Dec 31, 2007

1 & 2 - N95 8GB Lebanon Ambassador

This is the first report from my N95 8GB Lebanon Ambassador mission, where I spent the first 2 days demonstrating the camera and video recording capabilities of the device as well as the accelerometer goodness.

1 - Camera & Video Recording
When I first found out that the N95 was going to sport a 5MP cam and 640x480 video resolution with 30 fps, I was really impressed. I mean those are specs higher than my stand-alone digital camera. I am not a pro photographer, my main use of a camera is taking quick pictures and videos, now and then, for the memories. I usually didn't mind having a low-quality picture or video as long as the moment I took it in was great. After all, pictures and videos are like a visual diary, they are just here to remind us of great moments in our lives, moments that our lazy memory would erase or blurry. But with the N95 8GB, I am sure that I not only have a way to revive my memories, but also a way to show it and share it with everyone around me. That is the greatest part about it.

My Own Impressions
The picture quality is impressive. I don't print pictures, I don't make posters of them. I just keep them on my computer to view them later, so the 5MP is much more than enough for me: we all know that the laptop screen has a maximum resolution of 1280x800 (with something around 80dpi). The N95 8GB takes pictures with a maximum resolution of 2582 x 1944. Point made. Even if I did want to print out my pictures on a 17x15cm paper, they would come out really good.
The video quality blew me away. Yes I knew I was expecting a similar quality to my stand-alone Kodak digicam (who takes videos with the same resolution and fps), but I was thinking that it wouldn't actually BE the same quality. Well, I was wrong, really wrong. I also made a little comparison with the N73 (352x288 video res with 15fps), which still accounts as one of the best cameraphones out in the market. I took a video my friend had recorded with her N73 and sent it over BT to the N95 8GB. I then recorded one video with the N95 8GB itself. Then, using TV-Out, I played both videos on our 29in flat TV. And the result? Are you actually asking? No way you could compare them. The better resolution on the N95 8GB had a role to play, but the 30fps is the one that made the N95 8GB stand out. The N73 delivered a cameraphone video, expected result, but the N95 8GB delivered a quality as good as my own digicam. Thumbs up Nokia, seriously.
Also, having a dedicated not configurable gallery button was bugging me at first. But after a couple of days with the N95 8GB, I thank the designer team for introducing it.

Now, what didn't impress me all that much?
  • First of all there's the fact that everytime I popped the TV-Out cable in the N95 and selected TV-Out, the device would reboot. First time I thought it was my mistake, then I noticed it kept happening. So afterwards I had to press Cancel to have the thing working. But when I would disconnect the device from the TV, it would reboot, so it's a lose-lose situation. I guess it's a problem with my unit because I haven't heard anyone complain about it.
  • Second there's the fact that when I am connected on TV-Out and I take a picture, the preview image isn't the full resolution image, which means that quality on TV-Out looks crappy. I know that not many people would eventually try to take a picture while connected to a TV, but what if they do? They'll think their hand moved or that there's something wrong with the autofocus.
  • Speaking about autofocus, I noticed that getting the autofocus to work was pretty hard at first. I always ended up taking the picture before the focus was correct. Eventually I got used to it, but still
  • The gallery is painfully slow to load. I first thought that it was just me because I'm running so many apps in the background. Turns out other people are also complaining about it.
  • Why the hell can't I use the 1 and 3 buttons to rotate images left and right? Why???
  • And finally there's the obvious "where the hell is the video editor?", along with "where the hell is Muvee?". I saw Muvee on my friends' N73 and N76, which means it exists for S60 v3 (and fp1) why isn't it on the N95 8GB? Plain stupid!

  • People's Impressions
    What people first notice is the huge lens on the back of the device. I got a lot of "is that a new camera?" questions. Well, I believe that no one would expect to see such a huge lens on the back of a mobile phone.
    The other great positive they note is that point and shoot is tremendously easy, just because of the huge screen. They don't have to stare at a small screen to take the picture, they have 2.8in of goodness to feast their eyes on. 2 persons even told me the experience was comparable to their Sony CyberShot digital cameras!
    With a TV around, I also demonstrated viewing the pictures and video on TV-Out. The only comment I got was: Wow. People don't know what 5MP or 3MP or 8MP is, they just buy the highest number around. When you say you've got a 5MP cam on a mobile phone, they think about their own 7 or 8MP digicam and tend to think that 5MP is much lower quality. Stretching the picture on a whole 25in or 29in screen shows just how good it is. They are even surprised that it comes with a TV-Out cable! Video playback on TV also got a lot of admiration.

    Negative comments I got were about:
  • the camera button being a little hard to press
  • night pictures being lower quality
  • front camera is worthless
  • zooming takes all the picture quality. I did explain that it was a digital zoom, which doesn't compare in quality to an optical zoom, but hey, the end result remained the same, and that probably was the major letdown for many.

  • 2 - Accelerometer Goodies
    We were all mad at Nokia for not mentioning the N95 had a built-in accelerometer, and I still don't understand why they hid it. But thank God, they revealed it eventually! Thanks to Samir Oueldi, the accelerometer has a couple of great uses. I have installed RotateMe and Nokmote on the N95 8GB and leave them running in the background.

    My Own Impressions
    The accelerometer is pretty darn accurate!
    RotateMe is simply the best application in the world. Viewing pictures, watching videos, browsing the web, everything is made ridiculously simple with it. Normally you would see a picture in portrait mode and either use the zoom either slide the screen downwards to reveal the multimedia menu, which rotates the interface to landscape mode. RotateMe simplifies the whole thing. Just physically turn the device and taraaaa! I found it extremely helpful while browsing pages, sometimes you need to enter text, just slide the keypad out, enter your text, either holding the device vertically either horizontally, like you wish. Makes browsing a lot easier. But RotateMe does annoy a little because it sometimes rotates the screen when it's not meant to. Fiddling with the settings got the problem somewhat solved, but after all it is quite fast so i don't mind re-rotating the device myself.
    Nokmote doesn't have an adjustable senstivity and reactivity, for the obvious reason that it is still in development. But still having it around while playing Global Race or N-Gage's Asphalt 3 was a very nice experience. At first I spent the whole race time going from wall to wall, now I'm better at it, and I think that after a couple of days, I'll be a real pro at it. Of course Nokmote isn't meant to be used with the device, because you end up twisting it a lot, which makes looking at the screen to see where you are rather difficult. It is meant to be played on TV-Out and that's where it really shines. But it's pretty much impossible to leave it running on the device, because the sensitivity can't be set. I normally leave RotateMe on, but close Nokmote and only open it when in need.

    People's Impressions
    RotateMe really stood out as the champion of the day. People thought I was pressing a button or doing something, until I handed them the device and said "take it, see for yourself". A lot of nice comments were said. And because the iPhone is just starting to become famous in Lebanon, I heard 3 persons (roughly my age, 22-24) say "oh it's like the iPhone". Yeah the N95 can do that too baby! One comment I got from everyone (and I mean every single one) is "why doesn't it rotate the other way? or upside down?. Funny question. "The device is meant to be used in these 2 configurations only, I would understand wanting to rotate it the other way, but upside down, why would you need it?", answer "it'd be nice". So as you see, it wasn't about functionality, it was about the cool-factor.

    I demonstrated Nokmote to a lot of people, who really liked the concept. But the main public I was interested in were my 9 (male) and 10 (female) year old neighbors, as well as my 23 and 20 year old male cousins. I started Asphalt 3, launched Nokmote and connected the N95 8GB to our 29in screen. All of them thought it was impressive. The 9 year old boy, who had just got a PS2 for Christmas said "oh it's like the Wii!" and I couldn't get him off the N95 for 15 minutes. He bumped into a couple of walls at first, then 2 laps later, he was flying like rocket. "What do you think of it, Tony?", poor boy looked at me after I took the N95 out of his hands and said "Cool, really cool, can I play more?". The 10 year old girl played a little bit, but she's not into racing games, I guess if I had some sort of Super Mario running, she would've been swept away. My 23 year old cousin who loves technology a tidbit (he's a mechanical engineer after all), didn't have any trouble adjusting to the play mode, but 3 minutes later, he was tired of twisting the device. My 20 year old cousin who is really into all those racing games was watching his brother not impressed about it, but when he got to play with it he ended up having fun and getting used to the sensitivity in no-time. Other friends that saw it didn't get the chance to experience it with gaming and TV-Out, but just with the gallery, videos and music playing. They were amazed by the concept but found it rather annoying and hard to control. I explained it was still in development.

    What do you think of the comments I have been receiving so far? Do you get the same notes with your friends? As far as I can see, the first experiences have been rather good. Stay tuned for more N95 8GB Lebanon Ambassador reports. Coming next are music and video playback, wifi and browsing.


    1. I agree with you and your friends in all of the comments. Only concerning the screen rotation function I wish it would be possible to rotate also the other direction for a certain reason:
      when surfing the web a longer time lying on the sofa it would be nice to change from right hand to left hand control of the navigation pad.

    2. i even forgot about my girlfriend when using the N95 8GB! o.O

      what a bad bad boy i am hehe .. so you finally got it rita, congrats, i'm really happy for you! :)



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