Wednesday, October 04, 2006

De vs. Nokia - what happened toDe?

The N91's a rocking gadget. It's got a 4Gig hard disk. Wi-fi enabled. aka iPod Killer...
Apple's not going down any time soon if I've got anything to say. The primary function of this device is something to do with getting and recieving calls. The last time that happened (just now as a matter of fact) was a call from a friend asking me for another friends number. Seems he couldn't get through and the number that I gave him was the one he'd been trying for the last half hour or so.
This gadget's a rocker - I told the guy to hold and made another call. Quickly asked friend number 2 if he was avoiding calls from friend number 1 - an unlikely event, but possible in any case. Then I decided to conference the two calls.

BIG mistake. At the moment those two are talking to each other and I'm sitting here wondering why my phone crashed when I tried conferencing the call. It was kind enough to freeze then blank out and show me the "Nokia" startup screen.

Let me give you a little background on this device. I read about it in the last quarter of 2003 - it was set to be launched in 2004 (the second quarter I think - could have been third). I'd read about it just after getting a Nokia 6600. Here's a bit of a comparison between the two phones:



6 MB phone memory

30MB phone memory

Upto 1GB MMC

4GB Hard disk

VGA Camera

2 Megapixel camera

Connectivity over GPRS, Bluetooth, iR, pop port

GPRS, EDGE, Bluetooth, wi-fi, USB

Hang on... I'm stopping the comparison. There's no point. The 6600 was around at the end of 2003. The N91 was released in April of 2006. There should be no need to make a comparison at all. The features on this phone were enough to convince me just after I got the 6600 that this would be my next phone. I didn't quite count on dropping my phone and someone stealing it before I could pick it up off the road.

Was depressed enough to walk into a shop the next day and buy a 6230 at a criminally high price. It was a good phone - a series 40 - Nokia hasn't had too many issues with them. They've always been relatively stable. This phone came with a VGA camera again and an inbuilt MP3 player. Was decent enough till it got stolen.

I thought I'd just wait till the N91 was released after that - the site kept telling me that its release was imminent. I waited a few months borrowing phones from friends. Then got sick of borrowing so got me a 1108 (the cheapest phone I could get with an added headset). That was a phone. It's never quit on me. It's battery life was beyond anyones expectations. Features were very reasonable - there were those little things that you'd have to experience to understand. I at one point of time wanted to add a number to my phonebook. I type out the number, select save and instead of an empty text box asking me for a name, there was a name already there... the name that I'd already stored the number as. I made corrections and attempted to save. It asked if I wanted to replace the old number or make a new entry.

This hasn't happened on any other Nokia phone I've used (or the Samsung one for that matter). At any rate. The N91 was released in April of 2006. I bought it 2 days after it was released for 34K. That's in INR. In USD that'd be just below $740. I didn't care. I wanted the gadget. I wanted something to play with. I wanted something I could install software on - I'd been using a mentally challenged phone for too long by now. I figured I'd at least be able to replace my MP3 player, camera and phone with this device (I was carrying them around everywhere till then - quite a pain having three devices when one should suffice). I was sure that 2MPix should be enough and 4Gig was more than all the memory cards I had for my MP3 player.

The camera was a big disappointment. There was no scope of replacing my camera with this crap. Hell - my 6230 gave me better quality pics. The sound recorder's limited to 60 seconds. The hard disk is slow and unreliable - I've got bad sectors, but the OS doesn't seem to understand that so keeps trying to write to the bad areas. The phone crashed 2 hours after the first startup without fiddling too much.

All in all, the gadget wasn't terribly stable. There were issues with pretty much everything. I'd tried to set it so that all messages went to the hard disk rather than the phone memory and every time a message came in, I found I couldn't open it. Could see the first few characters from the inbox, but it would refuse to open. I formatted the hard disk and tried again and it seemed to work. THEN I saw a link to the Nokia UK site telling me I could flash the device with the new firmware if I wanted. It came with warning after warning to back up the device which I did. It also gave reasonable amounts of input on what could possibly go wrong. I got into it thinking "if it works and I get a phone that works well I'm okay. If it doesn't work, I give it back to the guys and they do the job right for me".

Okay, so I went back to using the 1108 for a few days after that... big deal. Got the phone back after a week (the new firmware was a major release so I'm assuming lots of bugs had been fixed). Thought I'd try the phone memory for messages again and found the same problem. There are issues with changing settings with the browser - once you change them, there's no way to change back other than resetting the phone - so now I had it all working and restored my backup... POOF! there went all posibilities of using the browser the way it was supposed to be used... reset the phone myself (a key combo I got online) and found I had all my numbers and stuff - only it'd automatically (without asking me that is) copied all numbers from the SIM card to the phone - now I get calls from numbers (names don't show) when there are 2 copies of the names registered in the phone book.

There's loads of issues that Nokia needs to fix with this device. I don't think it's right that they sell you a phone for 34K, the software of which shouldn't have passed to beta release...

I've always been anti Sony (anyone who knows me gets quite shocked now when I tell em to get Sony Ericsson rather than Nokia). I think I can safely say that any high end phone I get will NOT be a Nokia unless it's been in the market for at least a year first - by which time it's not really going to be high end any more... sad. I have respect for their UI, but it's like the difference between Windows and Linux. I'd take Linux any day if I didn't need windows (I need it for work and frankly, I've got too much stuff on Windows and got too used to the interface to consider the change).

The last gripe (don't take my word for that one - there are going to be more) I have with this phone is that it's a Symbian v3 operating system. That means I can't run any of the old apps I have on this phone unless there's a port available for them. Themes, programs, blah... there's very little I can do with this phone that I could do with my 6600.

At the end of this post let me recommend the Sony Ericsson M600i. Seems like a decent enough phone without a camera and their pricing is justified. The other ones with cameras are good enough to use for JUST that. This one's a business phone. It's got the features, the stylus, the size, the wieght... it's a neat machine and a gadget to boot. Those guys make sure there's enough software available for free - no trial versions on their site (Nokia has an "expense" program that's a 14 day trial). A friend just got one of these phones. I'll have a look at it and validate this recommendation. Till then, tata.

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