Channel 5’s The Gadget Show reviews the Nokia N8
The Gadget Show is a very popular tech show in the UK that’s broadcast on Channel 5 (One of the original 5 terrestrial channels) and also on catchup at YouTube. This is reviewed by Jon Bentley of which the transcript is pretty much below and is accompanied by my own rants (agreeing with Jon and clearing things up on different circumstances)
- Like many N8 fans, Jon was also a user of the beloved Xenon wielding N82 and has been very keenly awaiting he N8 to replace it.
- On paper looks very impressive – camera very impressive. Sensor larger than most mobile phones (I think all? – and even many compact digital cameras no? I think Nokia should have stressed this more as this is one of the nice verbatim phrases folk regurgitate)
- Great colours even in dark condtions – it has a proper xenon flash unlike the ones you get on the IPHONE 4 so you don’t get that lurid, horror movie look to your night shots.
- You do get a virulent dose of red eye (yup, I get that so often in night shots. Mostly green eyes actually – but would rather this than shitty LED lit night shots) Jon says in camera editing software manages to deal with this very effectively.
- Video camera pretty good too. With very good stereo sound. Not as good as the stills. (Nokia should have made the whole “The Commuter” thing more prominent)
- However, it is only a phone camera – I don’t think it’s a replacement for a decent compact camera – lacking optical zoom (video digital zoom is just as good as optical. Another thing Nokia SHOULD have pointed out), shutter speed read out (I don’t really use that – I doubt most digital camera users do and probably just point and shoot). It doesn’t remember when you switch the camera off and back again whether you’ve left flash on (my major annoyance with the N8 camera is the frustrating unimproved camera UI. I like that it’s feature packed. But. Why the hell does it NOT remember any of my previous settings. It doesn’t even remember that I’ve left it in either video or stills)
- Movie editor not a patch on iMovie app for iPhone (well it is free)
- Enough of the complaints – it is the best camera I’ve ever seen on a phone.
- That’s not the only good thing about the N8 – The styling is refreshingly different.
- Very well made – dropped accidentally on a hard surface and not only does it still work – there’s not a scratch on it.
- HDMI out with high quality audio (first ever Dolby Digital plus please)
- Battery life is excellent for a smartphone – 2 days without a problem
- Very good FM radio
- BIG BUT with the N8 – the user experience (oh noes…I hear should be like Android/iPhone comments approaching. BTW User experience is NOT just UI, It’s the hardware combined. User experience is great. I have my always excellent media capabilities and decent smartphone features. UI could see improvement in certain areas, but overall User Experience – no major problem)
- Nokia have improved the Symbian Operating System but haven’t improved Symbian by much.
- If you’re going from N97 to N8 you’ll notice the improvements and will be quite pleased.
- But if you’re coming from one of the better Android phones or an iPhone you’re gonna feel as though you’ve stepped back in time (Note in terms of UI – In terms of features, iPhone took a step back in time to 2006 to grab video calling, folders, 5mp camera with flash, an attempt at multitasking and wallpapers. And yet Symbian is still more feature packed. Fortunately for now, Nokia, the majority of people are not coming from iPhone or Android so there’s time to fix the UI to give it that superficial eye candy modern folk love and expect)
- For all sorts of reasons – one of which is the keyboard – in portrait mode you just get this alphanumeric thing – (not so in upcoming firmware) – and you do have Swype.
- In both landscape and portrait kb cases, you’re divorced from the application which you’re typing in. (Not so in upcoming firmware – man it annoys me that the delay in N8 was supposed to NOT make us wait for the next firmware so soon)
- Whole thing feels slow and unresponsive – not sure if it’s the relatively slow 680 MHz processor (oh dear, no realization of GPU driven UI and the powerful GPU – annoyingly there’s poor design in N8 UI that makes things appear slower than what they can be, e.g. homescreen swipe which is gonna be fixed in upcoming fw. Rotation speed could be faster please Nokia.) – the software or the screen – not quite sure
- Whole thing makes the phone unFUN to use.
- Web browsing is OK but not as convenient as the best.
- Of course you’ll be short of apps compared to Android and iOS and the ones you do have probably won’t be as easy to use. Perhaps that’s why Nokia have supplied a rather eccentric collection of apps with our N8 (oh dear, Spark beta. I uninstalled that days after trying it. It autostarts and just annoys- yes beta I know – has potential)
- All of which makes it very hard to recommend the N8 unless you’re very, very keen on one of its particularly good features – camera or battery life.
- This gives Nokia a problem in that it still doesn’t have a competitive top flight smartphone.
- Leaves Jon with the problem that he doesn’t think N8 is good enough to be his next phone.
Fortunately for Symbian fans and new Symbian OS owners, you’ll be getting the UI refreshments of the what was then Symbian^4.