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February 20, 2008

Nokia NSeries Post-Mobile World Congress

by Matthew

By now most of those interested have seen the new devices announced at Mobile World Congress so I won't bother rehashing the specs. If by chance you missed it here are the datasheets: Nokia N96, N78, 6220 Classic, 6210 Navigator.

N96 N96 - This device was called "super charged N95" and while it does offer some improvements over the N95 I'd be hard pressed to call it a significant improvement. It is without question a worth upgrade for someone without a N95. From the converstioon with the project manager the N96 focus is as a multimedia device, where it succeeds from the short time we were able to spend with a pre-production model. In typical Nokia fashion something is always left out that should have been included. In this case the the N78 offers a built-in FM transmitter for playing through a car stereo, even for phone calls. It may have been a cost or perhaps a space issue. Whatever the reason it drives user such as myself mad. One feature I particularly like is the multifunction media and gaming keys. The keys display music or more generic circles for gaming. The product manager further explained this landscape mode game play likely won't be available in current N95s because the music keys weren't designed to be "pounded on." For a light gamer as myself I'll be looking for that third party hack. The N96 does come includes with 16GB memory and support for a 16GB MicroSD card for those that are data hungry. The N96 does include support for DVB-H and record as much as 30 seconds of that broadcast programming. According to the product manage this recording time is currently limited by the broadcasters and could be increased to higher lengths in the future should such agreements become available. DVB-H is the mobile TV spec but is limited in its availability and programming. Additionally DVB-H is one of many standards that is being used for mobile TV further convoluting and confusing the consumer market. According to the project manager there were some 16 channels available in Barcelona. He was not able to demonstrate this as we were inside a large metal building at the time. The N96 changes back to an LED flash from the xenon flash included in the N82. The LED flash is a dual LED flash to increase performance in this department. The decision to go with this flash type was for battery life. I have video of the interview demonstration the power of the dual LEDs while recording video in a pitch black room but oiv Share has had issues with the audio from edited video. This particular video segment was nearly 1 hour and over 400MB while ovi Share only supports up to 100MB file sizes. Check out my MWC Channel later for the video if you are interested. N78

N78 - Unlike the N96, this device is a very worthy and worthwhile update from the N73. Most notably is the increase of memory, a most welcome change for any memory flustered N73 user. The other two upgrades is the inclusion of WiFi, common is many high end mobile devices that was somehow left out in the N73. The most unique addition is the included FM transmitter, making the N78 a music player through any FM radio. The FM transmitter can even be used for voice calling, something that usually requires a third-party accessory.

When asked about battery life when using the FM transmitter the project manager said it was effectively a moot point as Nokia would expect most users would have a car changer available. The FM transmitter is very low power, so low in fact it may not even work if the device is in the rear setting area of the vehicle. This low power requirement is due to governmental regulations. The actual power output of the FM transmitter will vary from market to market to comply with local laws with the US government being the most stringent.

Lke most models the N78 also leaves something out. In this case, it leaves out the graphics acceloration found in other deceives included in the relaunched N-Gage offerings. While the N78 will be able to play many of the games, the quality or game play may not be up to the level of the N81, N95 or N96. The N78 is meant as a multimedia consumption device, i.e. music, video and the like whereas the N96 is intended more as a multimedia creation device with the higher quality camera for pictures and video. The N78 will also retail for approximately €100 less than the N96 at €450 before tax and subsidies.

6220 Classic

6220 Classic - We didn't spend time with the project managers for this unit but from the specs it would appear as a lower end version of the N96 with GPS, TV out, without the graphic acceleration and other goodies that would make it a gaming phone.

Nokia 6210 Navigator

6210 Navigator - Another device that has a very unique feature that we have not seen before a built-in compass. The compass is designed for the new Nokia Maps 2.0 pedestrian mode (walking vs driving directions). What makes the compass unique when used in combination with Nokia Maps 2.0 is that the view changes with the user to let them see the map in the direction they are looking. The compass in even activated with its own dedicated key below the screen near the bottom portion of the top slider. This new option in a device is quite interesting and appealing. Seeing it function in person was amazing. The navigation and compass feature work without the need for a SIM making it a very worth backup device. Living in a metro area where driving is not only a necessity, walking isn't even an option is many areas due to the lack of sidewalks and the sheer distant between home, work and shopping areas, however if I lived an such an area such as Chicago, NYC and many European cities this device would be near the top of my list for functionality.


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A compass was already included in the Noka 5140 so this feature was available before. It was not able to do navigation, though.

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