Taken with Nokia N8

Since getting my N8 a few weeks ago I’ve been using Skull Candy wired headphones. Being “wired” they have a tendency of getting in the way when I’m at the gym or on my mountain bike. They get tangled in the straps of my Camelback or pulled out of my ears at the gym because of the cord. I ordered Nokia’s BH-505 Bluetooth Headset hoping going cordless would alleviate these minor agitations.

I really have been slow to accept Bluetooth as I really haven’t found a headset for using with my phone that can hold a clear signal, including Jawbone. And as we all know, having Bluetooth on constantly runs the battery down. Yet I  decided to take a gamble by ordering the 505’s and I am happy to say it paid off. These things are fantastic and here are the top 5 reasons why I love this headset:

  1. Sound quality – The sound quality is as good as Skull Candy headphones. The bass is good and strong without being overbearing and with a good solid fit from the multiple choices of rubber ear plugs background noise is easily be filtered out. I also have noticed that there is no static in the connection. The 505’s are also a hands-free device for speaking on your phone and using voice commands, but as I will never answer the phone when I’m riding or working out I can’t speak to the voice quality.
  2. Stylish design – For something that is primarily functional the design is quite appealing. I don’t feel self-conscious wearing them at the gym thinking everyone is staring at a Storm Trooper wanna-be.
  3. Compatibility – I’ve been able to connect the 505’s to my N8 and Samsung Vibrant and there is no difference in sound quality. The added bonus was being able to connect to my iPad to listen to music and watch videos.
  4. Durability – My fear when I ordered them was I would open the box only to find some wobbly and cheap plastic device that would break easily. I am pleasantly surprised by how durable they are and any concerns I had about taking them to the gym and having to be overly careful with them are gone. I’m sure they won’t survive a serious mountain biking crash but they’ll do well on your every day ride on the trails.
  5. Value – At $79.95 at nokiausa.com you definitely get a lot for your money. Easy to use, durable, and quality sound makes these a must buy for anyone wanting to break a sweat while listening to their music, or just lounging and enjoying a movie on your tablet or mobile phone.

Taken with Nokia N8

Taken with Nokia N8


Posted: February 8, 2011 in Accessories, Generic
Tags: , , ,

By August of last year I had become impatient waiting for the N8 and I was bored with my N900. While I enjoyed the N900 I didn’t like having a device that really was just a small internet tablet and wasn’t a good phone. Since it also couldn’t get voice directions and the apps that were available were more for programmers (not me) I decided it was time to try something mainstream. I selected the Samsung Vibrant from T-Mobile and was happy with it, but when the chance to get a new N8 at an unbeatable price came along I jumped at it.

After 2 weeks with the N8 I decided to do a head-to-head comparison of the two. Here’s what I found:

Reception – These are phones, so at the very least they should have good signals right? The N8 does, but I can’t say the same for the Vibrant. Remember those old commercials showing someone trying to get a good signal by standing on one foot with their hand on a door knob and a coat hanger in their baseball cap? That still applies to the Vibrant. Since I use T-Mobile with both devices you can’t use the network as an excuse. In fact, when in my office I’m lucky if I have one bar with the Vibrant, yet the N8 in the exact same spot will have 4 or 5 bars. Pretty much everywhere I went the signal strength with the N8 was consistently better than the Samsung Vibrant. WINNER: Nokia N8

Hardware – The N8 is smaller than the Vibrant (fits within Vibrant’s 4″ screen); the casing is anodized aluminum and weighs 4.76 oz; it has metal buttons for menu, camera, locking & volume; and there is no need to remove the rear cover or battery to access the SIM & external memory cards.

The Vibrant is ginormous and has a plastic casing; weight is 4.17 oz; touch action buttons for search, home, settings and menu with an external button to lock/unlock the device (also plastic); and you must remove the back cover for memory card access and both the cover and battery for SIM access

The N8 hardware materials and build quality make it a very solid feeling device. The weight between the two devices is basically the same yet the size of the Vibrant made it feel like a brick when it was in my pocket. The touch buttons on the Vibrant aren’t as responsive as I would like and as everything but the screen is plastic I was always fearful of breaking it. WINNER: Nokia N8

Colors – This isn’t important to me, but to many it is. The Samsung Vibrant comes in black or dark purple by switching out the back cover and the N8 allows you your choice of Silver White, Dark Grey, Orange, Blue or Green (not all colors available in all countries). WINNER: Nokia N8

Display – Both devices have AMOLED screens with the Vibrant’s larger screen than the N8 (4″ vs 3.5″). Reading the display specs for both the N8 and the Vibrant seem equal, but I’m going to have to give this feature to Samsung. The colors just appear richer and brighter and with the larger screen everything seems a little bigger. I have both phones set to adjust brightness automatically yet the N8 does better in bright light, especially outdoors. I had less issues seeing items on the N8 when mountain biking and could see almost nothing on the Vibrant. WINNER: Samsung Galaxy S – Vibrant

Touchscreen – A tie with Samsung having a very slight advantage. Both are capacitive touch screens with multi-touch capabilities. Excluding the Vibrant’s touch buttons I found it to be a tad more responsive than the N8. That responsiveness disappears though when the Vibrant is updating on-screen widgets (weather, Facebook, email, etc.) and I haven’t noticed the same issue with the N8. TIE

Battery Life – I’ve gone as long as three days on one charge with the N8 with the homescreens filled with email, Nokia/Ovi Social, AccuWeather, Music, Notifications and bluetooth and WiFi scan running. With nothing active on any of the homescreens on the Vibrant, and bluetooth and WiFi turned off I can barely get 5 – 6 hours before I need to plugin. WINNER: Nokia N8

Operating System – Android 2.1 (Froyo 2.2 now available) vs Symbian^3. A few weeks ago I stated that Nokia needed to ditch Symbian and go to Android as Nokia makes the best h/w and yet Android is a great OS. I still like Android but that comment was made based upon my experiences with the N97 and Symbian S60 5th, and before I used Symbian^3 on the N8. After 2 weeks with the N8 I have to say I really do like S^3.

I would’ve said that the devices were tied in the OS battle, but that was before hearing of the challenges consumers are experiencing right now after upgrading to Froyo on their Vibrants. In fact, those challenges remind me of all the firmware issues and subsequent updates we experienced with the N97. I have had zero issues with S^3 and to try to compare it to S60 5th is comparing Granny to Red Delicious apples. I’m giving this one to Symbian^3, but let’s hope the upcoming f/w upgrade doesn’t make this a tie again WINNER: Nokia N8

Typing – The Vibrant comes with Swype installed and is not loaded as a default on the N8 but is available in Ovi Store. The resident keyboard on the N8 is much too small so even if you don’t want to use the Swype features you should install it just for the keyboard (download here). The Swype keyboard for the Vibrant has both landscape and portrait modes and the N8’s version of Swype has no portrait mode. I’ve heard this is because of the current f/w version for the N8 so I’m hoping the pending f/w update corrects this. WINNER: Samsung Galaxy S – Vibrant

Camera – Do I really need to go on? 12mp for the N8 vs 5mp. Xenon flash vs no flash. On device image editing pre-loaded vs needing a 3rd party app. 720p HD video recording vs ???? Both have social media sharing and built-in galleries. Both have 3rd apps available for sharing and editing photos, but the N8 even lets you edit videos on the device. The Vibrant doesn’t have a chance in this category. Not many devices do. For samples of photos from both the N8 and Vibrant please view my photos page. WINNER: Nokia N8

Synching – Nokia’s Ovi Suite seems to have graduated well from Beta Labs since I used it on the N900. It quite effectively syncs MS-Outlook calendars, contacts, notes, tasks, maps, music and pictures between my PC and the N8 without needing a 3rd party like Google. The Vibrant syncs well for social media and Google Mail and Google Calendar, but it has no OEM app to sync to your Outlook calendar, contacts, tasks and notes. There is an app in the Android Market called CompanionLink that does a mediocre job of in the absence of an OEM app. It never really brought over all of my Outlook appointments and was always deleting from, or creating duplicate calendar entries to, my PC without being changes being made to my phone. WINNER: Nokia N8

Email – Both devices can handle and check email for multiple email accounts such as Microsoft Exchange, GMail, Yahoo, and Ovi Mail. Neither can really handle Hotmail too well, but can any device? Makes me wonder how it addressed with WP7 phones. TIE

Applications & Application Store – This is another easy and obvious option, but not in Nokia’s favor. The Samsung Vibrant definitely wins here because there are just so many apps available in the Android Market and, unlike the Ovi Store, there are a lot of apps available for North American users. One advantage Nokia does have over Android with the Ovi Store is the ability to search apps on a PC and send the links to your mobile. The web-based version of the Android Market sucks. WINNER: Samsung Galaxy S – Vibrant

Movies, entertainment – I think this may be a tie as both devices have strong pluses and minuses going for them. Both play movies, but the N8 has the advantage of being able to output video with HDMI out. Samsung’s advantage is Media Hub, a movie and video store preloaded onto the Vibrant that allows you to purchase or rent video content. Yet the Samsung doesn’t allow you to play videos from Media Hub on just any TV. You need to use an application called allshare and it only works with DLNA certified devices. I’m not replacing my Panasonic 42″ Plasma TV just to watch movies from a phone. TIE

Social Media – The devices are equal in this aspect. There are native or 3rd party apps either device can use to allow you to view, update status, and share pictures with your friends on Facebook, Foursquare or Twitter. Pixelpipe is also available for both devices for those that want to update once. Nokia/Ovi Social was recently updated and is the best it’s been, but as there are only two networks it updates (Facebook & Twitter) it doesn’t do as much as the 3rd party apps. TIE

GPS & Maps – It’s no secret, the GPS signal strength is terrible on the Vibrant (reminds me of the N97 yet again) and despite claimed fixes by Samsung nothing has improved. The speed, reliability, strength and accuracy of GPS signals on the N8 is fantastic! In fact, probably the best of any device I’ve ever owned. Ovi Maps and Google Maps are pretty equal with each having advantages over the other. Both devices allow you to use their tools and install 3rd party navigation applications. WINNER: Nokia N8 as a map is useless if you have a poor GPS signal.

WiFi Tethering – This is available with the N8 through the use of Jokiu. There are free and premium versions available in the Ovi Store here. Nothing has to be done to your device other than install the app, though data charges may increase depending upon the data plan with your carrier. With the Vibrant there is no tethering unless you root the device. Rooting is basically unlocking the phone but it comes with risks as rooting will nullify your warranty with T-Mobile. This may not be important to many but I use my N8 as a WiFi tether point for my iPad. Why pay Apple $150 more for a tablet that will force me to pay AT&T $20+ per month just to use the device. WINNER: Nokia N8

With the votes tallied, the N8 seems to be the better device (N8 – 7 votes, Vibrant – 3 votes, Tie – 4 votes). In truth, I really didn’t need to tally a vote to know that the N8 is really a quality device. Not since the E71 have I had a Nokia phone that I truly and enjoy and have challenges finding faults with it. Thank you Nokia for listening to the consumers and learning from the mistakes of the past to build a must have device.

One of the premier sites dedicated to everything Nokia is looking to expand. Given all of the recent news about operating system wars between Nokia/Symbian, Android, and the dreaded A word we need to do all we can to get the word out.

Select the image below to view the Nokia Expert site and follow them on twitter here






UPDATE added Nov 11, 2010 – I now have my iPad tethered using Barnalce WiFi Tether on my Samsung Galaxy S or I can use JoikuSpot on my Nokia N900 as a back up device. Works perfectly so number 4 of my dislike list is no longer valid for me.

Original post:

I have been wanting a tablet for some time now, but as a fan of Nokia’s for so long I knew I couldn’t get one from them. As a recent owner, lover, and newly converted fan of the Samsung Galaxy S (Vibrant) and Android, I have been waiting for the Samsung Galaxy Tab just like the rest of the world. Recently I heard that the WiFi only version of the Tab is delayed until after the holidays and my heart sank. I got tired of waiting and went and got an iPad WiFi 32mb version.

Many do this right? Of course. But I have been very anti-Apple for many years. But learning from my experiences with Nokia and waiting for the N8 to be released only to wait and wait is what drove me to the Samsung Vibrant. I love the phone and have no regrets so I decided to give the iPad a chance. Getting at Best Buy also made it easier because Of their 14 day return policy. So what do I think so far?

I’ve had this less than a week and I think I’m hooked! What do I like about it so much?

  1. The keyboard is very responsive and almost feels like using an external keyboard in landscape mode. It is also very usable in portrait. To demonstrate how useful it is I’m typing this blog in the WordPress app for iPad (screenshots added from a PC though)
  2. Watching videos is great! And watching instantly with Netflix is perfect. Renting movies and content from iTunes makes this the perfect companion for travel. I have ordered the Apple AV cables to connect the iPad to my TV to watch videos and I’m sure this will be yet something else for me to love about this device.
  3. Kindle and iBook are great apps! I better be careful or I’ll run out of space sooner than later. Adding bookmarks, selecting larger fonts (great for when I “forget” my glasses), and the ability to change the brightness and background (black, white & sepia) make the user experience even more pleasurable.
  4. Say bye bye to newspapers. I love my Saturday and Sunday mornings reading my paper and drinking coffee but am not thrilled about cutting trees down or spending the money for more than one subscription. No longer an issue with the iPad as there are many apps to choose from, both free and subscription based. With the Safari browser you can also view the web sights for most of the nation’s major newspapers.
  5. Gaming is great. A large screen with a fantastic display and very responsive to the touch. The actuator is also very responsive so would probably make driving based games more fun than using a keyboard or joystick.
  6. Social media applications like Friendly for Facebook and the iPad Twitter app allow me to keep in touch with my friends at all times…… Lucky them
  7. Photos viewing is fantastic. As you can tell from my Photos page I like to take pictures, especially with my cell phones. But a cell’s screen isn’t necessarily the biggest for viewing your photos….and too often you share one via MMS or social media that you think is nice and clear only to find out later they ware really out of focus. With the iPad you get a much better view of your photos. I really like that you can have them sorted into albums, but I LOVE that if you have GPS turned on for your photos you can see them placed on a map by Google.

Now of course the iPad isn’t a perfect device….nothing is other than a Ferrari Enzo. But this writing isn’t about what I don’t like now is it? But to be “objective” I’ll list them now:

  1. No Flash support (should be a must in any internet access tool)
  2. No multitasking (coming soon In OS4 I believe)
  3. Inability to create folders yet (also coming soon)
  4. No way to tether, at least not easily, if you have the WiFi only version
  5. Way too many apps with most having a fee and many not having trial periods
  6. No true MS-Office and the ones sold as “compatible” really aren’t as far as I can tell

After 10 minutes with the device  my second impression was one of shock that what I had in my hand was a locked device from T-Mobile. My first was that I really didn’t think Nokia could improve upon the perfection of the E71, especially after what I read about the E72.  I fell in love with the device (do I really have to send it back???) in those first few moments because of the 2 first impressions, yet there are so many more reasons why this device is a good buy, or worth the 2 year contract with T-Mobile.

What I liked about the E73:

  1. The E73 Mode is marketed as a device that can switch easily between your personal and work lives. It does that very easily, after you figure out how to set each one up. I personally don’t need to switch between the two as the flexibility allowed for customization allows you to “hide” what may be personal and inappropriate for the workplace. However, for those that want to choose their modes, I suggest Nokia add a password feature to switch between work and personal modes.
  2. Mail for Exchange is really the best email and calendar app I know of and it’s still as great as ever on the E73. No third party servers like RIM, just direct access to your company’s Exchange Server. I also have a Samsung Galaxy/Vibrant from T-Mobile and the email client on it is terrible! Nothing compares to MfE in my book.
  3. I really, really liked the Optical Navi Key a lot. I remember those calluses building up from my heavy E71 usage and my thumb thanks Nokia for this addition.
  4. Ovi Maps was “nice” on the E71, but GPS signal access speed left a lot to be desired unless you had Maps Booster. With the E73 Ovi Maps loads quickly and the GPS signal access speed was incredibly fast and there is no need for a third party app to increase GPS signal speed and strength. If you wish, Maps Booster for the E73 is available for $2.99 in the Ovi Store here.
  5. The change from a 2mp camera in the E71 to the 5mp for the E73.  I take lots of photos with my phones, as you can see on my Photos page, and a good camera is important to me.

Those five items are great, but the things that really made me fall in love with the E73 are:

  1. This is a locked phone? Really? Impossible I say. The flexibility to change things on this phone without Big Brother T-Mobile is fantastic!!! The last locked device I had was fine if I wanted only T-Mobile approved apps and services, thus I became an avid eBay hunter of unlocked devices from Europe. No need to now with this device.
  2. I can go to Ovi Store and load apps until the phone runs out of storage space and T-Mobile doesn’t interfere! I can even pay for an app from Ovi Store through my T-Mobile plan.
  3. Free Ovi Maps for life. I’m about to get a new car and with the availability of phones with free Ovi Maps I’ll be saving $2000 – $2500 in features for the car as i won’t need a navigation system. Thank you Nokia!
  4. Symbian S60 3rd. It is still a rock solid OS and it is as strong on the E73 as it was on the E71 and my old E61i. With some nice UI changes like highlighted icons  “jumping”, the OS feels as if it’s up-to-date with today’s market place.
  5. Social media and networking works great and Twitter, Facebook and MySpace come pre-loaded. Searching the net is easier too with Google search also included.

It’s always nice to read such rosy reviews, but if one needs to consider everything before making a purchase, or signing a 2 year contract, then there are those “areas for improvement” to consider:

  1. The world is becoming a touch interface world, both for personal and work modes. RIM, LG, Samsung and others have touch-and-type devices. Nokia has the X3 Touch and Type device so why not improve upon the great features of the E73 by making it T and T?
  2. The screen size is a tad small for today’s apps and features. Watching a YouTube video on this device is okay if you’re a teen and still have the eyes of a hawk. For those of us that have “maturing eyes” it’s hard enough to see text on the screen much less videos or games.

That’s it, only two things I didn’t like. But for me those two items are deal breakers. I love touch devices and the larger screens one finds with the Nokia N8 and upcoming E7, as well as many devices from Samsung, RIM, HTC and Motorola. If Nokia wants the E73 to evolve as a business and play device, then like the others Nokia will need to add touch and increase the size of the screen.

With the pending release of the N8 and the E7 around the corner I got to wondering, “What is more important to people, a 12mp camera or a QWERTY keyboard?” I figured why not ask the masses?

Many of us want to take great pictures with our phones (me included) and reduce the number of devices we need to carry. So are we willing to fore-go the speed and accuracy of QWERTY keyboard for great pics?

Then there are those of us that want to use a device more for text messaging, email, social media updates, and other typing heavy functions. So are those QWERTY-types ready to drop-down to an 8mp camera so they can have the physical keyboard?

Please select your choice from the poll below and let’s see which comes out on top:

UPDATE Sept. 23, 2010: Today a refreshing change was seen that will hopefully be the beginning of the end of the “lack of attention” I mentioned below. Nokia and AT&T announced an Innovators contest. Great news! Now maybe subsidized N8s or E7s will be announced for 2011.

I originally wrote the “article” below as a response to Matt Miller’s ZDNet article and thought it makes a good article in itself. It’s here for you  all to see and I’m curious to hear your responses:

It’s not just subsidized pricing. Many, many people pay the higher price for unlocked phones. Nokia is not an unknown in the US market place, but unfortunately they are known for not making phones the consumer wants. When they do it is too little too late. The country wants flip phones and they insist we want candy bar phones. When they finally realize they were wrong they give us flip phones and yet now we want PDA’s (pre-smartphone term). They give us the E61, E61i and E71 but now we want touch phones….

Additional examples include:

Touch screen – Apple beat everyone here and Nokia’s answer was the N97. It was a fiasco for Nokia and the fact that no US carrier provided it did not help. The 5800 (Tube) caused a lot of stir because of Batman, Dark Knight, yet it took Nokia forever to release it, much less admit its existence. Had they gotten it to market quickly maybe things would be different today.

Ovi Store – Really? I mean, really? I had the N900, N97, 5800 and E71, with the N900 and E71 being the best of them. But I never got any apps, other than Angry Birds & Sportstracker, from Ovi Store. Why? I had to search for apps from blog sites because there were very few of the apps for the US market, or they arent ones we even want. Restaurant info in China or movie times in Finland won’t do me any good in the US. Where are the US developers? They’re making apps for Apple and Android (I recently got a Samsung & the Android market has more relevant apps to the US than I can handle, or will ever need). Where’s the Blockbuster app, or Fandango, banking with Wells Fargo or BoA? Again, they’re on the Apple Store or Android Market.

Marketing – How often do we see Nokia ads on TV? Very, very seldom. There was one for AT&T and the E71…it ran for about a week. There are Nokia Centers in LA and a couple of other cities, but do they sell phones there? Um, no. Doh

Availability of devices – Can I get a device at a major retailer? Not really (Best Buy is a hit or miss). I have to go to eBay or nokiausa.com to get a device….but I have to wait 6+ months for it after it’s been announced. Oh and then if I pre-order it will probably be delayed.

I really do like Nokia, and have for years. However, they seem to be more interested in investing in emerging markets like China and India. We can’t blame them for that as they have a business to run. Their position in the US is one they created….they have ignored the US consumer for far too long so the US consumer now ignores them. We go to concerts in their venues, but we take pictures and share social media from those venues with our Apples and Samsung devices. Lack of subsidized phones has not hurt them with the US consumer; it’s “lip service” and the lack of attention…