>The Nokia Human Research Department – Noka N97 Mini

January 21, 2010

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Over the summer, I tore myself away from my Blackberry, and purchased a brand new N97 and used it as my primary smartphone for several months. My tweets (@Crazyphoneguy) from July 2008 onward bear testimony to how much I enjoyed the N97.
Dan Silver (@dandandan) graciously thought of me and surprised me on a cold December night by bringing me a N97 Mini along with a Mexican Mariachi band. If you don’t believe me check out the video:http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=nokia+london+mariachi&search_type=&aq=f

I thought it an odd coincidence that WOM World thought of me because I had recently sold my white N97. It wasn’t due to my falling out of love with the phone, but more pedestrian belt-tightening economic reasons. I couldn’t justify two AT&T data plans, and decided to keep my Blackberry which is my lifeline to work. If I can also come clean, I’ve also become somewhat of a Crackberry addict knowing full well the power and flexibility of the Symbian platform. That being said, I still have much to say about the N97 Mini. It is, to me the little brother to the N97, although most people will probably say it is an improvement.

When I talk about the N97 Mini, I feel I am talking about the N97 as well. The N97 Mini is an improved lower cost N97 with less onboard storage memory (8G versus 32G). It has a smaller screen, and has a more awesome keyboard. It took some time, but I did eventually get used to the keyboard on my White N97. The offset space bar drove me up the wall in the beginning, but I did get used to it. The typing experience on the N97 Mini is considerably improved, but it still isn’t as good as the typing experience on a phone like the Touch Pro 2 or even the Blackberry 9000 aka the Bold.

Personal Video Player

This is one area where both the N97 and the N97 mini shines. When I sing the praises of the N97 as a personal video player, I am doing the same for the N97 Mini. I was a huge fan of the video on demand offerings of Amazon.com. I was able to purchase video content from Amazon, and sync it to my N97. Case in point, I purchased the Showtime series “Dexter”. The ample memory allowed me to store three seasons of Dexter on my N97, along with Spiderman 2, Underworld, etc. with plenty of memory left over. The resolution on the N97 and N97 Mini is a startingly 640 by 360. I know it’s juvenile, but yes, Apple can suck it in this department. Video playback was smooth and sharp. Watching full length movies or television programs on my N97 and N97 Mini was truly joyous.

Messenging
I wasn’t blown away by the email functionality on the N97s. Out of the box I found setting up email to be a pain. Also, I found I couldn’t store a lot of emails on my phone because it would eat into available RAM memory. This really frustrated me. I wanted the ability to store days or weeks of emails on my smartphone. Blackberries can handle this. My N97 could not. You can get push email with Nokia Messenger or Seven. There’s also Emoze and Profimail. Profimail is suppose to be a third-party email app with all the bells and whistles but I had to pay for it. Somehow, I didn’t like the idea that I had to shell out more money to pay for a better email experience after paying close to $750 for a brand new unlocked N97. I expected more from the email functionality on the phone out of the box.

Camera/Video Capture
This was my second favorite feature of both the N97 and N97 Mini. Do you know Steve Litchfield from the Phones Show, a UK based podcast about smartphones? He says in one of his episodes that with his Nokia phone (in his example the N82), that he doesn’t own or need a camera. I found myself feeling the way. I was on vacation last fall in Malaysia. I did not bring a camera. My N97 was my camera and my camcorder. I captured beautiful sharp still images, and took reasonable videos. I felt I could go head-to-head with any point and shoot camera. Certainly, I could capture still images just as good as any disposable cardboard cameras you could find in a drug store.

(To be Continued)

Zune HD Box Picture Captured by Noka N97

August 23, 2009

Engadget Posting

I was at a Zune HD event yesterday at Best Buy.  I snapped a photo of the Zune HD box with my Nokia N97 smartphone, and decided to post the image on Twitter.  This image was picked up by Engadget, Gizmodo and a host of other mobile tech pages.

http://www.engadget.com/2009/08/22/zune-hd-box-spotted/

There is a shifting of the way I interact with the world.  Nokia talks a great deal about the “mobile computing” experience.  It’s hard to describe, but I interact with the world differently.  Mobile-technology makes me a more active participant in life.  I engage the public square in a way now I never did before.

My New Mobile Computer: The Nokia N97

July 30, 2009
N97_homescreenN97_candybarN97bingI brought home a new Nokia N97 three weeks ago.  I had to sell my Windows Mobile smarthphone the HTC XV6800, and a Kindle 1.0 to raise money for the $699 phone. This is Nokia’s flagship, and I have been riding the wave of blog hype, launch parties, and promotions. Is the Nokia N97 all that it claims to be? Is it a mobile computer connecting users to the internet in new ways?

The phone is pretty to look at. I went to the Flagship NYC Nokia store intent on buying the black N97, but walked out with a white one. I can be so irrational. In most informal polls, the white N97 model fares slightly better with customers.

What I like best about the phone right now is its homescreen, 32G of storage space, Ovi, and the browser. I am relatively new to the S60 platform, and learning about all of its offerings. The camera is 5 megapixels. I also own a Nokia N82 which is the king of S60 camera phones, but the N97 takes good pictures. Some of the colors are a little washed out, but the picture quality is acceptable for a camera phone.

I decided to keep the N97. The S60 platform reminds me of the Windows Mobile platform. It takes some work to get it to do everything you need and want from a smartphone. I’ve also fallen in with a group of dedicated S60 users here in NYC, and they played a factor in my decision to keep the phone. I was impressed with their devotion to the platform, as well as all the innovative ways they use S60 phones to suit their mobile lifestyles.

Nokia E-Series Meetup – Reflections

July 30, 2009

eseriesmeetupI had the opportunity to attend the E-Series event at the Flagship Nokia store in New York City on June 12. On hand were product managers from Nokia, representatives from WOM World – an organization that promotes dialogue about S-60 devices, Google ad sale executives, and, it seemed, every S-60 mobile tech blogger in the greater metro NY area!  One of the main reasons for the event, besides being a meet and greet for local S-60 bloggers, was to provide feedback to Nokia product managers about the E-Series line of Nokia smartphones, specifically the E71 and the E75. The E-Series is a line of S-60 smartphones aimed at productivity and business users. After everyone was sufficiently lubricated with the ample food, wine and beer provided, Chanse, who works at the Nokia corporate office posed the following questions, and broke us into three groups to discuss (chartpaper and markers were also provided):

  1. Which form factor works best for a QWERTY – E71x candybar, or E75 slide or another form factor?
  2. Is there an argument for making all mobile devices QWERTY?
  3. What are the lines blurring between business, multimedia and consumer focused devices. Should those lines remain? If not, why not?
  4. Think about how working practices will change in say five years, what do you expect to see in the place of these devices? What legacy will live on?

The questions raised by the Nokia marketing are good questions, and I’ve had time to reflect on my own personal experiences with S60 devices for a few weeks.  Here are some of my thoughts..

QWERTY smartphones such as the E71, or Blackberries are at their core messaging devices. Users that choose this form factor do so because of their need to be connected to their work and personal emails. A QWERTY keyboard a la the E71X or E71 serves this functionality extremely well. One of the strengths of having a front facing QWERTY keyboard is the sheer simplicity and ease of use. With an E71, anyone can at a moments notice open an email app, type a note, or tweet, and send it off. No hassle, no fuss. But, more importantly, can do this fast. I like sliders too, such as the E75, or Windows Mobile devices such as the Touch Pro 2, however, with sliders, there’s an additional step of sliding out a keyboard. The typing experience on a slider is generally more luxurious, but a slider form factor generally forces two hand use. It is possible to do one-hand input on a slider phone, but it is more awkward. True messaging types – those that email, twitter, or blog from their mobile device might prefer a front facing QWERTY. Living in the big city, I am able to maneuver the streets with an almost radar sense with my face down typing away furiously on my Blackberry or E71; a slider form factor for a “messaging fiend” such as myself would not be as efficient, and could get me killed. Ultimately, it does come down to personal preference.

Smartphones, at least in the Nokia space are dichotomized as either a multi-media device., i.e., the N-Series, or business productivity devices, i.e, the E-Series. It is a useful distinction, because most smartphone users do lean toward one more than another. We live in an age where we want everything now. We want our phones for voice telephony, email, music, movies, GPS navigator, PIM, high-def video and still image capture, desktop publishing, etc. This is a wonderful vision, and I am trying to push this “convergence” idea myself. Phones like the new N97 or iPhone come very close. But, I have overheard my iPhone brethren lament how clumsy and frustrating it is to type a simple email to a friend. This particular user is trying to have it all, but his true nature is that of a “messaging” type, and he would probably be happier with an E71 style phone. I see many E71/iPod Touch double fisters in NYC. My concern is that phones that try to do everything, end up being lukewarm. The iPhone, although it bills itself as a super-phone is really a multi-media device with phone functionality. Users that need their music/video content on the move will love it, but emailers would hate it, especially towards the end of the day when there’s only one bar of battery left.

Are the lines blurring? Will N and E-Series go away to be replaced by a Z series where everything works, and we can type with E71 efficiency, and have the multimedia experience of an iPhone, or N97? That day might be coming, but in my mind for now, I don’t mind having a phone that truly excels at its core functionality. E71 is truly amazing for what it does. Of course, if it could shoot pictures like the N82, that would make me extremely happy, but day to day, what would bring me joy would be the effortless use of its core functionality – email, and messaging.

If I can look ahead to the future and dream a bit… imagine the power of our smartphones multiplied exponentially. I go to the office and dock my smartphone to an extremely sophisticated terminal. My smartphone isn’t a periphery. It is my primary computing device. Everything I work on in the office can be shared via my smartphone, cloud, and office terminal. Distinctions between mobile and desktop fade. This may be in an immediate future, but imagine working on a presentation in the office, syncing it to my phone, and then walking into a boardroom, and showing the presentation with a built-in projector, from my phone! Imagine taking 20+ megapixel quality pictures, from my camera (with high quality Carl Zeiss optics of course!) and uploading it immediately to my social media venue of choice. I’d buy a Z-Series phone, if it had the battery life of a E71. Imagine.

>Out of the box first impressions of the AT&T E71X

July 29, 2009

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I received an E71X review unit today from WOM World. I haven’t had a chance to use the device extensively yet, but it has made an excellent first impression on me. The E71X is handsome, elegant, and smart. It feels great in the hand, and after several weeks with the N97, I am loving the qwerty keyboard. I love the E71 and thought that being carrier supported that this version of the E71 might be inferior in build. It’s not. It’s every bit as solid as the E71. I haven’t explored the software yet, but the hardware is impressive.

I’ll be sharing my thoughts here over the next few weeks.

>Qik is the bomb!

July 28, 2009

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I met Andrew Currie, a tech blogger from Toronto at a Nokia party last week. He twittered about holding a Q&A about the N97 Monday morning at eleven via Qik. Now, I’ve known about Qik for a while. Qik is a mobile app that allows anyone to stream live video using a cellphone. It comes pre-loaded with my N97.

At 11:00am, sitting in my cubicle, I remembered Andrew was going to be on Qik…live! I clicked on the link provided via Andrew’s tweet and was directed to a Qik page . I typed in “Good morning”, and saw Andrew’s eyes flicker, and heard him respond. I don’t know why, but I had an epiphany… I mean, if you really think about it, how cool is that? Being able to stream video live.. anywhere… anytime…with your cellphone! The potential…the possibilities!

Before punching out for the evening, I decided to fire up my N97, to try streaming live video of myself sitting in my cubicle. I IMed a friend and sent her my Qik link. She commented she could see my nose… My phone was all over the place and was pointed at the old noggin just at the moment.

I need to invest in a tripod so I can keep my N97 still. Hey, its something new for me to do with my $699 N97 smartphone.

>My New Mobile Computer: The Nokia N97

July 26, 2009

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I brought home a new Nokia N97 three weeks ago. I had to sell my XV6800, and a Kindle to raise money for the $699 phone. This is Nokia’s flagship, and I have been riding the wave of blog hype, launch parties, and promotions. Is the Nokia N97 all that it claims to be? Is it a mobile computer connecting users to the internet in new ways?
The phone is pretty to look at. I went to the Flagship NYC Nokia store intent on buying the black N97, but walked out with a white one. I can be so irrational. In most informal polls, the white N97 model fares slightly better with customers.
What I like best about the phone right now is its homescreen, 32G of storage space, Ovi, and the browser. I am relatively new to the S60 platform, and learning about all of its offerings. The camera is 5 megapixels. I also own a Nokia N82 which is the king of S60 camera phones, but the N97 takes good pictures. Some of the colors are a little washed out, but the picture quality is acceptable for a camera phone.

I decided to keep the N97. The S60 platform reminds me of the Windows Mobile platform. It takes some work to get it to do everything you need and want from a smartphone. I’ve also fallen in with a group of dedicated S60 users here in NYC, and they played a factor in my decision to keep the phone. I was impressed with their devotion to the platform, as well as all the innovative ways they use S60 phones to suit their mobile lifestyles.

>Nokia E90 Communicator: The Best Business Productivity Smartphone on the Market?

May 9, 2009

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My latest obsession is with the Nokia E90 Communicator phone. This phone is a beast. It is a big phone at 5.2” by 2.24” by .79” and might be a tight fit for jean pockets. But there is a reason for the dimensions of this phone. It opens up, in a clam shell fashion, to reveal a tremendous full qwerty keyboard, and more notably a 800 by 352 LCD display. I am reminded of the promise of the Celio Redfly to increase productivity. With the Nokia E90 true business productivity is possible. With the 800 by 352 LCD screen and the excellent keyboard I can truly imagine preparing or reading a spreadsheet or viewing slides. How anyone was able to work on spreadsheets using a device with a 320 by 240 screen is beyond me. I read that the device is Blackberry-Connect compatible. I am not familiar with Blackberry Connect, but to have BES quality push email service with this device would just be a phone nerd’s dream.

But, this phone is big. And, its not particularly sexy. You won’t get oohs and ahhs when you whip this baby out. Opinions might change when you flip the phone open to reveal the keyboard. It’s always what’s under the hood that counts.

>First Peek at Blackberry Niagara 9630

March 8, 2009

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Total props to Crackberry.com for these first teaser shots of the Blackberry Niagara. Verizon Wireless customers are long due an update to the Blackberry 8830. This new Blackberry offering seems to meld features from the T-Mobile 8900 Curve with the awesome Blackberry Bold. I actually considered switching to AT&T for the Bold, but may stick with Verizon Wireless for just a little while longer for this sexy number.

>Nokia N-95 For Sale for $379!

March 8, 2009

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The Nokia N-95 is now available for $379! It wasn’t that long ago that the phone sold for $700. Remember Brian Tong’s enthusiastic endorsement of the phone on CNET naming it an editor top choice phone of 2007? http://cnettv.cnet.com/2001-1_53-31287.html.
The Nokia N-95 sports a 5-megapixel camera 5 MP with a 2592 x 1944 pixel resolution using Carl Zeiss optics and shoots VGA video. It is on sale for above price at the Nokia Flagship store in New York City.