Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Nokia n97

And now the blog temporarily becomes "Davids tech review". As an owner of a Nokia N series phone since 2005 with the release of the n70 (and a nokia fan all round, except for a brief flirtation with Sony Ericson and Motorola) , it was inevitable that I'd end up with the next model when the option arose.

Having had a ipod touch for around two months now and loving every little inch of it, I was really tempted by the iphone - The wireless stuff and web browsing on the ipod touch is awesome, and to have the same facilities wherever I went would be brilliant - but to have any model with more than 8gb storage (I have a 16gb touch) is ridiculously expensive from o2 - and as I have a wedding to save up for, I'm trying to drop the price of my monthly phone bill. I'm not willing to pay nearly three hundred quid for a phone and have to sign into an 18 month contract at the same time, especially as I'm trying to get away from o2 who I've found next to useless.

So, the n97. The same gubbins in the box; charger, earphones and controller, thin manual that doesn't really cover anything, an easily mislaid cleaning cloth for the screen and the phone itself. And, Brucey bonus, 20 quid of credit for the nokia music store. Wasn't expecting that.

First impressions after a day of use? Nokia are wise not to market this as an iphone beater. Apple really have it in the bag regarding making a gadget for ease of use. The iphone is way more intuitive in many regards; I've only had to refer to the manual for my ipod touch once, and that was how to do a hard-reset after it crashed.

The n97 has its quirks which I'm learning how to counter step by step. The widgets on the main home page seemed to keep vanishing, until I realised that it was an accidental swipe of the touch screen that toggles them on and off. I missed two phone calls on it yesterday because I couldn't work out how to answer the thing - obvious when you know how but not even touched upon in the manual -a Black and White style gesture to first unlock and then answer the incoming call is needed; not so straightforward in my casino drinking exploits of last night. The facebook widget seems to forget my login details, and - worst of all - when I come back I have to reactive the wireless scanning again to avoid paying for data fees; The beauty of the ipod touch is that whenever I'm in range of my wireless network, it picks it up without being prompted.

It sounds from the above like it's just been a catalogue of disasters, but far from it - I'm starting to love this phone. The build quality and battery power are great, as per most nokia phones. The 32gb of storage is more than enough, and having got past the niggles I'm finding the interface straightforward enough to use. The display is clear and the audio from both video and music are crystal clear.

But - and this is a feature I love - the best thing is its full Qwerty keyboard, the keys of which are large enough to hit and tactile enough to know when you've hit them. If only it was backlit, it would be perfect.

My only major gripe - and this isn't with the phone itself but with Nokias music store, thanks to the twenty quid of free credit - is that I purchased three singles - Two from The Bills June Acklands daughter La Roux (yeah, I'm sorry) and the new Basement Jaxx one and two albums - Angles by Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip and the new 'best of' Faith No More one. All except FNM are fine - Every time I try to play it I'm told that I don't have the rights for playback on it, because of fucking DRM. I've tried their troubleshooting (rename DRM rights folder, blah de blah) to no avail - When everybody in the industry seems to be giving DRM up, why do Nokia insist on this antiquated protocol?

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