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Monday, July 30, 2007

Reviews of Nokia N91

Key Features of the Nokia N91:
- Up to 4GB of internal dynamic memory
- Enhanced music features: Mixer, 8-band equalizer, stereo widening
- 2 megapixel camera with flash &autofocus 20x digital zoom
- Enhanced music features: Mixer, 8-band equalizer, stereo widening
- Hi-Fi quality sound - Connect to external speakers
- Integrated handsfree speakerphone
- 3G Connectivity - near-broadband download speeds
- Bluetooth Connectivity

It may not be the number one object of lust for the Nokia Phones, but the N91 is one of the best consumer targetted Series 60 phones around. With S60v3, gorgeous build quality, and 4gb memory space to go with the dedicated music controls, it's all the entertainment you could need.

The Nokia N91 has room for up to 3,000 of your favourite stereo tracks. It's a premium music device that snaps 2 megapixel photos and has smartphone features too.

Now there’s nothing fundamentally new to the end-user, we’re still in standard 176x208 screen resolution here, so if you’ve been using previous S60 phones there's no learning curve to get over (apart from the two applications that make the N91 currently stand out, the music player and the web browser). With the update of the underlying Symbian OS (to 9.1) the plethora of third party C++ applications out there will not be able to run at all on the N91 – this is vitally important if you rely on an application you’ve installed.

Built into the N91, there’s also not the huge range of extra applications found in the upcoming Enterprise devices that have been leading the recent S60 charge. The standard PDA applications are here (Contacts, Calendar, Notes and To-Do– but watch out, as the To-Do application is no longer a separate icon, but part of the Calendar suite. Add in a couple of ancillary applications (Flash Lite player, tutorial application, units converter and calculator), the email client and the aforementioned music player and web browser and you have a rather lean looking smartphone ready for action.

The N91 is designed for one task, and that’s to be a damm fine music phone. This means stuff like Office compatible word processors and Over The Air synchronisation are being left, quite rightly, to the business-focussed devices. Strangely, Push To Talk and Nokia’s Instant Messaging client are still onboard, which indicates that these must now be considered as part of the base package of S60.

~ Connectivity ~
With Wi-Fi now on board, a number of small changes have been made in terms of the Connectivity menu. When the N91 attempts a 'net connection, you get the familiar dialog to choose which route you want. Previously this was either GSM or GPRS, but at the top of the list you now have an option to scan for WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network – the posh name for Wi-Fi). Choosing this brings up everything in range, plus an icon shows if they are open or require a password key. Given the fun entering that key, you’d be best choosing an open network. And that’s it, it puts you online.

In terms of user practicality, this goes hand in hand with some changes in the Messaging application. Previously you had to choose which Internet connection an email box used in the set-up, now you choose how you want to connect when you say “Open mailbox” and not before. This is much more user friendly.

~ The Web Browser ~
There are two ways of looking at how a mobile web browser should work. The first is that it should give the user every bit of information on the page, make it easy to navigate, and the layout (which is probably designed at least for an 800 pixel wide monitor) should be mangled, squashed, spun and stretched so the user gets one column of information that’s the same width as the screen. This is the approach the Opera browser took. As did Access’ NetFront browser. As did the Java based Reqwireless browser.

~ Music ~
There are three things to consider in a good music player… how to get the tracks on to the machine, navigating and playing back the tracks, and how they sound.

Get your music off the computer and onto your Nokia N91. Just drag and drop your ripped CDs onto the phone. With USB 1.2, a WLAN wireless connection and Microsoft Media Player 10, your tunes are at your fingertips. Stream something new or buy on the fly. Plus, line-in and FM stereo recording lets you capture the rhythms in your world.

This is partly because you’re able to enter search strings with the keypad to narrow down your choice of music. With just under 4GB to play with (roughly 1000 tracks at 4MB each), you can’t rely on scrolling up and down to find what you want. First of all you choose criteria to list the tracks (you can view by Album, Artist, Genre, Composer, or no filtering at all), and from there onto the separate tracks.

It’s when you switch away to do some other task on the N91 that the value of the music player becomes apparent, because it’s still playing, in the background. Not only that, but the playback controls for the music player will continue to work, even if you have slid them down to work with the keypad. So you’re happily working away on an email, and feel the need to change the music? Just hit skip forward (or back) and a little status bar pops up to tell you what is going on. The same happens on changing the volume (which is done from two dedicated volume buttons on the left hand spine of the phone).

The only complaint about music playback is that the N91 (in the same way as the Apple iPod) does not do gapless playback. For a lot of music, this isn’t going to make much of a difference. When a music track ends, there is a slight pause of about half a second while the next track gets ready to play.

[Check the Nokia N91 Features]

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