Congratulations, Nokia, now get to work

Nokia's Lumia 900 wins CNET's Best of CES Award, but the company must work with AT&T to make the handset and Windows Phone 7 a success.

The camera is one of the Lumia 900's best features.

LAS VEGAS--With Windows Phone 7, we've spent a lot of time waiting.

We started by waiting for Microsoft to upgrade from the stodgy Windows Mobile. Then, we waited for the first Windows Phone 7 (WP7) handsets before waiting again for decent apps . And finally, once we had all of those things we waited for WP7 to really take off.

Granted, we're still waiting on that last point, but at CES 2012, Nokia may have shown us the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

On Monday, during an afternoon crowded with other press conferences, Nokia pulled in a packed house to introduce the Lumia 900 for AT&T. Given the leaks that preceded the announcement, the news wasn't surprising. But that didn't stop the Lumia from taking CNET's Best of CES award in the smartphones category.

Why the win matters
When Nokia reps were taking the stage today at the award ceremony, I overhead someone in the crowd remark that it was "a big deal" that a WP7 device had won. I didn't think about that point when we were first choosing our award nominees, but now I'd have to agree.

The Lumia 900 won because it's a great device (I'll get to why in a moment), but there's more to it than that. It's also exciting because it marks the first clear and strong collaboration between a manufacturer, carrier, and Microsoft. And that's something that the OS has missed for a long time.

Consider that unless you actually turned them on, it wasn't clear that the earlier devices even had WP7. For the most part, it was almost as if the OEMs just took an Android phone, cleared the memory, and installed the new OS. Indeed, there was little unique about them beyond what was inside.

Nokia, however, is changing that. From the moment you pick them up you can tell that the Lumia devices were designed with WP7 in mind. It was built to run Microsoft's OS from the start, rather than being a device that Nokia just happened to throw WP7 in. When Nokia announced its Microsoft partnership last year I was hoping that would happen. Fortunately, the Lumia 900 shows that it has.

And about the phone
As I said, though, the Best of CES award really is about the phone itself. And on the front, the Lumia 900 shines. Though similar to the Nokia Lumia 800 and N9 on the outside, the Lumia 900 entices with a clean and trim profile, a gorgeous 4.3-inch AMOLED display, and a choice a sharp cyan color (you can get it black too). I also loved the solid and comfortable construction that is a hallmark of Nokia design.

Inside there's even more to impress. The 8-megapixel camera has a Carl Zeiss lens, an F2.2 aperture, and a 28mm focal length. Though I didn't get to see any photos printed, that's a lot of shooting power and the viewfinder interface is superb.

With the Mango onboard you'll get all the benefits of the update plus People Hub. That feature has nifty features like organizing all your communications with a contact into one list. Also on the Microsoft side, you get the support for Xbox live.

The 1.4GHz processor keeps things running smoothly and the touch interface is responsive. Deeper down, you'll find the all the usual smartphone features that you'd expect and last, but not least, there's that all-too-important support for AT&T's next-generation LTE network. Add those elements together make for a potentially great phone.

Play

Now comes the hard part
So yes, Nokia, you deserve it. Thanks for putting so much into this phone, but now the ball is in your court. As TechRepublic's Jason Hiner wrote so very well yesterday, the Hail Mary is now in the air and WP7 is running out of excuses.

So please, Nokia, release this phone, release it soon, and don't remove features at the last moment. WP7 fans like myself will be rooting for you so don't screw it up. And if you need further pointers, CNET's Jessica Dolcourt has them .

Likewise, AT&T, you also have work to do. While in the past it seemed as if carriers were adding Windows Phone 7 devices as an afterthought, you're putting some passion and energy into this device. So give the Lumia 900 the marketing attention it needs, train your sales reps well, and deliver great performance.

Because I'm tired of waiting.

 

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