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The N85 Review: Hardware

The N85 Review: Hardware

The N85 was one of the few devices from Nokia in 2008 that actually got people excited. Also, unlike many of Nokia’s other devices, the period between its announcement and its shipping date was brief, almost surprising. It started shipping close to the time when the N96 had finally entered the scene, resulting in people comparing the N85 to the N96 and sending out a verdict which basically dismissed the N96 and crowned the N85 as Nokia’s current top spec Nseries.

When it was first announced in August, for whatever reason it did not make me want it.  But with time as more information came out and the N96 got even more delayed, my interest in it piqued. The N85 packs a 5MP camera with dual LED’s and a lens cover, an AGPS, a FM transmitter, an accelerometer, a 3.5mm jack in a dual sliding form factor that runs on Symbian OS 9.3, S60 3.2. The usual Nseries goodies like WiFi, UPnP, Share Online and so are all there too. The two places that it makes a mark are its 2.6″ AMOLED screen and support for USB charging via its microUSB port.

PHYSICAL LAYOUT

N85 - Share on Ovi

Like I said in my unboxing video of the N85, it is small. The device fits snugly into the palm of the hand and feels quite different from what you may have seen virtually. It is made of plastic, the front sports a shiny black and because of that it becomes a fingerprint magnet. The variant that I have has a copper back that looks good and doesn’t suffer from any fingerprint issues. The right side of the phone is packed with the volume rocker, camera button, the keypad lock switch and the stereo speakers that are located on the extreme top and bottom for better reproduction while watching videos. The left hand side is relatively plain, with it just housing the microSD slot. The bottom is barren because the dedicated charger port is now history (much to my dislike, more later) and the top holds the power/profile switch buttom, the 3.5mm jack that doubles as the headphone and TV out slot, the microUSB port for charging and data transfer and finally the lanyard hole on the top left.

BUILD QUALITY

N85 - Share on Ovi

When I had taken the N85 out of its box for the first time, it seemed to be built like a rock. One month of everyday usage has somewhat made it loose its firmness slightly. The slide is still pretty firm, better than the N95/N95 8GB and pushing it upward gives a nice feeling. I cannot however say what when we slide the N85 the ‘other’ way in order to reveal the multimedia buttons. The slide itself is hard and even wobble prone to an extent.

Some people have had issues with the N85’s build quality in general but I have not encountered any issues that do not plague other sliders. In fact, I am yet to get a creak out of the phone, this is partly because the backplate fits in firmly over the battery.

KEYS

N85 - Share on Ovi

If you were to ask me to name one aspect of the N85 that I hate, I’d say the Navi Wheel and I’m not talking about how well/badly it performs but the simple fact that it is hard to press. I first though that this was something I would get used to, however after almost a month I have not been able to. Apart from this, I don’t have much of a problem with the surrounding keys such as the delete key, menu key and so on although I would have preferred if they were distinguishable without the need for the backlight. The keypad is a pleasure and you can expect high speeds with T9 comfortably. There is amble space between the slide and the keys so there won’t be a difficulty in reaching the 1-2-3 keys even if you have large thumbs.

The keypad lock switch is a nifty little addition and a very welcome one. The switch is ergonomically placed on the right side and feels good, the volume rocker is probably the most convenient of all present on the Nseries. The camera button is nice to press, however it doesn’t offer the two step click most auto-focus cameras do, meaning that there might be times when you press it a little too hard and the camera takes a photos without taking the proper time to focus. This takes time getting used to and even then you might end up making a mistake or two.

USB CHARGING

N85 - Share on Ovi

Nokia finally decided to implement USB charging after what seemed like ages. Even the Moto Razr had it. What this means is that the phone charges when it is connected to the computer as well as with the new Nokia microUSB charger. On the whole it should have been a welcome addition, but I personally at not too pleased with its implementation. While Nokia did put USB charging in, the usual Nokia charger pin was taken away, so you still have just one charging option.

The problem with this is that you will need to have your new charger/data cable always with you and the convenience of charging at a friend’s place or in a mall etc is gone. There is no doubt that with time this mode will become as popular, but currently I think Nokia should have given us both options.

SCREEN & GAMING

N-Gage - N96 v/s N85 - Share on Ovi

I have already covered the screen and gaming aspect in this post. In short, the screen is wonderful and you will be blown away when you first see it and once you start using it, it will become difficult going to something else.

To conclude, I will simply say that if you can come to grips with a hard Navi Wheel then there is nothing else that should keep you from getting a N85 as far as the harware is concerned, it is after all THE top spec Nseries currently on sale.

In the next part of this review, we dive into the software aspect of the N85.

The N96 Challenge Is Complete – My Take On How The N96 Performed

The N96 Challenge Is Complete - My Take On How The N96 Performed

After a few exciting weeks of completing various tasks centered around the N96, like all good things – The N96 Challenge has come to an end. The competition was to win five N96 trials for you, the reader and we shall very soon find out if we have been successful. I can assure you that we tried our level best.

  • The first task was simple, I had to take geo-tagged phone of the Ninja and upload it via NokiaVine. My buddy Sartaj Gill risked all at the edge of a rooftop dressed as the Ninja while I used the N96 to capture his heroics. This was no ‘run of the mill’ snap!
  • The third challenge needed the Ninja to play a video full of fireworks on the TV via the N96’s TV-Out feature. We decided on playing the N-Gage game ‘One’ with some Rocky music as a background, running on the phone’s music player.
  • The fourth and final task was all about Nokia Vine and the N96. I needed to upload a video, photos, and the soundtrack I was listenning to via the vine. That’s done too, albeit not exactly as I planned it.

As you can probably gather, the ultimate motive of the N96 Challenge was not to test how good a performer can I be, but to help demonstrate the functionality of the N96. Throughout this challenge, I used the N96 as a camera, as a camcorder, as a mp3 player and as a tool that documented my life to an extent.

During the initial part, both the N96 and Nokia Vine were in a miserable condition – buggy as hell. I had half a mind to stop trying to make either work. However, since that time the Nokia Vine application has gotten updated thrice, the N96 is upto version 12 firmware and I see loads of promise.

Nokia Vine has gone from being super slow and crash prone to not only usable but enjoyable, however I still cannot say the same about its web interface. But the good part is that the vines are automatically added to your sportstracker profile also, so you can still view them and the media uploaded with ease.

If I were to evaluate the N96’s performance in any of these tasks, I’d have to give it top grades. The camera performs well, the music is excellent. I even had a small party with the N96 acting as the music system with speakers attched via the 3.5mm plug. I have already talked about its gaming capability here and TV out didn’t give me any problems either.

In case you look closely, all of these things are ones you would mostly do while travelling and in the light of its 16GB storage, I’d have to seriously think about NOT taking it along. (Battery permitting).

Eight Killer Themes For The Nokia 5800

[digg-me]Sadly, I still haven’t been able to get my hands on a 5800 yet, but that has not stopped me from scouting the internet for the best Nokia 5800 (N97/S60 v5) themes. Here is a collection of eight polished themes for you to have fun with. Click on the image to download.

Update – I have personally tried some of these themes (marked with a ***) on a 5800 I could get hold of for a little while and they worked just fine. However, to be safe – install the themes on the microSD so that in case something goes wrong you can simply pop the card out and prevent any damage.

So without further adieu here is the first theme:

  • ***At the top of the list is Winter Time by none other than Pizero. Download here.

If you appetite for themes has still not been satisfied, Daily Mobile has a link to a megapack of ten 5800 themes. Download Here. Have you come across any other good looking 5800/S60 v5 theme? If so, please share.

IMPORTANT

Please make sure you install the themes on the microSD and not in the phone memory. In the eventuality that you face a problem with any theme, simply remove the memory card and restart the device. Next simply pop the microSD inside and uninstall the theme.

Must Know Tips & Tricks For The E71

E71 Tips & Tricks

[digg-me]The E71 was one of the very best handsets to come out of Nokia factories in 2008 and the best ever in my book. So it is only right that we utilise its functionality to the absolute hilt and try and make the E71 even more efficient.

Here is a long list of must know tips and tricks for the E71. You might already know a few but if you are new to S60 and the E71 in particular, I’m sure this will make for a happy start to the E71 new year!

  • STICKY FUNCTION KEY – A quick double press on the bottom left ‘function’ key locks it. This is helpful in situations when you need to press a combination of keys or in applications like Gmail which can be controlled via the keypad.
  • 1-800-WHATEVER – To dial 1-800-WHATEVER: type 1800, hit Fn, then Shift twice, type WHATEVER, and press the Call/Green key to dial. (The idea is to type in the alphabet mode in CAPITAL letters ONLY). The alphabets will automatically be converted to numbers.
  • ONE TOUCH MUTE – You can simply mute a call by press the button between the volume keys present on the right hand side of the phone. Press it again to cancel the mute.
  • REMAP THE KEYS – There are times when you feel certain keys on the E71 are being wasted when they could have come in very handy. For example, the volume keys would work wonderfully with the web browser to scroll pages or in your music player and the mute key could work as select. Make that happen.
  • TIME & DATE – When the phone is in the locked state and the screen is blank, hit the Navi Button to display the time and date in a large font.
  • TEXT MESSAGES – When in the standby mode, hold down left soft key to read out new text messages.
  • ASSIGN SHORTCUTS –  If you have a lot of applications installed on your E71, you might want to assign additional shortcuts to different applications by definying a set of keypresses with an application called Cute Keys. Learn how here.

As a follow up to the above tips, here are a few shortcuts that you should enjoy. I have highlighted some of the lesser known ones.

GENERAL

  • To get to a symbol or number hold down its key.
  • Shift + Backspace deletes letters after the cursor, thus immitating the behavior of the ‘Delete’ key on the computer.
  • In the Main Menu:
    A B C D
    E F G H
    I J K L

    To open A press 1, 2 for B, 3 for C, * for D, 4 for E, 5 for F and so on.

  • Fn + Ctrl + C to copy.
  • Fn + Ctrl + V to paste.
  • Shift + Left ( or Right ) to select text.
  • Ctrl + Up for page up.
  • Ctrl + Down for page down.
  • Ctrl + Vowels ( or n ) for accented characters like á or ñ.

CAMERA

  • T to focus.

GALLERY

  • Green Call to send the image.
  • Fn + * for full screen.
  • Fn + 7 to zoom in. Press twice for the full screen size.
  • Fn + 4 to scroll left while in the zoomed image.
  • Fn + 5 to zoom in.
  • Fn + 3 to rotate right.
  • Fn + 2 to scroll up while in the zoomed image.
  • Fn + 1 to rotate left.
  • Fn + 0 to zoom out.

STANDBY

  • Hold * to activate/deactivate Bluetooth.
  • Hold 0 to go to the web browser.
  • Left Soft Key then Fn ( or * ) locks the keypad.
  • Hold End/Red to disconnect all data connections.
  • Hold Left Soft Key to read out new text messages.

MAIL

  • Shift + Return to mark/unmark a single message.
  • Shift + Down to mark multiple items.
  • Fn + Spacebar in new message body to access input (predictive text, etc.) options.

MAPS

  • Shift to zoom in.
  • Backspace to zoom out.
  • Space to go to the current position.

REAL PLAYER

  • Fn + 2 for full screen.
  • Hold Up for fast forward.
  • Hold Down for rewind.

WEB

  • 1 for bookmarks.
  • 2 to find something on a page.
  • 3 to return to the previous page.
  • 5 to tab open windows.
  • * to zoom in.
  • # to zoom out.
  • 8 for page overview.
  • 9 to go to a different web page.
  • 0 to got to the homepage.
  • Hit the Backspace key to close the current window.

The above compilation contains some of my own discoveries along with information from here, here and here. Have more tips/tricks to share? Make sure you put them down in the comments section.

Happy New Year & Feedback Request

Happy New Year!!

A new year has already dawned upon us and I am a little late in wishing all of you a very Happy New Year, still please accept my best wishes. I am back from a small vacation with the resolution to put in an extra efforts this year on The Symbian Blog, because of your support the blog has grown substantially this year and I hope 2009 will be HUGE.

In the same vein, I request you to kindly take a little time out to send me some feedback on what you like/ dislike/want. I know I need to work on the frequency, but I’d also like to know if you would like shorter or longer posts, more of news or thought out posts and so on. Please send in anything you feel will make this website a better resource for everyone.

What you say will be important for me, so even if it is criticism alone – don’t hold back. Please write in at vaibhav(at)thesymbinblog.com, use the contact form or simply put down a comment.

Christmas Themes For Your S60

Its that time of the year! Here’s wishing all of you a Merry Christmas! So that your phone doesn’t feel left out of the Christmas revelry, here are a few Christmas themes courtesy of Symbian-Guru. They have shared a collection of eight themes, which you might want to have a look at.

Below are two, which I personally liked.

Download Christmas Night by BabiNokia here.

Download Silent Night by Jendell here.

Jump over for the rest.