I wish I could tell you that this trip was some sort of Hunter S. Thompson fueled craze through the streets of Las Vegas. My reality is a bit less gonzo than his was.
I ended the week way up, even though the photo above was taken by the Croupier at a table I wasn't doing good on at the time.
It did involved sword fights, singing cowboys and a private Macklemore & Ryan Lewis concert. There were dumplings for breakfast, toasted marshmallows over a campfire and a three level dessert tower.
But, this trip was really about Nokia inviting a group of us to Vegas to spend several days with their new Lumia 1520 phone. They of course were paying for everything and promised a good time and plenty of opportunities to put the phone through the paces. Since I was already going to be in Vegas presenting a case study from YSN at NMX I figured why not?
My first impression of the phone was, "damn this thing is big" because it is. While I could give you the measurements, I'll just say that it completely filled my front jeans pocket. Emily joked that a girl would have to keep it in a purse since it would never fit in her pockets. That is how crazy big it is.
But, once you begin using it, I sort of forget about the size. Sure, I couldn't do one hand surfing and typing on it which is a drawback, but I did get use to the large screen real estate when surfing and taking photos.
The team at @NokiaUS certainly did a good job giving us a variety of experiences to put the phone through the paces.
We were put up in the Aria Sky Suites and to say that it was a nice hotel experience would be an understatement. I stay in hotels around the world and the gang behind the Aria get it. Lots of little comforts including being able to set up a wake up alarm for the shades instead of an annoying beep. Plus, every staff member I interacted with always had a helpful and real attitude which was refreshing.
Just be warned that if you are feeling off and make an early night of it with a bath, that they self dry fifteen minutes after you drain them and the sound will make you jump out of bed scared for your life. (true story)
We were treated to several amazing meals including pineapple buttered lobster at Tetsu and my favorite named dish of the week "Tongue and Cheeks" at Sensi. But, for me the meal that I can't stop thinking about is the carnitas at Javier's for a little solo lunch I did. Their tequila selection insures I'll be back because I only got to try one.
Did I mention that this little adventure was the same week that CES was going on? My inner geek couldn't resist sneaking out and spending a few hours on the show room floor.
There wasn't nearly enough time to see everything I would have liked to, but I had a great conversation with the team at Goal Zero about their products and I hope to buy some in the future for a few projects I'm hoping to work on.
The highlight of the trip for me though was getting off The Strip and out into the nature of Red Rock Canyon with an afternoon at Cowboy Trail Rides.
It has been years since I've been on a horse, but it felt great to do it again.
I had to keep reminding myself that I was only twenty minutes from the insanity of downtown and that I was taking photos with a phone.
While others played cowboy games a few of us noticed the setting sun and had to climb a ridge to capture the special moment. It was great to just take it all in and get to know one another better as the colors changed across the beautiful landscape. I look forward to the next time I get to take photos with Byron, Jason, Kirsten or Pei.
It was also very special for me to spend some time with Colby Brown who is a photographer I've been following for a while. Chatting with him about The Giving Lens, the magic of fatherhood and life in general meant a lot to me.
At one point I pulled Nokia Community Manager Jason Harris aside, because as one of the masterminds behind this trip I was very curious how he chose the people who were invited. I've been involved with enough influencer marketing campaigns (and planned plenty) that I'm always curious to compare notes with others.
I'm paraphrasing, but he told me,
"We are constantly watching and listening. Nokia wants to make sure that anyone we associate with has the right tone of voice and an audience that our product would be of interest to. We are more interested inviting good people with diverse followings than someone with only big stats."
That is the type of approach that any brand should adopt. It is what creates a week like this where you've got YouTube Fashion stars, a professional wrestler and little old me all on the same trip. No Klout score alone is ever going to make that marketing magic happen.
All this sounds like a good time C.C., but what did you think of the Lumia 1520?
As I've previously said, I'm not a big fan of the Windows OS because so few apps that I currently use are being written for that platform. Even with that being said, I did get use to it after a week and like the tile approach to a home-screen. The integrated accounts feature is also very nice so that I don't have to keep jumping around from service to service.
Rumors are swirling about an Android Nokia and if that proves to be true I'd be extremely tempted to switch.
I love that Nokia has put such a high priority on the camera and lens that it puts in their phones. All the images in this post (more here) were taken with phone and while I may not be popping a SIM into one anytime soon, I'll definitely be bringing it with me as the perfect mobile camera.
Thank you Nokia for a great time and thank you to Aria and the MGM Resorts who helped make sure we had a great stay while in town.
Disclosure: As previously stated, Nokia took care of our travel and lodging during this trip. They gave us the phones in return for us sharing our thoughts with them and our community about the experience. All thoughts are my own. Those can't be bought. :)