Posts Tagged ‘nokia’

MeeGo: Quick thoughts on the Moblin and Maemo marriage

I’ve been excited with the Maemo platform for a few years now. I after all, had the Nokia N770, their first tablet that had Maemo on it. But as soon as they released the N800, things weren’t backward compatible, and due to frustration I gave up on the platform (the devices themselves were very difficult to find). All this changed sometime in January when I walked into the Maemo Lounge of the Nokia Store in London – the Nokia N900 was impressive. But it wasn’t for sale internationally.

Last week, I found out that Nokia will sell the device in Malaysia, Singapore and probably many other regions. I also had the opportunity to use the device for a couple of hours, and while I had a bunch of suggestions, I did like it. Maemo 5 is a clear win, and there’s going to be a lot more work to make Maemo 6 rock even harder. Simply put: the N770 was relegated to sitting by my bedside table after a while, but the N900 is something I would definitely carry in my pocket.

But that’s not the big news of the day. MoSync currently supports writing mobile software, that runs on Java ME, Symbian S60, Windows Mobile and Moblin platforms. If you notice, the coming soon is clearly: Android (I’m told it will appear real soon now), iPhone (a lot more difficult than you think), and Maemo. After playing with a Maemo 5 capable device last week, I was almost certain that this is a good future platform to bet on – I know, today it seems all the cool apps only run on the iPhone and the Android, with maybe the BlackBerry thrown is an afterthought, but I think Maemo will help Nokia rebuild/rebrand itself.

What better news, than to see Jim Zemlin announce to the world, that Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo projects are being embraced by the Linux Foundation, to create a new “uber-platform”, called MeeGo?

Now, to crystallise some quick thoughts on this:

  1. When the N770 came out (and subsequently the N800, and the N810 – both devices I did not purchase), I would ask – where was the GSM chip? You create a fancy tablet, but you leave out the GSM chip. If I wanted to do voice, I’d have to use Gizmo Project (now Gizmo5, which has since been acquired by Google). Skype came later, only to the more modern devices. So, while the N900 is welcome, its been about 4 years since the first tablet was launched – what took Nokia so long to pop a GSM chip in?
  2. The promise of Linux on the phone has been met – Google unleashed Android to the world. From the G1, to the Nexus One, and the market of folk building against their devices, like HTC, Motorola, etc. And people have been happy with it – look at the endorsement Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux kernel, gives to the Nexus One. A part of me asks – is this too little too late from Nokia?
  3. Moblin didn’t quite excite me, and I never took a look at the platform till I became involved in MoSync. But I can see where Nokia is headed – they are providing stuff in the “one connected device” mantra, and the N900 is their first take with truly mobile computing.
  4. From a developer’s perspective, you better be brushing up on your C++. Its quite clear that this will largely be driven by Qt. I forsee heavy investment in rich-applications provided by the Web Runtime widgets (WRT). You will also be able to build applications cross-platform (no need for a Microsoft Windows-based host, to create Symbian applications for example), and you’ll probably be creating some sort of cross-compiling development environment (Maemo has largely been ARM, Moblin is largely X86) to get apps going.
  5. MeeGo while it has been announced, is not completely concrete yet. You can see that there are no prepared downloads, but you can whet your appetite on their architecture documentation (note: GTK/Clutter left behind just for application compatibility – I’ve been away from the Maemo community for a while, but from what I gather, Qt has become the hype du jour these days), some information on Qt Creator (which runs on Windows, OS X, and Linux), and a quick introduction to creating your first MeeGo application.
  6. If you want to follow further resources, check out Quim Gil’s blog, as well as Ari Jaaksi’s blog. It probably wouldn’t hurt following Planet Maemo either.
  7. If Intel, Nokia, and the Linux Foundation get their act together, and gather buy-in to create all the cross-devices, it can be really useful for application developers – its going to get more reach. I don’t see why we won’t see an iPad competitor anytime soon, for example. Imagine running the Bloomberg application on your television, on demand. The possibilities are endless as we get more connected.
  8. Currently, while no devices support MeeGo, I expect the Maemo 6 platform to be MeeGo compatible. Will Nokia update the Maemo 5 software on the N900 for free? I hope this is true – otherwise the N900 owners aren’t going to be too happy, that they’ve got an outdated phone on their hands. Keep in perspective the leap from N770 to N800, and the OS differences (being bitten once, I’ll be just this more cautious the next time around).
  9. From a MoSync perspective, it looks that we may already support the new MeeGo platform to some extent. Once more developer SDKs come out, we’ll be able to update the community on this. And as a developer, supporting Moblin/Maemo (MeeGo), and other platforms, can be a real win for your application.

All I can say is: exciting times ahead. I’m glad to see Nokia isn’t just supporting Symbian based devices any longer, and are moving with the times. There’s an uphill battle to build interest amongst the developer community to be developing against their platforms – only a lot of evangelism and love is going to make this happen. Today’s web services completely ignore S60, but maybe they’ll jump on Maemo or MeeGo. And maybe we at MoSync can help them too (I bet once we get Android + iPhone support, it will look a lot more compelling).

The Nokia E72: Quick impressions

Last week I was invited by Nokia Malaysia to preview their latest flagship E-series device – the Nokia E72. A bit of background to this device and me: I was dearly using my Nokia E71, right up until it was replaced with a Nokia N97, and before that I was using the Nokia E61i. I’ve loved this particular series of devices, and the E72 is no different to me.

First impressions? Build quality is still excellent. Its got a better camera (5MP vs 3.2MP). They keyboard seemed a little odd in my hands, but maybe its because I’ve become used to what the N97 gives me (it took me a while to get used to that too). The charger is now micro-USB based, making it pretty standard. It supports SIP/VoIP out of the box (something the Nokia N97 still does not offer!).

I’ve seen many ads about how its a “Blackberry killer” of some sort. I know it does well with Exchange and Lotus Notes, but how does it deal with Google Apps? Probably just works over IMAP, and throw in Google Sync and all should be well (I didn’t test this out, its just an assumption). The mail application is free for the life of the phone, but I don’t know – I’ve grown accustomed to having email on a BlackBerry device. I tried the mail application on the N97 (during its beta phases), and it was too unreliable for me. One would assume the E72 has a more stable version.

Chat. They have some kind of OviChat, which reminds me of the BlackBerry Messenger. Its unclear to me how my Ovi account on my N97 can get on this chat, but it could be a useful feature. Have data, have OviChat, no need SMS messaging – I’m sure the telcos will love this. It also supports Google Talk out of the box, and MSN Messenger. It apparently signs you out to conserve battery life if you don’t use the chat app after a certain period of time… and that to me isn’t too useful. Give me good juice, and also keep me signed in… always.

From my limited experience with it, I didn’t see it supporting VoIP over data – its just VoIP over WiFi. The in-built browser could use some improvement – its still a little too last century for me. I don’t exactly like Opera on the Nokia devices either (though I use Opera Mini on the BlackBerry, again because its in-built browser sucks).

Camera. Before this, on the E71, you’d press T to autofocus. Now, you’d just use the optical Navi Key. It autofocuses, and like magic, it takes the snapshot. I never mentioned that yet, huh? The Navi Key. It rocks. Its what makes the latest BlackBerry Curve 8520 a good phone too… In fact, they’ve depressed it, and the feel/functionality is actually better.

Trend watch? All devices that don’t have touch screens and still have a navigation key, are giving up on those trackballs. I reckon they’ll all go the way of the Navi Key (or whatever they call it). It’ll be optical. It’ll be accurate. It’ll be less of a burden on your thumbs.

Disclosure: The meal at Italiannies was nice, and I got a bunch of door gifts – a cute guide to mobile etiquette and a (leather?) cards holder. Plus I got to have a chat with some friends whom I don’t see often, all on Nokia’s dime.

Nokia N97 – Quick Impressions II

This is part of an ongoing series on the Nokia N97 phone. Get started with Nokia N97 Quick Impressions and Quick Impressions II.

The Nokia N97

There were just some items that I neglected to cover in the first article on the Nokia N97 – Quick Impressions.

Last Friday, I was invited to the Nokia N97 launch party at Mandarin Oriental, thanks to Text100/Nokia. Amidst all the fanfare and meeting friends, I decided to take a closer look at the N97 again, this time armed with my Kodak Zi6. As a consequence, I have two somewhat blurry videos (sorry, the phones were bolted on to devices that prevented theft, making my job a lot harder), one demoing gravity and the touch screen features, and another taking a look around the phone showing off things like the keyguard, and so on. There are a bevy of questions and comments there on YouTube, which I wish were just integrated into my blog, but I’m surprised at the amount of people searching for N97 videos :-)

If you’re interested in the party, which was excellent, BTW, don’t hesitate to read Yoon Kit’s entry, or even Bernard’s entry.

First up, the phone costs RM2,480. That is the suggested retail price, and its not much different from Singapore, a marked improvement from what the N96 or the E90 costs.

The phone comes with a stylus. There were none around that day, so using your fingers makes the most sense. Who wants to use a stylus you ask? Nokia is making it easy for input of Chinese characters. I however do think that its silly to have to place the stylus in the case (you’re bound to lose it). But I’ve never seen the case, so I don’t know if its something I would use (I normally never use any cases for any of my phones).

Comments in the videos above, as well as from using it, will show that the touchscreen isn’t as responsive as what you’d find on the iPhone. I wrote this when I reviewed the Nokia 5800:

Its a touch screen, and you’re expected to be able to use it with one hand, and you can use your fingers. However, its not so fancy — once you’ve used the iPod Touch or the iPhone, you’ll slowly realise that the touch screen isn’t all that.

Why? The touch screen is resistive, not capacitive, which means that a “click” is only registered when two thin layers of the screen get pushed together under the pressure from my finger (or stylus). AFAIK, the iPhone uses something called “projected capacitive” screens, and you don’t need actual contact (and it works well for multi-touch).

It still applies, with the Nokia N97. Sigh.

From the event itself, some other interesting bits:

  • It seems that 40% of Internet use is mobile. I’ve not seen this anywhere else, but if this is the case, everyone better be designing for mobile use.
  • Its interesting to see that the Ovi Store is a Social AppStore. What does that mean? It means you get regional differentiation. This can mean two things: some apps may not be available in certain regions (say games in China), or it could also mean that you’ll see relevant apps for the area you’re in… so if you’re in KL and fly to London, you’ll see more London specific apps. The social bit? Well, you can see what your friends are using, and this can affect ranking. I presume all this means you need to have an Ovi.com account, and add friends there, so what Nokia is effectively trying to do is create a social network of Ovi users. I don’t like this idea, because I feel there are already too many social networks out there, and studies have shown that you can be active on at most, 3 social networks at any given time.
  • There was a very interesting machinama styled ad, created by Text100 Malaysia, which I hope Erna @Mahyuni and @DavidLian get placed online, ASAP. I think its better than the normal Nokia N97 ad ;)
  • Yoon Kit asked on Twitter if the browser is HTML 5 compliant and if it’ll play OGG. I immediately replied that it isn’t, and later on during the briefing, he asked, and was told “they’ll get back to him”. Maybe it’ll come as an OTA update… But I don’t think open standards are big on everyone’s mind. Look at CD players in cars – they play MP3 and WMA. I’ve yet to find one that plays OGGs.
  • Ditesh asked by proxy if there will be SIP, with the SPEEX codec, and I also immediately replied that there was no SIP. However, upon asking, later at the briefing, we were told SIP will come as an OTA update. I’m weary as to when we’ll see this… but it also seems that you’ll get Skype built-in.
  • We were told that many in East Malaysia and other rural parts of the world, get their first experience of the Internet on their mobile phones. I somehow don’t believe that many in East Malaysia will get their first Internet experience via a RM2,500 phone. What do you think?

Yoon Kit and I chatted about Blackberry Connect, and I told him a lot of this is provided via Nokia Messaging (which is currently in beta, and free at the moment), which in a device itself, premiered in the Nokia E75 (its not apparent its in the N97 yet – probably a firmware update will help soon). He lamented that calendar and contact support is required, and I mentioned that webcal support isn’t available, per se, but if you have an Ovi.com account, you have calendar and contact syncing available… But the calendar, IMHO is primitive to Google Calendar’s sync/publish features, and I’ve never used a BlackBerry device, so I can’t realistically comment.

The camera on the device is pretty good, for a phone camera. A couple weeks back, I used the camera and the Facebook integration, to create an album (Testing the n97). Facebook is notorious for not keeping the hi-res images, so grab them from posterous or even flickr.

If I get my hands on the device, you can be ensured more tips, tricks, and usage information. More importantly, I’m going to focus on WRT widget development, the Ovi Store, and lots more. Mobile app development seems hot :-)

BTW, on Saturday 13 June 2009, selected Nokia stores will sell the device in Malaysia, at what is probably the SRP of RM2,480.

Nokia N97 – Quick Impressions

This is part of an ongoing series on the Nokia N97 phone. Get started with Nokia N97 Quick Impressions and Quick Impressions II.

I had the pleasure of playing with the Nokia N97 about two weeks ago, as Text100/Nokia decided to showcase the device at Alexis. Naturally, I got a little excited, considering I’ve been using Nokia phones for over a decade, and have seen their phones and their platforms evolve. I’ve been using the E71 for nearly a year now, and have been using phones with keyboards for the last few years, so the Nokia N97 melds this for me.

Is this an upgrade from the E90, I asked? Apparently, it is. Is this an upgrade from the N96, I asked? Apparently, it is. To me, that seemed weird, as Nokia is melding the N and the E series together, which is kind of melding fun and business together.

I hate writing thoughts on anything, that I’ve played with for a couple of hours, so I took out my handy Moleskine, and started writing notes. At the end of the night, I came up with three pages worth of scribblings, so here is my take of the Nokia N97. Note that I don’t own the device (yet), and chances are I probably will, if the price is right. Its going to be tough, as the new iPhone’s come out, though ;)

  • The camera lens has a cover now, and when you open it, it starts up the camera application. This is smart – no more will I have issues of the lens scratching, anymore.
  • Build quality seems pretty good, but the one thing I dislike is the back cover. Its typically N-series (I remember this kind of back on the N73), so its got a coat of paint, and after a couple of months of heavy usage, you’ll realise that it will nicely scratch itself, and peel off. The E-series devices tend to come with metal backs, and while that will get scratched, it won’t look worn/chipped. So, this is cutting corners, definitely.
  • Changing profiles from General, to Silent, and to others, is all done via touch screen now, and you don’t need to jab the power button any longer. So much better, because chances are, everytime I try to change profiles, I end up turning my phone off.
  • It has the Keyguard for locking and unlocking the phone, which is exactly like the Nokia 5800. This is smart, and you now no longer need to have a two key combo to unlock/lock the phone.
  • Charging is now improved. You can do it via micro-USB, so chances are I can charge it easily from my laptop. This is smart. The charging port is at the left hand side of the phone, as opposed to it being at the bottom — interesting, no?
  • Browsing around is similar to the iPhone – you scroll up and down, with next to no problem. The keyboard is lit up when necessary, and to be honest, was a little harder to use than the E71, but I figure its just a matter of getting used to. Moving from the E61i to the E71, I took a few days to get used to the smaller keyboard. I’m sure after a couple of days, I should be mostly happy.
  • Opening/closing the lid to show me the keyboard or hide it, is dead easy. I was curious as to how long it might last — I was told that it should last at least during the warranty period ;-) Ha! I’m sure it’ll last longer, it doesn’t seem that flimsy, but who knows? It needs stress testing. And if you’re currently used to using the E90 (or other communicator devices), note that the screen doesn’t go all the way back now.
  • In grid view, you single click. In list view, you double click. Click, tap, whatever. This is a limitation of the Symbian platform, and I hate it. If you’re using to using the iPhone, everything there is single tap. UI matters, and the experience of knowing when to click once or twice, is annoying enough.
  • The screen is clear, like the iPhone/iPod Touch. It has rich colours. It can also play HD quality video, naturally.
  • The phone will come with a stylus in the box, but there is nowhere to place the stylus on the phone! You’re meant to place it in the case that ships with the phone. I don’t know about you, but I never use a case for my phone. So, if I was to use a stylus, I’d completely lose it. Not smart…
  • The camera does seem to rock. In fact, you seem to be able to take macro photos pretty darn well, using it. Its a great improvement over anything in the E-series world (I can’t compare to the N-Series, as the last that I looked at and used was the N73).
  • Turning Control rocks! What this means is that when you receive a phone call, and want to silent the ringer, you just need to face the phone downwards. This works for alarms too (it snoozes it). Very smart feature.
  • It comes with a digital compass, so you’ll always know where north is. I don’t know how this works, but its definitely something interesting. Will it be useful in Malaysia? Doubtful. No one says “go north five kilometres, then head east”.

Widgets

  • Facebook is on the front. Its a widget, and you can see up to three of your friends status messages scroll by. Kind of useful, as Facebook has become more Twitter like these days. I wanted a Twitter widget, but apparently this doesn’t exist just yet.
  • Apparently, you can create widgets via HTML and AJAX, and not the Series 60 development kit, so I have great dreams of developing on the Mac and Linux now. Plus, I don’t have to futz with the SDK, and C++, so I’m guessing the barrier to entry is now a lot lower to start creating widgets for the Nokia phones
  • Its worth knowing that you can distribute widgets via the Ovi Store. You can sell them too. You can run advertising off them, as well. So think the iTunes/Apple AppStore, but on the Nokia platform.
  • There exists a Friendster, Facebook, The Star (newspaper), Sin Chew Jit Poh (newspaper), Hi5, YouTube, Qik, Boingo, and a few other widgets. Interesting, no?
  • The device I was playing with had pre-release software, and the Ovi Store itself doesn’t work on it yet, so I didn’t actually get first hand experience at playing with it.
  • You can run several widgets, without the phone being sluggish.
  • Assuming I get to play with this phone more, i’ll give more thoughts on widgets… In the meantime, I’ve also downloaded Aptana Studio, and am taking my hand at writing widgets too.

Other bits

  • It supports over the air (OTA) updating of firmware. I wish the E71 came with this, to be honest.
  • You can now subscribe to video podcasts as well. I wonder how the 3G networks will handle more video feeds?
  • The battery seemed to drain quite quickly on WiFi. The suggested lifespan is supposed to be impressive, and maybe it was a case of the unit I had being buggy… Only time can tell.
  • There’s an app that says “Videos & TV”. However, it doesn’t have an in-built TV tuner. Sure, there might be next to nothing to watch on terrestrial TV, but I still think thats a good feature to have – look at Japanese phones.

Anyway, the N97 launches today (June 5th 2009) in Malaysia, and quite possibly around the world. I’m headed to Mandarin Oriental for the launch, again thanks to Text100. Maybe this time, I’ll get to take some video of the device…

Evernote on Symbian Series 60?

I’ve been a big fan of Evernote for a while now, but have found it lacking in some areas: no Symbian Series 60 support for my mobile phone (yes, there is a mobile interface, but I’d like a native application), and no native Linux support (yes, there are workarounds through WINE, but its nothing like a native application).

It seems like the API is open. It seems like a real popular request to get this going on Series 60, and it seems like there may be wind of such a client, especially since they’re also doing stuff for the Android platform, but nothing concrete.

Does anyone know if this is happening? Failing which, maybe a Nokia Nseries Widget (WRT widgets) might be what I’m after (seeing this working on the N97 yesterday, I was truly impressed).

At this juncture, I need Series 60 support, more than I’d need Linux support. I don’t have plans on carrying an iPhone anytime soon, just to make good use of Evernote (which I must say, is impressive – full integration with the hardware, is very cool).

Review: The Nokia 5800 XpressMusic

I’ve had the pleasure of using as my second phone, the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, for the last month or so. Let’s take this mostly step-by-step, and this should generally be pretty darn lengthy. If you’re interested, check out the tech specs, and this is broken up into: The phone, the screen, the camera, connectivity, music, video and other multimedia bits (I can highly recommend reading this part), software, conclusion and other thoughts. And I’m told that I shouldn’t compare this with the iPhone, but its hard not to.

The phone

The phone is plastic-based, so if you’re used to the E-series devices (like the E71, E61i, etc), its not quite metal on the back. The back of the phone, is actually similar in feeling to the N73. So it does seem a little flimsy — but you won’t be opening the back cover unless you want to change batteries or remove the SIM card. No one changes batteries any longer (I remember a time when we used to have at least two batteries :)), and SIM card changes tend to be very rare, so I guess this isn’t really a large problem. The battery life seems to be pretty useful – a good day is not a problem, even with music playback.

Nokia 5800 XPM (side view, left)The first snag I found with this phone was related to the SIM card. Typically one inserts the SIM card, and then inserts the battery. Once you open it, you’ll realise that the SIM card fits in by the side, and you’ve got to make use of the stylus to push it out, if need be. This design seemed unintuitive, and took a bit of time to get used to. If I were a first time user, it would have been OK — I’d have followed the instructions at the back of the cover. However, I’ve been using Nokia phones for over twelve years, so, I found it unintuitive.

The introduction of a “Keyguard switch” is pretty cool. Locking and unlocking the phone, is now dead easy – there’s a button, just swipe it down, on the right hand side of the phone, and its either locked or unlocked. One button phone locks/unlocks are way better! This is a marked improvement.Nokia 5800 XPM (side view, right)

It comes standard with an 8GB microSD card! That’s a ridiculous amount of data, for a tiny phone. They should have clearly built a USB dongle (there is a micro-USB port, but you still need a cable), which pops out, and allows you to use it as a thumb drive. One device less, for data-on-the-go, makes so much sense, no? Video cameras are doing it (Flipcam, Kodak’s Zi6, Creative Vado’s), why not mobile phones?

Top of Nokia 5800 XPM Oh, while the power button has always been at the top of the phone, why is the charger also located at the top?!? In fact, the micro-USB port, as well as the AV connector, is located at the top — I’d have preferred this to be at the bottom of the phone, which seems to be a lot more standard.

The software is that of the Series 60, 5th Edition. Lots of changes, have come, but keep this in mind, when you’re downloading third-party software applications. Not everything is compatible…

The screen

This is pretty cool. Its a 3.2″ widescreen display, and when its held horizontally, you’re seeing 640×360 pixels. This is a 16:9 ratio, and the colours are just amazing. Don’t forget that it comes with an orientation sensor, so the display changes as and when you turn it around (very similar to the iPhone).

Nokia 5800 XPM (front)Its a touch screen, and you’re expected to be able to use it with one hand, and you can use your fingers. However, its not so fancy — once you’ve used the iPod Touch or the iPhone, you’ll slowly realise that the touch screen isn’t all that.

Why? The touch screen is resistive, not capacitive, which means that a “click” is only registered when two thin layers of the screen get pushed together under the pressure from my finger (or stylus). AFAIK, the iPhone uses something called “projected capacitive” screens, and you don’t need actual contact (and it works well for multi-touch).

The phone comes with a stylus (reminds me of the days when I was still using Palm handhelds), and I’ve never actually used a phone with one. You’ll be using the stylus a lot — I found that my fingers didn’t really work well with the screen. It turns out there’s a reason for the stylus — Chinese input. I never thought about this, because all I seem to care about is the input of the English language, but it does make a lot of sense.

Because its a touch screen based interface, the interface differs from other Nokia’s. But its not that much different, and its easy to get worked around. Note that you’ll be dialling on the screen, you’ll be “typing” on the screen (the stylus comes in real handy here), and if you’ve used a phone with a keyboard, you’ll miss that. But if you’re a first time user, or in the target market, you’ll be fine.

The camera

A 3.2 megapixel camera, churning out images at 2048×1536 pixels, which also comes with an LED flash light. How are the pictures? Comparable to the E71, but not as good as the Nokia N96. Simply put, its tolerable — I’d use it, but it won’t be replacing my camera, anytime soon. Its got good pocket camera qualities, if you decide to carry one device less.

You can also record video – 640×480 pixels, 30fps, so its good enough for TV playback (take that you iPhone users!). The more memory you have, the better, clearly, but with a whopping 8GB, you should be fine. It also comes with a camera in front for video calls, so will really benefit from being on a 3G network (currently, that’s just Maxis and Celcom that support it). I only mention this, because modern phones like the iPhone, also don’t come with video calling features just yet — so you don’t even need the 3G network in theory, EDGE is fine.

I tried streaming with it, to Qik. It looks OK (I couldn’t notice any difference with my E71). I was hoping to see this in the “Download!” folder itself, but I never saw that. In fact, seeing some applications selling for “MYR 5”, sounds like it costs RM5/application.

Connectivity

The phone comes with Bluetooth and WiFi. It works out of the box, as expected. It wasn’t obvious that it had WiFi though — had to go poking through Settings (OK, it would come up, if you searched for it, via anything that required Internet access).

*#2820# doesn’t work, to tell me the Bluetooth MAC address. Weird? With regards to WiFi, the standard *#62209526# works, and this will give you the MAC address of the WiFi adapter, so that you can filter it at your router, if required.

There is an A-GPS, so you’ll need some form of network connectivity. It comes with Nokia Maps, something I’d rather not pay for or use — go get Google Maps, its free *grin*.

Music, video, and other multimedia bits

I think this is where the phone shines. Its multimedia abilities. My interest with this phone was piqued when I read about comes with music. I had wondered about this, earlier this year, and found out that you still didn’t quite get “comes with music” here in Malaysia, despite the fact that you get 1,000 DRM-free, free of cost songs with this phone.

bimbit However, its provided via a service called bimbit. bimbit is kind of interesting — its like the iTunes Music Store for Malaysia. Its not well publicised, but it does come with either MP3 access or WMA access. They work on a points based system, and to get a song from a popular artiste (say, Jason Mraz), you’ll be paying about “38 points”, per song. 12 points work out to be RM1, so every song really costs a little over RM3.

They have subscription plans, in where you pay RM360 to get 12 months worth of music (4,600 points, not unlimited), and you an also buy reloads, at various different values, but the bottom line is that Nokia Malaysia, is paying bimbit over RM2,900+ of value, everytime they sell one Nokia 5800 XpressMusic. No one is in the charity business, so I wonder what kind of deal Nokia and bimbit have struck.

<aside>If you’re using bimbit, might I caution you that you better back your multimedia up. They don’t endeavour to give you your download back again, so if you change device, keep copies around. In fact, keep copies around elsewhere, so if you’re on a Mac, back it up with Time Machine. Put it in the cloud. Whatever. </aside>

The built-in speaker is nifty – stereo speakers with surround sound, and the quality of the music coming out of it, is simply amazing. I don’t need my headset to listen to music, so I can literally broadcast music from the speakers (and be really annoying, if I were waiting where there were lots of other people around me). What however did annoy me, is the fact that if you wanted to use the radio application, you needed the headset — music player doesn’t require it, but the radio does? Looks like a software error.

Nokia 5800 XPM (Why so serious?)Video playback is gorgeous. While the screen isn’t as big as what you’d see on an iPod Touch/iPhone, it certainly does provide enough clarity. The video that I recorded off the camera, isn’t as clear as you’d expect (but that’s a question of quality of the source), but if you load up something from bimbit or elsewhere (wherever you get your music videos from :-)), you’ll notice that its crisp, and clear. Millions of colours are being displayed, and the clarity, and contrast, is just amazing.

Software

SIP (for VoIP calls) isn’t built-in. I found this to be lacking, since most of the E-series devices come with this functionality. You can get it via installing third-party software, but, a built-in client would have rocked.

Bounce is a game that makes use of the touchscreen. Kind of useful. Its been a while since I’ve played with games on a mobile device — the last time I was excited by a game on a phone, it was the infamous Snake, and it was made more fun, when you could play with another player, via IR :)

There’s also some cool software, like Touch Guitar, Touch Piano, Touch Card Match, and the Talking Dictionary, which you can install for this phone. The S60blog has relevant links to all this software.

Conclusion and other thoughts

I should probably cover what else is in the box. It comes with a nice mini-CD (not full sized, which is cool, but doesn’t work on slot-loading drives, which is what you mostly get today), the headset, with an additional bit to get the music controls, a USB cable, a case, a spare stylus, AV cables, manuals, and the bimbit card to give you 1,000 free songs. There’s also a charger (which I didn’t use) — its one of the modern, smaller ones for Nokia phones (gone are the days where the charger used to be larger ;)).

Would I buy this phone? It doesn’t have a QWERTY keyboard, which I’ve got used to, for the last few generations of mobile phones that I’ve owned. It does break some design boundaries that Nokia phones traditionally had. It does come with 1,000 free songs, that I can download and carry on any device, I like. It does come with a huge amount of memory. It makes me wonder how cheap the phone actually is, to make!

So back to the question. Would I buy it? Not as a main phone, because of the lack of a keyboard (my use case suggests lots of email on the go, lots of typing up notes, and lots of surfing the Internet and heavy input into things like Twitter, and so on). Would I buy it for my seventeen year old cousin? Yes. Would I recommend it to my twenty one year old cousin? Definitely. Would I recommend it to my mom? Definitely, she could use a new device, to replace her ageing Series 40-based Nokia. I think, I could safely recommend this phone to anyone who’s not been infected with Blackberry-itis.

Gets a good 8/10, in my book.
(and boy, can’t I wait to see what else Nokia is bringing out — lots of cool stuff, look at the Nokie E75, N97, and more, all coming soon, all looking rocking.)

Disclosure: All this thanks to David Lian, from Text100 (they get it – nobody should be reviewing a device, just by looking at it — a good review happens after using it, on a daily basis, for some period of time — only then do you get the quirks, et al). I write this, as its almost time to give back the review unit (I just kept it in a draft folder, adding in more text, over time, so I do hope its not too haphazard). I’ve had quite the experience using the phone.


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