Jan 27, 2008

Nseries Have A Problem With Common Sense

Ya, you read that one right. There is a serious issue between the multimedia department in the Finish giant and the basic thing we take for granted and we call "common sense". It's either this, either my conceptions and what I have been trained to unconsciously think and deduce are radically wrong. So what am I talking about and why am I so upset?

If you recall, I first received an N95 8GB from WOMWorld (which I still miss btw) then 2 days ago, I received an N81 8GB Special Edition with Bose Quiet Comfort 3 headphones. You can read my first impressions over @ Symbian-Guru. During these 2 trials, I noticed 2 astonishing facts regarding those devices, 2 facts that defy my common sense.

1 - Zooming Keys

The zooming keys over the N95 and the N81, and all N-series for that matter, are the same as the volume keys. Good. The problem is that the Volume Down key zooms in and the Volume Up key zooms out. WTF? As I have been tought to think, the "up" symbol means augmenting something, and the "down" symbol means diminishing it. And since we're talking about zooming, up should add zoom and down should reduce it. Right? So, when I first opened the camera on the N95 8GB and decided to zoom, I pressed the volume up key, thinking that's how it's supposed to be. To my surprise nothing happened, so I used the d-pad keys to zoom. A couple of days later, while I was using the camera and needing to zoom, I pressed the volume up key again, in vain, so I thought let's press the down key and ta-raaa there it was.

For a second there, I thought I was mistaken and that didn't really happen, but I repeated it and it worked. Thinking I might have been wrong and my unconscious reflexes were wrong, I decided to test this with a couple of persons who had never owned an Nseries. To my surprise (or not actually) they all went to the volume up key. Feel free to make any deductions.

2 - Scroll Wheel

I thought the zooming key issue was just a random mistake, until I received the N81 and tried the scroll wheel. Yes, there is something seriously messed up with this one too. It functions well in the music player (well it needs some sensitivity settings, but that's not the issue): if you scroll it clock-wise it goes down in the songs list, and if you scroll it counter-clockwise it goes up in the songs list. Now open the Gallery. You probably know the main Nseries Gallery view by heart, but I will post here a screenshot just to make my point.

As you see, this is the gallery as I see it holding the device in landscape mode, or holding it up right in portrait mode. So now let's suppose you want to scroll in the gallery to the dark blue image on the right (landscape) or the botton (portrait), what direction would you use the scroll wheel, instinctively? Clock-wise, right? *Imagine a beeper sound and a TV commentator saying WRONG*. Nokia wants you to scroll counter-clockwise. Apparently that's how it works. And if you want to go to the image on the left (landscape) or the top (portrait), you scroll clockwise. That's how it functions. Are you freakin' kidding me?!

As always, I was a little skeptic as to whether I was the mistaken one, and that I was mislead by wrong conceptions. So I also handed the N81 to a couple of my friends who didn't have any experience with the N81 so far, and guess what? They did the same as me.

Now I was ready to believe that I was the mistaken one here, but it seems that everyone that has the device in his hands, has the same reflex as me, zoom in using the volume up and scroll forward using the clock-wise rotation. I know these are not MAJOR issues, nothing like a blurry picture or a buggy firmware, and I got used to them in no time, but still they defy any logic and common sense we have incorporated in our unconscious use of devices over the years. I would like to hear your feedback. Have you had a problem with these 2 matters before? Did you wonder why some things work against your pre-conception on Nseries, or any Nokia device, so far?

P.S: Now if you'll excuse me, I'll go wonder about the lack of common sense in the minds of several several Lebanese persons (a tire-flaming manifestation turned into a street shooting guerilla with the Lebanese army, some hundred meters away from my house). God be with us!


  1. I have noticed it myself, but seem to have gotten used to the wrong way round of the volume keys and zooming. It would be great if Nokia actually took a little time to make something like this work the way it should be. Apple seems to have a knack of doing things the way it should and also making them appealing. I'm not sure if that's got something to do with the US and EU cultures, but it's just plain stupid.
    Up means Up and Down means Down, it's not hard.

    (Another great post Rita).

  2. simply put, i agree 100% with the scroll wheel, but don't quite agree with the zoom..
    if i take my N95 into my hands (landscape orientation) as i would shoot a picture, it actually seems more natural to me to press the "inward" zoom key to go "into" the scenery, and the outward key to zoom out. also, as there are no "+" and "-" signs on the zoom keys, it's meanings in other modes (audio) of the phone are not really relevant when used in the camera mode..
    however, i like your critical thinking about such details! :-)

  3. Hmm ...

    I had a 3 mega pixel Canon before I went with the Nokia N95, and pushing the zoom switch to the right zoomed in and pushing it left zoomed out on that camera, so I didn't had that problem when first zooming around within the viewfinder.

    As for the scroll wheel on the Nokia N82, I was tested by a friend as well, and went the correct way on the wheel the first time around to see his surprised face. Probably because I am a 2D/3D designer and use the pan-mode of my graphic application a lot, where you are not dragging the object itself but the view port where the object is in. So if you apply that movement method to the gallery, you are grabbing hold of the carousel at the current picture and take it for a spin. I actually was surprised by the Nokia N95's gallery where right is actually right and left left and had to get used to that.

    Curse of habit I guess ... for both cases :)

  4. Al7air,
    you make "sense" with your comments. I did notice that the carousel moved like if i was spinning it from where I was holding it, but then I wonder why this doesn't apply to the song list in the music menu... And on the other hand, this particular way of doing things is just a habit to a very elect part of the population (like you said, 2d/3d designers) and not to everyone.

    As to the camera, I checked my own digital camera, and yes the right button zoomed in and the left button zoomed out. Does it explain the button layout on Nseries? Well, it's now less "common sense" to me now. I use my digi cam very very rarely and rely on my mobile device for pictures, and the people I tested this on also aren't digi cam addicts, so I guess that explains why we went the other way. Still I find it odd especially that digi cams have the W and T symbols, which tell the user what the button does, whereas the Nseries don't have any symbol.

  5. Yeah I know sometimes the "common sense" behind a feature or better yet the understanding why the creator choose this and not that implementation puzzles one.

    If they had added arrows to the gallery next to the image or at the end of the white lines where the pictures are aligned to I could image that the "uh?"-factor wouldn't be that big. And the user would get the carousel idea easier.

    And after reading your blog entry yesterday and commenting on it I went out and checked a couple of phones from Nokia today while I was shopping, and they all handle differently regarding the camera zoom. The E65 and 6290 camera for instance can only be zoomed when you use the directional pad, the volume keys on both have no function whatsoever.
    In landscape mode the keys make sense as you have to push up/forward to "go into" the scene and down/backward to "take a step back". And if you turn the phone 90 degrees to take a portrait image you have to use the directional keypad as well and now left is zooming in and right is zooming out. Both phones don't have an accelerometer installed so switching the screen layout automatically along with realigning the keypad 90 degrees as well to keep up and down for zooming isn't possible. But the helping hand here, missing on all N-Series mobile phones I might add, is the fact that these phones show a constant zoom bar (+ -|--- -) in one of the screen corners. So seeing that Nokia has phones where left is in and right is out and vise versa one really has to wonder when they will unify the camera application across all devices.

  6. The strange thing is, my good old N73-1 zooms in and out in the Proper way, i.e., pressing High/Left zooms in. Regarding the scroll wheel, I haven't used one, but I imitated the act, and found myself to actually scrolling it in the Nokia way, i.e., counter-clockwise to go to the next picture, and clockwise for the previous one. Instead, I think the most annoying thing about NSeries, for me, is the build quality. When other manufacturers (and Nokia) can bring out such well-built devices, why not Nokia Multimedia Division?


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