display and 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S2 processor don't hurt either.

Market Excitement?

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Steve Ballmer on stage at Microsoft's last CES keynote on Monday.

Analysts are also getting excited about Windows Phone. Morgan Stanley predicts that Nokia will ship 37 million Windows Phones in 2012, hitting 64 million by 2013, according to All Things D. To put that in perspective, Apple sold 46.6 million iPhones in 2010, and there were more than 67 million Android handsets sold that same year, according to market research firm Gartner.

Currently, Windows Phone isn't getting a lot of attention from smartphone buyers. Gartner in November said that Windows Phone accounted for less than 2 percent of the worldwide smartphone market for the third quarter of 2011. And the latest numbers from comScore give Microsoft less than 6 percent of U.S. smartphone users, well behind Google, Apple and Blackberry maker Research in Motion.

But with two new exciting phones from HTC and Nokia, could 2012 be the year for Windows Phone? We should find out soon as both of the new Windows Phones are expected to land on AT&T in the next few months.

For more blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation's largest consumer electronics show, check out PCWorld's complete coverage of CES 2012.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) on Twitter and Google+, and with Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

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Jan 11 03:10

The HTC Titan 2: A Closer Look at a Windows Phone With an Amazing Camera

At the AT&T Developer Summit on Monday, CEO Ralph De la Vega announced a slew of new phones including the HTC Titan 2, the first LTE Windows Phone. While LTE 4G is exciting and all, I was more interested in the Titan 2’s 16-megapixel camera. I got to spend some time with the Titan 2 and talked to HTC’s communication team about its development.

In the last year, HTC has stepped up its game in the camera department. First, there was the T-Mobile myTouch 4G Slide, which wowed us with its excellent image quality, intuitive camera interface and wide variety of advanced shooting features. HTC followed up with another camera-centric phone for T-Mobile, the HTC Amaze, which added the BurstShot and a few extra shooting modes. HTC extended this to its Windows Phones, starting with the HTC Titan and following up with the HTC Titan 2.

According to Jeff Gordon, the online communications manager for HTC, the company wanted to find a way to differentiate itself in the Windows Phone world. Microsoft doesn’t allow overlays (like HTC Sense) and requires certain hardware specs and features. The one area where there is some flexibility, however, is the camera and camera user interface.

The 16-megapixel camera has a F2.6 aperture, which is ideal for shooting in low light environments. It also has a backlit illuminated sensor. The camcorder can shoot up to 720p resolution video. Since the Titan 2 has a single core processor, it can’t support 1080p HD video capture.

Like the Amaze and myTouch 4G Slide, the Titan 2 has a slew of shooting modes and advanced features. You get a couple of hip-looking filters (like a built-in Hipstamatic app), panorama mode, BurstMode (for taking multiple shots in succession), an image stabilizer and flicker adjustment. There are also white balance, saturation, contrast and sharpness controls. HTC has gone above and beyond any camera I’ve seen in terms of shooting modes. Candle Light, Backlight Portrait, Night Portrait, Beach and Text are just a few of the shooting modes. There are also quite a few camcorder modes like Vintage Warm (sepia-toned), Vintage Cold (like an old black and white movie), Overexposed and Blue Tint. The camera interface is also clean and easy to navigate.

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Jan 10 04:07

Nokia Lumia 900: Windows Phone Gets the Hardware It Deserves

Nokia Lumia 900
The Nokia Lumia 900 is the Windows Phone I’ve been waiting for. After months of rumors and speculation, Nokia President Stephen Elop introduced the world to Nokia’s flagship Windows Phone at a press conference yesterday at CES in Las Vegas. I had the chance to get my hands on the Lumia 900, which is undoubtedly one of the hottest phones at CES. And yes, I was impressed.

Ever since the debut of Windows Phone 7 two years ago, I’ve felt that Microsoft was a little behind in the hardware department. That isn’t to say that the crop of initial Windows Phones from HTC, Samsung, and LG weren’t good, but it was hard not to feel like they were lesser versions of those manufacturer’s high-end Android phone.

When Nokia announced it would be hopping on the Windows Phone train, I was excited. As I’ve written many times before, I’ve always loved Nokia hardware--particularly the Carl Zeiss cameras--but I didn’t like the look and feel of Symbian. Windows Phone seemed to have the opposite problem: great OS, uninspiring hardware. Put the two together and they should make a pretty darn good phone, right?

The first Lumia phones we saw sort of fulfilled my wishes. The Lumia 800, the flagship phone for Europe and Asia, had that signature high quality yet durable Nokia build, but the display seemed a bit on the small side. Plus, it's missing a front-facing camera (even though the Mango update for Windows Phone adds support for dual cameras).

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