Archive for September, 2009

Version 20 firmware update for N86 improves the camera capability and more

We know of a few firmware updates that are coming out for Nokia devices and as Steve reported over on All About Symbian the Nokia N86 8MP version 20 upgrade is now available, a week or so ahead of the planned schedule. I believe this update is currently for the Euro version and not for the NAM version. I understand that the NAM version just recently started shipping and am now curious if these already have this latest version installed. If you have a NAM version, can you let us know what firmware is on your device.

Version 20 firmware update for N86 improves the camera capability and more

The update is available over-the-air and is approximately 8MB in size. Steve lists all of the updates from the changelog and as you can see they include improvements in the camera, web browser, Ovi Maps, N-Gage client, Nokia Messaging (I am quite curious about what this entails), and more. There are several new features in the camera software, including face detection, red-eye removal and improved close-up focus. These should make one of the best camera phones even that much better and be quite attractive to Nokia N86 owners. I plan to upgrade the Euro N86 8MP I have and test out some of these new features and improvements.

Detailed Nokia N900 review confirms it is a beauty

Detailed Nokia N900 review confirms it is a beauty

Needless to say I am pretty excited about both the N900 release and Nokia N97 firmware update that should both be coming in October. My Symbian was lucky enough to get their hands on the Nokia N900 for a significant amount of time and posted a very detailed 4-page review that I highly recommend you check out. There are a ton of screenshots and photos of the device and Michal really set the bar high for reviewers with this comprehensive look at the device.

You need to read through all the details, but here is part of his conclusion:

Even now, at the previewed unit’s early development stage, the N900 truly impressed me with its FANTASTIC PERFORMANCE, STABILITY (it was really ROCK STABLE, take my word), BEAUTIFUL and ADVANCED user interface, very high quality and full integration of TELEPHONY and INTERNET CONNECTIVITY, fast and powerful web browser, great support for VoIP (especially Skype), high quality camera and video recording and, actually, ALMOST EVERYTHING ELSE. I don’t remember being that excited with any mobile device since the first Nokia Communicators and UIQ 2 phones.

Wow Michal, you just made my wait for the N900 even more difficult now.

Best of Smartphone Experts, 27 Sept. 2009

Redownloads rolling out in the Ovi Store

I’ve written about my frustrations with the Ovi Store here on the past and over the past couple of months have only used it to grab free items. I was very pleased to read over on All About Symbian that Nokia is rolling out the ability to redownload purchased titles. This is my major pet peeve that prevents me from making purchases since I reset and switch devices quite a bit as I test them out. I purchased a couple of apps and after a reset I was never able to get them again without a second purchase, which I refused to make. Once Nokia gets this working across the Ovi Store I may start making software purchases there again.

Redownloads rolling out in the Ovi StoreA couple of other issues I previously mentioned such as slow and limited selection have also been getting fixed with updates and more apps appearing so there are fewer and fewer issues keeping me from supporting the Ovi Store. I prefer to have a one stop shopping place for apps and I know that Nokia will get things working as they should eventually and this redownload support is a HUGE step in the right direction.

Review: Nokia MD-8 portable speakers

I was a bit surprised by the Nokia MD-8 speaker set that was included with the Nokia 5530 XM (see my review) evaluation unit. By the way, if you pre-order the Nokia 5530 XM from Nokia USA you get the MD-8 speakers included with your purchase. The Nokia MD-8 speakers have a $39.95 retail value and as I understand it this unit has been around for a while, but I never had a chance to check them out. As a person who travels on the road for my company, I can truly appreciate having a set of speakers like this to enjoy my music content and podcasts in my hotel room and rental car.

The retail package includes the Nokia MD-8 speakers, Nokia Audio Adaptor AD-52 (2.5mm adapter), 3-AAA batteries, and User Guide. The audio adapter is present so you can use the speakers with a phone that has a 2.5mm headset port. The end of the 29.5 inch cable contains a 3.5mm headset jack so you can plug in the speakers to just about every MP3 player and most new Nokia smartphones. I tested the speakers with the N97, Nokia 5530 XM, and my new Zune HD.

The Zune HD does not have any external speaker so you need to plug in a set of headphones. Also, to use the FM radio on the Zune HD and Nokia phones you need a headset to act as the antenna so you can use these speakers for FM antenna purposes as well. I actually used the Nokia MD-8 most of the time with my new Zune HD and may purchase this speaker to use on the road because I found the sound to be good and the form factor/design to be attractive.

There are two speakers in this unit with a bright white indicator light in between them and a power switch on the top. The whole unit is white (black is also available) and feels very solid in your hand. On the bottom you will find small rubber feet that do an amazing job at keeping the MD-8 speakers from sliding on the table. On the back you will find the cable wraps around a slot with a place to secure the 3.5mm headset male end in the center.

The speakers are powered by 3-AAA batteries (included) and you just pull out one end of the back and swivel it around (the other end is attached) to access the battery compartment. The Nokia site states you get up to 40 hours of playing time with the three AAA batteries. The MD-8 measures 4.76 x 1.65 x 1.14 inches and weighs in at 4.2 ounces.

For you audophiles out there (not me) here are some stats on the sound from the speakers:

  • Frequency response: From 300 to 15,000 Hz
  • Speaker output: 2 x 1 Watt
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: 90 dB
  • Max sound pressure level: 78 dB

You can hear samples from the speakers in my video above and check out some photos in my gallery below. If you are looking for a set of portable speakers, these appear to be a nice set to consider. Anyone else try these out yet?

Review: Nokia 5530 XpressMusic device

You may recall a few months ago when I posted on the Nokia Conversations Pass the Parcel promotion and I was getting pretty excited when Nokia Experts ended up still eligible to win the prize towards the end. Most people speculated that the device was a Nokia N97, but it turns out it was a Nokia 5530 XpressMusic device. I never gave the device much thought after that and was kind of ho-hum on the device. Nokia then sent me one to try for 30 days and I have to say it is much more impressive than I had imagined. The 5530 has a beautiful display that at first I thought was AMOLED it was so bright with such black colors, but it turns out it is a standard Nokia display with lots of pixels packed into a smaller size than seen on some other devices.

The 5530 XM looks to be a lower cost alternative to the Nokia 5800 XM with some more modern design features like the flush display and more compact form factor. A couple of wireless technologies are missing from the 5530 XM, as detailed below in the specifications section.

In the box

The brightly colored box that was sent to me was HUGE and completely different than any recent Nokia device that was packed in a very small box. I have no idea why Nokia used such a large box and hope this isn’t what we actually see from the retail package shipping from Nokia USA. There was on a charger and small USB cable in the review box, but listed on the Nokia USA site you should find the following in the retail package:

  • Nokia 5530 XpressMusic
  • Nokia Battery BL-4U
  • Nokia Travel Charger AC-8U
  • Nokia Short Connectivity Cable CA-101
  • Nokia Stereo Headset WH-205
  • Nokia 4GB microSD memory card MU-41
  • MiniDVD
  • User Guide

When you first pull the 5530 out of the box, I think you will be as

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Nokia Twist feature phone has a unique design

Nokia Twist feature phone has a unique designI don’t have a Verizon account or a good contact to get a chance to play with review devices, but my friends over at Mobile Tech Review posted a review of the Nokia Twist that you should check out. The Twist is one of the oddest form factor devices I have seen with a square form factor with a full swivel that reveal a QWERTY keyboard and turns the device into a BlackBerry looking smartphone. They awarded the Nokia Twist 3.75 stars and if you are a Verizon customer looking for a Nokia device this actually sounds like it would be a good option.

There are very few Nokia CDMA phones available today and the Nokia 7705 Twist definitely has a unique form factor. Specifications of the Twist include:

  • 2.4 inch 320×240 pixels resolution display
  • EV-DO Rev. A wireless support
  • 3 megapixel camera with autofocus support
  • Integrated GPS receiver
  • Bluetooth
  • microSD card slot
  • 2.5mm headset jack

Interestingly, the web browser is something called Polaris 6.1 and I understand that is the browser found on Verizon feature phones. The Nokia Twist runs the BREW OS and is not a Series 40 or S60 device, which is pretty interesting. It does have threaded text messaging though and a number of other features that blue the lines between a smartphone and feature phone.

UPDATE! Deal Alert: Nokia 5530 XM North American model for $249.99 at Costco


I am getting ready to post my review of the Nokia 5530 that I was sent to evaluate for 30 days and then just received a flyer from Costco with the device on the 2nd page. You can now pick up the Nokia 5530 for $249.99, after the $50 instant rebate from the coupon in the coupon book. I really did not expect to see this device here in the US so soon.  The version listed on Costco also shows WCDMA 850/1900 MHz frequency support so you can get up to 384 kbps data with AT&T so it will be a bit faster than EDGE you see on T-Mobile and with the European unlocked model. After looking through the specs on the Costco website I started to think there was something fishy going on with US 3G, GPS, 30 fps video capture, etc. and it turns out they just copied the Nokia 5800 XM spec list and put it under the 5530.

Tnokia5530xm_sale1he Costco package also includes an 4 GB microSD card (further down the package list states it is an 8GB card so it could be bigger) and plectrum stylus. The stats also show the device has an integrated GPS receiver while the one I am testing has no GPS receiver. Another bonus is that the battery is 1320 mAh (BL-5J) rather than the 1000 mAh (BL-4U) found on the European version. Finally, you get these 20 titles loaded on the device:

  • Abracadaball
  • American Idol
  • Asphalt 4
  • Bejeweled
  • Brain Challenge 2
  • Bubble Bash 2
  • Guitar Rock Tour 2
  • Midnight Pool 2
  • Monopoly Deal
  • Monopoly Here & Now
  • Need For Speed: Undercover
  • New York Nights 2
  • Platinum Solitaire
  • Pro Golf 2010
  • Sims 2: Castaway
  • Sims 3
  • Spore
  • Tetris
  • Texas Hold’em Poker
  • Trivial Pursuit

It looks to me like this NAM version is a nice deal for Nokia fans and if I didn’t already have a Nokia N97 I would consider this device.

Looking at the Nokia USA site, we see the Nokia 5530 available for pre-order for $289.99 with a free MD-8 speaker ($39.95 value) so this Costco deal doesn’t look so good anymore.

Nokia E71x contest winner selected

I collected all of the valid entries for the Nokia E71x contest and then ran the numbers through the random number generator. The winner of my E71x is calster1 and here is his winning Tweet, “@nokiaexperts I own an unlocked E71 while my wife is jealous b/c owns an old Razr. Need the E71x to keep her 😀 & to make us a NokiaCouple!” It looks like they will soon be a E71 couple, but after he sees the all black E71x he may switch to this device instead.

Thank you everyone for entering the contest and following the site on Twitter. Best of luck to everyone else during our next contest.

Best of Smartphone Experts, 20 Sept. 2009

Nokia N8 Guide

Nokia E73 Mode Guide
Nokia N900 Guide