Archive for December, 2009

N900 tips & tricks: Enable mouse mode in browser and play flash games

N900 tips & tricks: Enable mouse mode in browser and play flash gamesI tested out some websites for people early on in my N900 testing and commented that many of the flash heavy sites wouldn’t work due to the touchscreen on the N900. I was wrong about some and learned you can actually enable mouse/cursor mode in the browser and then use the stylus to move around the display like a desktop web browser. I just went and tried out a couple of games on Bubblebox.com and PopCap Games and they actually work pretty well on the N900.

To enable mouse/curser mode on the N900, slide your finger to the right from the bottom left corner of the display. A cursor icon will appear so tap on this and you will now be in mouse mode.

Check out the video below of me playing a couple of games (Zume and Bejeweled) on the PopCap Games site. Many of these PopCap games are available as downloadable games for the iPhone, S60 and other platforms and they are some of my favorite games. I can’t show my wife that they now work on the N900 or she will steal the N900 from me. Be careful using the games on this site though, they can be quite addictive :)

Phone of the year and Symbian device of the decade picks

Phone of the year and Symbian device of the decade picksWith news being a bit slow as we gear up for 2010 with CES, Mobile World Congress, and CTIA we see lots of 2009 wrap up stories and I personally really enjoy reading them. A couple related to Nokia were recently posted and I wanted to link to them and discuss them here with you. James Whatley posted on his Phone of the Year and Steve Litchfield posted on his Symbian Phone of the Decade. After reading both articles I have to say I actually agree with both of them.

I won’t spoil James’ article about what device he picked as his winner for 2009, but after some thought I think you too may agree with his pick. Keep in mind he is coming at it from a UK viewpoint so some of our US-centric subsidization games may affect your personal pick. Here in the US I would think the iPhone or BlackBerry Curve may be picked as smartphone of the year due to the way our system is setup.

Steve’s Symbian phone of the decade is pretty clear cut and obvious. He actually had several people voice their opinions and the winning phone was an easy selection to make.

Do you agree with these picks? What was your smartphone of the year? How about your Symbian phone of the decade?

Smartphone Round Robin; WMExperts looking at Nokia

Here we are approaching mid-week of the Smartphone Round Robin and I wanted to remind you all that Phil over at WMExperts is taking a look at Nokia this week. Make sure to help him out with his questions in this blog post every day as it earns you an entry into the Smartphone Round Robin contest for your own Nokia device. I also started a forum discussion over at WMExperts in case you are interested in hearing what Windows Phone fans have to say about their platform and comparisons to Nokia.

Smartphone Round Robin

I also wanted to let you know you can listen to me and the rest of the Smartphone Experts editors chat about the iPhone platform this week on The Cell Phone Junkie show #187. Check it out to hear what I think about the iPhone.

Top 5 Nokia achievements of 2009

Top 5 Nokia achievements of 2009I am a pretty positive person and in the spirit of the new year I wanted to follow up on the 5 blunders of Nokia in 2009 with a post about the achievements I think Nokia made in 2009. I am sure Nokia has a huge list of their own for achievements they have made throughout the world, but this list is from my perspective as a Nokia user in the United States. Without further ado, here is my list of top 5 achievements from Nokia in 2009:

  1. Nokia N900
  2. Nokia’s Maemo-based Internet Tablets have been pretty niche products that were fun to use and tweak, but never appealed to the mass market. To kickoff their latest Maemo 5 platform and N900 device they gave out 300 N900 units to developers at the Maemo Summit and then passed a few more long term evaluation units (3 months rather than the typical 2 weeks to 30 days) out to press and bloggers. This strategy allowed them to receive a ton of feedback and then update the firmware to address some of the issues before the public availability of the device in late November. While the N900 is not yet a perfect product, it is WAY ahead of what the previous Internet Tablets provided and has the BEST web browser found on any smartphone today. I also find the VoIP and messaging integration to be awesome, which is pretty amazing on a device where the phone is really a secondary feature. I enjoyed my eval time with the N900 so much that I purchased my own device and created the Definitive N900 Guide that I will keep updating and addint to as I continue to use my N900. The fact that it supports the blazing speeds on T-Mobile HSPA+ network has me even happier with the device since I have been a T-Mobile customer for almost 9 years now.

  3. Nokia N97 mini
  4. I know many people hated the Nokia N97, but I actually found the device to be quite capable and decent. Granted, the 2.0 firmware is what should have shipped on the device and much of the initial bad press coverage was Nokia’s fault for releasing it with poor memory management. However, I personally find the N97 mini to be an excellent device that is now down to a single fault for power users. The RAM is still too low, but at least the memory management is much better so even when I have several apps running I rarely see a low memory warning. The hardware is much improved over the N97 with a solid feeling form factor, metal back cover and hard plastic edges, keyboard with more travel and more pronounced keys, and latest firmware that supports kinetic scrolling and better standby screen management. The N97 mini reminds me of an Eseries device with the build quality while giving me the flexibility of a touchscreen, beautiful display, and decent camera of a Nseries device. I would love to have seen this with T-Mobile USA support, but at least a North American 3G version was released at about the same time as the Euro version.

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Can you think of a 5th Nokia blunder from 2009?

Nokia N97If you are reading this post, you are most likely a fan of Nokia devices and I wouldn’t be here writing this site if I too wasn’t a Nokia fan. That said, enthusiasts like us can also be the biggest critics of the companies were are passionate about because we want them to do better and know that they can. Rita over at Symbian Guru just posted an article on the top 5 Nokia blunders of 2009 that made for a good read and also spurred me to think about what the open, number 5 blunder could be.

Rita listed the following four as the top blunders of 2009:

  • N97 release firmware
  • N-Gage
  • Ovi Share
  • Nokia N86 8MP announcement

The 5th spot was left up to readers to provide in the comments so head on over and leave your opinion there. Looking back on 2009, I personally find the lack of North American presence and seemingly disregard for North America to be a candidate for the final spot. We did see the E71x and Surge come to AT&T, but Nokia let AT&T ruin the fabulous E71 device with their crapware and other limits that has actually made my Nokia E71x Starter Guide quite popular as people tried to clean up their devices. T-Mobile would have been a perfect carrier to launch the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic with since T-Mobile already carries some low end XpressMusic devices and Nokia could have promoted this one as a higher end music device that supported Amazon Video on Demand video content and still could have sold it quite cheap. We now see the N900 available and supported on T-Mobile’s blazing 3.5G HSPA+ network, but again there is no carrier involvement which greatly limits Nokia’s visibility in the US.

Hopefully, we see more carrier relationships and partnerships in 2010. I know we will see more awesome devices, but it sure would be great if more people here knew about them.

I think there were also successes in 2009 and I will soon be revealing a post about the achievements from Nokia in 2009.

Tips & tricks: Nokia Messaging reference guide

Last week I posted on the release of Nokia Messaging for Social Networks Beta 2 (now that is a mouthful) and mentioned I was going to create a post to try to clarify the Nokia Messaging brand and make it easier for readers to understand what it all means. Let’s take a look at the history, current branding and options, and what I am personally using on my devices and hopefully this post turns into a helpful resource for you all. Not all of the clients work across all S60 devices so I wanted to make that clear to you all as well.

Tips & tricks: Nokia Messaging reference guide

History

Prior to August of 2008 I was very disappointed in the default Nokia Messaging/email client loaded on S60 devices. It supported POP and IMAP, but I never seemed to have it working consistently well and the interface was quite poor. In August of 2008 Nokia launched a beta of Nokia Email and I jumped on the chance to try it out. As I wrote about on my ZDNet site I was very happy with the look and feel of the beta client and it worked reasonably well.

We then saw Nokia Email graduate to a part of Nokia Messaging in December of 2008 and it has been known as Nokia Messaging since then. Davis Fields and the team at Nokia has taken the client/service that was Nokia Email and has continuously improved it over the past year and a half to the rather solid product it is today with three components now under the Nokia Messaging brand. You will still find the older Nokia Messaging client on older Nokia devices, but that is quite a different client than Nokia Messaging as we know it today.

Current Nokia Messaging clients

If you want to discover the available options yourself and make sure you have the latest clients, then a good Nokia resource can be found on the Nokia Messaging website. I pulled all of my information from this site and also communicated with the Nokia Messaging team to create this reference guide. There are three Nokia Messaging clients available for Nokia devices and they are:

  1. Nokia Messaging for Email
  2. Nokia Messaging for Instant Messaging
  3. Nokia Messaging for Social Networks

There were different paths taken for each of these clients, but as we now see them all getting rolled into the Nokia Messaging brand the story is becoming clearer and I hope that users will be better able to understand and use the different services on their Nokia devices.

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Windows Mobile Hands-on Video, Smartphone Round Robin

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This week marks the halfway point for platform coverage in the Smartphone Round Robin event and I will be taking a look at Windows Mobile. I started with the now extinct Palm OS, but then moved onto the Pocket PC/Windows Mobile OS in 2001 so I am intimately familiar with this mobile operating system. Like Nokia, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile is one of the old school mobile operating systems and IMHO is one of the most customizable and powerful ones around. I’ll be looking at the HTC HD2 and HTC Touch Pro2 this week with Phil from WMExperts.

I kicked off a discussion forum post over at WMExperts to gather some feedback from the Windows Mobile community. You can also find Phil Nickinson from WMExperts here on Nokia Experts asking all of you about S60 and Maemo. By participating in the discussion you will be entered into the drawing for your own Nokia smartphone (model to be determined) at the end of the Smartphone Round Robin event. Please read the contest details for more information.

Check out a video after the break of me using a couple of Windows Mobile devices and talking to Phil about them and the Windows Phone platform.

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Help Windows Phone-lover Phil with Nokia

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Hey, everybody. Phil from WMExperts.com here. And in this week of the third annual Smartphone Round Robin I’m taking a look at Nokia. And, so, I’ve got a few questions for you.

  1. Holy cow! The N900 and N97 mini are some serious phones. Where have these been hiding, and how come we haven’t heard more about them?
  2. Widgets take a little getting used to. Do you use them more often? Or just use a traditional application launcher?
  3. Holy camera, Batman. Nokia phones have some of the best point-and-shoots around. Do you even carry another camera any more?
  4. If you came to Nokia from another smartphone platform, do you miss anything about your previous life? Or does Nokia handle it all?

That’s it, everybody. And don’t forget that when you answer my questions, you’re entered to win a Nokia phone of your choice (up to $1,000) as part of the Round Robin. Thanks!

Best of Smartphone Experts, 27 Dec 2009

The end of the year and the holidays aren’t stopping us from keeping an eye out for smartphone news and continuing to bring you comparative reviews in the Smartphone Round Robin. Be sure to check out the latest updates page to see what’s new, or you can follow via Facebook, Twitter, and of course RSS. This week, you can listen to us discuss the iPhone on The Cell Phone Junkie Podcast, so don’t go missing that either. On to the big news of the week!

Android Review – Smartphone Round Robin

The second week of the Smartphone Round Robin is coming to a close here on Nokia Experts with my review of the Google Android platform and a couple of the premium devices, the Sprint HTC Hero and Motorola DROID. I posted a few questions in the Android Central forums and received some excellent feedback from Android users. Casey Chan helped me out a couple weeks ago with some hands-on time and face-to-face Q&A with the platform and several devices. Similar to my BlackBerry review last week, I am going to take a look at two pieces of hardware, the OS, some capabilities/functionality, a comparison to S60 and Maemo, and my closing thoughts.

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Hardware: HTC Hero and Motorola DROID

The HTC Hero from Sprint was one of the first Android devices to launch this year, following the release of the T-Mobile G1 in October 2008. I am no stranger to the Android platform since I purchased a T-Mobile G1 on launch day as it was the first 3G smartphone on T-Mobile, who I have been with for many years. I enjoy using my T-Mobile G1, but found the HTC Sense in the Sprint Hero to be fantastic and wrote up a review of this device on my ZDNet blog. You can also find a full review of the HTC Sprint Hero from Casey on Android Central. If you are with Sprint, it is definitely a device to consider.

The first time I really had a chance to spend time with the Motorola DROID was at the Smartphone Round Robin weekend event. Verizon has been marketing the heck out of the Motorola DROID and I personally like seeing this kind of advertising for a smartphone other than just iPhone ads. To go along with my own thoughts below, make sure to check out Casey’s full review of the DROID.

HTC Hero

There was a European HTC Hero released in the summertime that was similar looking to the T-Mobile G1, except without the keyboard, as it had the distinctive “chin” on the bottom. You can find a couple different versions of the HTC Hero here in the US as the Sprint HTC Hero and Verizon DROID Eris and both of these US versions have different form factors. The Sprint HTC Hero reminds me more of the T-Mobile myTouch 3G/HTC Magic than the European Hero too. The Sprint HTC Hero has a classy gray colored casing with complete soft touch back and it really feels great in your hand with high density and solid design features.

Some of the key specifications include the following; 3.2 inch capacitive touchscreen, 528MHz Qualcomm processor, 5 megapixel camera, and Google Android OS 1.5. All of the Google Android devices have capacitive touchscreens so this is one differentiator from Nokia devices we have seen so far (with the exception of the new X6). The 528MHz processor is also quite common in Android devices and one area where I have had issues in the past with apps sometimes stalling out. In 2010 we will see the 1GHz Snapdragon processor and more power under the hood coming though.

The Sprint HTC Hero has that great oleophobic display seen on the iPhone 3GS and something I would like to see on all smartphones focused on a touchscreen interface. Your finger just slides across the display with ease and far fewer fingerprints are left behind.

While the 5 megapixel camera is not as good as our Nokia 5 megapixel cameras, photos taken with it are better than I have seen on other HTC devices and is a good step forward.

Motorola DROID

The Motorola DROID felt much more solid in my hand than I thought it would be after seeing the photos and videos of the device online. It feels like an expensive device and the design is quite good. It is also thinner than I thought it would be and Motorola did a good job packing so much into this form factor device. The first thing that strikes you when you turn on the DROID is the fabulous high resolution display. Wow, it is beautiful and the 3.7 inches of 480×854 pixel resolution need to be seen to appreciate.

I only spent a short amount of time with the keyboard, but I didn’t really like it and thought it was a bit too flat. That said, I am good at adapting to any keyboard and could probably get used to it after a few days. I also think that having a physical QWERTY keyboard is a good thing, even if it isn’t the best keyboard. Motorola was able to keep this baby at about the iPhone thickness and do it with a full QWERTY keyboard so that is quite an achievement. I thought the gold directional pad on the right was a touch sensitive pad due to the design, but it is a traditional directional pad with a funky design.

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