Lumia 950 XL - Microsoft really is pushing the bounderies

This is my first post in a very long time and for a special reason: the Lumia 950 XL and the Microsoft Display Dock coming with it a few weeks later. It's going to be a long post as well: you'll read about my experience with Windows Phone / Windows 10 Mobile so far and  about what I think of the new Lumia Camera compared to a few other high-end smartphone cameras (the LG G4, Sony Xperia Z5 Compact and the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge +). And I'll write about how Continuum has really surprised me, turning my smartphone into a small PC - I even wrote most parts of this post on the very same Lumia 950 XL.

I still have awkward memories of an interview I did on national Dutch radio shortly after the Nokia Lumia 920 arrived. I was seriously blown away by the device back then and in all my enthusiasm I really felt that it was only a matter of months before the "App Gap" would simply disappear since it was all so promising. Boy, was I wrong. It's about four years later and the gap is still there. The difference is: I don't really care that much about it anymore. Why not? 

Why I like Windows Phone - now Windows 10 Mobile
First thing is I don't really miss any apps on Windows Phone anymore to be honest. And that's not just because I simply got what I need on an everyday basis - Internet (doh), all social media, news apps that matter most to me, everything from Microsoft Office including Outlook - but also because I'm using the device in a fundamentally different way.

Secondly I guess I got used to the fact that developers won't be developing for Windows Phone in the first place - so if there's a new app from some kind of service, bank or store, you'll find it on iOS and Android first. This might change since Microsoft is promising easier ways to port iOS apps to Windows 10 Mobile but we'll have to see in howfar that will really make a difference.

In the third place because I notice that most of the newest apps are about marketing. Numerous firms choose to develop an app to inform you about their latest offers and you'll need to "sign in" to be able to make use of them - most likely asking much more of your personal data than you care to share. I don't particularly miss those on Windows Phone to be honest. 

Next, with Windows Phone I don't have to worry about virusses and other kind of spam or even hack attempts I do see too much on my Android devices lately (even if I'm running the latest software, have AntiVirus running all the time and never install apps from unknown sources).

Last but not least, I love the "live tiles" on Windows Phone - now Windows 10 Mobile. They are part of the experience that gives me the impression I'm working with something else than a smartphone. It's a smartphone of course, but it has developed into something that's so much more than that. In the past years, a smartphone has become an internet/social media device for one or gaming device for the other. And although you can get tons of serious stuff done on iOS or Android, the Lumia 950 XL feels more like a tiny PC in my hands than any device I ever used before.

A reason for this might be that in my daily life I work with Windows anyway, not with anything by Apple. But I don't think I ever got the same impression using an Android device. Don't get me wrong though, I still love using my Samsung Galaxy S6 edge + very much. It's just a different experience. As a smartphone the Galaxy usually is often even faster. As a workhorse however, I'd choose the Lumia without a doubt. This has doubled since I've seen how Continuum works (see below).

Different in Windows 10 Mobile
I've gotten acquainted with Windows 10 Mobile using the Windows Insider program on the Lumia 640 XL and after that I can really encourage everyone to do the same if you can't get your hands on the 950 for whatever reason. The differences with Windows Phone 8.1 are striking in terms of ease of use, especially as far as all the different settings are concerned. They're much easier to navigate and the search function in settings simply is the icing on the cake.

Mind you I live in a country with a very small language (Dutch) so there's not much use for me using Cortana yet let alone testing the service. I'm looking forward to that immensly, hope it will just be a matter of time before The Netherlands (and a large part of Belgium) can get acquainted with "her". 

A confusing experience however has been to see how some apps have changed or simply disappeared from what I knew from Windows Phone 8.1. Changed for one thing has been the "bracketing" option from Lumia Camera. This might be not at all important to many users, but proves to be extremely frustrating to others. And there's something else that has disappeared from the Lumia camera menu - you'll read more about it below.

Much to my surprise, HERE Maps and Drive seem to have vanished. Instead, I guess you're supposed to use Windows Maps which doesn't appear to be quite the same thing but it might be a matter of getting used to. Still waiting for HERE Transit to appear as an app I can reinstall on my Lumia 950 XL, no luck so far. Looking for HERE Maps and Drive in "my collection" in the store I was able to install both anyway, but that didn't work for Transit, since it doesn't work at all at the moment. Hope it's something temporary.

The Road Ahead
It's a well-known title, the book Bill Gates published in 1995 and in a remarkable way, Microsoft has found that road again. It's the road it appeared to have lost during the times Steve Ballmer was running the show. The die-hard Microsoft fans (and employees) didn't want to hear any criticism about Ballmer at the time, but even WindowsCentral is now brave enough to write that " Microsoft is back from years in the woods, fearless and full of ambition". Back from years in the woods... it suddenly says it all, doesn't it?

Still, Windows Phone was something Steve Ballmer can be credited for, having the guts to throw away the old Windows Mobile which was a never-ending disaster. Looking at it from that perspective, Windows Phone 7 was already promising and 8.1 really seemed to almost nail it. Meanwhile (after we never saw version 9), the mobile OS has developed into a mobile version of Windows 10 and it's looking better and better.

But "better and better" still isn't "perfect", like many are led to believe other products and platforms are. Microsoft seems less worried about being "perfect" than it is about being "improving". So its smartphone OS always looks like it's far from or not just "there" yet, whereas it has in fact significantly improved - even up to the point where you can even get the impression you're holding a small PC in your hands. Which appears to be where the road is leading.

Continuum
I have to admit I was a bit sceptical about Continuum since I didn't really know what to expect from the Display Dock Microsoft was promising those who decided to buy a Lumia 950 XL early. I received mine a few weeks ago and of course I couldn't wait to see what it would be capable of - even had to replace my old monitor which didn't offer HDMI.  So I installed the whole new setup, connecting my new monitor to the Display Dock, adding a keyboard and a mouse and finally connecting my Lumia 950 XL. Bam.

After the Lumia recognized me - I read a lot of complaints about iris recognition but my Lumia doesn't have any trouble with my eyes - it opened up a whole new world on my new monitor.  It's simply amazing to see a 24 inch monitor showing the information I usually got from my phone. It depends on what you choose though.

The "start button" basically shows the start screen on your Lumia, including an option to see "all apps". The amount of applications supported by Continuum is still limited though - what's not working will not be high-lighted in your screen. NetFlix for instance, doesn't work in Continuum (yet?)

Some of the available applications will show the same content in a similar vertical lay-out in the center of your screen - Facebook is more or less like that, although you'll see several menu options on the left side of the screen (you can't make a screenshot unfortunately).

Other applications however appear to be optimized already. Continuum shows Outlook Mail in a way that leaves nothing to be desired. And my Twitter client Aeries for instance (a must-have if you're on Twitter a lot), shows four columns spread over the full 24 inch of my screen: amazing! Just like the new Edge Explorer fills the screen and will play YouTube videos like if you are on your PC, even in Full HD - it's a bit startling when you realize this full screen presentation and speed comes from your smartphone...

Windows Maps is supported (but HERE Maps isn't, I guess I wasn't supposed to install it anyway). Seems like all of Microsoft's official apps are supported - including everything from Microsoft Office and you can even use Lumia Camera! - turning your monitor in the biggest electronic view finder you've ever seen. But still, this is all so much part of The Road Ahead that in Continuum you still can't use a lot of programs you are likely to use on your Lumia right now. 
What is it good for right now
Be that as impressive as it may at the moment, what's the practicality of all this? In my home, the Display Dock has now replaced my old laptop. Didn't do much else with it than surf the web, read social media and type some articles in Word or in the CMS from this club. So now I can hook up my Lumia and just get started where I left off.

So if you have your own desk in the office you could maybe even work with just a monitor and a keyboard there - bring the Display Dock (and cable), plug it in to continue what you were doing. Better even, get another Display Dock at the office if you can trust everyone there and leave a similar setup as you have at home.

At this moment in time however, I think everyone will prefer a laptop - not just because you'll have way more software available, but quite simply put: who still has his or her own desk at the office anyway? Still, the thought of my smartphone being able to replace my laptop in the future is exciting. In fact it has already replaced one laptop in my case, also because I'm curious to see how fast other applications will be available in Continuum.

Lumia 950 XL - design
High time to get to the phone itself by now isn't it? I decided to get it instead of the Lumia 950 since I do like its gorgeous WQHD (2560x1440 pixels) AMOLED display and Microsoft offering the Display Dock for the early adoptors made it somewhat of a no-brainer to me anyway. Also, I prefered the design of its buttons on the side and the camera on the back.

I got it about a month ago, just before Christmas - what a way to end the year. Package itself looks good, you'll find a charger and a USB-C type to USB data cable included, but you might miss a stereo headset. That used to be something producers were really proud of, nowadays you'll find less and less smartphones including one.

I installed Windows Insider right away and updated to the latest version (I'm on 10.0.10586.71 at the moment, even surprised to find an new update has been installed last night?). Very first impression: surprised to see and feel it was actually a bit smaller and thinner than the 640 XL I've been using before. The display is absolutely gorgeous and although the Lumia 950 XL is quite big it doesn't feel too heavy. I love the fact you can add extra memory and easily switch the battery.

The back cover: underwhelming
For that you'll need to remove the back cover, which is new for a Lumia device this high-end - but more than welcome. The quality of the back cover itself however is quite disappointing and a disgrace for the impressive price tag of the 950 XL. I don't mind the idea of having a plastic back cover so much (from the Lumia 800 onward I've had nothing to complain about its polycarbonate housing), but here Microsoft is pushing the boundaries of its customers acceptance.

Not just to protect the device but also to escape from this back cover I bought a Krusell transparant case and I've really been waiting for my Mozo back cover to arrive. Mozo is an official partner and its leather back covers definitely look fantastic as you can see here on Mozo Accessories.

A beautiful alternative cover like this should be considered a luxury, not something you'll be forced to buy since you feel the original is not reflecting the €699 you paid for the device. On the other hand, Mozo's covers make your Lumia look and feel so damn good you're actually happy to replace your cover anyway. Worse: since I'm really happy with the Mozo cover I don't want to use my Krusell protective cover anymore...

Now that we're on the subject of design, on the other hand the quite simple Display Dock simply looks fantastic and feels like a small brick - which is good! It offers tons of connection possibilities, of course including the USB C-type on the back to charge it and on the front to connect the Lumia 950 XL. Other than that you'll find two USB slots, one DisplayPort and HDMI. The Dock comes with the charger and a USB-C to USB-C cable you can't do without.

Under the display
First of all, I feel 32GB is minimum storage on a high-end smartphone like this - so I'm glad I don't feel forced to get a micro-SD right away. Since I'll be working with this device for at least a few years, of course I inserted a 64GB card (maximum storage extra capacity is 200GB). No doubt you already read somewhere the Lumia 950 XL runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor at 2 GHz. Combined with 3GB RAM I didn't notice any lag working with it until now. Some fear the infamous Snapdragon 810 will warm up the device - I never noticed it (unless when charging).

That's not to say it's always blazing fast - that depends on the applications you're running of course. Facebook is quite fast starting up in fact, but refreshing the content can be confusingly tedious at times, depending on how long you didn't use the device or open the app it seems. Generally speaking Windows Phone tends to give the impression to be just a bit slower than what you might be used to when you're working with its fastest high-end competitors. I don't do benchmark tests, I'm just writing about my own experience. Keep in mind I'm comparing it with the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge +, which is extremely fast.

So is the Lumia 950 XL "too slow"? Definitely not. It works fast and fluent and the only thing I find a bit worrying is that I'm confronted with occasional restarts without notice. This is probably because I'm on the Windows Insider program, not working with the latest "official" software (I have no idea whether this makes a difference or not, I'd need two devices to check). It would be welcome if it would send some kind of signal if I need to re-enter my pincode though. The fact I'm running even newer software than I thought gives me good hope there will be no more occasional restarts. Microsoft really is improving Windows 10 Mobile fast these days.

Lumia 950 XL camera
You're reading this at the SmartCam Club, so of course you're looking forward to how I've experienced working with Lumia Camera so far. I've been able to do some shots comparing it with a few well-known contenders: the LG G4, the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact and the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge +. 

Now you might know I'm always completely open about the way I work and about the mistakes I make along the way - that one facepalm moment I never appear to escape from. In this case, I only noticed the Galaxy S6 edge + was on 6MP instead of 16MP, making its contributions to quite a few comparisons I've been collecting over the past weeks completely worthless.

Nevertheless, first I'll share the five scenes I captured with the Lumia, LG and Sony below, showing crops from all three devices. It's only from the fifth scene that I'll include the shots coming from the Samsung as well.

Just a bit more about the way I've gathered these results. For most of the time, I've been using the devices in manual settings, enabling me to get the "best" results. I didn't choose to use the RAW option possible in the LG, Samsung and Lumia. I might write a seperate post about what you may expect from these devices in that case, but I'm not too big on using RAW myself anyway - and I think most consumers aren't.

I always make several shots from each scene with each device and select the best results afterwards - from those I'll make crops to see how much detail they really offer. Some say it's "pixel peeping", but this in an industry where companies constantly brag about the amount of MegaPixels the smartphone camera offers.

In this comparison, they are not too far apart. The Lumia 950 officially has 20MP (19MP effective in 4:3, 16MP in 16:9 aspect ratio). Both the LG G4 as the Galaxy S6 Edge + offer 16MP. The Sony Z5 (I used the Compact version) however, boasts a 23MP in 4:3 and 20MP in 16:9. So on paper, it "wins" - and guess what: on DXOMark this sensor even wins first place together with the Galaxy S6 edge +. 

DXOMark ratings
I really want to get to my comparison, but I feel I should take a short detour to inform you about my conversation with DXOMark Mobile October last year. The club was closed, I couldn't inform you about it then and now is an appropriate moment. 

On Twitter, I've been asking what they base their mobile rating on, how they "rank the stars" since I really couldn't figure out how they "got the Nokia 808 PureView in 15th position, lower than Sony Xperia Z2/Z3 and Nexus 6." I got some answers by email, from which I will now finally quote in full:

"When comparing the photo scores in details, one can see that the Nokia 808 Pureview has indeed a better noise reduction than the Sony Xperia Z5, while being justly slightly behind in terms of details, mostly in bright light. There are other aspects however, which also affect the DxOMark photo score, in which the Nokia is clearly outperformed by the Sony. Most notably, the Nokia’s autofocus is rather erratic at close range, even more so when triggered with a timer, while the Sony’s autofocus is quite impressive and it is, in fact, the best we tested to date. This shouldn’t be surprising, as the 808 uses contrast detection technology, as opposed to phase detection used by the Xperia Z5.

Exposure and color are also less impressive on the 808 Pureview, with some over/under exposures in outdoor conditions and a noticeable warm cast under tungsten illuminants in low light. Thus being said, the largest contribution to the difference in ranking between the 808 Pureview and the Xperia Z5 is due to the video performances. The Xperia Z5 has an impressive video stabilization algorithm and an excellent video autofocus, while on the 808 Pureview stabilization in not very effective and autofocus is not very reactive and cannot reach macro in continuous mode. Videos taken with the Nokia in low light also show a strong temporal noise, which is instead very well handled on the Sony."

Well, there you go: according to DXOMark the 808 PureView is outperformed by the Sony Xperia Z5 - please note they do not refer to the older Sony devices I asked about - mainly due to its video performance. In all honesty, I "beg to differ', but I can't prove it a the moment since I sold my 808 PureView to a friend who missed his only device more than anything else (and I have more to work with). And although I definitely love the video I got from my 808, I can't compare it to the Xperia Z5 since I haven't been doing any video with it yet.

So let's get to the Camera Comparison and see how well the Xperia Z5 really performs against the competition.

Camera comparison Lumia 950 XL / LG G4 / Sony Xperia Z5
Below, you'll see the complete scene as captured by the Lumia 950 XL (it has the same sensor as the 950) followed by a crop from the same scene, compared to simliar crops from the LG G4 (second) and Sony Xperia Z5 (third). Here we go.

Crops 950 XL, G4, Z5



I'm not kidding you - the Sony Xperia Z5 is simply performing that terrible in this case. Some stupid ISO settings maybe? Well it chose ISO 160 where the other two were on ISO 50, but you can't change ISO settings on the Z5 when you're working with its highest resolution!? You can when working in 8MP, but for obvious reasons I chose to work with the highest resolution to compare it with the other devices.

Moreover, I don't think a result coming from ISO 160 should be this bad. Did I focus on another part of the scene with it maybe? Let's try. Again: Lumia 950 XL first, LG G4 second, Xperia Z5 third.



Well... Maybe the Z5 didn't focus at all (?), although I tried several times. I've been seriously considering to leave this example out since it's as bad as it obviously is - too bad to be true? Then again, I can't think of any reason to blame myself for this result, so I don't really see one not to share it here. 

But let's try to forget about this scene and move on to the next one. A few flowers from the same shop on the street.
Crops 950 XL, G4, Z5



More daylight, still a disappointing result coming from the Sony (all are on ISO 50 this time). Too bright on the LG G4 I might add, which might be my fault - should have chosen a shorter exposure time I guess, but it looked "right" in the display. Another crop from the same scene? Why not. Again: Lumia 950 XL, LG G4 and Sony Xperia Z5.



The Z5 is performing better maybe, but still way too noisy compared to the other two - and again it's a clear win for the Lumia 950 XL. 

Let's try an indoor scene from the office, as captured with the Lumia 950 XL - people working about 12 (?) meters below where I'm taking this picture from.

Crops: 950 XL, G4, Z5



It's the same result over and over again. Lumia 950 XL performing best, LG G4 in second place and Xperia Z5 ending last. 

As I wrote earlier, I captured the very same scenes with the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge + as well, not noticing that for some reason it was on 6MP. I screamed when I discovered this in the bar where I took the next four shots - and finally adjusted the Galaxy to be able to compare its result. You'll see the scene as coming from the Lumia 950 XL again, followed by crops from the Lumia 950, LG G4, Sony Xperia Z5 and - finally - the Galaxy S6 edge +.

Crops: 950 XL, G4, Xperia Z5 and Galaxy S6 edge +




It's almost a relief to see the last crop in my opinion. I have to admit I expected a bit more from the LG G4 in all cases, I'm now really enthusiastic about what the Lumia 950 XL is capable of and for obvious reasons I'll discard the Sony Xperia Z5 from this point. However: I will give the Xperia Z5 another chance using its "superior auto mode" soon - just to make absolutely sure I tried everything possible.

Directly after this I decided that from now on I would just concentrate on the Lumia 950 XL and the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge +, making sure I was using it in maximum resolution this time. I figured I might as well shoot RAW but then I saw that when choosing to shoot RAW on the Lumia 950 XL, you'll be limited to an 8MP JPG output. Another change in the menu that is beyond me. Maybe the option to shoot both max .JPG and RAW has been left out you don't use too much space or something? II'll get in touch with Microsoft about it (hope they're reading this).

HDR coming back to the Lumia Camera UI
Regarding the matter of simply removing bracketing in an update of the Lumia Camera application, on January 15 I got this reply from Jeff Day, PM Lead for Windows Phone Camera Platform at Microsoft.

He wrote: "I made the call to remove bracketing because it was a bug farm—expensive to maintain and of low value for 99.9% of users. I know there are passionate pros like you that are upset by this change. The feature was originally added in lieu of HDR, but as we now have HDR and are soon adding UI to allow you to force HDR capture, and because bracketing gets such low use, I made the call to remove it."

Sharing this on my Twitter timeline has been infuriating some readers, since there are more ways to use bracketing than only for HDR. Some shoot the same scene with different exposure settings to be sure they get the best result in a relatively short time. Also, the question is how Microsoft actually "knows" that only 0.01% of its users care about bracketing. Anyway: the announcement that they'll be "adding UI to allow you to force HDR capture" (like it has been in Rich Capture anyway) has been welcomed as good news.

Before I continue, there was an other issue I asked the imaging team about: the fact that the on-screen menu buttons were always "in the way" when shooting 16:9, leading to a wider result than I actually thought I framed. For that the solution appears to be simple, as Jeff wrote: "swipe your finger in from the edge to hide the windows controls and your viewfinder will become fullscreen." Simple as it may be, the solution never occured to me when using Lumia Camera, so hopefully it will be of help to you as well.

Lumia 950 XL vs. Samsung Galaxy S6 edge +
If you have made it this far and read everything I have nothing but respect for you.. Some of you may wonder where the most important competitor is in this comparison. Since I don't own an iPhone, the next shot I'll share is from a lot of apples in a supermarket. I will share both the result I got from the Lumia 950 XL as the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge +, followed by the crops in the same order.


Please note I didn't get the exact same angle in this case.  I don't think it accounts for the much more "shiny" result the Galaxy gives me, and the bit more "dull" (or "realistic", up to you) shot I got from the Lumia 950 XL. Here are the crops I promised: 950 XL followed by the S6 edge +.


To be totally honest, I'm not blown away by either of these two results (but then again I'm not too enthusiastic about apples anyway :-) So I tried a few more scenes last week, if only to satisfy our curiousity. Again: full scene coming from the Lumia first and Galaxy S6 edge second, followed by crops from the Lumia and Galaxy (in that order). Here are the stairs from the office where I work. 950 XL first, Galaxy S6 edge + second.




Here, the first crop - from the Lumia 950 XL - appears to win showing more detail. Your mileage may vary, as they say. Last scene is completely different - a rare old camera in a shop, captured at night.




As far as the difference in colour is concerned, I have to admit I chose a different white balance on the Lumia (incandescent) which I forgot on the Galaxy. During the time I was concentrating on both, I noticed one important thing and I'm not sure what the reason is.

On auto, I have the tendency to choose underexposure when shooting with the Galaxy S6 edge + in its auto settings (it's extremely easy using the small slider in your screen), whereas I generally like to leave the settings as they are on the Lumia 950. However, when looking at the results on my PC, the shots from the Galaxy tend to be too dark, whereas Lumia appears to be too bright. So it's probably the display of the device at hand fooling me, tempting me to change settings in a way I maybe shouldn't. This might be something you should be aware of as well.

You should realize it's all about software anyway - more than anything else even maybe. If you look at the EXIF files you'll often see remarkable difference when using the same ISO settings. For instance, with the apples shot in the supermarket, both the Galaxy as the Lumia were on ISO 100 but the Lumia chose 1/67 and the Galaxy 1/30 of a second (I didn't change any of the exposure in that case). I must say I've been using the devices on their auto settings often, leading to quite different ISO choices as well. 

Final words
This review has become long enough as it is I think. By now, I have way more shots comparing the Lumia 950 XL and the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge +, since I feel these could very well be the best smartphone cameras on the market right now (as far as I can test that is, I'm reading good stuff from the BlackBerry Priv as well). I will be sharing those in a next post, but here's one you'll probably like already, coming from the Lumia 950 XL.

This was captured at the Louwman Museum in Den Haag and I can promise you there's a lot more where this came from - I will share all in a seperate post soon.

As far as the Xperia Z5 (and XDOMark for that matter...) are concerned, I think anyone is able to make up his or her own mind. Much to my surprise though, Sony has managed to again be very disappointing, even with their newest flagship it's been bragging so much about. 

Did you scroll down to the end in the hope of finding a conclusion? Well, the Lumia 950 XL is doing a fantastic job as a smartphone camera, actually better than I hoped for (all my experience with the 808 PureView and Lumia 1020 in mind). A bit to my surprise, I think it's certainly better than what the LG G4 has shown in this test.

I know some of you will be asking so here it is right away: no, I can't compare the Lumia 950 XL with the Nokia 808 PureView or Lumia 930/1020 simply because I don't have them anymore. I really like what I've seen from its camera until now, although I have to admit I'm surprised a few things appear to have gone from the menu. Maybe it's a matter of time before they will return (like bracketing or capturing .JPG in full res if you want to save the RAW files as well).

Would I advise you to get one yourself? No doubt about it, provided you're aware of its "limitation" as far as new apps are concerned. The cheap back cover is annoying as well, but at least there is a removable back cover on a high-end Lumia this time, (plus an exchangeable battery plus a micro-SD slot), which is something I really appreciate. Moreover, adding the Mozo cover to your Lumia definitely makes you enjoy your device on a whole new level.

I think I've demonstrated how good the camera is in combination with Lumia Camera, which still is waiting for some updates. Don't forget though, if it's the camera you're after, you might also buy the Lumia 950 which has the exact same optics.

You can find all the original shots from this post on Flickr. The fact however, I'm not just carrying a smartphone but in fact a small computer, proving it's power together with the Display Dock is something I can enjoy every single day. I don't think I ever used a smartphone much longer than half a year (except for the 808 PureView and Lumia 1020), but I really believe I won't be bored with the Lumia 950 XL anytime soon. 

About this club
Did I open the club again just for this post, or could this be the start of something new? I won't be posting here as often as in the past, but whenever I find the time I'll be posting about my experience with smartphones and other devices as well - compact or system cameras, whatever interesting gear I can get my hands on. So I guess the SmartCam Club is open again, I'm just not here as often as I used to be in the past. Nevertheless, my posts will all be on the house, as always. Welcome back.