Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Disappointing Analysis from Pogue

Usually, I like David Pogue's posts on technology, as he has a bit of humor and humanity that some other reviewers lack. But today Pogue lacks decent analysis in a review of the Lumia 900 phone. His presentation of pricing and screen resolution do not meet the basic standards of reporting. Recall I used to work at Ziff-Davis many years ago, where we did computer reviews.


It’s the Lumia 900. It’s beautiful, fast and powerful, and it’s only $100 (with a two-year AT&T contract). That’s half the price of an iPhone or a comparable Android phone — but you’re still getting a top-of-the-line machine.
The problem is that it is not at all half the price, thus his mention of the two-year contract, but that's a weak analysis and not at all true. Granted, different calling plans cost different amounts, but let's look at some hypothesized numbers. Let's call the cost of the phone the "up front" cost, since that's more accurate.

Phone "Monthly" Up-Front Annual Total
Lumia 900 $50 $100 $600 $700
iPhone 4S $50 $200 $600 $800
Compared 50% 87.5%

87.5%, for this theorized monthly, is not half.
But many calling plans cost more. What if the theorized monthly were $100?

Phone "Monthly" Up-Front Annual Total
Lumia 900 $100 $100 $1,200 $1,300
iPhone 4S $100 $200 $1,200 $1,400
Compared 50% 92.8%

92.8% is not half.
(And, you can get the iPhone 4 currently for $100, and the 3GS is free -- of course, like Pogue mentions but doesn't deal with, that's with a contract. Given that you can't divide by zero, the 3GS is unspeakably amazing.)

But that's not the only problem with Pogue's analysis.
Then again, the Lumia actually shows you a larger area, but in less detail. Its resolution is 800 by 480. The iPhone’s 3.5-incher has 960 by 640 pixels, so Apple’s screen is far sharper.
The Lumia 900 has a 4.3 inch (diagonal) screen. The problem is that Pogue gives us two sets of metrics: resolution and size; but these are not directly comparable. Resolutions are comparable, but only at the same size. We don't have the same size, so Pogue should tell us the dpi -- dots per inch (in this case, pixels). You can't exactly calculate the dpi from these numbers, because the diagonal measure does not give you the area in terms of square inches, so you can't calculate the pixels per (square) inch.

So, yes, the iPhone 4S has more pixels, but not 960x640 versus 800x480 more, because the screen sizes (not just resolutions) are different. Pogue addresses this, but not at all adequately.