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Monday, July 25, 2011

Microsoft to save Nokia or is it the other way around?

Well, I've seen so many people comment on how Nokia is sinking because of the deal with Microsoft. That's just bogus. Why? Because first of all, Nokia had a healthy Microsoft money infusion even before it started developing the first WP7 phone.

As you could see from the SeaRay preview Elop showed to the press, Nokia is there way sooner than anyone ever thought.

WP7 in my opinion offers a very strong user experience, and has a brilliant future if backed properly. What WP7 did not have, but now does, is a manufacturer that is full-time behind it. And that manufacturer is Nokia.

I have to say that dropping MeeGo would be a grave mistake for Nokia, but WP7 is not something to be overlooked. I did not hear one person, one person in one year to be disappointed with their WP7 handsets. And I know a lot of people who own WP7 devices.

Every manufacturer has waited for others to start promoting WP7 before they took a chance with it. Everyone was waiting for Samsung to be the first to blow the horn, which did not happen. Then silently, WP7 devices dropped their prices to nearly half the launch price.

Everyone showed off their Android devices but no one bothered with WP7 devices. Everybody knows that you get Google Maps navigation with Android, or Angry Birds, or whatever attracts the customers more. There are alternatives for WP7 too, but no one is putting any significant effort behind promoting them. And that's why many people who are looking to buy a smartphone never heard of WP7.

With Nokia being the primary WP7 manufacturer, things are going to change. There are a few things that Nokia does better than anyone else on the planet.

1) Build the best hardware, no doubt
2) Market their products like no one does. They have contests, they offer trials(trough WOMWorld) and many more such ways.

So the question is who's saving who here? My guess is Nokia is saving Microsoft's WP7 with it's existing network of advertising, manufacturing, and most important selling.


Photos taken with the Nokia X7

Well, it's time for the X7 shots. Here are some shots I took with it this weekend, starting with some really cool clouds seen from the top of my office building, continuing with some indoors shots of some kitchen furniture, and then some shots of my kid.

I have to say that when it comes to landscapes the X7's EDoF camera really shines.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nokia X7 unboxing

Well, the Nokia X7 arrived yesterday, courtesy of WOMWorld/Nokia. My wife received the package, since I was at work, and I asked her to charge the phone.

So she opened up the box and when she saw the phone, one thing came to her mind, and I'm quoting her on this one: "This is the only touchscreen phone I would like to own". My wife deeply hates touchscreens, but this one has a different story. She got to play around with the C7, the E7 and the N8 I've reviewed, but the X7 is the only one she wants. And I can understand why. The phone feels great in hand, it's like it's been designed to fill the palm of your hand. It looks great, it feels great, and with Symbian Anna it also behaves good(Anna still has some catching up to do). Anyway, so guess what my wife is getting for Christmas? That's right, an Nokia X7.

I was planning to shot the unboxing video yesterday evening, but I could not take it out of her hands. I tried believe me. I shot the video this morning while she was asleep :)

Here goes the unboxing video:

And an UI video tour too:


Short Nokia history told by Nokia Maps

Well, I thought I'd make use of the Nokia Maps 3D once again, because I really enjoyed it the first time around back when it was branded Ovi Maps.

This time I thought I'd share a little Nokia history, seen trough the Nokia Maps 3D.

In 1865 a mining engineer called Fredrik Idestam established groundwood pulp mill in the town of Tampere, Finland, and started manufacturing paper.

Tampere, Finland

In 1868 Idestam built another mill near the town Nokia, 15km west of Tampere, by the Nokianvirta river. In 1871, with the help of his good friend Leo Mechelin, Idestam renamed and transformed his firm into a share company known since then as Nokia Company.

Nokia, Finland

The company went through a series of transformations that included manufacturing of rubber boots, galoshes, electronics business, tires and footwear.

In 1970 Nokia became more involved in telecommunications, and the production of network equipment was separated into a company called Telefenno, jointly owned by Nokia and by another company owned by the Finnish state. In 1987, the state sold all shares to Nokia, and in 1992 the name of the company was changed to Nokia Telecommunications.

In 1992 the first GSM phone was launched by Nokia, the 1011. The model was named after it's launch date November 10th.

Nokia eventually build new headquarters in the town of Espoo, Finland near Helsinki, known as the Nokia House.

Nokia House, Espoo, Finland

Since February 2011, Nokia announced a partnership with Microsoft and the new Nokia CEO Stephen Elop started to think about moving people to Silicon Valley. A natural move for the world's biggest phone manufacturer. So the new USA Nokia headquarters are located in Sunnyvale, CA, USA.

Nokia, Sunnyvale, CA, USA

The company also have a research center in Palo Alto, CA, USA and another one near the Berkeley University.

Nokia Research Center, Palo Alto, CA, USA

Innovation is something Nokia clearly does not lack, so opening up new research centers in the heart of Silicon Valley can only be beneficial for the Finnish giant.

Almost 19 years passed since the launch of the Nokia 1011, and the Nokia N9 and it's WP7 brothers can breathe new life into the Finnish company, maybe just in time to celebrate 19 years from the launch of the first Nokia GSM phone. Wouldn't it be nice to have the SeaRay on November 10th 2011? It would mark a new beginning for Nokia.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Candybar or slider QWERTY? Sandy beach challenge: Nokia E5 vs Nokia E7 vs Motorola Milestone

Well, I've been away on vacation for the last two weeks and of course, I had to stay in touch with the world. So my only weapon of mass messaging was the Motorola Milestone.

Normally the Milestone does the job pretty well, even if it's keyboard is below average. But when the Milestone meets the sand of the Black Sea beaches, that's when the trouble starts. It got sand everywhere. And with my hands all moist with sunscreen, I had a very hard time using the phone's most basic functions. So that's when I started thinking, "What phone could perform in these conditions without a hassle?".

Two phones that I've used and reviewed in the past came to mind. The first was the Nokia E7. The pop slider of the E7 would have spared me the trouble of grinding the phone against the sand every time I needed the QWERTY, but would I be able to use the touchscreen as I needed it? The E7 would have probably been rendered useless by the sunscreen as the Milestone was. You can read my full Nokia E7 review here

So here is the winner of the beach messengers, the Nokia E5. No touchscreen means no greasy hands on the screen and the candybar QWERTY would have avoided the getting sand everywhere inside the phone's mechanics. You can read my full review of the Nokia E5 here.

So, ladies and gentlemen, the winner and champion of the sandy beach is.... Nokia E5.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Nokia N8 review - A smartphone with character

When I first heard from Paul at WOMWorldNokia about sending me a Nokia N8, I frankly didn't know what to expect. It was the phone that started all the Symbian 3 hype, but I already tested and reviewed the bigger and meaner E7 and the cheaper C7(Without the 12MP though), so I said to myself, How can the N8 surprise me? And boy, was I in for an answer!

You can look at the N8 from two angles: first is from the normal user POV where it performs exactly like the C7, with Symbian at the helm. The N8 however did get an updated QuickOffice, now able to edit office files.

The second POV is the photography enthusiast POV. Here is where all he fun starts. Here is when you realize you can't stop clicking the damn shutter key.

Oh, and I forgot... the phone is just beautiful... It's built like a tank, but the feeling you get while holding it in the palm of your hand is priceless. You can't help but love it.

Now I don't want to come across like a Nokia fanboy, because I'm not. I love Nokia hardware, but when it comes to the software I have my doubts. But I could not help myself with the N8. It is just soooo..... N8.

In my opinion the N8 is the original flagship, and still stands tall. Even if it's flagship position is threatened by the likes of E7 and X7, I have not yet seen a Symbian device to match the character of the N8.

I have to say that this is the first time it happens to me to start reviewing a phone, and actually get so close to it that I'm at times considering it my personal phone.

To be honest, I started reviewing the device and ended up reviewing and greatly enjoying it's camera.

I already reviewed Symbian 3 to it's core so I won't start over again, since not much has changed. I will do a full review when I get a hold of an Anna device.

And now, on to the thing that makes the N8 have a league on it's own: The Camera.
The camera is addictive, you can't stop snapping pictures. You snap pictures of everything... You snap and snap and snap, and then go to bed, and the wake up, and snap and snap and go to bed again.

I own a Nikon Coolpix LP16 digicam, and I have to say that it doesn't hold a candle to the N8. Besides it's optical zoom, it is surpassed by the N8 on every possible chapter. Starting from the time it takes a picture, on with the quality of the pictures and finishing with the resolution(only 7MP compared to 12MP on the N8).

You can give away your pocket digicam if you own an N8, you won't need it anymore.

Everyone who expects a detailed technical review from me, you'll have to excuse me, but I could not do it with this phone. You can only understand that after you've held it in hand and used the camera for a while. I actually pulled it out of my pocket every few minutes just to look at it. It's the second time this has happened to me, the first being when I bought my first touchscreen phone.

In broad daylight the N8 captures great details and it's just a joy to use. In low lighting conditions it does suffer from motion blur at times, but I have to tell you that the pictures taken in low lighting conditions were of people dancing, so the motion blur is only normal.

I have to say that I did miss one thing, the recording light. Since the N8 comes with a Xenon flash instead of the dual LED flash found on the E7 and C7, it cannot provide this function. Still, the videos shot in low light conditions look great. I would trade LED video light for Xenon flash any day.

A good thing I noticed in the Ovi Store is that there are lots of free quality games that you can download for Symbian 3 devices, which include Assassins Creed, Angry Birds Seasons, Angry Birds Rio, Fruit Ninja, Galaxy on Fire, Farm Frenzy, Climate Mission and many other titles.

This is one device I am heartbroken over.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

N8 stars in: Party Romanian style

So, Monday I'm gonna send the Nokia N8 back to the WOMWorld guys, and I thought I should give it a last run, at a party. It was the baptism of a little kid, Razvan Costin, and this is how we celebrated it. Here goes a little photo gallery followed by a few short films.

I have to warn you first that we had a shipload of whistles, and we were not afraid to use them.

So here is how we do El Meneaito:

Here is the locomotion:

Next is the moving bridge:

And last, but not least(we were at a kid's party after all) the Duck Song: