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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nokia BH-905i bluetooth headsets review

Today we will review the Nokia BH-905i headphones the nice people at WOMWorld have sent me.

The BH-905i is Nokia's headphones "flagship" without a doubt. The plenitude of features is just amazing. At the first glance, the device looks nice, but gives little to no clue about the beast within.

The headphones measure just 190mm x 140mm x 35mm and weight 167g. They are very well balanced, sturdy and have a good grip. The finish and materials used are top notch. The feeling is premium as it is the price.

I used the headphones for every purpose I could think of, voice calling, listening to music and playing games (they were wired at the time). The accessories contain adapters for VoIP calls and a 3.5mm iPhone compatible AV connector.

One blazing feature of the BH-905i's is the multi microphone active noise control (also known as noise cancellation) that eliminates pretty much every ambient noise.

What is Active Noise Cancelling?
Active Noise Cancelling reduces the ambient noise using multiple microphones. The microphones capture the ambient sounds, and then play them back inverted(out of phase), which cancels the initial noise out.

The carrying case is a pleasure to hold, has a carrying dongle, and a nice leather like(may actually be leather, I couldn't tell) material bag for the accessories. This bag avoids spreading the wires all over the place and keeps things nice and clean.

The headband is very easily adjustable with very soft and gripping ear pads. The shape of the head band gives the headphones a very subtle classy look, unlike most premium headphones, who'll make you look like a jet pilot when you wear them.

The outside of the left headphone is pretty clean, with no controls on the side at all. On the bottom however, is the Active Noise Canceling (marked ANC) switch, and the Nokia standard charging port.

The noise cancellation works like a wonder with these headphones, and gets a lot of help from the digital signal processing (DSP).

On top of the headband there is the Nokia logo carved on a metal plate.

On the bottom of the right headphone there are the volume keys and the 3.5mm audio jack port. The jack port can be used with the included cables so you can use your headphones in pretty much every situation you can think of(excluding scuba-diving and bungee-jumping of course).

The Active Noise Cancelling works in any situation, but you must be careful to switch it off, because otherwise it will stay on and drain your battery. It would have been nice if Nokia included some standby timeout to switch off the ANC when the headphones are not in use.

On the side of the left headphone are the media controls and the power button. The media controls include fast forward, play/pause and rewind buttons. The power buttons is kind of a multi purpose button because it has different functions depending on what you do. First of all it works as the power button if you long press it, it can be used to answer and end calls, as well as to turn on the bass boost.

The bass boost has 3 stages. Initially it's turned off, but if you press the power button slightly you will hear a beep. That means stage one of the bass boost. Press the power button again and you will head two beeps, which takes the bass boost to stage two. You can guess what it does if you press the power button again right? Stage three, which is also the loudest.

If you want to turn the bass boost off, press the power button again. Remember that to turn the bass boost off you have to get to stage three first.

The bass boost works only via Bluetooth, so it's not available while being wired in.

The bottom of the headband is covered in a nice leather-like(again, it may actually be leather) material which feels very nice and soft when you wear the headphones.

As I said before, in the unboxing post I am a freak when it comes to listening music. I'm not the kind who likes it louder than hell(well, maybe sometimes I do), but rather the type who wants crystal clear sound. And this puppy fits right there. The cleanest sound I have ever heard on a pair of headphones.

Pairing the headphones with a phone is as easy as pie. Just hold down the power button until the led glows blue and then pair it with your phone.

The call quality is great, I could hear the incoming calls loud and clear, without any problems. On the caller's end, they did hear ambient noise, but still heard my voice crisp and clear. The headphones include support for answering, ending and rejecting calls, redial last number, voice dial support, call mute and switch calls between headset and phone. This may depend on the device you use, all I can say is they worked with the Nokia E5.

I managed to squeeze about 15 hours of battery life on one charge, mostly listening to music, and some phone calls. That happened over Bluetooth with ANC turned on.

My conclusion is this:

Don't be fooled by the welcoming aspect of the headsets: there lies a beast within. With these headsets, I have seen the largest contrast between what they can do, and what they look like. I've seen headsets that looked like Marshall stage speakers with a headband that could not raise to the BH-905i's level.

Are you an audiophile? If yes, the Nokia BH-905i is for you. Use it as you wish, it will bring home the bacon each time. The price may seem a little high, but I assure you is well worthed. Just test a pair and you will be convinced. The balanced midrange and treble performance is a must for any audio freaks such as myself, and the fact that it works both wired and wireless takes the cake. I don't think there is a single audio device in the whole wide world that you can't connect with the BH-905i. The array of adapters included in the package covers them all.

Here is the unboxing video again, in case you missed it:


Nokia E6-00 leaked again! Photos and videos inside!

Well folks, the unannounced Nokia E6-00 is here again! This time with covered properly with photos and hands on videos.

The touchscreen is confirmed. Even though I originally thought it won't have a touchscreen, it does. I don't see the point of a D-pad in this case, but whatever.

Here are some photos:

This leaked material confirms some of the features that were presumed for the E6-00. First of all, there is the 8MP camera with dual-led flash and EDoF, 720p video recording, just like the C6-01, C7 and E7. The OS is an adaptation of Symbian^3 for 4:3 aspect and what looks like 640x480px resolution.

Here are some hands on videos too from the source of the leak. I must warn you though, they are a bit blurry:

Still no details on the release date or price, but the best guess is somewhere around the price of the N8.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nokia promissing new Symbian devices in the GHz+ range along with OTA updates to the new UI

Ever since Nokia announced their partnership with Microsoft, and the migration towards Windows Phone, they keep pushing Symbian forward. Elop announced at MWC 2011 that Nokia plans to ship 150 million Symbian devices in the next years. It looks like Nokia is going to support Symbian even beyond the transition to Windows Phone, or at least in selected markets, where Symbian has a strong grip on the market. They also encourage developers to sharpen their Qt skills for the upcoming wave of Symbian high end devices. Nokia may be referring to the ever eluding X7 that may or may not see the light of day, as well as the most recent leak, the T7, which is at the moment in the rumor mill. The Nokia E6 may be part of the future arsenal as well.

The VP of Nokia Forum and Developer Community, Purnima Kochikar sent an open letter to the developers, encouraging them to keep Qt-ing in preparation for the upcoming wave of Symbians that she said will arrive throughout 2011 and 2012.

Symbian is the leading smartphone platform in China, India, Russia and Turkey, and these markets will probably get support for Symbian long after the Windows Phone migration. These markets may encourage Nokia to take another chance with Symbian, and Meego practically out of the picture, they may have more time for Symbian.

The software running on the Nokia Astound (the North American version of the C7) will most probably arrive on world wide this summer, with the next major update that may include the new homescreen and overhauled UI scheduled most likely this fall.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Nokia BH-905i unboxing

Today we're unboxing the Nokia BH-905i bluetooth headphones, that the guys at WOMWorldNokia sent me for a trial. As you may have seen in my video presentation, I am a fan of these headphones.

They are truly state of the art multi purpose headphones. You can use them to make quality calls, you can use them to listen to music, you can use them to video chat all day long, and you can use them the traditional wired way.

They have a full set of playback controls that you can use when you're connected to your phone, or your music player, over bluetooth that is.
The sound quality is amazing. When it comes to sound quality, I am a freak. I want clear sound, no distortions, no fuzz or noise. I like my music perfect. I have to say that when I went an bought myself a pair of headphones over 2 years ago, the guy at the store nearly broke down. I was over there for 2 hours testing headphone models, until I found a set of Watsons that I liked. That being said, the BH-905i are simply better than my wired headphones, and they're wireless, which comes in handy most of the times.

Anyway, here is the unboxing video:

P.S. I'll come back in a week or so with the full review.


The Nokia N8 gets the PR 2.0 treatment

A week ago, we saw the Nokia C7 running a PR 2.0 update, and then a few days later we saw another PR 2.0 C7 running an improved browser. Well today is the N8's turn to get the PR 2.0 treatment. It looks like it has it's upsides and it's downsides, but overall it is certainly an improvement over the current version.

Nokia decided to include the Chat application in this release, which was long awaited and needed. They also included the latest version of the Ovi Maps, but as you'll see in the video, the new version is slower than the current one. Keep in mind though, that this is not a production version, but just a pre-release. It doesn't even have the fast browser demoed a few days ago on the C7, so most likely, by the time Nokia releases the update, these speed bugs will be removed.

Watch the N8 PR 2.0 get demoed in the video below:


Monday, March 21, 2011

Symbian^3 PR 2.0 gets faster browser

Last week, we caught a C7 running a PR 2.0 firmware in the wild. At the moment, the web browser seemed to run way too slow to be usable. However, things have changed in this new leak we have seen today.

Pinch to zoom is still slow on heavy pages, but what browser isn't slow on such a page? Anyway, check out the video.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Nokia BH-905i presentation

The nice people at WOMWorld have sent me a set of BH-905i headphones. I told them I would make a special presentation of the headphones, even before they had arrived. The truth is, I've used a pair of BH-905i's a while ago for a month, while I borrowed them from a friend. I have to say I loved them, and was very sad when I had to part with them, so imagine my joy when I heard another fresh pair is heading my way :)

So, I kind of kept the WOMWorld guys in the dark about this. These guys were the only ones who trusted me, to send me test devices to review. I had no background in the industry when I first asked, but still they took the chance.. So, this is may way of saying THANK YOU WOMWORLD, an to all the wonderful people there, the Tom's, Paul, Cecilia, Robin, Tim, Denise and Andre (sorry if I've missed anyone).

And, after 3 days of working on the video(even on my b-day yesterday), here is the presentation video I made for the BH-905i's.

P.S. I will be making an usual unboxing within the next days.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nokia Symbian^3 device to be announced at CTIA for USA

Nokia is planning to launch a Symbian^3 device for the United States at CTIA on March 21st in Orlando, Florida.

It is not certain which device will be launched for the North American market, but there are two strong candidates.

The first candidate is the Nokia X7 for AT&T rumored a while ago, and who popped up a few days ago once again. It is, however, not like Nokia to announce a handset for North America before it is announced for Europe. However, I wouldn't mind Nokia making us a big surprise and launching a brand new device to the USA.

The second is the last few days C7 who was showcased running PR 2.0 update of the Symbian^3 OS. The handset is not new, but certainly packs a different software punch than his European sibling, but as we saw yesterday the European C7 is quite capable of running the T-Mobile version of PR 2.0.

Furthermore, the carrier that will launch the new device is a mistery because the X7 was supposed to be AT&T bound, while the C7 seems to be T-Mobile bound (as leaked from Navifirm).

Maybe there will be one of these, maybe both.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nokia C7 running S^3 PR 2.0

The YouTube user vgplabs managed to flash the latest Symbian^3 PR 2.0 firmware, available only for RM-691 models, on his Nokia C7 RM-675 model. He took the a chance and it worked. He took a big risk here, because if it wouldn't have worked he would have ended up with a beautiful piece of paperweight, or "brick", as modders like to call it.

So here's a video he shot of the C7 running PR 2.0 update.

There are lots of improvements that can be seen from this video, like the overall speed, the homescreen customization, and many more (just watch the video). Unfortunately, the web browser got just an UI update, still lacking in the performance chapter, as can be seen from the video.


Nokia X7 leaked again

Nokia X7 is somewhat of a grown boy's dream. It looks good enough to sleep with it under your pillow, and should carry enough punch for heavy mobile gamers. Four speakers, 4 inch screen, 8MP camera, what more can you want?

The X7 looks like something out of a Sci-Fi movie for sure, it was rumored to be released in February 2011 at MWC, but after the Nokia-Microsoft partnership, it looked like it was abandoned. It may prove that it actually is, and these new images are just a prototype unit that's going to stay a prototype forever.

The 4 inch display is most likely Nokia's latest and greatest ClearBlack display. If would be a shame if this beauty never saw the light of day, but nothing is certain now with the Nokia preparations for Windows Phone for the end of this year.

Here's a short video demoing the X7. Isn't it everything you'd ever want in a phone?


Nokia Diexie: Evolved input method for Chinese

There are many input methods available on Nokia devices for Chinese speakers, most of them third party apps. However, none of them are as fast as what you're about to see.

Nokia Research Center, Beijing released a new beta application called Diexie, that helps Chinese speakers write entire sentences without having to pause between each character.

Check out the presentation video below:

This app was designed to be used on smaller screens too.

"As you begin writing the next character over the previous character, the previous character begins to fade away, creating an overlapped visual, allowing you to concentrate on finishing the next character."

This is not an actual input method, it's full blown application that allows you to copy the text written and past it in whatever application you need it. Depending on the feedback, Nokia will probably turn it into an input method for Chinese speakers, or leave it as it is.

You can download it from here. Leave your feedback with the Nokia team so they'll be able to improve this app.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Nokia Shoot & Tag beta

Creativity is on the roll again in the Nokia house, this time shooting videos gets to be a real pleasure. You remember the Nokia Video Cuts? This is much better.

The Nokia Shoot & Tag is an app that recognizes different scenes while you're shooting a video. it analyzes the background of the video and detects if the scenery has changed. It then creates a chapter for each scene. When you play back the video from the video gallery, you can easily jump between scenes. No more fast forward, then backward, the forward again, and so on...

Come to think of it, it resembles the video player from Samsung Wave 8500, but I'm not sure if the Bada player was splitting videos based on scenery change or just fixed amount of time.

Here is the official presentation:


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Symbian^3 PR2.0 revealed

Yesterday we saw the PR2.0 update of Symbian^3, available on Navifirm. Also, yesterday, Nokia held an event called NokiaTalk in Austin, Texas.

The new Symbian UI improvements were shown off. Some rumors were confirmed, like the split-screen keyboard, and some were dismissed, like the revamped homescreen. It will be available though, at some point in the future.

As you can see from the above image, the icon set was completely redone by Nokia and it has an iPhone-ish look to it now. We'll have to see how well the new icons blend in with the various shapes and colors from third party apps.

The new keyboard looks a lot more comfortable to use and uses the split screen technology for both portrait and landscape modes, a thing long awaited and deeply needed by Symbian.

Here is a video from the Austin event and a preview of the PR2.0 update:


Friday, March 11, 2011

Nokia C7 PR2.0 update arrived! T-Mobile version only

The long awaited PR2.0 update is finally here. The T-Mobile version was spotted on Navifirm (a software that browses the Nokia firmware repository). It's only for the RM-691 phones, which I guess are only on T-Mobile.

We will most likely see the update released for RM-675 phones shortly, but for now, all we know is that it's going to be here, sooner than we expected.

I can't wait to see what goodies come with this update.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nokia E6 wanted!

A leaked photo of the upcoming Nokia E6 has been wandering on the web the past week. The info for this new device was leaked from Nokia XML.

This new device is supposed to have a 2.6 inch screen, but whether it's touch enabled or not is still unknown. The resolution is going to be a healthy 640x480 pixels (four times more than it's predecessor, the Nokia E5). The connectivity is dully covered with WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0 and GPS, while the business part will be handled as usual by QuickOffice.

The E6 will be powered by Symbian^3 OS and will feature multiple homescreens, an absolute first for a QWERTY bar phone. If there won't be a touchscreen, then we'll have another premiere, the first non-touch Symbian^3 device.

The camera is said to be the same 8 Megapixel fixed focus camera available of the Nokia C7, C6-01 and E7.

The E6 has a tough job laid ahead for it, as it must walk into the footsteps of the E5, the best and sturdiest QWERTY bar business phone(in my opinion) released by Nokia to this day. But as the days of Symbian^1 are numbered, Symbian^3 QWERTY bars must close the gap. Read the Nokia E5 indepth review here.

Nokia shows it's commitment to the Symbian^3 platform once again, with devices now covering a wide range of form factors and price range.

All I can say is, I can't wait to get my hands on one of these puppies and take it for a ride.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Nokia X1-00: Boombox in your pocket

If you're still wondering what Nokia X series is all about, here comes the X1-00 to clear things up. It's about MUSIC. LOUD! music in this case. The Orange color screams, "LOOK AT ME", while the built in speakers actually do "scream", with a rating of 106phon (Quote from Nokia: "a phon is a measure of perceived loudness – 106 of them is enough to rattle your window frames, apparently"). Nokia claims that the frequency response has been tweaked so you'll be able to hear clearly even at high volumes.

The device is meant to be another best seller in the low range. This device will set you back only 35 Euros, but most likely you'll find it for free on a contract.

The phone has three dedicated play keys, and features a single-key playlist creator. It also supports MicroSD cards up to 16GB and includes an FM radio.

The X1-00 bonds with his low end brothers from the 110X series by sharing a common feature, something I never thought I would see in a mobile phone again: a torch.

The battery is rated at 61 days in standby, but in real life that would probably mean about 2 weeks of normal phone usage, or a maximum of one week when playing music most of the times.

An unusual feature is the capability to support up to five phone books. Don't ask me why, because at this price sharing the phone between family members just doesn't make any sense.

The X1-00 is powered by the Series 30 OS with a pimped up music player app (it is an X series after all). It measures 112.2 x 47.3 x 16mm and weighs 91g, and it comes in blue color too.

What else can be said, China look out, Nokia's coming to get ya!


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nokia Photo Browser experiment concluded (application available on Ovi store)

Nokia started some time ago to publish an experimental application called Photo browser. For those of you who don't know about it, it's an evolution or better said a revolution of the Nokia photo gallery application. The app was experimental, meaning it could turn into a beta, or not. It seems that even though the experiment has ended, Nokia did not let go of the app. Instead, they plan to integrate it into the Gallery application available on Symbian^1 phones. This comes as good news, if you consider that the current Gallery application (excepting that of the C6-00) is unbelievably slow at generating thumbnails and navigation trough pictures.

The Photo browser, as it was available on the Betalabs page, had no chance of becoming an independent product in itself, due to the lack of file managing options. So, as it seems, Nokia decided to take parts of it and integrate them into the Gallery application. Combining the two may end up in S^1 users actually having a decent photo browser on their phones.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Why you should still be interested in Nokia and Symbian

This morning I saw this tweet from what seems to be a Nokia fan that lost interest after the Microsoft-Nokia partnership announcement.

"My huge interest in Nokia has been dramatically reduced since Elop's announcement. Where is Europe heading to in terms of Technology ?"

My guess is that this tweet is based on the fact that everyone interpreted Elop's affirmation that Windows Phone will be Nokia's primary smartphone platform in the future, as the death of Symbian. Now, Symbian's death is closely related to the user adoption rate of the new Symbian^3 OS and devices. The fact is that Nokia will release a major update of the Symbian^3 platform, something unprecedented in Nokia's history. Unlike the Symbian^1 platform, which was kind of dumped by Nokia, Symbian^3 will get from the first major update, things that S^1 users never had, nor will they ever. Nokia will change the homescreen, menu and general look and feel of the new OS.

Now, this update will have consequences, good consequences I believe, because in terms of user interface, it will bring Symbian closer to it's competitors Android and iOS. The old style user interface of Symbian^3 is the major complaint everyone had in the reviews I've read over the web(one of which I have done myself). So updating the user interface will clear Symbian's path to not only old time Nokia fans, but new users too.

The only way Nokia will be able to still sell Symbian is to get rid of the "Symbian will die" label that has be put on Nokia's forehead by the press. I believe they will do that when they will release further updates for Symbian^3.

So, if Symbian keeps selling like it did, Nokia will surely not drop it, and keep it running in parallel with Windows Phone. I mean, no company in the whole wide world would drop a selling product.

Bottom line is this: Nokia's sales may drop a little after the MS-Nokia announcement, but after the PR2.0 update for Symbian^3 devices, they will surely get back on top. Just wait and see.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Soundtrckr updated to version 1.2

In case you haven't already heard, Nokia Betalabs just updated Soundtrckr to version 1.2.

What is Soundtrckr?
To quote the Betalabs website:

"Soundtrckr is the first Geosocial Internet radio. Soundtrckr has the largest fully licensed music catalog for Internet radio in the world. 8M tracks to create and share station with any artist, any genre, any language. Soundtrckr is social listening and discovery, where friends share stations and listen together in real time. Soundtrckr is also hyperlocal listening and discovering allowing users to tune into nearby stations created by other users, play what’s hot around the city."

Soundtrckr is developed by the company with the same name. It is a Java application, but I have to tell you that is sure doesn't feel like one. Part of the speedy and flawless integration with the operating system may be the fact that in order to run it you have to install the latest and greatest Java Runtime 2.1 for Symbian, which is also available on Betalabs.

So, here are the changelogs:

"New features and bug fixes for Symbian^3 and S60 5th Edition (Java Runtime 2.1 and 1.4):

Facebook Integration. You will be able to post on your wall what you are listening to and invite your Facebook friends to join you on Soundtrckr
Remove auto-capitalization
Performance and various bug fixes
Proper handling on log-in and connection errors"

T-Mobile users must keep in mind that for now they can only use Soundtrckr via WiFi. The guys at Soundtrckr are working on the issue and they promised to get it working in the next update.

Why am I recommending this app? Because to be honest this is the second application(first was Opera Mini 5) that I did not realize was written in Java. Usually Java apps are so slow that you can pick them out of 100 others. This one is different. It's fast and it does the job very well.