Known from thecreativelife.com, thecreativelifeblog.com, samsungcreative.com, pocketcreative.com, allaboutiphone.net and of course NokiaCreative.com, James Burland joins another project… here at mynokiablog.com!
James has been blogging about gadgets and the tech world way before a lot of the new tech/Nokia related blogs even existed, certainly way before I joined the blogosphere when I was only on mobileburn forums.
In the Nokia scene, James Burland is known for pushing the creative boundaries of Nokia devices, showcasing the capabilities of mobile phones either in his meticulous real world tests or inspiring others to see what they can do with their Nokia devices, such as the Nokia Creative N95 photo awards. I still remember James for his N93 posts – comparisons with dedicated camera counterparts, displaying the excellent imaging and audio how far Nokia had come – the glory days when no other manufacturer could match what Nokia could do. I think it was actually James’ posts that led me onto getting the N93 myself.
I met James way back in Sept 2007(woah, 07?) for the LA Unlock event, (courtesy of WOMWorld), and he’s one seriously cool guy, and extremely insightful into all things Nokia, Mobile, Imaging and most interestingly, Apple products. Along with Christian Haslam, James and I had already collaborated on a podcast (which though hilarious to record probably didn’t come out right at all).
Since my return to blogging in Mid April 09 after a rather long drought of post, James and I have chatting frequently either discussing each others blog posts or whatever random topic on twitter.
As James is understandably busy juggling his offline life along with his other online blogs, James will be posting on mynokiablog.com just whenever he feels like. I’ll still be posting as I usually do as I’ve been bitten by a blogging bug.
In other related news,
mynokiablog.com passes 100,000 monthly views.
It may be a drop in the ocean compared to other Nokia blogs, but I’m really surprised there are people out there willing to read my random posts, rants, news and reviews as they’re just so informal and unprofessional! I’m especially surprised with the traffic since as aforementioned, I only just came back to the blogosphere properly in a few months ago (and my blog even back then was unknown), I’m surprised I can even get a tiny slice of traffic pie in this really crowded cafeteria of Nokia Blogs. Thank you so much for sticking around!
A bit about the Nokia side of me:
I’ve been a Nokia fan since the days when texting was new and Nokias had antennas. Nokia wasn’t that popular then in Britain but it was the only phone I’d ever see when I went back to the Philippines for holidays, as it was the best phone to have – best UI, best looking phones and great price.
To feed my mobilegeekness, I frequented the mobileburn forums where I eventually became Admin. During that time (Sept 06 I think) I was approached by some random people who apparently wanted to invite me to New York and even test out an N93. I didn’t believe them and thought they were just some spam con artists.
These guys turned out to be WOMWorld.
As well as lending me handsets/accessories to test, they’ve also brought me along to some great events like CES 2007, Nokia Go Play, LA Unlock, Nokia World 07, Nseries Urbanista, Search For N, and a couple of weeks ago, OneDotZero. Travelling around the world was obviously great (running over Nokia phones a hummer and the awesome parties!), checking out and testing unreleased phones even better.
The best experience was meeting people in the industry – the WOMCrew, Donna, Frank, Mike, Robbie, Adam and Katie (I don’t think I got to meet Siobhan) – Nokia Peeps like Jussi and Anssi and some other Nokia execs and product managers , but most of all the bloggers/writers out there.
Either several hours on a plane together, few days of a trip, a day out or a brief meet/greet, these were some of the Nokia Bloggers/writers/forum members that I got to meet in person. Although I was probably unknown to them, it was surreal and fantastic for me to meet the people behind the blogs I’d been reading and the forum users I’d been chatting to. Some I met more than once, and that was amazing seeing them again! Thanks again WOMWorld ^_^.
Rafe Blandford, Steve Litchfield, Ricky Cadden, Stefan Constantinescu, Michael Oryl, Darla Mack, James Burland, Ewan Spence, Jenifer Hanen (MsJen), Devin Balentina, Christian Haslam (Chaslam), Michael Hell, Valerio Valerio, Gerrymoth, Neil Bird, Roger Sperberg, Mike Evans, Gary Birkett, Andrew Flegg, Reggie Suplido, Teo, Daniel Carter, Steve Garfield, Mark Guim, Eldar, Dan Gentleman (Thoughtfix), angel_wing0, Ben Smith, Richard Siddle, Travis Boss, Matt Jones (munkimatt), pseudofinn, Ravi Jain, kloves2fly, Robbi, Al Pavangkanan (mewtosama), Scott Emsen (emo185), Tarek Abu-Esber, Martyn Britton (marty3), Bica Mihai Gabriel (Bytales),Vineeth M Kumar (Vinumsv) Murray Winiata (NZtechfreak), Mohannad Hammadeh (zalameh1), Michael Onyeyiri (MikeUK), Carlo Longino, Noel Kennedy (kontraband), (there’s a few more I’ve missed out but I can’t remember their names)
A bit about the mynokiablog
I started mynokiablog in Sept 07, so I could have a place to post my Nokia related stories, rants and suggestions without over crowding mobileburn with simply Nokia posts.
I wanted to call it MyNokia – that was taken. The domain provider suggested I stick blog at the end so I did. When I registered the domain, I honestly forgot that there was already “TheNokiaBlog”. I had been making occasional posts but went from posting a few a week to hardly any in a few months – for one reason or another – lack of interesting Nokia devices and uni perhaps, I stopped checking anything mobile related. Forums and other mobile communities got do difficult to keep up.
News of the N97 in December sparked my interest again. However, I didn’t start to post regularly until mid April.
After an April fools post (about Nokia buying Palm) got picked up by Palm, I got bitten by the blogging bug.
Why I blog?
From the Blogging and WOMWorld experience, it was simply great to realise that Nokia are really receptive to bloggers and the community’s thoughts and suggestions on their products, whether they be my own odd ideas or from what the community has been asking for a long time. They don’t always listen (Xenon..hello!), but it’s still nice to know that they do, especially in things like firmware updates.
I have loved Nokia when they were just the best you can get for a phone, and still now when it’s frustrating to see them somewhat play catchup to other manufacturers. That’s because I still see much potential in Nokia to reclaim a DESERVING title as number 1. Not simply on sales and profit, but for producing the best devices and services possible.
I want to have a part, however small that maybe in letting other people know what’s great about these Nokia devices, and perhaps get through to the Nokia people who matter; getting them aware of some of the crap that needs scraping off the bottom of that shoe and together with other blogs and forums direct Nokia back to walking that road (of success? :p) they should be on.
Future for mynokiablog
Uni work is starting to pile back on, especially with final year being that extra bit more hectic but I will try my damned hardest to post regularly. I do have plans to move to wordpress.org as I know mynokiablog.com (via wordpress.com) is hopelessly difficult to navigate – perhaps get a more user friendly theme/layout? I’m going to do this when I’ve gotten some help on exactly how to do this smoothly without doing something like deleting my blog posts or my entire blog.
But otherwise, things will continue as they are (hopefully) but now with James dropping by now and again 🙂
Thanks again for reading mynokiablog.com, and welcome James Burland!
Michael Jerz from MySymbian has been testing the Nokia N900 for several weeks and has published a monster of a (p)review. This is, btw, of a Proto N900, so some findings may or may (have) change(d) with actual final production N900.
[N900: Positively small compared to its ancestors]
Skimming through the first page and it’s a fantastic hardware review already, but then there are 4 pages in total to more than satisfy your curiosity for the N900
Some interesting keypoints:
HARDWARE PAGE 1
- Keyboard – Michael confirms my initial impressions, N900 does indeed have much better tactile feedback, even goes as far as saying “The tactile feedback seems to be better also compared to the E90 keyboard, which feels softer.”
- Processor – extremely positive here: There’s really NOTHING one could complain about when it comes to performance and functionality offered by N900’s processor, not only when it comes to the offered “raw speed” but also graphics, video and imaging acceleration.”
- RAM – Yes we already know about the 256MB physical RAM and 768MB virtual. According to Michael, the N900 ends up with 50MB after boot, but hold your horses there. Michael explains that unlike Symbian, free RAM is half as important, as with virtual RAM you’ve got about 800MB free which means you won’t get to see out of memory errors. I tried opening up all the apps on the N900 myself and it handled them so smoothly. “Don’t expect to see any “Out of memory” errors on this machine. I tried really hard to get one, and I ended up having over TWO DOZEN of applications running at once and multiple browser windows open,”Performance does decrease slightly though as virtual RAM is being used instead of actual physical RAM (Michael says about 20%). Hmm…could N97 users also get some of this virtual memory love please?
- The tilt on Michael’s proto unit is the same as the N97’s angle, but oddly was lower on final production N900 we used at onedotzero. Hopefully I you can set different angles and we just didn’t manage to do that.
- The Camera quality is the same as N97 (Though I think it’s nice to have 16:9 option, even if it reduces to about 3mp).
- The dual LED is weak as I expected. Boo. Oh well…I hope someone makes a torch app for it as that’s the most use I get out of my N97’s dual LED.
- Build Quality – Solid as ever, except perhaps the tilt stand.
- InfraRed – Michael wonders whether it will stay in final production handsets – it better had! The ones we tested were final production N900s and apparently they still had their infra red – plus videos have apparently demoed N900 controlling a TV via IR, so they they can’t just tease us with a feature they’re going to take out. They might as well have shown N900 with XENON flash!
- Audio loudspeaker quality – Michael notes subjectivity here. I found N900 speakers to be quite loud, and clear. Definitely better than N97, I think some long time N900 users have noted it’s better than N95 (which was the benchmark of Nokia phone loudspeakers – though nothing yet has surpassed the N800 – Booklet 3G doesn’t count)
- GPS – considerably faster than say N97 (When N97 behaves it gets a fast GPS lock – but it can have problems maintaining it if you’re in a vehicle)
- Compass – Michael says “apparently missing” – interestingly, N900 recognizes direction within a couple of metres. I’ve always thought that would be the easiest solution – just work out direction of movement (like google maps, note how it shows you the arrow pointing in direction of movement) but then possibly orientate the map in the direction you’re going, thus aligning with with your surroundings similar to what a digital compass attempts.
- Battery life…hmmm?
N900 hugs N97…”there, there, I maybe the flagship you should have been…but you’ve still got an interesting flip!”
These were some interesting points I found after a quick glance (have a 9AM lecture to go to in a sec)
- True Linux openness – you do what you want to do with your device. You can “do whatever you want, just like on a Linux desktop”
- S60 applications of course aren’t compatible with N900, BUT, There is a much bigger developer base that are familiar with Linux than Symbian OS. You’ll have better quality apps than S60 and ultimately have the potential to run apps as good, if not better than what’s available for Apple’s iPhone.
- Mostly a general description of applications/features on N900. Check it out here.
- Switching between windows/closing windows is effortless. Although many say multitasking is being able to do several things at once, another angle of thought is that multitasking should be being able to switch easily and prioritise quickly the between selected applications. The N900 does this in spades.
- Only grid view option available currently for N900. I don’t really mind as I don’t use list view in S60.
- You cannot move or reorder icons or put them in folders! Noooooooooooooooooooo! (Well for now anyway. Nokia should really think about being able to SAVE menu layouts and distribute those type of menu layouts for other people to enjoy, so either the user themselves will NOT have to reorder all their icons and their friends or other people can enjoy the same layout without also having to reorder the menu)
- Web – The reason my N800 is still with me to this day, and in occasional use. Beautifully done with Maemo’s 800X480 pixel screen. Not only can pages be easily fixed to fit width of the screen (so you don’t have to ever scroll left/right), you can also optionally view pages as they are (if you did want to be scrolling left/right). At the end of the year, there’ll be FireFox for N900 too so even better browsing!
- Volume buttons can be used to resize pages (as does double tapping and that odd but very functional spiral motion)
- Multiple windows – internet tablets have always had multiple windows but the N900 goes a step further by improving their management and stability. Possibly the best phone for surfing the web with the expectations of desktop experience?
- Music: Supports management by album covers. Good codec support, “AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, M4A, MP3, WAV, and WMA.“
- Video Playback – “simply OUTSTANDING,… playback is 100% smooth, without a single frame drop (tested with e.g. 800×480 5000 kbps content)“ I wonder how it will handle my DivX library. I didn’t get the chance to pop in one for testing – N800 also had smooth playback of my files (except faster action ones) but only via MPlayer. It had difficulty playing other files. Supposedly good news for N900, “Supported formats include 3GPP (H.263), AVI (including DivX/XviD etc.), Flash Video, H.264/AVC, MPEG-4 and WMV.”
- There’s much more to go but I’m heading out now
SOFTWARE PAGE 4 (and conclusion)
- Looks at the camera UI and other applications again, file manager, RSS Reader (very good one on N900/tablets) and games
- Fantastic performance and stability, even for a PROTOTYPE (prototype hardware/unfinished software)
- Beautiful and ADVANCED User Interface
- “Symbian OS phones can only get one answer: they just DON’T compare. N900 is a wholy different league.If any of the existing mobile devices can be (honestly) called a mobile computer then the N900 deserves such a name in the first place.“
- Check out the last page for the conclusion!
A while ago I asked WordPress about full RSS for my blog, and they mentioned Google Reader may just not be getting full RSS, but wordpress had it so I assumed there was nothing that could be done my end. Today, just read from Stefan on intomobile that I’ve actually just got partial feeds. A google search later and noticed stupidly that I haven’t even turned Full RSS on within wordpress settings (Didn’t see that first time round >_<).
So this is just a test post. [Update: Full RSS on the go. Though for some reason it took 1 hour before appearing in the reader]
Break Dancing Fly caught in June with N82 and its macro video capability.
People in the Sky….well in the London Eye…
…Courtesy of WOMWorld for the OneDotZero weekend
11 things the next Nokia Camera flagship needs
- Capacitive OLED WVGA
- Xenon Flash
- Dual LED for Video
- N86’s Camera
- HD Video
- Touch Focus
- Gallery Button
- Flash Button
- Video/Photo Switch
- Optical Zoom
SpeedTester is a simple, free game from the Ovi Store that tests rapid responses and thumb-eye coordination. You have four lights which will light up one at a time. All you have to do is touch the one that is lit. This occurs very slowly at first, and as your points rises, so does the speed.
It gets sufficiently faster after 100, before that, it’s nice and slow to get you accustomed. Each time you fail, you start back at the extremely slow stage.
Here’s a demo video of SpeedTester, shown on the Nokia N97
I just watched Episode 91 of Steve Litchfield’s “The Phones Show” where in this episode, he covers Application Stores:
- Apple’s App Store
- Nokia’s Ovi Store
- Google’s Android Market.
The Ovi Store is supposed to be Nokia’s one stop shop for Applications, Games, and other content such as ringtones, videos, wallpapers and themes.
I’ve been using the Ovi Store since the N97 came out. It’s good for what it does until you experience how stores work on other platforms- namely, App Store on the iPhone. Furthermore, there are annoyances in user experience that I would have had anyway were there no other app stores around.
The problems are listed with increasing hindrance to user experience as you decend the topics. (Hmm, for some reason, most of my list posts coincidentally end up having 7 items)
7. Inability to update the client within the app
Unless I go to the browser version of the Ovi Store and attempt to redownload Ovi Store for my N97, there’s no way for me to find out what version of the Ovi Store I’m using, let alone update it directly from the client itself. This is highly annoying since, with the stability issues (see next point), I need to know if there’s a new update that might improve my user experience of the Ovi Store so I won’t experience stupid error messages.
6. Stability issues
– on every update of the Ovi Store application, I have received annoying error messages that I’m not in fact signed in and Ovi Store refuses further navigation or download of applications. At times it gets so frustrating that I use the browser version of Ovi Store.Fortunately, these error messages occur less frequently, but it’s annoying that it still happens.
Whislt writing this post, Ovi Store crashed my N97.
5. Poor Searching
– Searching for an application by name is almost impossible. The best option is to describe it. E.G. instead of looking for “tweet60/tweet 60” (which comes up with NO results) , I have to search “Twitter”. At the moment, the search function seems to be completely broken as it comes out with nothing for twitter
4. Poor, inconsistent preview style of apps before downloads.
The very first hurdle of the app store is getting a consumer to download an app. That’s the best way to really find out how good an app is. Good descriptions and previews help a lot if you’re unfamiliar with an application.
In Ovi Store, you get a short description, perhaps a thumbnail icon and if you’re lucky, a cropped screenshot of the app itself. In Apple’s App Store, the description varies, but it can get very detailed, lengthy and informative, whereas it’ll only ever be a short summary in Ovi Store. Also, you’ll get actual screenshots from the iPhone app.
Although the added information makes browsing for apps slower on the iPhone, the added detail in information makes it worth it (especially if you’re going to be forking over money!). Yes you could just find a dedicated review for that app, but it’s just so much more convenient to have that sort of detail within the app store itself.
3. Poor Navigation
On the N97, you’ve got a huge 3.5″ 640X360 screen, but as with most S60 5th edition apps, Ovi Store does not take full advantage of all the available space. Instead, Ovi Store opts to bury things within options that should be easily viewable at all times.
- Most Recent
- Most Popular (time scale please…today, this week, this month? etc)
- Filter paid/freeware
In Ovi Store you have a switch thing at the top so change from “Recommended downloads, applications, games, audio/video and personalization”. Then there’s a bar for search. Categories/most popular etc are hidden two clicks away (one click for options, another to select) in options.
Why couldn’t the additional be set up simply as icons? Simple, easily visible, just one click away.
Navigating both browser and mobile version of Ovi Store feels so unintuitive after using the App Store on either PC or iPhone. With the App Store in iTunes, it takes advantage of the bigger screen, displaying more apps, several categories/lists, different layouts of app description etc. Ovi Store on the browser has the same limited feel of the mobile app. Perhaps this is because Ovi Store doesn’t have a dedicated PC counterpart like iTunes and is just basically a browser version that’s also friendly to mobile browsers. But why can’t Ovi Store users have an improved PC version too?
Maybe more apps are just being downloaded directly from the mobile app? If so, then Nokia really need to invest in improving its user interface.
2. Lack of Content
…Both in quantity and quality. Launched late May 09 – so slightly understandable then for the lack of content at launch. 4 months on, there are few worthwhile additions for an N97 (or S60 5th edition) user looking for some great applications.
The Ovi Store attempts to cater for a lot of devices on Nokia’s various platforms, and not just in terms of applications but also audio and video customizations.
This fragmentation leads to a diluted content of applications with only
- 565 compatible applications for the N97 …with several variants, e.g. English dictionary, Spanish Dictionary and several other reference dictionaries, several eBook titles (which should really be just 1 eBook app, with separate eBook purchase within the app). I reckon under 10% of the paid apps on the Ovi Store are anywhere near worth their price label.
- 211 Games on the Ovi Store.
- The bulk content for the N97 are audio/video and personalization with rank up 227+718 pieces respectively.
This does not account for the several hundred apps available for S60 5th edition, or the abundant themes which are yet (if at all) to make it on the Ovi Store.
[Fragmentation within the Nokia OSes means that there are more great apps for S60 that just never got ported over to 3rd/5th edition so will just be resigned to the history books]
1. Poor Pricing
One of my biggest loves for Apple’s App Store is not only the fantastic quality and vast numbers of applications available but the relatively cheap prices for paid applications. A lot of applications on the App Store are priced around $1/£0.59.
59 pence – that’s enough for what, 1 donut in Greggs (UK bakery). That price is so low, I wouldn’t even consider price as a factor in the purchase. Just whether it’s interesting enough for me to click and download it.
This makes it easy to make spontaneous purchases on applications that generate a slight interest. That’s great for both the consumer (as we don’t pay that much for an app) and even more so for the developer as lots of people can make quick purchases which adds up! (1USD x 300,000 > 25GBP X 30).
One of the biggest faults (and hindrances for me anyway) on the Ovi Store is pricing. When you price an application high enough that I have to consider whether it’s worth it, almost always, I won’t buy it.
If I were to allocate myself £10 monthly app purchases, I’d easily spend that on 16 x £0.59 great applications, possibly more. But the moment prices creep up to £3, £4, £8, to £26, instead of making that spontaneous purchase, I reflect on whether the app is worth it, and just don’t bother buying.
It’s not simply the price but the value for money. £1.50, £3 or even £6 is a lot for an app that I may just use on a rare occasion, but more than worth it for apps I’d be using frequently, maybe on a daily basis like Gravity or are simply just very good quality applications like SmartMovie. Unfortunately, going back to content, there are few paid apps on Ovi Store that (I think) are worth the what they’ve valued themselves to be. Content quality and price go hand in hand. If some of the crappier apps on Ovi Store were priced cheaply, I think I’d take a punt and buy them because they would be cheap enough. But they aren’t.
Sell great apps for cheap/great value > make lots of sales and lots of money > attract other developers to make other fantastic apps > sell fantastic apps for cheap/great value > make lots of sales and lots of money > attract other developers to make other amazing apps > etc etc etc.
Poor pricing acts as a block to this cycle.
(There are additional factors involved such as ease of making apps and distribution base – I’ve just over simplified it)
I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong and Nokia and the developers are making megabucks with Ovi Store as it is.
Here’s “Candle” another one of those free apps where it’s just difficult to see any practical use for it. Maybe waving it at a gig? Impromptu candle for a romantic dinner?
It’s a realistic candle that you can put out by swiping, and lighting up by double swiping. It works in portrait and landscape though it would have been preferable if it just worked in portrait (so you’d have a longer candle) and used the accelerometer to change the position and flickering of the flame.