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Nokia C7-00 camera… not quite what you’d expect!

November 29, 2010 18 comments

Due to popular (kind of) demand, I’ve conducted a short yet conclusive test on the 8 Mpix camera capabilities of the Nokia C7-00. Similar fixed-focus or EDoF  (Extended Depth of Field ) camera modules are also used in a pair of other Symbian^3 based Nokia smartphones like the C6-01 and the upcoming E7, so I think it’s safe to draw some parallels out of the results of this test.

To see how it goes, I’ve pitted the C7-00 against a seemingly run of the mill, average performing by today’s standards, 5 Mpix auto-focus camera in the Nokia N900. I like having my camera tests as varied with different phone models as possible, so in some shots I’ve also allowed HTC Desire to bring an outlandish flavor into the test. So let’s get going!

Read more…

Brief look at the new Nokia C3-01 ‘Touch and Type’

September 30, 2010 3 comments

Confusing names aside, the new  Nokia C3 is the second handset in Nokia’s  Touch and Type family. Along with the Nokia X3, these two Series S40 based feature phones offer a no-nonsense user interface and lightweight design for those who doesn’t necessarily need the extended functionality (and complexity) of smartphones.

At first glance, you might say the C3 is just a more reserved version of the X3, and, for the most part, you’ll be right.  But there are still some subtle differences to be found, so let’s have a closer look…

Size and weight : Both phones can be considered compact and slim, with a barely noticeable weight in hand. Still, the Nokia X3 pushes the limits even further by having a thinner, although a bit wider, body. Oh, and it’s lighter too.

Nokia C3 vs X3

100 g vs 78 g

111 x 47.5 x 11 mm  vs 106.2 x 48.4 x 9.6. mm

Screen. Both phones utilize a 2.4 inch resistive touch screen with 240 x 320 pixels (QVGA TFT) resolution, ensuring a relatively sharp picture for it’s physical size. The represented color pallet of the screen also looks decent, although with no surprises. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test it’s sunlight legibility. Naturally, the working experience with the Nokia C3 touchscreen proved to be  as enjoyable as with the X3, and I initially had problems discerning whether it’s a capacitive or a resistive screen. As I mentioned in my X3 preview, the S40 interface has been modified with larger icons and other UI elements to compensate the limited screen size.

Keypad. This one is quite obvious. The Nokia C3 comes with a traditionally arranged keypad with horizontal bars between each row of the keys for increased typing comfort. The X3, on the other hand, has a 4×4 grid keypad that has additional multimedia and messaging shortcut keys in the top row. The downside? There’s virtually nothing that separates keys in either direction, and only a slight slope at the bottom of each key helps to improve the situation. Still, the keys on both devices are generously sized and offer great tactile feedback, but it’s worth noting again here, that the few extra keys have made the X3 into an entirely different kind of animal.

Other input elements: The Nokia C3 comes with dedicated camera and lock key along with the usual volume control keys, whereas on the X3 the camera key is missing. Removed to keep the design seamless, no doubt.

Battery: Here’s where the Nokia C3 justifies the few mm more it has under it’s belt in comparison to the X3. The C3 comes with a 1050 mAh Li-ion battery against 860 mAh Li-Ion battery on the X3. I wouldn’t worry about it too much though, as the power consumption should be nowhere as close as on the smartphones. Charging on both phones is possible using the 2 mm port and also via microUSB.

Internal memory: According to Nokia site,  there’s no memory card included in the retail package, so this might really hurt:  there’s 30 MB of  internal memory available to the Nokia C3 user vs 50 Mb on the X3. Both are disturbingly low numbers, and storing anything more than a few camera photos and apps is, of course, out of question.

Camera: Both have a 5 Mpix, extended depth of focus (EDOF) cameras with accompanying LED flash. So yes, it’s basically fixed focus, albeit with some minor improvements. I suspect the overall performance will be quite similar to that of Nokia E5, but your guess is as good as mine at this point.

Update: The C3-01 has LED flash whereas the X3-02 doesn’t, so that’s another thing to consider when choosing between these two phones. Thanks to jack for pointing that out to me.

Connectivity: The Touch and Type series phones are pretty much on par with modern connectivity standards like 3G, HSDPA and Bluetooth (v2.1), but also packing support for WLAN networks. The only thing that’s really missing from the lot is the GPS functionality, but isn’t that a bit too much to ask for here?

Take a look at the brief but nevertheless interesting demo of the Nokia C3, recorded directly from Nokia World 2010:

With all that in mind, which device would you prefer? The stylish and ultra-slim Nokia X3-01, or the more classic looking C3-01? Choices…

Categories: Cseries, Nokia, Touch, Xseries

Official Nokia World 2010 recap video

September 26, 2010 6 comments

Now here’s something nice to start your Sunday morning with – a Nokia World 2010 recap video from the official Nokia YouTube channel. What’s so amazing about it is that it wraps up the huge event that was held in London in just under 3 minutes! Quite a feat I must admit, but I also wonder how long did the editing take… Some of the things that were briefly touched upon: the Ovi evening event, keynote speeches, Nokia Push projects,  Q&A sessions with Nokia E7 and C7 product managers and the grand finale of  ‘make my app’ contest. Of course there’s also a bit of camera time with the group of bloggers who attended the event, and that includes a few short interviews. Someone reported seeing me in the video as well, but I can neither confirm nor deny such rumors 😛

And rest assured, the things that didn’t make it in the video weren’t as exciting, like me wasting time looking for food at the event or breaking my nails doing this bit

Categories: Cseries, Eseries, Event, Fun, Nokia, OVI

The Nokia E7 is no small business. Find out why…

September 22, 2010 22 comments

Since it’s announcement during the recent Nokia World event, the E7 has gotten quite a lot of attention. And for a good reason. It was passionately dubbed by Annsi Vanjoki as the direct continuation of the Nokia’s ‘communicator’ legacy, and thus, has quite some shoes to fill. But before we move head first into the device itself, let’ relive the very first moments of Nokia E7 at Nokia World in the following video, starting at the 11:16 mark:

Short demo of Nokia E7

The pictures doesn’t do the E7 justice. Yes, ‘it’s BIIIG’. The E7 is no small business. But at the same time, it doesn’t feel like a brick. It’s seamless and sleek design is truly remarkable, especially if we compare it to it’s spiritual predecessor, the E90. In closed state the E7 looks and feels like a slightly bigger version of the Nokia N8. With a slightly wider body and a similar thickness to the N8, the device also feels incredibly solid. You won’t find advanced camera optics of the N8 here – instead, the bulky camera module on the back has been removed to keep the device as slim as possible.

There’s also a more functional reason for this, namely so that the E7 can sit firmly on flat surfaces while working with the qwerty keyboard. What I’m not impressed with is the camera cover, which is at exact same level as the backside of the phone. I guess the engineers very really pushing the limits as to how slim the E7 can be, otherwise I can’t see the reason why the camera lens couldn’t be put in a slight recess of sorts for better protection.

The slider itself resembles the N97 in the way it looks and tilts the screen at a specific angle, yet it  doesn’t quite work in the same fashion. I was pointed out by the people who also had some hands-on time with the device that you actually have to push it a bit from the top, rather than pushing the upper part dead-on from it’s sides. So it might require a bit of practice until it becomes natural, but overall, it’s not an issue. When the slider is finally engaged, the rest of the movement is as smooth and matter-of-fact as you’d expect from it, locking the screen into open position at the very end and giving the E7 the certain ‘oomph’ factor the N8 strangely lacks in my opinion.

But that’s, obviously, is a completely different story. Nokia has done a great job at separating it’s new devices from each other, and it’s hard to choose a device without some sort of compromise in a certain direction. For the N8, it’s the lack of the Amoled CBD (Clear Black Display) and physical keys, for E7, it’s the absence of the superior camera hardware and a microSD card slot. Yet it almost feels like a perfect combo, these two devices – one for work and the other for leisure –  but other Nokia phones, like C6-01 or C7, can also be easily added to the mix.

During the little time I had (it’s never enough..) to play with the E7 in Nokia World experience lounge, the physical qwerty keys felt definitely closer to the Nokia N97 mini keys rather than N900’s. For starters, the E7 offers a generous work space for the qwerty keyboard. That, in turn, makes it so much more easier to work with emails, office documents  and whatnot – definitely better than, again, the cramped keys on the N900. When compared to the N900, the keys are also slightly larger and with a tad shorter travel, but by no means I can say that the E7 keys have poor feedback.

Speaking of feedback, I was also quite happy to see the redesigned and much improved menu key on the E7. In comparison to the N8, it has been moved from the corner to the middle area under the screen, and it has also been slightly raised rather than totally flush with the rest of the phone like on the N8. And the difference is quite noticeable: you thumb doesn’t aimlessly wander under the screen until it feels the slightly softer area that is the menu key. The raised  boarders of the menu key on the E7 means that the time to adjust your finger to properly work the key is reduced to minimum. A dream!

The rest of the phone speaks volumes by itself: anodized aluminum body, up front – hardened glass , HDMI port –  just like the Nokia N8.  These two devices go hand in hand in many ways, yet they successfully manage to offer their own, unique experiences to it’s user. Aside the usual corporate features that are essential for business users, during the Nokia World Q&A session with E7 product managers we were also promised some additional software tweaks in Symbian^3 operating system, so the phone would in theory run snappier than the N8. From my experience, even with the pre-production firmware the device ran pretty much lag free, and the screen responded promptly to my finger inputs. In a nutshell, the E7 runs on the same processor and has about the same RAM as the other recent additions to the Nokia Symbian^3 phone family. The graphical accelerator, however, was promised to handle the much bigger 4 inch screen of the E7 without sacrificing performance. It would be very interesting to see how the E7  fares against other Symbian^3 phones in field conditions, but by the end of the day, not everything solely depends on how much Mhz’s and Mb’s the phone has ticking under it’s hood. Symbian OS is proven to be less demanding to system resources, and less power consuming as well. Let’s keep that in mind, when and if comparing it to other operating system phones out there in the market.

Link to the full Nokia E7 gallery

Finally, we move onto the already mentioned Q&A session we had during Nokia World day 2. What are the differences from the Nokia N8 camera? What business applications the E7 is going to have?  These, and some other relevant questions were raised, and for the most part, answered in the following video, thanks again to @dani2xll for providing it! Incidentally, yours truly, can also be seen in the video, sitting to the left from the product managers 😉

Nokia E7 Q&A

So that about sums it up what I feel about the Nokia E7 at the moment. For me, the E7 was the absolute winner of the whole Nokia World show. For others, it’s greatest strengths might be less important, and they might look at the likes of Nokia N8 or C7, for example. Many questions have been lifted during Nokia World regarding the E7, where rumors and blurry spy photos turned into an ace looking successor of the Nokia’s communicator line.  The E7 has an edge over the competition with a truly attractive design, built materials, and thought-out qwerty keyboard. And did somebody forgot about the desert – the HDMI and USB OTG functionality?

Yet the biggest question remains, that actually sounds more like a request at this point… when is it finally coming out?

Categories: 5th Edition, Eseries, Nokia, S60

TwimGo – a new Qt based twitter client for Nokia N900

September 20, 2010 10 comments

Just a quick heads-up of an interesting new twitter client that is being developed for Nokia N900. We all know how difficult the situation is with native twitter apps for N900 at the moment, so seeing new faces like TwimGo is definitely is exciting and worth checking out. The app utilizes the landscape screen of the N900 for easier overview of twitter time line with double columns and comes with a surprisingly deep set of features.

It certainly is a work in progress, as it lacks appearance customization options or a way to upload pics as far as I can tell. But, needless to say, the app already looks simply gorgeous and is  followed by smooth animations and scrolling, so  let’s hope TwimGo doesn’t stop here and keeps on growing!

Thanks to my  friend @lifenexus for bringing this wonderful app to my attention. He also explained how to install TwimGo in a few basic steps:

1. Download & install ‘qt web runtime’  from App manager ‘Maemo Extras Devel’ repository;

Catalogue name: Maemo Extras Devel
Web address: http://repository.maemo.org/extras-devel/
Distribution: fremantle
Components: free non-free

2. Download & save the file to your N900 – http://bit.ly/twimgo – then open & install it using the N900 file manager;

3. Did it work?

There’re tons of little details that are easier and faster to show than explain with words, so feast your eyes on some of the TwimGo screenshots and let me know what you think:

Update: TwimGo does seem to support portrait mode as well, no virtual keyboard in this viewing mode though…

Categories: Linux, Maemo, Nokia, Nseries, Qt

Up close and personal with ‘Evening with Ovi’

September 20, 2010 3 comments

Here’s something you guys might be interested to see (if you haven’t done so already) –  a recording of a small event held on the final evening before Nokia World 2010 had kicked off. There, many familiar Ovi services were discussed and explained by people working at Nokia/ Ovi like Jan Bonnevier aka ‘App man’, or Pino from Nokia’s Ovi blog, and all that, in a relaxing, dimly lit environment with free drinks – the perfect warm up for the Nokia World craze that was looming ahead of us the very next day.

Not incidentally, the new Nokia baby, the N8 was mentioned and praised in more than a few occasions mainly for it’s superior media capabilities. Speaking of which, there was also a solid chance for all attendees to win a spanking new Nokia N8, and if my memory serves correctly, @mikemacias and @S60inside won the lottery, both of whom will probably receive their N8’s in the following weeks.

Anyway, you’ll get an idea of what the evening was like while watching the video, and perhaps even spot a few familiar faces in there… Since  the recording proved to be rather lengthy for the likes of YouTube, I’ve split it in two parts. Enjoy!

Photos by Roman Schweigler

Categories: Applications, Event, Nokia, OVI, Symbian

Do you like… pink? Nokia X3 Touch and Type hands-on impressions

September 17, 2010 3 comments

So, with the Nokia World 2010 ending in a flash, I can finally start  digesting the enormous stream of mobile information that was coming from more directions I could manage to catch. It’s was a monster. There was only but a few things that kept us running with a constant supply of adrenaline, and more specifically, one – the all new devices from Nokia. By now, you probably know what the new portfolio is like, and what can we expect from Nokia in the next couple of months. There’s definitely lot to talk about, and choose in which phone to invest our money in, but one thing’s for sure, there’s just about everything to everyone. But let’s stop here, and have a closer look at one of the phones that appeared at the event.

Read more…

Categories: Nokia

Nokia C6 Review: The good, the bad and the smart

August 8, 2010 32 comments

Introduction

Ever since it’s release under the Nokia’s Cseries branding, the Nokia C6 was bound to attract some attention. And for a good reason. The budget price range is quite unusual for what it offers in return: attractive design, a touchscreen enforced with a slide-out qwerty keyboard and all the connectivity you can eat, including voice guided GPS navigation. With a few caveats, it’s not difficult to spot the simple yet beautiful concept behind the  Nokia C6 – you get what you see, without going into overdrive with expenses.

Read more…

Categories: 5th Edition, Cseries, Nokia, Reviews, S60

Release your inner monk with Zen Bound on Nokia N900

June 17, 2010 7 comments

Good games on Maemo 5 is a rare occurrence, sadly. In fact, we started to expect as much, ever since the graphically impressive Bounce Evolution never went past being just a  fancy tech demo. But looking past that, it did manage to show what the N900 hardware is rightly capable of with a drop of commitment from game developers.  But it’s easy to spot the ultimate reasons for the lack of quality tittles for N900: the user base is very niche, and the still evolving Ovi Store only recently started to distribute paid content for N900 owners.

But then there are a few exceptions. Angry Birds, for example, became a welcome smash hit the moment it appeared in the Ovi Store. The free version offers a healthy amount of physics infused puzzle levels to dive into, and there’s also additional level pack available at a price for those unable to resist the addictive formula. SPB Brain Evolution, while a different sort of game altogether, also excelled with it’s suite of 12 different mini challenges designed to train user’s memory and puzzle solving skills.

But ever since the long awaited PR1.2 update for the N900 was released, Nokia was strangely silent on the other half of promise, mainly a new wave of content that ought to come to N900. Does anyone still recalls the few 3D games – Jurassic 3D Rollercoaster or Kroll – that were demoed quite a while ago? To close the circle of this story, among those games was Zen Bound, and it’s finally here  in Nokia’s Ovi Store!

Rope and Wood


Zen Bound. The tittle alone surfaces a string of warm memories that I treasured ever since I played this strange puzzle type game on my iTouch. There’s just so many unique things about it, and the more it makes me happy to see such game find it’s way to the N900.

Zen Bound is a very slow, relaxing type of gaming experience. It’s best enjoyed together with headphones thanks to it’s excellent ambient track that silently hums just underneath a mixture of bell and rope-like sounds that accompany the gameplay. There’s a good reason why the music is such an essential part for this game. It creates a cushion that surrounds the player with it’s own pace, own rules, and brings the player to an almost zen-like state where time is the least important factor. And in that moment, all what matters is just the rotating wooded figure in front of you, and the string that is attached to it. Instinctively, you slowly start painting the familiarly shaped figure by wrapping the string around it. And it works wonders. Soon you’re lost somewhere between your thoughts and the world of Zen Bound.

Simple yet compelling


In a nutshell, the goal of the game is very straightforward. You must try to paint as much surface as possible by cleverly navigating the string around the rotating figure. The game requires zero effort to grasp the basics behind the gameplay, but it gradually gets more challenging as you progress through the levels. The wooden figures become more complex, and the limited length of string requires careful planing from the player. The word ‘patience’ comes into play, because Zen Bound knows no boundaries in time. You can easily unravel the string if necessary, and once you’re happy with your work, you complete the level by scraping the string against a nail. Further into the game, this brings along some really intensive moments when you’re playing a cat and mouse game by trying to avoid touching the pesky nail as long as possible.

Depending how well you painted the figure, you are rewarded with flowers that will literally blossom on a tree that serves as a level selection screen. You only need to paint above 70 % percent of the figure to win a flower and clear the level, but getting near 100% is a tricky business for those who enjoy a challenge. Once you have acquired the necessary number of flowers (maximum up to 3 are rewarded per level), you will light up a hanging Japanese lantern that clears the looming darkness and thus unlocks the next set of wooden tags e.g. levels. It’s a long journey up the tree branches, but ultimately it’s all about the experience along the way rather than bluntly getting the biggest score. And thankfully, the game never takes the player away from the immersion for too long with boring menus.

Works well without multi-touch

Some words should be mentioned about the controls. The game runs exclusively in portrait mode and utilizes both the touchscreen and the accelerometer. Here’s a useful tip: tilt the phone to angle the rope more accurately and gain access to those hard to get places. In that respect, Zen Bound feels nearly identical to the iTouch or iPhone version, yet there’re still some noticeable differences. To start with, the  N900 version doesn’t have multi-touch support which makes the game slightly more challenging (mainly because you can’t spun the figure on it’s axis with the two finger gesture). The game still elegantly responds to player’s finger inputs even on N900’s resistive screen and promptly leaves any second thoughts far behind.

The other noteworthy difference over the iPhone version is the larger screen resolution that results in sharper visuals for a game that was already visually stunning. Each figure looks realistically carved out of different kind of wood, and watching it sink in paint wherever the string touches it is a surprisingly rewarding experience. The stretched string, for the most part, also acts the way you’d expect from it, and only occasionally it gets stuck on edges in a weird fashion.

Nokia N900 vs iTouch 2nd gen.


You could think these screenshots below are taken on the same device, only downscaled. Indeed, both versions of the game look almost identical, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

To my disappointment, I couldn’t find the free download link in the menu to the outstanding soundtrack by ‘Ghost Monkey‘ like it’s in the iPhone version of Zen Bound. These sort of little niggles slightly lowers the overall value of the game, especially given the fact the game already costs more in Ovi Store.

A one-of-a-kind journey


Secret Exit, the developer of Zen Bound, has managed to create a truly innovative and long lasting experience that shouldn’t be missed out by anyone who wants to try out something simple yet deeply involving. With the limited selection of quality games that N900 owners are exposed, the choice should come up extremely easy.

Zen Bound II is already available in Apple’s App store with new gameplay features and improved graphics, and I sincerely hope that the sequel will eventually reach us as well to deliver on those unforgettable and quiet moments.

P.S.

Zen Bound has earned it’s place in my N900 apps list, well done!

Categories: Linux, Maemo, Nokia, Reviews

N900 #OpenMobile art – and the big reveal is…

Following this little teaser from WomWorld/Nokia, I guess it’s our turn to put the cards on the table. In the embedded youtube video down below you can watch  Andrew Park from Cognitive Media using Nokia N900 default ‘Sketch’ application. But who exactly was he drawing there, you ask? Maybe it’s just some random Spanish matador, or maybe someone you might actually know ( nope, that’s not me!).

I think Andrew has done an outstanding work making these  humorous yet to-the-point illustrations of  all the topics that were discussed during the Open Mobile Summit I had such pleasure to attend recently. But  my biggest surprise was when Andrew told me he didn’t have any background knowledge on the mobile industry, so all his drawing were produced on the fly while listening to the summit sessions. Those drawings (I believe there were 6 pages in total) will be later scanned and sent to all attendees to remind them about at the event. Images have the power to tell the same story in more engaging, talkative ways than just plain words, don’t you agree?


And here’s Andrew Park himself with the complete sketch on the N900.

P.S. Now to play my part as devil’s advocate, I think there is something else we could’ve asked Andrew to draw for us. Something I believe just reeks with sheer awesomeness. Penguins, Maemo penguins that shoot frikin’ laser beams out of their eyes win in my book any day 😉

Categories: Applications, Linux, Maemo, Nokia