I’m no reviewer

Now if I sent you the following tweet “I’ve had a Nokia 5800, N97, now a N900. Curious to see what N8 has to offer especially the camera and USB on the go” would you send me a Nokia N8 to review. Well they did and I now realize I suck at it (reviewing that is).

Er… yes the camera is good and I like the phone and USB-on-the-go is a bit of a gimmick and er … I really don’t know what more to say. Well I tried anyway.

iOS 4.2 is in da house or on the iPad rather.

I don’t have ADSL because our phone line is never up for more than two weeks. Telkom sucks. I have to use 3G and Apple doesn’t know about resuming an interrupted download  it seems. So it ended up being a pretty expensive upgrade. Then I was a bit embarrassed to discover that I didn’t know that to call up the task manager you double press the home button. “Multi tasking”, eh. Well I wonder.

I also managed to get Airpint to work on my WiFi network. Only trouble is to print anything I have to enable the WiFi connection first which has no Internet connection and then after printing disable the WiFi connection so that I can continue using the Internet via 3G. To eliminate this hassle I’ll need an Internet connection on the WiFi network. One more 3G modem and another prepaid SIM card to keep track of.

N900 and USB hostmode

To me it’s rather sad that the N900 has so much unexploited potential. Now that I’ve switched to the Samsung Galaxy S as my main device, I am free to be more experimental with my N900. So I installed the power kernel and the host mode enabler.

I have not been able to access USB powered hard disks or DVD drives even after powering them with an external 5V supply. I could access a 12V powered hard disk though. I can access memory card readers and USB hubs too.

Samsung Galaxy S

Here’s my review: Battery life kind of sucks. I don’t know why it is that all the non-Nokia phones I’ve had have less than stellar battery life? And hey where’s Froyo? Samsung Kies hangs most of the time. Skype doesn’t work. Samsung, where are the notification lights  … so I can ignore them anyway?

The Nokia N8 Part 3

Previous Part 2

Final thoughts

  • Supports HSUPA for faster uploads.
  • Ovi Maps is free. Free navigation.
  • I like the clock on the standby screen.
  • Supports USB charging as well.
  • Nice new running applications screen showing miniature views of running apps.
  • No QWERTY keyboard in portrait mode. The keys would probably be to small to be usable.
  • 360×640 screen resolution and 680MHz processor in a flagship product these days are a bit behind the times.

The Nokia N8 Part 2

Previous: Part 1

The user interface

Whether you would like to call it Series 60, S60 or Symbian^3 it still looks pretty much the same. This is a comfort in the one hand. As an established Nokia user the culture shock is limited when you upgrade. New users expecting the world’s best selling mobile phone company to produce a more modern looking user interface may be disappointed. Nokia seems to be moving a little too slowly to simple people’s liking. Symbian^1 has been around a while and even Symbian^3 represents little movement towards a new UI. At least they have removed the confusing need to double tap in some spots where a single tap worked in others.

This doesn’t really bother me. The UI works for me. Besides I think the Android interface is uglier!

Screen

The N8 has a capacitive touch screen and it supports multi touch. OK all this means pinch-to-zoom works. I was surprised by how bright the screen is in direct sunlight. The screen is very responsive unlike the Nokia N900 for example.

Home screen widgets

I believe more could have been done here. The layout is still restrictive with fixed size widgets in fixed slots.

Memory

Nokia really got this wrong with the N97. The amount of space on the C: drive was limited and to top it all many of Nokia’s applications insisted on installing to C: despite the limited space. Then there was the 128MB of RAM. Nokia made a point of reassuring users that subsequent firmware updates would use less memory and allocate it more sufficiently. At least they gave users 32GB of flash memory and the option to add a memory card.

Nokia have addressed the C: disk size issue and upped RAM to 256MB with the N8. Then they showed us once again that even intelligent people can make baffling decisions. The “hi def” N8 has 16GB  of flash and the “low def” N97 has 32GB. So now you have less storage for you more space hungry video files. Go figure.

Nokia Music and Ovi store

As a South African this is one area where I would sing Nokia’s praises. The Android Market still offers us only free apps. The Apple App Store doesn’t offer us the variety that US citizens get and last time I checked the iTunes store still wasn’t available in South Africa. Now there are workarounds but they are legally questionable.

On the other hand the Nokia Music store and the Ovi store are available in all their glory. When I go to the Nokia Music store it presents me with local content; a nice touch.

Part 3

The Nokia N8 Part 1

I will be giving my experiences using the Nokia N8 over the next few days.

Appearance

I can’t help feeling the phone looks like an electric razor. I find the phone a bit slippery so some people might prefer using a silicone cover. The camera is mounted in in an odd looking buldge together with a xenon flash, an LED light and the mono speaker.

N8 camera seen from the side

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N8 from the side

The shell is mostly metal except for the top and bottom which are plastic. The antenna is in the top part.

USB On-The-Go

I tested the following devices:

Device Result
Memory stick Works
Sanyo Xacti camera Works in “screen capture” mode
Memory card reader Does not work
USB powered hard disk Does not work. Even when formatted as FAT32
iPod classic 160GB Does not work
USB Hub Does not work
Samsung Galaxy S Mass memory mode
Mouse Works. You even get a mouse cursor on the screen!
Keyboard Works.
USB mouse attached to N8. Notice the mouse cursor

It’s a pity hard disks aren’t supported. An additional issue here is that NTFS is probably also not supported. I even tried connecting one specific hard disk to a 5V power supply but no luck.

Camera

Video camera

You can now HDMI at 1280X720. It will however eat through about 12Mbits per second. Use this with the HDMI out feature and you can watch your videos on your Hi Def TV. The quality is very good. You can zoom while capturing although zooming is a bit jerky. The zoomed image is not as blocky as you would expect from a digital zoom since the entire 12M pixel sensor is used to capture the image.

Stills camera

The 12M pixel photos look stunning and with such a high resolution who needs an optical zoom? Here is a shot I took of my son diving into the pool. I would have expected a lens cover though.

Xenon flash

To give you an idea what the fuss is about consider the following two pics:

Nokia N900: Spinning fan, flash fired

Nokia N8: Spinning fan, with flash

No I didn’t cheat. In the N8 picture the fan was really spinning.

E-mail

I use GMail and I struggled to get things going the way I want them. The secret is this: When you get to the “Terms of Service” screen during the mailbox setup, you should select “Decline”. This bypasses Ovi Mail and your e-mail is downloaded directly to your phone. You are limited to a maximum of 250 messages per folder which I find rather limiting. The e-mail app now also supports HTML formatted e-mail.

Remote drives

This is actually a WebDAV client. I set it up to access my MobileMe iDisk. To set it up set address to https://idisk.me.com/username/ and enter your MobileMe username and password.

Part 2