Jan 5, 2008

3 & 4 - N95 8GB Lebanon Ambassador

I admit it, I have been late with the reports, but I've been suffering from a cold episode. Anyway, here is the second report from my daily N95 8GB Lebanon Ambassador Mission where I tackle the Music playing capabilities of the N95 8GB, as well as the WiFi connectivity and the browsing experience. You can also check the first report about the camera and the accelerometer.

Day 3 - Music Experience
Is the N95 8GB, with the great onboard memory, the dedicated music keys, the 3.5mm earphone jack and the 2.8"screen, the best Nokia music and video player ever?
It is no secret to people around me that I am a music maniac. It's not that I listen to music every single breathing second, nor that I know every song ever made, but it is that when I say I know a song, then what I mean is that I know the title, the artist, most probably the album and the release year. Having heard the song a couple of times on the radion doesn't account for me as knowing it. That's why organizing music for me is a must, as well as being able to browse by anything that comes to my mind, from artist, album, song title, genre, or anything else. The major letdown I had with my 3250, and many S60 3rd devices actually was the fact that the music was organized in the Gallery, just like pictures and videos. Seriously, this is no way a music lover would want to see his tunes. That's why I was pleasantly surprised with the music experience over the N95 8GB.

My Own Impressions
The fact that the Tracks part of the Gallery redirects immediately to the Music Player, without attempting to display the songs itself is great. The fact that the music player has a dedicated Podcast part is awesome. But the great bit is that before I even start a song, I can browse by Artist, Album, Song title, Genre or Composer, and that I can even search those, not only by the first word but the first letters of any word. That's heaven for any music freak. Really Neat. Thank you Nokia! I can also edit ID3 tags, can you top that?
A friend of mine who was seriously getting the N95 8GB asked me to do a little speaker sound comparison for him. So I thought what would be better than comapring it with my own 3250, one of Nokia's loudest phones yet (correct me if I'm wrong). I played the same song with both devices on 100% volume. The 3250 was 1-2% louder, I think due to the fact that it has one speaker with mono sound. The stereo sound on the N95 8GB made it a little less loud, but with greater quality. I also compared the volume to the 5310 MusicXpress, the 6120 and the N73. It came on top of the first two, but par with the N73 (a little surprising result).
Also worth mentioning are the dedicated music playing and volume keys that made the experience a lot nicer. I can seriously consider the N95 8GB a good contender to replace my iPod, actually in the last days, it has replaced the iPod, which is now sitting silently in the drawer, next to my Nokia 3250 and my Qtek 9100. The fact that I can search for a song by typing the first letters, something that no iPod can do without too many finger movements, is a major win.

Now, what were the letdowns?
  • Sync time. I used iTunes Agent and created a good 5GB playlist on iTunes. I didn't time the transfer process, but I can pretty much say it was more than an hour. Seriously? 5GB?
  • When I first sync'ed my playlist I realized I had done a mistake in the Smart Playlist itself and set it to select songs by Lowest Rating: I meant Highest Rating. I corrected it and re-synced. The songs that were removed from the Smart Playlist were deleted from the device memory and from All songs in the music player, but when I opened the Artists or Albums section, I would find the corresponding data, but with a "this folder is empty" note in it. Why not simply delete the whole thing? The weird part was that searching for the Artist of the Album on Nokia's standby screen Search plug-in, would return zero results. Anyway after another sync, it seems that the problem has been solved, but I'm not quite sure.
  • Why the hell can I edit a song details (or ID3) from the song list, but not from the Now Playing screen?
  • Could they add an option to create smart playlists? And a rating system of any sort?
  • I was disappointed that it didn't sync album art, I read a trick somewhere that would do it, but was too lazy to try it out.
  • When I first open the Now Playing screen, if a song is not actually playing, pressing on the dedicated FF or RW won't change the song to the previous or next one. But if I start playing then stop the song, I can FF or RW as much as I want. No such problem with the joypad keys however. Weird. Can anyone tell me if they've had the same?

  • People's Impressions
    The dual-slider surprised a lot of persons around me. Normally when someone is holding the phone and sliding the keypad out, I would say "oh try sliding it the other way", then I would get some "ah"s concerning the dedicated music keys and the auto-rotation of the interface to the landscape mode.
    Being able to control music with dedicated keys was the most remarkable feature, because everyone knows what each button does. The 3.5 mm plug got some praise too, many people have suffered from a lost or non-functioning mobile earphone, and explaining that you can plug in any earphone you have made them look at the device in another way.
    Also I got a couple of "oh, I can browse by artist, album, genre and playlist, like on the iPod!". But when I added that you can just start typing any word and it'll look for it in each category, without having to scroll through huge lists, I got some good comments.

    The less impressive parts were:
  • The sound being noted as high, but not quite enough. It would've been nice to comapre it to the N81 to see what they both can deliver.
  • The empty album art. I expect Nokia to do something about it, soon.
  • Typing to search for a certain song is slow. Takes a while to type each caracter. Improve it please.

  • Day 4 - WiFi Connectivity & Web Browsing
    The greatest part about the N95 8GB is the 2.8" screen. I can't stop feasting my eyes on it. Yes I know it's a matter of resolution and not physical screen size, but man does it feel nice to have such a huge screen on a Symbian device! It makes everything attracting and easy to read.

    My Own Impressions
    Browsing through my univeristy's WiFi was a blast because of the easy setup: just a matter of clicking the WLAN Network on the standby screen and selecting Start Browsing. Seriously if someone tells me he couldn't get his WLAN to work, I would kill myself, instantly.
    It was actually my first experience with the S60 browser (closing my ears to not hear all the "boo"s) and I can say I am fairly impressed. Coming from a girl who uses IE7, that might not sound as a very "creditable comment" but still, I am sure many people will tell you just the same. I instantly found my way around. Pages rendered quite impressingly compared to the desktop experience. I opened Dotsisx, my own blog and got a 100% match. I can not say this about the built-in WM browser.
    Google, Gmail, Google Reader, and any page I attempted to visit loaded like a charm. I guess I don't visit sites that are too heavy. I liked the small mouse that appears on the screen to help browse, click links and fill fields. The site map that shows whenever you scroll a lil' bit on the site is a great thought. Visited pages were instantly bookmarked. But it is the Back button that shows snippets of visited pages that really wow'ed me.
    Add to that a great screen that makes use of a good resolution to turn out some really easy to see sites, and you've got yourself the perfect web companion.

    Overall, the experience was more than favorable and the one bit of annoyance I have with the browsing I have right now is one of connectivity. The device keeps asking me what access point I want to use. I've already picked and connected through WLAN, what access point do you think I want to use? Wap?! Come on! Please Nokia or S60 or both, do something about it. When I pick a connection, let it stick to it and use it everywhere, in any applicationt that needs a web access. PERIOD.

    People's Thoughts
    I won't go on for hours here. Just copy paste my own impressions. As it was my first experience with the S60 browser, it was also the first experience of many people around me. "Desktop-like quality" is a comment I got quite often, and I applaude Nokia for that. I am sure that with time I will find some problems with the browser. Just not yet.

    So this is it for today's report. Stay tuned for more Lebanon Ambassador experiences. Alan left a comment on the first post on Symbian-Guru saying that I took the WOM (Word of Mouth) World experience quite litteraly. I thank him for opening my eyes to that fact, I hadn't noticed it myself. Do you think I can do better with the N95 8GB Lebanon Ambassador missions? Do you think there are some other letdowns that I didn't point, some solutions to them or some other great features that I didn't mention? Please leave your comments.


    1. This ideia that you have about testing the N95 8GB is fantastic! Keep those ideias coming.

      I have a N95 and I don't have any problem navigating within the browser and it doesn't ask me the access point, only when I connect for the first time. Even with 3G, it doesn't ask, only when I lose the connection... :)

      Keep those posts coming, they're great!

    2. Nice blog..
      In the S60 browqser settings, there is an option to choose your access point and save it.
      Which firmware is your N95 8gb? The v15 firmware supports watch youtube in browser.


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