I have just had hands on time with both the devices and a meeting with the product managers of both devices. They were kind enough to answer everything we wanted to know about the respective devices. In this post I will go over my initial impressions of both devices while trying to incorporate all that I learnt talking to them. More shots here.
Like I said earlier I quite like the design and the bigger size makes using the music keys near the D pad that much easier. The playback keys on the dual slide are flat but can be used for gaming, finally! The slide is similar to the N81, spring loaded and gives the device a nice solid feel. I don’t think there’ll be rumbling like in the N95’s case again, this time they seem to gave got it right. The device also packs a micro USB and a 3.5 mm jack along with a keypad un/lock switch. Lastly, there is no camera cover.
Although the N96 is essentially a video driven device music still continues to play a major role and I have some great news on this front. I asked the product manager if we could expect the N91 quality on the device and yes said no, it’ll probably we better! The 16GB storage will be well used in that case. Another great improvement is in the data transfer speed via USB, on the N96 it will be at least 5 times faster than what you would get on say a N95. Considering the non removable nature of the flash storage that’s a job well done! On the loudspeaker front, it is comparable to the N95 or may be a shade less, I can’t be sure yet.
Video & DVB-H
This aspect of the device was really the focal point of development and is demonstrated by the inclusion of a DVB-H receiver. While I personally was/am skeptical about it, a lot of people see it as something that will pick up and go mainstream. I also enquired as to where there will be a version without it, there won’t be. The product manager felt that it is something that should be available to people like bluetooth or wifi, should they choose to use it someday/becomes available specially because the world has pretty much come to a consensus as it being a common platform across the globe. The device also supports recording TV if the operator allows it, theoretically that is great news; the 30 second recording cap could be history.
As far as video recording is concerned it will be great, specially with the dual LED being available even while shooting video. The reason the xenon was left out is the form factor, the slide design doesn’t leave enough room to get it in without making the device huge. Here is a short clip demonstrating the LEDs in the video mode:
Down to the all controversial 950 mAh battery. I was disappointed, still am. The product manager has said that they have really worked hard on software optimisations to squeeze more juice out of it. Also, FP2 that the N96 runs does bring improvements on this front, whether or not it will be enough remains to be seen. On being asked why was this done, he said that it was carried out so as to allow for reasonable dimensions and weight which is very important in today’s time.
Well, the N96 is not so much of a N95 we might think, it lacks 3D acceleration. Thats right, surprising but true! That means we can forget the Ngage experience on a higher plane. But since Ngage games are suppossed to be compatible with the N73 as well, they wont’t need such hardware support anyway. The TV out is still the same as N95, the VGA resolution continues to be reserved for the Gallery only.