I was chatting with Dieter and told him I was quite pleased with the short time I spent with the Nokia Astound and that I was thinking of picking one up for the site. He gave me the thumbs up and was going to get one for me to use, but I decided to just visit a local store to see what I could work out with the expectation I would pay the full $299.99 (before 9.5% tax) no contract price. I went to my local T-Mobile store in Federal Way and was shocked by what happened next.
I went into the store and there were six employees standing around with only one other customer being helped. Richard asked me kindly what I would like and I told him I wanted to buy a Nokia Astound off contract. He told me they had them in stock and he would see what he could do for me. He said he thought he could work out something in the system because there were some special offers on accessories. After logging into the system and trying some different things, he worked out a deal where he was able to give me the following gear and still cut my total price out the door to $255.08 that included the 9.5% sales tax.
- Nokia Astound (shown as only $99.99 on the receipt)
- Jabra Stone 2 Bluetooth headset ($129.99 down to $90.99)
- MicroUSB car charger ($29.99 down to $20.99)
- Nokia Astound 2-pack screen protector ($14.99 down to $10.49)
- Nokia Astound black gel skin case ($14.99 down to $10.49)
I was amazed by what he was able to get for me while still saving me just over $73. My account stayed the same, my excellent family plan remained untouched, and I ended up saving money and walking out with some great accessories. If my head wasn’t lost in the clouds as he was handing me all this gear I would have asked for a 32GB microSD card instead of the Bluetooth headset since I need those more than headsets.
If you are considering the Nokia Astound, you may want to visit your local store and see if they have any special offers for you as well. Richard mentioned that the future AT&T purchase had something to do with his ability to offer me all of these accessories and knock a couple hundred off of the phone price too.
I put my SIM card into my new Nokia Astound and plan to use it as my primary device for a while and create a Guide page for the site. I already like that I can use Swype in portrait orientation and the email client is MUCH better!
My main T-Mobile phone is currently the Nokia E73 Mode (see our Guide) and I just can’t give it up because it is so pocketable, focused on messaging, and gives me everything I really find essential on my smartphone. I started eating healthier and exercising more a few months ago and have lost over 20 pounds so far with my primary exercise of jogging. I have been using an Andoid device with Runkeeper for tracking my running, but was just sent an email that will have me using the Nokia E73 soon. The newly revamped Sports Tracker service and application is now up and running so get on those shoes and start sharing your workouts.
You can find the Sports Tracker application for your compatible S60 3rd and 5th Edition device in the Ovi Store. The Sports Tracker application can be used with the GPS in your smartphone to track things like calories burned while running and cycling speed over altitude changes. You can find a compatible heart rate monitor in the Sports Tracker shop so you can keep track and ensure you are reaching your heart rate goals as you workout.
Nokia is having a Sports Tracker competition launch contest where the first place winner gets an exclusive Ovi skateboard deck. Other prizes include heart rate belts, Ovi t-shirts, water bottles, and more swage. I like the looks of that green to white t-shirt and will be entering soon myself.
The competition is rather interesting since you need to make a funny or interesting shape with your Sports Tracker workout and share it publicly. This means you need to run, walk, skip, bike, skate, etc. in a unique route to create an interesting shape for the contest. I am going to have to give this some thought before heading out on the road to track my workout. They will pick the top 10 and then have you vote in a poll on the Ovi blog. You have to do this quickly as the contest ends in one week on Thursday, 19 August.
Last week I wrote about the Game Gripper accessory for the Nokia N900. As I said I ordered one right away and a couple of days ago the Game Gripper arrived. I really did not know what to expect from the button design because it wasn’t that clear to me how the buttons were inserted into the rubber piece. I ordered the SNES style of buttons since that looked like the most traditional type for playing games and I enjoy SNES games on my N900. I ordered an extra set of buttons and now wish I would have purchased the orange ones I was thinking about.
Design and installation
The Game Gripper is composed of the main body and inserted buttons. The main body is thick black rubber that seems like it will last forever. The rubber has openings on the top for the button inserts with a small “gg” over on the right for Game Gripper. On the right side that leads down and around the right side of the keyboard you will find a rubber piece with a round opening for the 3.5mm headset jack. On the left side you see a square opening for the microUSB port.
The game buttons are hard colored plastic and do have movement in each of their openings. The opening they fit through is small than the nub on bottom side so they should not just fall out with standard handling. It takes a bit of effort and stretching remove and replace a game button, which is what you want for such an accessory.
The buttons is designed to fit perfectly over selected keys so that the proper actions are taken when you play games.
Setting up your emulator
As you can see in my video, you do have to go through each emulator and setup the Game Gripper to get the best game playing experience out of your N900. I didn’t cut out my mistakes from the video and as you can see just popping it on there and hoping the keys were mapped did not work for the Colecovision or SNES emulators.
I just mentioned the Nokia N900 Commuter Series OtterBox case a couple of weeks ago and the great folks at OtterBox sent along a sample for me to check out since they know I am such a fan of my Nokia N900. The Nokia N900 Commuter Series case looked attractive on their site, but after it arrived and I placed my N900 inside I have to say it may be one of the best cases ever made by OtterBox for a phone or PDA.
Package and contents
The OtterBox Commuter Series for Nokia N900 comes in a clear plastic package with OtterBox labeling and details on a cardboard piece sandwiched between two plastic pieces. Thankfully, OtterBox doesn’t require you to have Ginsu knives and a degree in plastics to get the case open and the two halves separate quite easily. Inside the plastic packaging you will find two halves to the case, a screen protector, lens cleaning cloth, installation card, and screen protector instructions. I did not use or try out the screen protector because I already have BodyGuardZ protector on my display and did not want to remove it for this review.
You will find two pieces that form this case and it is clear which piece is for the bottom and which piece is for the top. The bottom/back piece is the most substantial and has integrated silicone rubber plugs for the microUSB port and the 3.5mm headset jack to protect these openings from dust. I liked seeing the substantial silicone rubber piece along most of the top/right side with protrusions to control volume, toggle the power button, and control the camera capture button. There is even an opening next to the camera capture button for the IR port (I never use this though). You will find additional openings on the left/top and right/bottom sides for the stereo speakers, lock switch, microphone and stylus silo. There is no compromise really on any of the ports or openings with your N900 in this case. The keyboard is also fully accessible and the case just adds a couple millimeters around the edges.
Flipping around to the back you will see the OtterBox name on the lower portion with an opening around the camera lens that matches up perfectly. There is a notch out of the case so you can easily flip up the N900 kickstand too. You will find your N900 leans back a bit more on the kickstand in the case due to the added thickness of the case shell, but this viewing angle is still great for watching movie content. There is no impact at all on camera functionality when the case is on the N900.
The top piece is quite small and simply clips onto the display with small plastic tabs on the top/right side. I found that these hold the case on very well and experienced no movement or shifting of the case. This top piece adds a border around the display with an opening for the Nokia name and gives a bit of depth to the front display. With the touchscreen part of the display well inside the bezel you will find it has no impact on the touchscreen capability or functionality of the display.
The screen protector is a self-adhering piece of plastic that cover the entire front display on the device with a notch for the Nokia name and opening for the headset speaker. I mentioned I did not use it, but will apply it if my BodyGuardZ wears out since it appears to fit well and looks easy to install (I have used these same type on other devices before).
Every day usage and conclusions
I didn’t think I would actually keep my N900 in the case after the review, but I have to honestly say that it adds very little bulk to the N900 (already a rather chunky device) and my device has not left the case since it arrived. It offers a fair amount of protection and peace of mind knowing that my N900 can probably do better with a slip or fall from my hand while in the case. This is NOT a waterproof case and is designed to protect against bumps and shocks. I found no negative impact on the usability of my device and see no reason it will ever leave the case.
The OtterBox Commuter Series for Nokia N900 is available now in black for $34.95. If you are someone like me who spends time out in the field (shipyard in my case) or moves around a lot with their devices you might like to know that your device is protected from minor drops and bumps while also giving it a cool look and more substantial feel.
Nokia news has been a bit slow as we wait for the Nokia N8, Symbian ^3 devices, and more. I did receive news from OtterBox today that they released a new Nokia N900 Commuter Series case. This spurred me to check out the Nokia case selection and I see that they actually have cases for quite a few newer devices, including the N97, N97 mini, E72, and 5800 XpressMusic.
The N900 Commuter Series case does look to add a nice layer of protection with silicone plugs covering the ports, full access to the touch screen and buttons, a self-adhering film for the display, and integrated kickstand modeled after the one found around the camera lens on the N900 itself. You can pick one up for $34.95 and if you spend over $60 they have free ground shipping.
I wrote my review of the N97 mini back in early December and still think it is one of the best Nokia smartphones available today. It is a S60 5th Edition device built as stout as an Eseries device. Even though I have been trying out some of the newer smartphones for my ZDNet blog, I do keep the N97 mini close at hand for apps and rock solid performance. Proporta reached out to me to see if I wanted to evaluate a couple of accessories for the N97 mini and they ended up sending along an Advanced Screen Protector and USB Sync-Charge Cradle. Let’s take a look at my thoughts on these two accessories with an image gallery of both following my writing.
Advanced Screen Protector
I switch devices almost as often as fast as I change my underwear and thus the first thing I do with my devices is purchase and install screen protectors on them. This way, my device displays remain in mint condition so they retain their resale value when I decide to switch to another device and so I can throw my device in my pocket without worrying about scratching. I was curious to see how much of the front of the N97 mini the Proporta Advanced Screen Protector would cover since the BodyGuardz I installed on my N97 covered the entire front with openings for the buttons, camera, and proximity sensor. The Proporta protector covers just the display area itself, which is really the most important part to protect.
Inside the slim packaging you will find the screen protector, fiber cleaning cloth, bubble removal/application card, and directions on the inside of the packaging. There are only three steps to installing the Proporta Advanced Screen Protector and unlike some recent skins I have tried there is no liquid used or drying period. You simply peel off the backing with the yellow tab and slowly place the protector on the N97 mini as you then slide the protector on and continue peeling back the covering. I was able to clean the display and install the protector within less than a couple of minutes.
I understand that Proporta uses some kind of adhesive material to secure the protector to the display, but it doesn’t leave any residue or anything and can actually be washed and reused if needed.
I am seeing no impact on the clarity of the display and it actually reduces glare from sunlight and bright indoor lighting a bit too and I prefer it over the glossy finish the device already has. It does give a slightly rougher feel to the display, but nothing that affects the usability of the device. It is supposed to improve the “feel” during stylus use, but I have never used a stylus on the N97 mini so that is not a benefit I personally care about.
The Proporta Advanced Screen Protector sells for just $6.95 and if you are looking for a way to protect your display, then this is a good product to consider.
The more I use my Nokia N900 the more I love it, which is what many others I know say as well. The N900 is much more than just a smartphone and is closer to a netbook than a phone, especially with applications and functionality like Firefox Mobile. Up until a couple of years ago I wrapped all of my mobile devices in cases, primarily those with belt clips, but have since moved on to just sliding the phone into my back pocket. Being that the N900 is more of a mobile computer than a phone, I decided to actually consider a case for the N900. The folks at Noreve sent out a press release a couple weeks back and so I decided to give their N900 Tradition leather case a try. They sent along a Sandy Vintage model for me to check out, along with their optional resistant metal belt clip with 360 degrees rotation.
Tradition leather case
As stated on the Noreve website, the characteristics of the tradition leather case include:
- Access to basic functions (multiple openings on the leather)
- Practical thanks to its snap closure
- Slim and padded design
- Protects the device in an optimal manner
- Headset speaker with stainless steel mesh protector
- One business or credit card slot
- Camera lens access
- Opening for recharge
- Headphone access
- Beautiful interior lining embossed with the Noreve logo
- Completely removable plastic belt clip included (61303C)
Noreve has 22 Nokia N900 variations, different colors and leather types, to choose from to match just about everyone’s choice and desire. The Sandy Vintage is part of their Exceptional Selection series that uses leather with a special tanning process. The leather has a weathered look and textured finish, not smooth, that is achieve with special oils. The Noreve N900 cases are available now for EURO 39.99/US$56.64 each and come with an optional belt clip attachment. The additional metal belt clip accessory is available for EURO 12.50/US$17.33.
The Noreve case comes packaged in plastic that is easily separated into a front and back piece. The leather case rests in a durable box with the plastic belt clip, belt clip pin, and screwdriver inside the case.
The leather case has a soft textured feel to it and the tan/sandy color looks great. The case is designed as one that holds the N900 with a large flap that flips over the top of the device with a snap closure wrapped around the back. The main part of the case is rigid and there are no clips or anything that holds the N900 in place. You simply
›› Continue reading
›› Continue reading
I never went out into the craziness on Black Friday because my time is more valuable than most of the savings I could have gained standing in long lines and battling for the limited number of available products. I prefer to do all my gift shopping online and to help you through your Cyber Monday shopping we are offering 10% off everything in the store today. Please visit the store and see if there are accessories for your Nokia device that are available.
A few of my favorite accessories are the Nokia car charger, spare 1500 mAh battery for the E71 and Nokia N800, and 16GB microSD card.
Make sure to enter the coupon code shown above in the Cyber Monday image to get 10% off folks.
Nokia was conducting routine quality testing and discovered there could be a potential shock with some of its chargers so they are proactively informing consumers (there has been no reported issues) and providing an exchange for those chargers that are affected. Please visit http://chargerexchange.nokia.com to see if the charger you have is affected and complete the forms to get your replacement charger.
Here is the text from the Nokia press release:
Nokia today initiated a charger exchange program, in which consumers owning certain Nokia-branded chargers manufactured by a third-party supplier are recommended to exchange these chargers for free replacements.
During a routine quality control process, Nokia identified a potential product quality issue with certain chargers manufactured by one of its third-party suppliers. The plastic covers of the affected chargers could come loose and separate, exposing the charger’s internal components and potentially posing an electrical shock hazard if certain internal components are touched while the charger is plugged into a live socket. Nokia is not aware of any incidents or injuries related to these chargers.
Only a limited number of chargers of certain model types manufactured by a single third-party supplier during a specific time period are within the scope of the exchange program. They are the AC-3E and AC-3U models, manufactured between June 15, 2009 and August 9, 2009; and the AC-4U model, manufactured between April 13, 2009 and October 25, 2009.
For more information, including how consumers can check to see if their chargers are part of this exchange program, Nokia has established a website. Consumers are asked to visit http://chargerexchange.nokia.com or their local Nokia website.
Nokia recommends consumers with chargers within the scope of this exchange program to stop using the charger and exchange it for a free replacement.
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?