Tag Archives: N8

Nokia Shorts Competition Puts $10,000 IN Your Pocket – Catapults You To Mobile Motion Picture Heaven

If Mobile Motion Picture making is right up your alley, Nokia has something you would be very interested in, the Nokia Shorts Competition. A grand prize of $10,000 and an all expenses trip to the London Film Museum is on the line along with a chance to be one of the 8 entries that will be selected to receive $5,000 to produce the full version on two, Nokia N8’s.

Nokia Shorts Competition

In order to take part, all you need to do is create a video pitch of an idea for a short film or video, in no longer than two minutes. Add a 100 word description to it and submit it to Nokia’s Vimeo channel. If you are one of the 8 lucky people picked by the jury, the $5,000 production budget and two Nokia N8’s could be winging their way to you. What’s more, a premiere screening at Edinburgh International Film Festival 2011 awaits all shortlisted filmmaker’s finished films.

The jury will be looking for originality, so to shortlist, pitch an innovative idea, a unique approach, or unusual angle: in short, something new. Nokia will announce the shortlisted filmmakers by 24.04.2011 and cash and cameras will be shipped out in good time for shooting to start on 02.05.2011 and wrap on 12.06.2011. You have time until April 17th 2011 to submit your pitch.

You can find all the details on Nokia’s Vimeo page.

Nokia Big Screen Gives Your HDMI Capable Phones A Whole New Way To Interact With Your TV

From time to time, Nokia’s Beta Labs comes out with some great gems, today is one such day. The free Nokia Big Screen app takes the process of connecting your HDMI devices (N8, E7) to the TV onto a whole new level with a very slick UI. You could still watch videos or photos on your HDTV without the app, but where the app really shines is making that interaction a pleasure. Once installed, it automatically launches the moment you connect an HDMI cable to your phone and now instead of a mirror of the phone UI’s you get something that looks like a Media Center, much more easy on the eye and faster to navigate.

Once connected you can use the directional pad that pops up on the phone’s touch, or use a Wii Remote or a bluetooth keyboard. As you can see in the video, having a Wii Remote handy does help take the experience up a notch or two. The post on the beta labs blog also mentions a bunch of other things that you can do with the app:

  • Show your photos and videos in high definition on your TV screen
  • Listen to music from your phone on your home audio system
  • View song lyrics in karaoke style and watch videos with subtitles
  • Play music in the background while you browse your photos
  • Enjoy slideshows with music of your choice
  • Have a screen saver activate after a minute’s idle time to protect your TV
  • Use your phone as an entertainment hub you can take everywhere with you

Once you get to the download page, you will also find useful information about adding bluetooth devices such as a Wii Remote or a keyboard. If you want to avoid the hassle of signing in to download, here’s the direct link.

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.

Debate: Symbian’s UI Consistency Is Good – The Geeks May Hate It, But The Average Joe Loves It

For the last two years, the world (?) has been going on about how the Symbian UI is old, clunky and must go. It must be written again from ground up if Symbian has to have any chance. At any rate, these rants have managed to dent Symbian’s brand name by a huge margin and affect Nokia’s fortunes adversely.

So much so that even supporters of the OS, were taken in by the storm and only a very few loyalists remain. The good thing is that even the loyalists are not fanboys per-se, but people who would like to see the OS improve and mature into a world class OS that it is. Anyway, that’s not why I am writing this post.

Debate: Symbian's UI Consistency Is Good - The Geeks May Hate It, But The Average Joe Loves It

Yesterday, I was out with friends and since they know I would probably be rocking the latest and greatest device of the time, my phone is generally passed around and comments made on it. I happened to be using the Samsung Galaxy S, a phone that I really like, I might add. I was sure they would be taken in by the huge gorgeous screen, ‘modern’ UI, the amazing size and weight and would come out impressed.

So on being asked, I immediately whipped out the Galaxy S, unlocked it and handed it over. It was back in my hands in a hardly a minute. Why you ask?

The reason was simple, he fiddled with the homescreen a little bit, tried to go into the apps and was probably thrown back by the sheer number of them I had. Ten seconds of poking here and there and his decision was made. The Galaxy S was not for him, it was simply too complicated.

For the vast majority of The Handheld Blog readers, that’s unfathomable. How could he not wrap his mind around something so easy and natural? But for a large chunk of the population that IS the case. For them the mobile is not nearly as important as it is for some of us. Its not as if they do not want Facebook, Email and apps in general, they really do, but they couldn’t be bothered spending time and energy fussing over these things. Whether we admit it or not, we’ve all seen it with friends and family.

This brings me to the debate, Symbian ^3 looks just like the old Symbian experience, but is that a bad thing after all? Lets look at it from my friend’s example. He’s looking to update from his N95 8GB which has served him well. Despite Symbian’s hidden shortcuts and folders, even he probably knows them inside out by now. The N8 comes along and he’s still at home with the UI and thus the phone. Isn’t that a win for Nokia?

Thoughts?

The N8’s Active Hyper-focal Distance Video Focus System Explained In Detail

The spec sheet on the Nokia N8 mentions ‘Active Hyper-focal Distance’ as the method used by it during video capture and unless you did some research on your own, I’m sure all of you are wondering how exactly does it work (I was). In part 2 of the making of the N8’s camera (part 1 was about photography), Damian Dinning explains exactly how that works, and why Nokia chose it over continuous auto focus and focus at the beginning of the exposure.

So instead of I saying the same thing in my own words, I thought it’d be better for you to read what the man had to say himself. It might seem long, but I assure you its more than worth a read.

‘The N8 uses a system we refer to as ‘Active Hyper-focal Distance’. Hyper-focal distance is a specific lens focus position which by using depth of field allows the greatest range from near to infinity for objects to appear in focus. The Nokia N8 uses a 28mm (35mm film equivalent) focal length Carl Zeiss lens. This provides us with huge depth of field. But by using the hyper focal distance means objects placed between roughly 60cm and infinity will appear sharply focused.

The N8's Active Hyper-focal Distance Video Focus System Explained  In Detail

The reference to ‘Active’ relates to the nature of how we maintain this hyper-focal distance lens position. Most autofocus camera modules in camera phones rely to some degree on friction. The problem with this is that the lens which moves for focus adjustment can slip after being driven to the correct intended lens position. This isn’t normally a problem in the case of still photography, but in the case of video can create problems especially when recording with HD resolution. To combat this problem, for the first time we actively monitor the lens position and then adjust it if required. The result is simply, video that’s always in focus.

The alternatives today are as follows: 1. Focus at the beginning of the exposure and then lock it or 2. continuously focus during the video. Unfortunately both have disadvantages. The first means if your subject moves or you alter the composition it will be out of focus. The second means the image in screen needs to be always be in focus. However, maintaining this without seeing focus hunting is very difficult. Add to this, when your subject moves from it’s original position, or there is insufficient contrast or illumination it simply won’t be able to focus and unless you’re lucky, your video will be out of focus. Before I continue, yes our system does have the disadvantage of only being effective for subjects which are beyond 60cm. We felt however, this was a worthwhile trade-off given the benefit you get in return, always in focus video, regardless of where your subject is, how fast it moves, how much contrast there is or how much available light there is. And you’ll never see it focusing or hunting during filming either’.

So there you have it, film anything farther than about 60 cms and you’ll have great video. I personally don’t mind the trade-off but find myself wishing for continuous focus or even the ability to manually focus at the start, it would be great for filming all those unboxing videos. But Damain goes on to say something that gives me reason to be excited.

‘Of course the ultimate solution would be to combine both of these in some way. Earlier in development we trialled a continuous autofocus system for video, but concluded for the time being that the performance didn’t warrant its inclusion in the product at sales start. Having said that, we are continuing investigations to find a way to get the best of both worlds in the future. Let’s see…’

So if I interpret correctly, it is possible that continuous auto focus comes to the N8 via a firmware update later, the keywords being “didn’t warrant its inclusion in the product at sales start“. It is clear that Nokia’s really working hard to make the N8 the best camera phone on the market and if you take the time to go through the entire piece, you find a lot of insight into how the digital zoom works and how it is quite close to optical zoom when it comes to performance. The N8’s auto capture ability, with its dual microphones is also talked about.

If you are interested in the N8, both part 1 on photography and part 2 on video are a must read. Oh, and there are a ton of pretty impressive photo samples as well.

Had To Be Said: The N8 Is Awesome

It is after a long time that I am really getting excited about a Nokia Symbian device. Infact, the N8 is the new N95 for me. You look at the hardware and you fall for it, but what is making me really happy is the software that’s bringing something new to the table. This is my second post on the same subject in a short while so you can tell I am excited.

Had To Be Said: The N8 Is Awesome

Infact, with the N8 Nokia’s truly stepped into the portable computer market. A netbook allows you to browse the web, chat, do a bit of office work, watch a movie and the like. The N8 also lets you do all of that but with the ability to use a HDTV and is no where the size of a netbook. You can even plug a USB thumb drive into it for moving data across. But what really makes my day is the fact that it even supports the use of a BT Mouse and Keyboard at the same time and what is even more awesome is the fact that the support for the mouse is pretty extensive. It works throughout the device be it the music player, the homescreen, office apps and it can pretty much replace your finger. A right click on the mouse brings you to the homescreen and you can even scroll lists on the phone with the mouse’s scroll wheel.

Senario: You have the N8 plugged in to an HDTV via HDMI and have a 720P movie downloading from ‘Ovi Movies’. You push that to the background and connect a BT Mouse and Keyboard to you can go sit down on the couch. Then you browse the web, (which is turning out to be very convenient because of the mouse support) and suddenly realize that you have a reply to send, so you type in a quick email, pickup the attachment from the pen drive that’s connected to the N8 and fire it off. Meanwhile the movie which you had sent to the background has completed downloading, you hit play right from the couch. If that is not awesome, tell me what is?

The movie here could easily have come from the flash drive or your favourite torrent. You could also have edited a word document, or some video with the N8’s inbuilt video editor or a thousand things developers can think of.

My friend Michael Hell was able to capture a video showing the BT Mouse and Keyboard in action, have a look for yourself.

Awesome?