Tag Archives: Nseries

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.

The Nokia N8 Supports Bluetooth Mice – But Nokia Won’t Highlight It

The N8 keeps on pulling off awesome stuff that I have wanted for ages, but Nokia seems intent on not showing the world just how cool the N8 actually is! Case in point, support for USB on the Go was a small entry on the spec sheet and now in the latest video demoing the N8, support for bluetooth hardware is mentioned but only bluetooth keyboards are shown. That is something even old devices could do.

The Nokia N8 Supports Bluetooth Mice - But Nokia Won't Highlight It

But just at the end you see a mouse pointer in the video and it actually works! Symbian^3 brings bluetooth mouse support and the N8 actually supports it! But instead of shouting from the rooftops they don’t even mention it aloud. Give something like this to Apple and they would make the world go crazy.

Anyway, back in June 2007 I had asked for exactly this:

Senario: I own an N95 and a bluetooth keyboard. While going on a vacation, I just throw the Laptop’s bluetooth mouse in and leave. In my hotel room I setup my BT keyboard and the BT mouse, plug the TV out cable in leave the phone there and go sit on the couch a few meters away. Now, just image what my web browsing experience would be like! Not only web browsing, but if this could be implemented with Office Editors or even viewers, the combo would really rock! The possibilities are endless, even a few games could make do with this functionality. Playing something even as basic as Solitaire would become a breeze!

Come 2010 and we have HDMI and high resolution screens. The developers can have a ball with this.

The other parts of the video show off the music player, coverflow and HDMI in general. The N8 is one impressive device. But I still can’t get over how they waste such game changing features. In a time when Symbian is taking a hit, its all about marketing, ask Apple.

We Are Giving Away THREE Nokia N900’s!

Two days ago I asked you on Twitter, ‘If you were able to buy any Nokia device in the market today, what would it be?’. The answer was an overwhelming vote for the N900!

Turns out, that it is contest time here on The Symbian Blog and we are giving you a chance to win not one, not two but 3 Nokia N900’s! If you haven’t have had a chance to play with a N900 yet, I can tell you that it is an amazing device that you will thoroughly enjoy, I bought one the moment I played with my review unit.

[Update – You have until 11:59 PM IST on the 23rd of April to get your entries in.]

Now back to the contest, here is how to enter:

Here Is Your Chance To Win 3 Nokia N900's

Once you do that you will have three avenues to win:

  • First: Simply tell us what you think of the application – things you like and things you would like to see improved. The top review judged on criteria such as value and merit will be awarded a Nokia N900. Over.
  • Second: Share your Ovi Store experience with us along with what you think would make the Ovi Store perfect. Over.
  • Third: You need to do nothing for this one. Once you have downloaded the Hi-N-Bye application from the Ovi Store, simply enter your name in the comments section below and at the end of the contest, we will choose one lucky winner based on a random draw.

About Hi-N-Bye:

Hi-N-Bye is a motion controlled accelerometer based application that recognizes hand gestures and eliminates the need of using physical buttons to complete tasks such as answering a call, switching on the loudspeaker, switching between calls and terminating them.

When your phone rings, you can simply look at who is calling and simply put the phone to your ear without pressing a button and the call will be automatically answered. If you are wondering how this works, the following video should help:

Hi-N-Bye is currently 3€ (4$, 2.6£ or 175 INR) at the Ovi Store and has been tested on N82, N95, N96, 5800, N97, N97 mini and the X6, but should work on similar devices as well.

RULES:

  • The contest is open to everyone, irrespective of geographic location.
  • Only one entry per person, however you can enter in all three categories if you wish.
  • The last date for submitting your entries for the first two categories is the 18th of April.
  • The last date for entering the lucky draw (third category) is the 23rd of April (11:59 PM IST).
  • You can enter the first and second categories by writing a comment below. If you have a blog, you can also write a post with your opinion and then link to this post.
  • Downloading the Hi-N-Bye application from the Ovi Store is mandatory for entering this contest.
  • The decision of the organisers is final and no queries will be entertained with regard to the selection process. More fine print here.
  • Subscribe via  RSS, Email or Twitter so that you don’t miss out on any updates.

Here’s How Nokia Can Make The N97 Better

Having used the N97 for a few days now, I have come to the conclusion that the N97 has huge potential. Nokia has done a good job putting all the hardware in, (the RAM and processor groans aside) what actually needs some work is the software. In this post I will not be crying about the initial the firmware that Nokia has shipped the device with, but look at certain software tweaks that can help improve the N97 experience to a very large extent.

As far as the bugs, stability and performance issues go, I am hoping that the v11 firmware that comes out on July 1st will take care of them. Here are a few suggestions that I sincerely hope people churning out the next firmware take into account.

  • KEYPAD: The keypad must allow us to ‘long press’ in order to get numerals. It might not be a bad idea to enable the long press for other keys as well. Having to hit the blue arrow each time in order to enter numbers or a symbol is a pain.
  • PREDICTIVE TEXT: I’ve mentioned that predictive text actually improves the N97 typing experience, but only when writing a message. On all other occasions it actually hampers free typing, specially when writing in a text box where the difference between the typed and suggested word is not shown. Other gripes are here; basically we need the E71 module to be put in here, pronto.
  • HOMESCREEN WIDGET MANAGEMENT: When I currently try and add a widget to the homescreen which is already full, instead of telling me its full and giving an error, it would be much nicer if I were given the option to replace a widget there and then. Most people will have all 5 slots full all the time, so instead of having to edit, remove and then add, the above would make it a much more pleasant experience. I would also like a second widgetised homescreen which we could access by swiping a finger across the screen, however I’m not very hopeful given the RAM situation on the N97.
  • SHORTCUTS I: Moving onto shortcuts. In the landscape mode, with the keyboard out the first four keys in all three lines should act as shortcuts to the menu items being displayed. This was true for older devices but it seems to have been overlooked in Nokia’s first S60 5th Edition non touch only device.
  • SHORTCUTS II: Another place where the keyboard needs to provide shortcuts is in the Web Browser. When it has loaded a website in the full screen mode, it takes me three steps to reach the ‘Bookmarks’, wouldn’t it be nice if I could hit ‘1’ for ‘Bookmarks’, ‘2’ for ‘Find’ and so on, exactly like what used to happen on a N95. If I’m not wrong, I think even the E90 could do it with its QWERTY.
  • TEXT SELECTION: The next thing that needs a bit of work is the copy/paste function. In my experience, the device can use the keyboard (Shift+Navi Pad) to select text, however the same is only true for apps such as Notes and Messaging. This did not work for me in the web browser while entering text, needless to say, this is something that should work across all applications. The next thing is that there is no ‘Select All’ functionality and this becomes even more irritating because the keys that are used to select text are next to each other. It would be much more ergonomic if we could select with the blue arrow (last key third row) and the Navi Pad. On the other hand, ‘Shift’ should support the usual Ctrl+A/X/C/V functionality with the corresponding letter.

These were some of the points I could thing of while using the N97, I’m sure you have many more ideas which will go a long way in improving the N97, please put them down in the comments section and I’ll periodically keep updating this post so that it can serve as a ready reckoner.

Nokia Music Centric Device Coming On March 11?

At least that’s what it seems from the image up on events.nokia.com. Nokia has an all round device in the form of the N97 coming, the camera part is taken care of by the N86, the E55 and E75 are promising business devices but there isn’t an out and out music device that’s been announced recently.

New Nokia Music Flagship Coming On March 11?

The virtual event is scheduled for March 11 at 10:00 CET (2:30PM IST) and there are two live Q&A sessions scheduled for later in the day as well. This is what leads me to believe that a handset will be announced on Wednesday, obviously the tagline ‘Your Music Player Is Ringing’ is quite a hint too.

What will be interesting to see will be whether a new Nseries is unveiled or we’ll see another Xpress Music device. N87 perhaps? Another thing I was thinking about was what will be Nokia’s new naming scheme be now that the N7x line has run out. Will we see them start afresh like the new non S60 6600 or will they look at a N6x?

Introducing The Nseries Innovation Newsdesk – N97 Widget Design Competition Is Coming

N97 - Share on OviNokia sure seems to have big plans for the Nseries come 2009. Almost coincindental with the launch of the new Nseries flagship, a new Nokia resource popped up – 2009.nseries.com

It the coming months it will be the place to come for all breaking information about the new Nokia Nseries, especially the Nokia N97. The site also promises to deliver ‘first-look information and content that will allow you to be the first one to know about Nokia Nseries developments’. Interesting, a Nokia operated Nseries blog?

When we first saw the N97 demo that showed off its desk widgets, we were all left wondering as to how customisable it will be and would we have a say in what to put there? We’ll that’s been sorted out – The new site brings news that the ‘Widget Design Competition‘ is coming soon and we should start planning. The best widgets will be incorporated on the N97 and who knows, may be the one with the idea gets rewarded with a N97 itself!