Microsoft did a really great job of integrating the features I use most right into the core phone OS, so honestly, I spend most of my time using built-in Windows Phone functionality – but sometimes I have a need to get off the reservation. Here are some Windows Phone apps I recommend checking out (and you can download them to your phone from the links provided)…
4th & Mayor (Foursquare Client)
Amazon Kindle (I read free classics with expired copyright)
Avego Driver (neat idea, needs more users locally for it to work though)
BandWidth (checks your bandwidth)
Constitution (don’t leave home without it)
FlightAware (See that plane in the sky? Wonder where it’s from and where it’s going?)
GasBuddy (allows you to check and log real-time gas price data so you know a good deal when you see it)
Glympse (shares your real-time location with friends for a set amount of time)
GoPayment (allows you to accept credit cards for a 4% fee)
HealthVault (mobile app that ties into MS HealthVault services)
Love Clean Streets (See a problem? Take a photo and describe it, they’ll find out what authorities are responsible for correcting it)
Planning Poker (A tool for Scrum estimation meetings)
SkyDrive (25 GB of cloud storage)
SkyMap Free (To figure out what that star is…)
TouchDevelop (An experiment in scripting by touch UI)
Visual Studio Achievements (Get achievements for working in Visual Studio)
The Weather Channel
WPCentral (Great source for Windows Phone news)
Your Shape (Tracks your progress in Your Shape, Fitness Evolved for Xbox Kinect)
YouTube Pro (Allows viewing of HD YouTube videos with a Metro UI)
For a few months I’ve been brainstorming with my brother to find some kind of dashboard camera mount for my mobile phone so I could shoot 720p video while driving – without having to fuss with holding a camera – just set-it and forget it.
After looking at a variety of solutions that weren’t very good, I told him maybe I’d just get a Flip cam. The quality isn’t incredible, but it’d do the trick. That’s when he told me about GoPro cameras – I’d seen them before in reality shows on cable but it never dawned on me that they’d be affordable. Turns out the GoPro HD Hero2 retails for $299.99 (seems to be some price fixing going on because I never saw it for even a penny less online). Compare that to my MiniDV Sony DTR-TRV30 camcorder I bought a few years ago for $1,500 or so at the time and this seems affordable by comparison.
Amazingly, in addition to being able to shoot 1080p HD video, it also has some nice features for artsy photos, like the ability to take ten 11 Megapixel photos in one second via “Burst” mode, shoot high frame-rate video for slow-motion, and even shoot time-lapse videos. Something odd about the GoPro is that it doesn’t have a screen to show you what you’re recording – which is interesting because you just kind of turn it on and forget about it rather than experiencing life through the viewfinder as can happen with other cameras.
One of the things that really struck me about the video I had seen filmed with GoPro cameras was the quality of work shot by novices – which is really the point of this post, to show you the first two videos I recorded with my GoPro – ever. Both were shot using the suction cup mount I bought with the camera (waterproof and supposedly secure up to 200mph). The commute to work was shot with the camera suction cupped to my car’s moon roof. The return home it was suction cupped to the windshield under the rear-view mirror.
Anyway, here they are (if you can watch at 1080p full-screen!):
GoPro HD Hero2 1080p externally suction cup mounted to moon roof
GoPro HD Hero2 1080p internally suction cup mounted to windshield
I picked the music by looking for something fitting in my music collection (ZunePass) that matched the length of the video. Hopefully the music isn’t a distraction – and I think in parts both of the videos sync up nicely with the music. Not bad for video that was simply sped-up 4x and not really edited (I added the music and sped up the video using Windows Live Movie Maker).
I was talking to my brother a few weeks ago about an idea for mounting my Windows Phone in my car for capturing HD video while driving. Down side is that you lose phone functionality (such as checking traffic) with such set-ups.
I started talking about getting a Flip cam for the purpose and he pointed out that the PoV camera market was really heating up with some nice offerings. He suggested the GoPro HD Hero2 camera that released in October. I also researched the Contour+ PoV camera.
I ultimately ended up going with the GoPro HD Hero2 for now, but there were quite a few things I liked about it over the GoPro. One thing that is hard to ignore though is the community behind a device.
Compare the Twitter news feed traffic:
@contour_cam – https://twitter.com/#!/search/contour_cam
gopro – https://twitter.com/#!/search/gopro
In the past 24 hours or so, people have Tweeted about GoPro cameras 2200 times, and Contour only 56. Sounds like the marketing folks at Contour cam have their work cut out for them.
Ultimately the reason I went with GoPro was the apparent picture quality compared to what I could find for the Contour. Seems like there’s room enough in the PoV camera marketplace for two high-end competitors so I hope it stays that way for the sake of innovation.