Latest On the Go
I wanted to first start out by saying I am sorry to all of you loyal Nokia Experts readers who continue to read the site. I think you all know, but I am a ship designer/naval architect in my “day job” and have been extremely busy over the last six months or so with a lot of time spent in Ketchikan, Alaska, checking over the shipyard construction of a new vehicle/passenger ferry. That ferry is just about ready to get on the run so my time is starting to get more manageable. I captured quite a few images with my Nokia N8 and included a gallery of them below so you can see what I have been up to.
I also served as the technical editor for one book, wrote another (Facebook Companion), and just started writing yet another (BlackBerry PlayBook Companion) so I am one busy guy. That said, I am making it a point to get back into writing here on Nokia Experts and getting back into the groove again. Thanks for your patience and I look forward to hearing from you all again.
Is your wife jealous that you listen to a strange woman’s voice on your Nokia smartphone telling you where to turn, but you refuse to listen to anything she has to say? Now, thanks to the new Nokia Own Voice for Ovi Maps you can have your wife record her voice 53 times to generate a new voice pack for Ovi Maps navigation. The great thing is that all the recording occurs right on your device too with the free application from Nokia.
I doubt I would ever record my own voice and then want to listen to myself guide me when I drive, but you could have fun with this and record your kids voices or maybe your mother. Nokia is also allowing you to share your Own Voice pack with others via Facebook and Twitter so I am sure you will be able to find a voice you like to listen too. Maybe we will get some celebrities or other stars to record an Own Voice pack. There have been 10 million downloads of Ovi Maps so there should soon be a ton of voices to choose from and I think this is a great option provided by Nokia, don’t you? Whose voice do you plan to use for your navigation?
I really enjoy using my Nokia N900, but think the Ovi Maps client loaded on it is quite lame. I want the Ovi Maps 2.0 software that all my S60 devices have, but we still have no idea when (or even if) Nokia will ever release a good version of Ovi Maps for the N900. In the meantime, Sygic just recently launched their Mobile Maps 9 product for Nokia Maemo 5 devices. I was sent an evaluation code to install and test the software on my device and gave it a first spin last night. I shot the video below of the interface and some initial navigation testing to give you all a feel for the software.
As you can see the software has fairly typical functionality for navigating to your destination. My first impressions are that it has a finger friendly interface for the menus and has all the necessary navigation options, but the map UI could be improved with larger zoom in and out buttons and the ability to automatically switch into a full screen mode and hide the upper task bar. I may have this full screen mode, but I have yet to find it. I put in a route and then tried going another way and the program had some issues staying with me while it fought to reroute me and kept jumping my location to roads that were nearby. I then put in my real destination and it did a fairly good job of navigating me to my destination.
I need to spend more time with their Points of Interest (POI), navigation accuracy, and other settings while using it on more routes. I’ll try to get more testing done over the next week or two and post my full review so you can make an informed decision since there does not appear to be any trial version. It is currently priced at EUR49.99 ($67) so it is not a cheap software solution.
My friend Phil Schwarzmann contacted me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I would put together a list of my three favorite Nokia devices for a series of articles he was working on for the Nokia Conversations site. Today, my choices went live and you can check out my three favorite Nokia devices over the past 8 years of using Nokia smartphones.
I know we can all probably say the latest and greatest devices are the best, but I tried to think about those that really impacted me and had the greatest influence on my usage. The N97 mini is new, but IMHO this device brings Eseries quality to the Nseries media experience and is my go to device. The N900 is also very good (check out my N900 Guide), but it is not yet quite ready for me to award it a top 3 selection.
Care to chime in here with your top 3? Feel free to comment on the Nokia Conversations post too about what you think of my choices.
If you are trying to think of another reason to get the new Nokia N900 (my Guide should help), then just feast your eyes on the T-Mobile HSPA+ network testing that Kevin Tofel conducted a couple of days ago. Using the Nokia N900 he was able to experience 7.09 Mbps downloads and 1.15 Mbps uploads and the N900 didn’t melt in his hands. T-Mobile is rolling out their network upgrades and it looks to me like the 7.2 Mbps HSPA network is up in my area where I am regularly seeing something around 2 Mbps download speeds on the N900.
Combine these wireless data speeds with a device like the N900 that has a desktop class Mozilla-based browser and you can really have a killer mobile computing experience. I have been debating with myself about purchasing a N900 in January when I have to say goodbye to this evaluation unit, but it is things like this that confirm it will be mine. I just need to see some more app support, come on Gravity, and then there will be no hesitation.
I like having multiple mapping solutions on my Nokia devices and everyone of mine has both Nokia’s Ovi Maps and Google Maps. As a father of three daughters involved in basketball and soccer I spend my time traveling around quite a bit finding fields and schools that I are new to me. I have used TeleNav clients in the past on my Windows Mobile devices to designate destinations for the month well in advance of travel and I understand you can do this with Ovi Maps as well. I was pleased to read on the Google blog that Google Maps 3.3.1 for Symbian now has the ability to keep starred items in sync with your Google account. I now plan to put these destinations into a starred items list on my Mac and let Google sync them to any Nokia device I have running Google Maps.
Simply visit m.google.com/maps from the browser on your Symbian device to download and install the latest client. It is pretty amazing how helpful and feature packed Google can make their Maps client for free. I still use Ovi Maps for trips when I know I will be outside a coverage area since offline navigation works well in this case.
One of the things I use my smartphone for from time-to-time is tethering when I am waiting for extended periods and want a larger keyboard and display experience than what I can find on my smartphone. Given that the Nokia N900 is a Maemo 5 device with just a few apps and utilities I didn’t even think to try to figure out how to tether it for the last week. I finally pulled my head out and realized that the N900 connects to Windows PCs with Nokia PC Suite and there is a native USB modem driver found in PC Suite. I connected my N900, launched PC Suite, clicked on the One Touch Access icon and away I went. Using my T-Mobile 3G SIM and N900 I saw download speeds between 230 and 260 kbps, but this wasn’t in a particularly well populated area. I need to conduct some more tests in strong signal zones.
The good thing is that this tethering capability is supported and is drop dead easy to use on a PC. There is no PC Suite for the Mac so I am not sure if you can connect a Mac to the N900 yet.
The Nokia N900 has an awesome we browser and it has handled every site I have thrown at it so far. The ultimate test came tonight though as my daughters and I were waiting for parents to pick up their kids at soccer practice. They took the N900 and typed in the Webkinz URL. Webkinz is a very flash heavy site that doesn’t even work on my MSI Wind netbook due to the limited display resolution. It is a site where you manage your stuffed animal, play games, and take part in a virtual world. I was very surprised to see that my girls were able to login and use the site right from the N900. Wow, now that was impressive!
The best browsers I have tried before this were the Opera Mobile browser on Windows Mobile and the Safari browser on the iPhone 3GS. I know it is still early in my evaluation, but it looks like the N900 may take the crown for best mobile browser that serves up the full Internet.
The more I use the N900 the more I am liking the device. Last night I tested out the FM transmitter functionality that lets you output audio content to a car or home FM radio. I used GPodder to download some podcasts and then selected a rather open FM station in the settings on the N900. Finding an open station in Western Washington is not easy as our FM frequency bands are packed with stations. I previously tried other Nokia devices with integrated FM transmitters (N85 and N78 for example) and ones that plug into your headset jack, but have not had much success or hope for the N900.
I was pleasantly surprised when my podcasts played in my Jeep and actually sounded pretty good. A direct connection (via 3.5mm cable or cassette adapter) still sounds much better, but the N900 holds its own and can be great for traveling.
BTW, I wrote and posted this blog post from WordPy on the Nokia N900. WordPy works better on this N900 than I have seen it working on any S60 device and you may just find me posting quite a bit directly from the device. Now to play with image insertion and more.
One of the things I love about Nokia is their willingness to share early trials of apps and services through their Nokia Beta Labs site. I just read on their Beta Labs blog that they are now providing a mobile-optimized site for those of us who visit on the go from our phone browsers. I tried visiting in both the S60 browser and Opera Mini and the site looks great.
For those of you not familiar with Nokia Beta Labs you should check out the site if you want to see what apps are in development. Some apps graduate out of Beta Labs while other may be retired without ever being released as a full public application. While most apps there are safe, I recommend having a solid backup of you phone before getting to adventurous.
Posted by Wordmobi