Tag Archives: Nokia N8

Review: Travelling With The Nokia N8

Almost whole of last week I was in Dublin for the first ever MeeGo Conference (more on the conference later) and had with me the N8 as my primary device. I was also carrying the Samsung Galaxy S as a side phone. While back home, the way I use both devices is that my main SIM remains in the N8, while a 3G SIM is placed in the Galaxy S for data purposes only.

All through the flight I was debating where to put the local SIM I bought in Dublin in the N8 or the Galaxy S. To help decide, I made a list of priorities – battery life, followed by camera, navigation and Twitter of course to help live blog the event. At that point the N8 with its 12 MP camera, promise of better battery life, Ovi Maps and Gravity virtually because the only choice.

Review: Travelling With The Nokia N8

(Aviva Stadium Dublin, Taken With The N8’s Panorama App)

At the airport I found out that the only SIM the retailer had was an O2 with 50 MB of data a day, not a lot obviously. But since the only other choice was getting a data only Vodafone SIM, I preferred having the voice capabilities of the O2.

It is at this point that I started to realise how efficient the Symbian operating system is, and how Nokia makes incredibly data frugal devices. For browsing, I turned off the images in the browser and downloaded Opera Mini and because of this I had virtually consumed no data at all despite all the browing, Facebook and Foursquare activity on the one hour ride to the hotel. Here is my tweet appreciating that.

Once at the hotel, Gravity with its super low data consumption and images turned off mode was helping me keep in touch with people at the MeeGo Conference and follow updates. Next, I decided to head out and look at the city a little. Since it was my first time in Dublin, I had no clue of where everything was and needless to say it was time for some Ovi Maps action. Fortunately, I had pre-loaded Ireland before I flew out so navigation was not going to blow a hole in my pocket. If I had been using the Galaxy S with Google Maps, I would have run out of the day’s data limit by the time I got home that evening.

The thing about having Ovi Maps handy is that even if you are not driving or walking, you can still keep track of where you are within the bus and that way help predict the stop you need to get off at. The N8 even within the bus, and not necessarily near the windows, had no problems keeping a fix and informing of my whereabouts. That one feature alone, made me glad.

While I was checking out the city, I was of course taking nicely Geo-tagged images. A good thing about the N8’s camera is that you can take a picture, hit the camera button and its again ready to fire away, but if you don’t want to take another shot then and there, you can simply lock the device with the dedicated switch and the camera goes into standby, ready to spring into action the moment you unlock. This is much faster than having to relaunch the camera everytime and is a great way to take pictures while exploring a city with no hit on the battery life.

Guinness Storehouse Dublin

(Geo-Tagged upload to Flickr)

While at the conference there was WIFI, so I do admit using TweetDeck on the Galaxy S because its honestly a wonderful app. But when it came to Twitpicking or uploading pictures to Facebook, I did find myself going back to the N8, not just because of the camera but because Gravity has a pretty solid image upload section and PixelPipe is a great way upload quickly and fast to multiple destinations.

On the day before I had to fly back, I met with a friend in Dublin and he was showing me around in his car. Having an FM transmitter meant that I was playing all my favorite tunes and he thus got a taste of the latest trends in music back home.

Last, how can I forget the battery life on the N8. It kept going throughout the day despite all the above activities that I mentioned, I feat very few smartphones of today can boast of. Infact, on Day 2 of the conference I even forgot to put it on charge before I slept but come 6AM the next morning, the alarm was still ringing. Lifesaver. Add to that the speed at which it charges, and you can feel pretty confident about not running out of juice.

Despite all the Facebooking, Tweeting, image uploads (when the WIFI broke), browsing, email and navigation, not once did I run over the 50 MB limit and this is where I think the N8 really shone. Plus travel is mostly about content creation and that again is one of the N8’s strengths. With the new browser and portrait QWERTY options coming in PR 2.0 next year, I can only see the N8 going from strength to strength.

When you travel is the time when things like a shiny UI take a backseat and the core functionality of a device comes out. If on such a day your current device makes you feel handicapped, then perhaps its time to look at something else.

Looking for more in-depth coverage on the N8’s individual features?

Still have questions? Let me know in the comments section below.

The Nokia N8 v Nokia C7 Debate

The Nokia N8 has been available for just two weeks and there’s already a new Symbian^3 handset that’s hitting the market in the form of the C7. Both of them run the same OS, share the same guts and are priced pretty near to each other. So if you are in the market for a new Nokia, which one should you be looking at?

The Nokia N8 v Nokia C7 Debate

What’s same:

  • The internals. Both devices have the same processor, GPU, pentaband chips and so on. This means that there will be no performance differences between them.
  • They also share similar capacitive touchscreens which are roughly 3.5″ in size.
  • They also have the same 1200 mAh BL-5K battery, which in the C7’s case is user replaceable.

What’s different:

  • NFC. The C7 has some hidden hardware. It packs a NFC chip that the N8 doesn’t, but as of now its just lying there serving no purpose. May be a future firmware enables it, but considering the fact that there won’t be many NFC use cases in the near future, its not a major win for the C7 in my book.
  • Dimensions. The C7 is also slimmer at 117.3 x 56.8 x 10.5 mm compared to the N8’s 113.5 x 59 x 12.9 mm. Its also lighter by 5 grams, 135 g on the N8 to the C7’s 130 g. This might not seem much, but the C7 does feel a lot thinner in the hand and the pocket bulge is virtually non existent. That being said, the N8 has reasonable dimensions itself and feels great to hold in the hand. Plus the metallic feel adds a premium element to it.
  • HDMI. The C7 is also missing the N8’s HDMI out slot. It still features the ability to use TV-out via the 3.5mm jack.
  • Price. The Nokia C7 is just about 3000-3500 INR ($70-80) cheaper than the N8 in the real world and that’s as far as Nokia can probably push the price difference on bill of material costs alone. The only major things they save on are the camera module, HDMI port and the part plastic construction as both phones have practically the same guts.
  • Storage. The C7 comes with 8GB on inbuilt storage, compared to the 16GB on the N8. Both have support for microSD cards of upto 32GB.

Camera:

  • The real toss-up for most people would be whether to go for a slightly cheaper, thinner C7 with its 8 Megapixel EDOF camera or pay a little more for the metallic N8 with its best in class 12MP auto-focus camera. EDOF stands for extended depth of field, this means that most images taken from the C7 will be in perfect focus provided you are not taking close-up shots. It will also mean that the shot to shot time on the C7 will be pretty good because the camera is not having to focus everytime you take a shot. More on EDOF cameras by Nokia’s camera boss Damian Dinning right here.
  • Both devices shoot video in 720P HD at 25 frames a second and the quality should be comparable. But because the N8 has an auto-focus camera, it is possible that future firmware updates or even hacks bring the ability to focus during video capture at objects up-close. The C7 will never be able to do this.

If you are not going to be taking pictures of documents or other objects placed close to the camera, the C7 will do just fine. It doesn’t have the N8’s wide angle lens or huge sensor so don’t expect great shots in low light but compared to the competition, the C7 will do just fine.

Personal Observations:

Having played with both devices, I may be one of the few people in the world who doesn’t like the C7’s design too much. Based on that alone, I would pick the N8. Its far better looking, feels great in the hand, because of the aluminum has greater resistance to scratches and in black looks outright classy. The C7 with its slightly plastic design and plentiful curves isn’t bad, but why get the second best, when you can have the N8. That being said, if you like the way the C7 looks, feel free to ignore this paragraph, the C7 too, after-all does feel solid in the hand.

The Nokia N8 v Nokia C7 Debate

To sum up, lets see what does the extra $70-80 get you:

  • A far superior camera, capable of some great results.
  • HDMI out, turning your smartphone into a virtual DVD/Blueray player replacement. Not to mention the Dolby support.
  • Premium design in an aluminum construction.
  • An extra 8GB of onboard storage.

In my book, all of those together are easily worth the extra money. No point compromising for such a small price difference. It is only when the difference reaches about $120 that you should weight your options, otherwise the N8 wins, hands down.

Nokia’s Ovi Music Unlimited Deserves More Credit Than It Receives

When ‘Comes With Music’ was first launched, I was skeptical. There were obvious evils, DRM’d tracks, additional cost for the service when you could get the same handset for cheaper without it, a not so stellar PC client, no Mac support to name the popular ones. The rollout of CWM devices was slow, scattered and thus adoption slow. It never really got the popularity that some of Nokia’s other Ovi services such as Maps received and didn’t become a huge selling point. That should change, here’s why.

Nokia's Ovi Music Unlimited Deserves More Credit Than It Receives

The price at which the N8 sells in India, is the cheapest anywhere in the world. Despite that, it comes with a subscription to Ovi Music Unlimited, essentially giving you access to over 4 million songs for the grand price of free. The Nokia N8 is my first ‘Comes With Music’ device, or rather my first ‘Ovi Music Unlimited’ device as Nokia would have me say. Read on to find out my experience with the store.

Till now you had to scratch the Nokia Music Store voucher, retrieve the pin, enter it on the music.ovi.com portal and then get access to the music. With the N8, everything was seamless, you sign in with your Ovi account in the beginning and everything is activated automatically, no scratching for a pin, nothing. The phone automatically receives the activation PIN code as a text message, but you never really have to use it. Infact, you can start downloading even without signing in to your Ovi Account, that’s only needed if you want to use the service on the PC as well.

Once you launch the Ovi Music app on the mobile, you see a neatly organised music store with the latest popular releases highlighted and options to get to other genres, playlists and so on. If it is an album you are browsing, there is a neat download all button at the top or you can choose to download tracks individually as well.

Nokia's Ovi Music Unlimited Deserves More Credit Than It Receives Nokia's Ovi Music Unlimited Deserves More Credit Than It Receives

However, if you are browsing music by playlists, charts or any other medium that is not a album you will not be able to download all tracks in one go. I do hope an update to the client brings this ability as well. Another thing I would like to see is the ability to mark tracks in one go and then download the selection.

Nokia's Ovi Music Unlimited Deserves More Credit Than It Receives Nokia's Ovi Music Unlimited Deserves More Credit Than It Receives

Everytime you open Ovi Music app, it automatically signs you in and takes you to the store selection page, so it takes about 5 seconds by the time you actually get to the store, its not a huge irritant, but Nokia would do well to make this even more seamless. Other than that the store is easy enough to navigate and the search works well.

In India, Ovi Music comes with over 150 local labels (T-Series, Yash Raj Music, Venus, Saregama, Tips), along with support for the major international labels. Add to that music in regional languages such as Malayalam, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tamil and Marathi. I need not go into the depth of the Ovi Music library, suffice it to say you will even be able to find 50 year old music that otherwise would be next to impossible to find.

One major nicety about music downloaded from the Ovi Music Store is than all the meta-data is there, artist/album information, album art and so on. On the new Symbian^3 devices, it a pleasure to scroll through music this way and it continuously makes you want to download more.

Nokia's Ovi Music Unlimited Deserves More Credit Than It Receives

Under the ‘Ovi Music Unlimited’ service, all tracks that you download come with DRM restrictions and I can already see a lot of you moan. However, the N8 doesn’t make you feel bound. There is a 3.5mm jack for headphones, you can even play music over the HDMI connector, over bluetooth headphones and to top it all there is an FM transmitter. Then, if you have friends who also happen to have a ‘OMU’ device, you can share music between yourselves via bluetooth or otherwise. If you work on a Windows computer, then your desktop needs are settled too. Not only is the Ovi Music Client for PC’s in India much lighter (3MB v 60 MB) but you can also use multiple PC’s to download music to your phone, that’s a lot of freedom considering you are dealing with DRM’d tracks here.

What I liked:

  • Millions of songs, free to download.
  • Built in OMU cost, the N8 still cheapest compared to anywhere in the world.
  • Ability to download complete albums in one go, on the go.
  • 30 second live streaming previews which help you decided if you want to download the song.

What could be better:

  • The startup/loading time of the app.
  • Ability to select individual songs from an album/playlist and download them in one go.
  • Work with developers like Shazam to make an version that identifies the song, and then lets you download it straight from the Ovi Music Store.

All in all, Ovi Music Unlimited is a much bigger deal that I thought. Infact, it has become my most used Ovi service, I might use the store a few times a week or maps to navigate once a week, but when you know there is so much music just waiting to be heard, you visit much more often. It is also one of the major reasons why I like the N8. Ovi Music Unlimited along with the FM transmitter makes it the best portable music player on the planet, far ahead of anything Apple with its iTunes can achieve. Armed with an app like Shazam, Ovi Music Unlimited could be a music enthusiast’s dream.

Beautiful Gallery Of The Nokia N8 In Dark Grey

The Nokia N8 is arguably the most beautiful Nokia ever made. Made out of anodized aluminum, available in five vibrant colours, the Nokia N8 turns out as one of the most durable, yet beautiful devices ever. It feels great in the hand and you can even put it down on the table secure in the knowledge that the aluminum back isn’t getting scratched anytime soon.

Here are some beautiful pictures of the dark grey variant of the N8, which at times is also referred as black. Since I had used a couple of these images as thumbnails in some posts, a bunch of you have asked if I could send out hi-resolution images so that they could be used as wallpapers, well, here you are. Clicking on any image will take you to the hi-res version and to make sure that the N8 stands out in its complete glory, I haven’t even watermarked them.

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

Beautiful Nokia N8 Gallery

If black isn’t your colour, we also have a very large gallery of the other variants of the N8.

Application: Shoot Video At 30 FPS On The N8 & Take Uncompressed Images

Remember I told you about hyperX’s work on getting the Nokia N8 to shoot at 30 frames a second instead of the 25 it does out of the box? Today I’m glad to tell you that hyperX has released that mod as a downloadable application that you can install on your N8 and start shooting at 30 FPS.

What’s more, the hack also allows you to take virtually uncompressed images from your N8 that capture a little more detail than what you would get with the default settings. As a downside, the new images are a whopping 11 MB in size versus the 2 MB default average.

The mod does make a difference, but unless you will be cropping images often or be printing them in large sizes, the default settings should work just fine. However, the 30 FPS makes the hack totally worth it, the video is much more smooth and fluid.

You can download the application (sis file) here, but you will have to sign it before you can install it on the N8. Here’s hoping the next N8 firmware brings 30 FPS shooting as a default.

In-Depth Look At The Video Editor On The Nokia N8

One of the new things that the new Symbian^3 OS brings is a pretty capable video editor that allows you to edit HD video right on the mobile phone. You can merge clips, add images, throw in transitions, replace the audio with music, trim clips, add titles and captions, pretty much everything that you’ll want to do before you share the glorious video that you have shot on the phone.

The whole process of manipulating video is pretty simple and you feel at home the moment you start the application. Here is an in-depth look at the Nokia N8’s video editor in glorious HD.

Considering the fact that event my Macbook screams when it comes to editing video in HD, the results and speed the N8 manages to pull off is pretty impressive. Some transitions, specially in the photo slideshow look a little jerky, but it may just have been the style of that particular theme.

Here is a video that I produced on the N8 immediately after recording the demo that you saw above, it took me under 5 minutes to produce.

  • Added a Title screen with a transition.
  • Selected two clips, trimmed one down to include just the middle part of it.
  • Added another transition.
  • Added background music.
  • Ended with another text based slide.

With an upload service such as pixelpipe running, the N8 becomes a true multimedia sharing powerhouse. For a long time image and video editors on the device have been more of gimmicks than actually usable apps, riddled with stability issues. But it looks like onboard editing on the Nokia N8 not just does the job, but impresses. After all, the application came for free, inbuilt on the phone and you didn’t have to buy it, unlike Apple’s iMovie for iPhone.