This is fantastic news. Nokia maps and navigation services are, in my opinion the best in the business and on Windows 8.1 there’s a huge gap in the market for a decent solution. Via our friends over at The Digital Lifestyle I’ve just learnt that Nokia are opening up the Here mapping application beyond the Windows RT-based Lumia 2520. It’s going to be available in the Windows 8.1 store in the next few days.
Update 1/3/2014: Available now. Works smoothly on Baytrail-T tablets. No turn-by-turn.
I can’t confirm if turn-by-turn is included yet (interesting for those with 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablets that have GPS such as the ASUS Vivotab Note 8) but I can confirm that offline maps are supported, route planning, POI and more.
What I suspect is happening is that because Here is being offered for free, there might be up upgrade path to turn-by-turn, if Nokia deem it to be worthwhile developing that part of the app. Any Lumia 2520 owners care to comment?
I’m in Barcelona next week so I can’t wait to get the Full-HD Lenovo Miix 2 10 loaded-up with hi-res maps. Yes, I’ll be ripe for a mugging, but I’ll do it for you, dear reader !
Note: I’ll be getting some hands-on with the Lumia 2520 next week. Stay tuned.
Nokia may be working on a Windows 8 tablet, due out by the end of the year, according to some sources. We’ve long wished that Nokia would jump into the tablet game as their hardware design has rarely managed toÂ disappoint. However, with Nokia’s commitment to Windows Phone 7 last year, the company was put into an awkward position.
Microsoft built Windows Phone 7 from the ground up as a phoneÂ operating system. Even though I’d love to see the beautiful and smooth Windows Phone 7 operating system on a 7″ or 10″ tablet, Microsoft doesn’t intend for the operating system to be used that way. Thus, Nokia at the time couldn’t rely on Microsoft for a sufficiently touch-friendly operating system.
Nokia had been involved for a long time with the open-source operating system, Maemo, which ran on their ‘internet tablet’ series of devices, but Maemo failed to achieve anything close to mainstream success. Since then, Maemo was merged with Moblin (and Intel project) to form Meego. As you may know, Nokia formerly abandoned Meego in favor of Windows Phone 7.
So what’s Nokia to do? Well, for a long time, they did nothing in the tablet realm. But now, with Microsoft offering Windows 8, which is half-dedicated to touchscreen computing, there might be hope for a Nokia tablet indeed.
Digitimes, which has a so-so record of truth in rumors, claims that Nokia may be launching a tablet that will arrive in Q4 of 2012. Interestingly, Digitimes also claims that Nokia’s tablet will be a 10″ device and use the ARM platform. Windows 8 on ARM will only be compatible with applications specifically designed for it, so you won’t be able to run any existing x86 or x64 desktop applications.
I’m a bit worried about the divide between Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 when put in the context of a user who wants to buy into an ecosystem. Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 share similar looking interfaces, but deep down they are significantly different and do not have apps that work between the two operating systems. It’s possible that Microsoft is working on Windows Phone 8 which will bring the two in line with one another in terms of app compatibility, but currently it doesn’t appear that Microsoft wants to do that.
This will create a big problem for your average consumer who, given the way that Android, iOS, and even WebOS, work, has every right to think, ‘I’ve got a Windows phone and a Windows tablet, I’ll be able to use all the great apps from one on the other, and vice versa, right?”
Nokia has only been relevant for me once in my smartphone life, and that was when I was overseas. Since returning stateside, I have not given Nokia news more than a miniscule glance as I pore over the day’s tech reports. In fact, I have not honestly cared about a Nokia phone release since the mid-90s, when they were one of the top name brands in the US. Until this year that is. Nokia has become relevant again, although not quite in the way that you might think. And while their partnership with Microsoft may be doing a little-bit to correct their sky-diving financial position, I question whether Redmond is doing the best thing overall for increased adoption of Windows Phone.
Before we continue on with the editorial, let’s hit some of the facts of the last week’s announcements. At Nokia World 2011, Nokia introduced two phones that are expected to eventually make their way to US carriers. They are the Nokia Lumia 800 and 710. The latter has a 3.7â€ display with a resolution of 480×800, a 5MP camera that can shoot 720p video, weighs in at 4.4 ounces, has 8GB of flash storage, 512MB of RAM, runs on the Qualcomm MSM8255 chip, which is a 1.4GHz single-core CPU, and communicates on GSM bands.
The Lumia 800 also has a 3.7â€ display, a high resolution 8MP camera, weighs in at 5 ounces, has the same 480×800 resolution on an AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass, 16GB of storage and 512MB of RAM, and an identical processorâ€¦in fact, much between the two phones is identical.
Back to the editorial. There are a few things I see as positive about Nokia-Soft’s announcements. Kudos to them for getting the product out on time. We did not need another smartphone-delay storyline to track across months of PR apologies. And the big thing? People are talking about Nokia again, and not only in negative terms. At least not entirely.
Nokia needed to hit one of the park last week at Nokia World, but there are a few areas where these announcements fall well short of that. The announcement of these two phones, to me, is more like a â€œwe’re still hanging in thereâ€ level of effort. It feels very analogous to the Palm Pre release, which offered some compelling potential. But from the announcement of the Pre through the first several months up to release, I felt like I was watching a once great boxer taking jabs in the ring, wobbling, unable to put his hands up and protect himself, but still able to remain standing and even dodging a jab from time to time. But I knew that the other guy was eventually going to land a haymaker that the former champ would just not be able to take.
I get the same sense from the Nokia announcements last week. Maybe the better analogy would be watching a once great boxer through the last few bouts of their career. They keep losing, but in each bout there is a round or a few moments when you think they are on the road back, before they finally succumb each time. While the Lumia product line shows promise, and seems to offer a steady, work-horse level device, neither of the two devices are game-changers. Nokia is in the same position that Android tablet-makers are. They cannot afford to bring a device or devices that are within arm’s reach of the current benchmark products, and offer them at the same price. While there is no pricing information on either of the Lumia devices, I cannot see them being offered at less than $199 and $149 price points for the 800 and the 710 respectively. I believe this based on the pricing of Nokia’s handsets in the past within North America, and the fact that, for some reason, they have struggled to land on carriers with subsidized prices. The Nokia Astound debuted back in April on T-Mobile at one of the most affordable release prices for a Nokia smartphone in North America ever — $79.99. But I do not see Nokia being able to match that pricing for either one of these phones. If they come out at or near the same $199 price point as many premium Android handsets or the $199 iPhone 4S model, when the Nokia phones do not have front-facing cameras or equally high resolution screens, their ability to compete will be sorely lacking.
If Nokia can get the Lumia 710 down to a $99 price point, and slug it out against low-end Android phones, then maybe this maneuver has a chance of gaining traction. As for the Lumia 800, I expect it to come out at $199, and likely on T-Mobile as I do not see AT&T having a lot of interest in this device. So it will go to the smallest of the big four US carriers. But it will also be on the one carrier that does not have the iPhone, so for its current customers who enter the market for a new phone, it could very well be a viable choice. I was on an HTC HD7 on T-Mobile at the beginning of the year and was very happy with that selection. But right now, the only thing Microsoft seems to be touting as the differentiating, breakout feature of Windows Phone is Xbox Live integration [ed. note: that integration is majorly lacking and painfully bolted-on]. This was a nice hook at the beginning of the year, but the Xbox is six years old now, and even as a gaming platform, its pre-eminence as being a new place to go is not as shiny as it once was. As for hardware, Nokia phones have always been appealing to photo buffs for their excellent cameras. But great photos and Xbox Live are not enough to bring Nokia back to relevance in the US.
Overall, this does not feel like the mass offensive that it needed to be. Nothing out of this announcement was anything that was not entirely predictable. At the end of the day, it feels like less than what Nokia needed to do to right its burning platform. These are not devices that will save Nokia’s bacon. Nor is it indicative of a strategy that shows a glimmer of things to come that will make sweeping changes in Nokia’s business position within the market. Nokia seems to have generated much more buzz about their one-off Meego phone, the Nokia N9, than their just-announced Lumina series (though it may still be too early to call).
While falling short of what is needed, I also felt like Microsoft and Nokia weakened Microsoft’s position with its other hardware partners. If I were HTC or Samsung, I would have had sharp words the following day over the use of statements that proclaimed the Lumia line as the “first real Windows Phone(s)”. The hardware manufacturers that stepped out with Microsoft for the launch of Windows Phone, at very high risk to their own earnings, should not have suffered the suggestion that their efforts and their hardware designs were of little value. While not all CEO’s make decisions out of spite, I think the Microsoft and Nokia statements would have at least caused me to ask my CFO for the most recent accounting statements on my Windows Phone product line to evaluate how much value-adding it was really providing.
Microsoft took a risk when it migrated its smartphone strategy away from an Enterprise-focus to a consumer-centric one. Without the old corporate in-roads to lean on, they now have to compete in the same arena with the same rule-set as the iPhone and Android products. I do not see the Lumia has being a huge crowbar in that battle. I like Windows Phone, and would not have a problem selecting it as one my next devices. But I still do not see the operating system, the ecosystem, or the new Nokia devices as converging recommendations that I would give to non-techy customers looking for advice on their next smartphone, or first-time smartphone buyers. It is not clear to me where Microsoft and Nokia are heading in terms of starting an offensive that will lead to all of this increased market-share that so many analysts are claiming Windows Phone will achieve in 2014/2015.
The Lumia devices appear to be beautiful hardware, and I thoroughly enjoy Windows Phone 7 when I use it. But this is about what Microsoft and Nokia are doing to convince the consumer population that is not already on their side that the Nokia devices are viable and competitive alternatives to the iPhone and premium Android devices. Based on last week’s event, I am having a hard time convincing myself that the two companies have done enough. This smells very much like the Palm Pre launch (except for fact that Nokia’s phones appear to be arriving on time as promised). Microsoft and Nokia will need to come in at lower price points than the competition, and quickly get to offering compelling, differentiated features and offer unique service partnerships to compete against Apple and Google. Seeing as how it appears that they have missed those targets within this window of opportunity, I am not sure when they can pull this trifecta off before suffering that aforementioned haymaker that could be in the works. An iPhone 5 announcement in the spring, or arrival en masse of Ice Cream Sandwich phones could quickly push Nokia off the stage of relevance if they and Microsoft cannot push some major offensive in the interim. Oh, yeah, and after scoffing at everyone else’s Windows Phone devices, I would not expect help to arrive from the camps of HTC and Samsung anytime soon.
700gm turned into about 1.2kg last week as I tested a smartphone and tablet combination for content creation. I used the Samsung Galaxy Tab for writing the text, staying connected on social networks and I also used it as the ‘business grade’ 3G connection via a T-Mobile true day-flat option. The Nokia N8 performed camera, video and video editing duties as well as back-up Twitter client and of course, mobile phone.
The extra weight came from two changes to the kit. Firstly, a bag. Yes, I’m sorry bit I’m not the sort of person that wears cargo pants and it was way too warm for a jacket. The 200gm “>Jack Wolfskin body bag (aff.) that I’ve been using for four years (Now available as the ‘Subway’) did the job nicely and gave me a little space for bits and pieces picked up during the day.
The second weight addition came from a power-pack. Even on the journey up to IFA I experienced problems with battery life on the N8 so after getting caught short on the Samsung booth I quickly picked up an 18Wh USB power pack that was more than enough to keep the N8 topped up. It even managed to trickle charge the Galaxy Tab on a few evening occasions. The Variotek power pack details are here. (aff.)
When I look back at my content I see that YouTube and Twitter became my main delivery channel with some posts being made around the 30 videos that i took. It’s a similar story for most bloggers – getting videos on to YouTube is critical for revenue generation. Without it many of us product bloggers wouldn’t exist. Recording in a relatively low bitrate at 480p was a major advantage and I would do it again although there’s somethingÂ in my head that tells me I really could record in 720p and use an Intel Sandy Bridge based device to do super quick conversion to 480p. The Samsung Series 7 tablet has got me excited to test that possibility. Maybe I’ll look into that soon. Hardware image stabilization is also something I need to look into. I suspect I won’t be using the N8 for much longer despite it being connected. Having said that, the quality of the videos was, I think, acceptable to most YouTube viewers. Product hands-on at press events is normally a chaotic experience anyway so while it didn’t please me to be posting wobbly videos that weren’t always in focus, YouTube viewing stats show that it worked from a business perspective. Your recommendations for an ultralight compact with good low-light performance, 720p video with hard and software stabilization are gratefully received.
I struggled to post many images despite being very happy with the quality and that was due to a silly process at our blogs that I’m going to have to change. We use Gallery2 which doesn’t have much support through Android apps! Writing was kept to a lower level than would have been if I had been using a laptop. I had some help from Ben on press day and was grateful for that.
I want to have a little moan about sharing on the Nokia N8 because its near-useless. Why Nokia don’t have a way to share videos to YouTube is something I don’t understand for such a video-focused camera. The YouTube site link is difficult and annoying to use. Sharing is such a second-thought on Symbian.
As for the Galaxy Tab, everything went well, as long as I remembered to reboot once per day. I’m noticing that the Tab slows down excessively when pushed hard. Google Maps is especially problematic although I was grateful for cached maps when traveling the underground train system.
Screen brightness in the Galaxy Tab 7 could be a lot better in daylight. After getting hands-on with the gorgeous Galaxy Tab 7.7 I see how much better it can be. Bonus points go to the YouTube app for being very robust for uploads. It handled switches from WiFi to 3g without dropping the upload. Minus points go to the built in gallery. I used Fishbowl as a replacement gallery. Battery life under full use is about 6hrs so I was nearly out of juice a few times on long days. You need to keep an eye on settings and apps to get the best it of it but I don’t want to complain because most phones would only last half the time given the same scenarios. All in all it was a great performance from the Galaxy Tab. If only it had a decent camera and a video editing app. That’s something that might be interesting to look at on the Tab 7.7 although I know already that it doesn’t have continuous auto focus.
One area where I had a problem was system admin. Both command-line and web back-end work was next-to impossible. There really is only one way to fix that – a notebook. It doesn’t requires processing power but it does need a keyboard and a quality browser. How do you fix that? I don’t think you can without adding a netbook. That’s 1kg added! Oh, and remote desktop was not an option either. . .
The connectivity at IFA was the worst I’ve ever experienced at a European trade show. The press room WiFi and wired connections were overloaded when needed and the 3G from both Telefonica’s O2 and a â‚¬5 per day T-Mobile connection were useless for any image or video uploading. This was a major issue and highlights the growing problem of overcrowding on 3G. How to fix? Jump to WiMax where possible. It’s on my list now.
There’s one other thing to mention – respect. I simply looked like an amateur. It’s a bigger problem than you think because PR people tend to have an eye-out for big cameras, lights and 2-men recording teams. My week was successful though so I guess I managed to ignore or work-around that issue.
Would I do it again? I’m going to IDF next week where there will also be a lot of news. It will be detailed though and could require more than just a quick video. I know how huge the keynote hall is too so a camera with a big lens can be helpful. I also know, however, that there are PCs available for use. I feel good about this week so I’ve decided to go for the 1kg again next week. Being at an Intel conferences with an ARM-based reporting kit could be fun too. In the meantime, I’m going to do more research on using a real camera with a Sandy-Bridge based editing device because it’s only the video quality of the N8 that worries me.
It can be done. There’s no need for huge devices and heavy, battery-eating equipment when reporting. Whether it works for you depends on a number of things. Do you need a keyboard? Is the quality good enough? Do you need a full browser or large screen?
[ Posted via the Galaxy Tab. Ultra-Mobile at IFA 2011. For more IFA coverage, follow me on Twitter. @Chippy ]
I know many of you have achieved this in the past so I won’t embarrass myself by claiming this is any sort of breakthrough but I will say that after 5 years of testing mobile computing equipment, this is the most confident I’ve ever felt about a set of pocketable equipment that allows me to do my job a pro-blogger, videographer, podcaster and system administrator.
You won’t be surprised that it consists of the Nokia N8 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab, a few cables and a headset.
You might, however, claim that everything can be done on a superphone. You’re right of course. The Samsung Galaxy S2 and the iPhone 4 make it possible but there are good reasons to split the equipment into two parts.
Redundancy, parallel working, battery life and text input.
You should never have a single point of failure in your business process. We all know that, but what about parallel working? I love this part.
The N8 produces superb photos and videos and as of last week, the 720p videos are done with continuous auto focus. It’s possible to sequence a few clips, add a title and push the video to YouTube without leaving the device. What do you do while the video upload though? You get right on to the Galaxy Tab and start typing the text. In portrait mode with the text correction and prediction features turned on along with a small amount of haptic feedback I can fly through paragraphs of text input with ease. It’s better than any hardware keyboard I’ve tried. The size and software fit together perfectly.
Once that video is uploaded I use the Galaxy Tab 7 to go to the YouTube app, share the uploaded video via the WordPress app and save the draft. I then grab the pre-written text and copy it into the WordPress article above the video embed code. If I need to, I transfer an image over from the N8 via Bluetooth and pull it into the post. If I’m feeling brave at this point I’m firing up Audioboo on the N8 and get ready to record something for twitter as a tease before the article goes up.
One last check on the text is required before the article is sent and boom! Podcast, video and blog post complete.
It’s not perfect though. If i need to record something in 720p, I’m left with a huge file that could take 30-60 minutes to upload over 3g. It means I have to stick to 3mbps 480p which is enough to trigger the HQ quality in YouTube.
I also want to touch on battery life. No smartphone in the world would last more than 4-6hrs when put under the strain of video blogging. The last thing you want to happen is that you’re out of battery when someone sends you an SMS about a potential scoop. Splitting the jobs across two device gives you plenty of battery life for the day. If my N8 dies, the Galaxy Tab 7 takes over automatically. (A Multi SIM contract is a must-have if it’s available in your country.)
Finally,Â there’s the issue of system management. I have to put my hands up and say that this bit isn’t easy at all. Command-line work on a tablet is a frustrating experience but it’s possible. I’ll be taking a risk but it’s worth the risk. If everything goes pear-shaped, ill have to borrow a laptop or run the the press office.
So that’s the plan for IFA next week. One Nokia N8, one Galaxy Tab 7, a couple of cables and a few large pockets. Funny enough, that’s something I’m going to have to look at over the weekend. I might have to buy a classic photo-journalists jacket!
This article was written without a problem on the Galaxy Tab, I’ve done multiple tests with the N8, my apps seems stable (enough) and I’m happy with the quality. Stay tuned to see what happens at IFA next week.
Oh, and just to prove I can throw a video into the mix, here’s a 720p video taken, edited and uploaded via the Nokia N8.
All I can say right now is â€œwowâ€. The Nokia N9 is the only high-end phone from Nokia that has drummed up significant interest and anticipation for some time now. Recent information indicates that it may not even launch in the US.
The US certainly isn’t the only country in the world, contrary to the belief of some, but I’ve personally seen lots of people here who are more than excited by the Nokia N9, even if it is at severe risk of poor after-sale support.
Now Nokia says that the N9, which is expected to launch on the 23rd, isn’t currently planned for for the US, and may never find its way to US shores:
“After the very positive reception to the launch of the Nokia N9, the product is now being rolled out in countries around the world. At this time we will not be making it available in the US. Nokia takes a market by market approach to product rollout, and each country makes its own decisions about which products to introduce from those available. Decisions are based on an assessment of existing and upcoming products that make up Nokia’s extensive product portfolio and the best way in which to address local market opportunities.”
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that this is upsetting as someone living in the US, but this has implications outside of the country as well.
The fact that the N9 will only be launching in a limited number of countries means less people with their hands on the device which means a smaller demographic for developers. This is bad news for the platform as a whole. If developers don’t’ have a large demographic for which to develop and sell, it’s unlikely that the device will ever reach a critical-mass of applications that, in this day and age, are key to the success of mobile devices.
Whatever Nokia has up their sleeves for a new high-end device, it had better be pretty awesome, otherwise people will be mighty disappointed.
Engadget is the source of this information, and they’ve got a few links for additional reading that might want to check out. Go have a look!
Nokia Sea Ray (alleged; photos courtesy of product-reviews.net)
It seems like we cannot go a full calendar month without one of the tech companies holding some event to make a major announcement. Not that I am complaining one bit. This month we have not one, but two giants partnering to bring us some new juicy gadget promises. At least that is what we assume Microsoft and Nokia’s intentions are for the press conference they have just called for the 17th of this month.
The event is to take place in Cologne, Germany, just as the Gamescom convention kicks off. The truth is, we have no idea what M&N intend to announce at this event. But it is a safe bet that it will have something to do with the Nokia Sea Ray and Windows Phone 7. The announcement Flyer, atÂ least, indicates that they will be giving away 3 vouchers for a Nokia handset running Windows Phone “as soon as available”. Â If the announcement is profound enough, it might just pull Windows Phone and Nokia out of the funk they have been for the last several months.
That is the optimistic view. Now for a little pessimism. What concerns me is that this announcement does not have the feel of a planned reveal. It feels rushed and reactionary. So it makes me wonder if this press event is being held in response to pressure. The pressure of Samsung and Apple’s quarterly earnings statements. The pressure of increasing rumors of an impending fall launch of potentially two new iPhone models. The pressure of Nokia continuing toÂ hemorrhageÂ money.
This is not to say that doing somethingÂ to staunch the flow is not the right move. It is more a recommendation to temper expectations of what may come out of this announcement with a good dollop of skepticism. It is likely that this is just another announcement confirming M&N’s previously advertised timeline for the release of the first Nokia phone running Windows 7. Nothing new.
It will be great if I am wrong. Nokia’s handset arriving early would be an awesome way to bring in the final quarter of the year. I spent the better part of the first half of this year on a Windows Phone 7 handset, the HTC HD7. I am a big fan of the OS and rank it second on my personal ranking of mobile OS’ for phones, behind Android, but ahead of iOS. Still, it is hard to envision M&N pulling off a major reveal at this juncture given what we have seen of the pair in the mobile space so far this year. A big event that does not really reveal anything new or unexpected could be just as harmful to the Windows Phone movement as a delay in the Sea Ray. Let’s hope that whatever M&N have planned, they do it right. The launch of the Fujitsu Toshiba IS12TÂ may be reason to hold on to hopes for something great.
Either way, you can rest assured that we will cover the story here on Carrypad. See you on the 17th (and hopefully every day in between).
By now you’ve certainly caught wind of Nokia’s N9, their first, and only, Meego handset.
I want to be excited as everyone else is about the phone, after all, it looks great and Nokia has never disappointed me in the hardware department. However, the phone is running Meego, an OS that Nokia has publicly dropped in favor of Windows Phone 7 a few months back.
If this was happening prior to the app store movement, it wouldn’t be a big deal. Today, however, phones and their operating systems live and die not only by continuous first-party support, but by third-party developer backing as well.
Without a critical mass of applications, a new smartphone OS is destined to fail in the face of contemporary operating systems. What message is Nokia sending if it has already abandoned the OS in favor of another?
As a consumer, the message it sends to me is â€œdon’t buy this phone!â€. No matter how well crafted the hardware is, and even how well the software works from a technical standpoint, I wouldn’t invest my money and time (moving all of my music/contacts/life/etc.) into a platform that I know won’t be seeing long-term support from the company that is responsible for it.
Interestingly though, and the only reason I believe that Nokia is going ahead with a Meego N9, is that Nokia isn’t entirely responsible for it. Meego is a merger of Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo efforts. Meego exists as its own entity, and will live on through Intel and the open-source community even if Nokia has dropped it.
This means that it’s possible that the Meego-running N9 will still see decent application development, and perhaps even long term support for the OS from the Meego community, though I doubt that it’ll be at a level necessary to reach critical app-mass; just take a look at Maemo, a predecessor of Meego, and you’ll find that the OS never even came close to taking off (into the mainstream realm, that is).
Sadder still is the fact that Nokia’s CEO, Stephen Elop, says that Nokia is dropping Meego regardless of how well the N9 sells, according to an interview with a Finnish newspaper (via Engadget).
If I was in the market for a new phone, I would stay away from the N9 thanks to Nokia’s resolute desire to abandon Meego.
If Nokia isn’t fully invested in MeeGo and Qt, why should you be?
What say you, dear readers? Is there anything that could convince you to buy a phone with an OS that you know won’t see long-term first-party support, and likely won’t hit that ever important critical mass of apps and third-party developer traction?
Over the last few days, the internet has been abuzz over Nokia’s first (and only?) Meego phone, the N9. However, more appealing to me is their recently uncovered developer phone, the N950, which is very similar in design to the N9 except it has a cool flip-out QWERTY keyboard. The real shame is the fact that the N950 isn’t designed to be sold to the public, instead, it will be released to developers as testing hardware, prior to the release of the N9.
The N950’s keyboard-flipping mechanism is extremely similar to several other phones that use the form factor, such as the HTC G2 and the Sidekick 4G. Mobilenet.cz (via Engadget) has a hands-on video of the N950:
The N950 shares most of the internals with the N9 with a few changes here and there (the most significant being that the N9 uses a nicer AMOLED screen). Here’s what we can expect from the phone:
MeeGO 1.2 Harmattan OS
4â€ capacitive TFT LCD screen @ 854×480
TI OMAP 3630 (ARM Cortex A8) CPU @ 1GHz
PowerVR SGX530 GPU
1GB of RAM
Possibly 16GB or 64GB of built-in memory (unconfirmed)
I’ve been waiting for Nokia’s N series of Internet Tablets to break into the mainstream one of these days, but time and time again I’m disappointed with what I find. I owned an N810 back in the day, which was just one iteration prior to when Nokia would begin to cross it’s N-series MIDs (which they called Internet Tablets) over into the phone realm. First was the N700, then the N800, then the N810. All of these devices ran an open-source Linux-based OS called Maemo. With the release of the N900, which we revived back in January of 2010, Nokia merged their Internet Tablets with phones, and the result was the phone-capable N900 running Maemo 5. Unfortunately, both the N810 and N900 shared the same problem â€“ beautiful hardware, but weak software that wasn’t ready for primetime. Every once and a while thoughts of the N810 and N900 pop into my head and make me happy. They were gorgeous devices. Then they make me sad as I come to the realization that they never took off.
Now along comes the N950 running Meego Harmattan, a merger of Maemo and Intel’s Moblin, and it actually looks pretty good. The only problem is that Nokia decided to drop Meego in favor of Windows Phone 7 several months ago, and the N9/950 is the only device from Nokia that’s ever going to run the Meego OS.
The circumstances surrounding the N950 very similar to what I witnessed with the N810 and N900 except this time Nokia is specifically branding the N950 as a developer phone, something they probably should have done with the prior two devices. What strikes me as extremely odd, and perhaps even stupid, is the fact that Nokia is offering developers a dev device which has a huge difference (they keyboard!) than the phone that they are presumably developing for. The N950 doesn’t require an OSK that takes up much of the screen for text input, while the N9 doesâ€¦. You’d think that Nokia would want to give developers a phone that at least shares the same input method as the device they are developing for. Seems like turbulent times ahead for Nokia as they attempt to market the N9 with an OS that we already know is dead to the company.
In Part 1 of this series we put aside the idea of ARM-based video editing based on the requirement for higher levels of CPU processing power and tight coupling of hardware and software. Two very interesting solutions have just appeared that could dovetail together as an ARM-based solutionÂ and possibly enable 720p video editing on-the-go. Even if you haven’t got an iPad2, some new software for the Nokia N8 will enable netbook-level H.264 editing.
Last week Apple launched the iPad2 and it turns out that it’s quite the performer in terms of rendering 720p videos through the iMovie application. Based on the measurements we can only assume it’s got a hardware H.264 encoder that iMovie is using to speed up the encoding process. Because of the CPU and GPU inprovements, the editing process looks smooth too. You won’t be able to do b-roll cutaways but I bet you’ll see that included in the next iMovie release for iOS.
This morning I’ve also learnt about a new camera application for the Nokia N8 which enables 480p H.264 recording and continuous auto-focus. As I write this I’m rendering a titled, cross-faded 480p video taken with the CameraPro N8 application in Windows Live Movie Maker. It was a smooth editing process which might surprise some of you because I’m using a netbook to do it.
Put the two together and, if iMovie can import and work with Nokia N8 videos (they are .mp4 files containing H.264 videos but there are some interesting advanced settings in the CameraPro app that can teak bitrates, codecs and sizes) then you might have the most flexible, ultra-mobile video camera, editing and posting solution yet. The iPad2 weighs 600gm (possibly 630gm for the 3G version) and the Nokia N8 weighs 135gm. That’s an amazing, seriously amazing sub 800gm, 1.7lbs and the total cost of both, with 3G, is under 1000 Euro. 720p-capable, 480p when on-the-go and direct posting to YouTube.
Ongoing and outstanding: Does the iPad2 import videos from the Nokia N8 and can iMovie work with the imported videos without conversion? One would need to connect the N8 via the camera connection kit either via USB or by removing the Micro-SD card, slotting it into an SD card adaptor. I’m waiting to have this confirmed. I’m hoping that this author has the answer soon.
Even if the Nokia N8 files don’t work with the iPad, it enables netbook usage which opens up the user to more software options. Windows Live Movie Maker can handle the 480p files without re-rendering for editing and output a 480p WMV file at a time ratio of 3.24 mins per minute of video rendered. For clips of 5 mins or less, as are many mobile videos, this is acceptable.
Here’s a 480p video posted directly from the N8 to YouTube via Pixelpipe. It was a 92MB upload and the bitrate was just over 3Mbps. It would make sense to try this at 2.5Mbps and via a service that posts direct to the YouTube API to cut down time and failure-points.
Obviously you should watch this in HQ and at full-frame size.
Here’s the same source video edited in Windows Live Movie Maker with titles and crossfades. The output format from Movie Maker is WMV which means there could be some degradation in quality as the file is converted back to H.264 at YouTube. Update: I see some frame-rate and smoothness issues. You too?
I used the Acer Aspire One 522 for this and the rendering time ratio was 3.24:1 (3 mins 15s per minute of video)
As a camera, the N8 just keeps on getting better and with developers continuing to write specialized apps for it you wonder why there aren’t many other good quality internet and app-enabled cameras around. It’s these sort of enhancements that just aren’t possible on closed-firmware dedicated cameras.
I plan to buy a 3G-enabled iPad2 when they become available here in Europe but I’m sure others are going to test out the N8/iPad2 combo beforehand. When they do, I’ll try and link the information in below. If you know of any articles or videos on the subject, please feel free to link them in the comments below (one URL per comment otherwise the comment is held for approval.)
In my last reportÂ – How Was my CES 2011 Mobile Reporting Kit? â€“ I didn’t have much positive to say about my plan for quick-fire mobile blogging. 3G failed me and I ended up scrabbling around trying to find WiFi hotspots. Not only is it a pain in the neck, it’s also a security risk. I connected to 18 different SSIDs in Las Vegas!
In Barcelona last week, it was a completely different story. On day-one I used the hotel WiFi but as soon as my 3G card was configured, I didn’t touch another Wi-Fi all week. Everything, including video uploading, was done via Vodafone 3G and finally, because of the 3G, the kit worked together in harmony, including a new photo blogging process that i’ve detailed below.
A reminder of what I’m using:
I took my Atom-powered Gigabyte Touchnote netbook (in use since April 2009) and the Canon S2IS (In use since Mid 2007)Â I added the Galaxy Tab and the Nokia N8 Smartphone (thanks to Nokia UK for the loan of the phone) and a pay-as-you-go SIM card and 3G data service from Vodafone Spain. Although there’s a nice range of tech there, it certainly isn’t high-end across the board.
As always, the netbook was for long-form typing and video ‘finishing’ and uploading. I didn’t do any live blogs with the S2IS attached via USB this time but the S2IS was used for videos. It’s a rather embarrassing 640×480 resolution and I only get about 9 minutes in before the card runs out because it records in M-JPEG and only supports SD cards, not SDHC but, the optics and Mics are great and the video file is easy to process on a netbook. With the long zoom it also works well in keynotes and press events although I do realise that none of the images taken in low light are anywhere near print quality!
Despite my love for this camera I have to find something that is faster, supports 720p video, is more sensitive and, somehow, supports external audio input. The rotating viewfinder is a must for self-filming too. I really would love Bluetooth support on my next camera for instant sharing/pushing but for the time being, I’m considering an Eye-Fi solution and the Canon SX20 or new Fujitsu HS20. I just cant afford to go to four-thirds and and I can’t justify 1KG of DSLR equipment!
The reason I’m so bent on having Bluetooth on my camera is due to the way I’ve been using phone cameras for the last 3 years. The Nokia N82 gave me the ease of transferring images to PCs and other mobile devices for easy editing, sharing and photo blogging. At MWC I used the N8 for just that and the experience was amazingly stress free and flexible. Far more than simple photo-bogging.
Photo blogging like never before, without a PC!
Take one Nokia N8. Pair it over Bluetooth to a Samsung Galaxy Tab, connect the Galaxy Tab to the internet via a 3G service and boom! You have one of the easiest, richest photo blogging solutions I’ve ever seen. The solution was so liberating that I ended up posting about half of my content last week without the use of a PC. In most of those cases I was standing up and in some cases, even walking! The solution also allows for multiple images in a post. Here’s an example that was posted on the Samsung booth just minutes after shooting a video.
Note that this process also works with Twitter, Email, Pixelpipe, Evernote, Facebook and other sharing targets. That’s the flexibility of the Android sharing subsystem coming in to play.
Unfortunately, the size of the N8 720p videos and the low speed of the Bluetooth 3 protocol (remember, the N8 and the Tab don’t have the ‘HS’ Wi-Fi extension that speeds up transfers) mean it can’t be used for that but 480p is possible on the Galaxy Tab, with video light and pause capability. There’s no continuous auto-focus but if I can find a video splicing application that fits my needs, it might work! [I’m currently testing Clesh â€“ the web-based service which now has an Android client]
Other improvements could be made too. Ideally I’d like to be able to auto-send an image to the Galaxy Tab although selective sending isn’t exactly a problematic or time-consuming task. The best improvement would be in the WordPress editor. Inclusion of html source, bullet-point support and positioning of photos (rather than just at ‘top’ or ‘bottom’) would make posts look less samey and if the WordPress application could support the sending of ‘custom-fields’ I could feed more layout info to my back-end.
Some of you might be thinking â€œwhy not use Pixelpipeâ€ or â€œGet a slider phoneâ€Â or â€œUse the camera on the Galaxy Tab.” Yes, this is something I’ve tried to do in the past but there are a few problems with that. Number 1 â€“ The N8 takes extremely good low-light and close-up photos without flash. 2 â€“ The large screen of the Galaxy Tab allows me to thumb type and review a lot of text (see pic below) 3 â€“ The WordPress application adds a lot of value to the processes enabling auto-resizing, links, tagging, geo-tagging and more. 4 â€“ The portrait mode keyboard on the Galaxy Tab is superb. Haptics and Software work well together.
Take a look at this pic, taken with the N8 and transferred by Bluetooth of-course! You can see how much screen area is still usable with the keyboard on-screen.
The N8 also has an excellent photo gallery application (fast, smooth, usable), high quality audio recording capability and good outdoor screen clarity. Its the perfect device for this set-up.
In terms of rich photo blogging, I’ve found a great pair of devices in the N8 and Galaxy Tab. So much so that I might reverse my original decision to hand back the N8 and look for a different phone.
As far as the camera and netbook go though, a move to 480p 720×480 or similar is a must. This is potentially a 1000 Euro and 2KG decision so I’m not going to do it without a lot of thought. The ideal solution will give me 720p source and 480p editing in 1.5KG but that will be very tough to achieve. The AMD Fusion platform (Toshiba NB550d perhaps?) and a Fujitsu HS20 could be a good place to start. I’ll be testing soon so keep an eye out for the next mobile reporting kit.
I’ll be at CeBIT, Hannover next week where the kit will be in action again.