Saturday, January 17, 2009

Nokia 5800 Review

2009 has gotten of to a OKish start. I finally got the copy of Oblivion I had ordered on EBay, only to find it on sale at ShopTo for Rs. 1000/- less (including shipping) Sigh... Lot of exciting games coming out this year (including for the PS3) My personal favorite - Heavy Rain. I have played Indigo Prophecy and Quantinc Dream's handling of gameplay is simply amazing. Sony seem to be getting their act together now, with some decent exclusives this year, although posting a loss for the first time in 14 years is not good for them.

I have been using the 5800 for a couple of weeks now, so lets go ahead with the review I promised :) This is really long so be prepared :)

My 5800 is shaping out to be a really good product. I managed to figure out how to use GPS (er... doesnt work in enclosed areas), actually remove installed apps (it seems there is an "Application Manager") and even found a couple of websites related to it. There's not much by the way of Apps for the device as yet - the 5800 uses S60 5th Edition and many apps either dont support it, or end up running with a virtual keyboard required on screen. By the way, Nokia REALLY need to fix their "Download!" app. This is meant to be the 5800's App Store - it allows you to download and install stuff to your phone. Unfortunately, Nokia Download! lies about prices - every single app says "Free", but when you download it, a "licensing" screen ends up asking you for money immediately. This leaves a really bad taste in your mouth and after 5 minutes, I swore off trying to use the app again until it stops scamming me into DLing "free" stuff

On the hardware side, the device is mostly really good with exceptional speakers, an accelerometer and features galore. Battery life is really good - th device lasts for days without requiring a recharge.

The touchscreen is a bit of a let down, surprisingly for a mobile which touts it as its main feature. It lacks multi-touch so pinch zoom is not an option, the touchscreen is resistive, so touch becomes more of "press". The last drawback is that for some reason Nokia chose to put a small glass behind a outer box of plastic (as in the front cover of a normal phone). The iPod Touch/iPhone on the other hand has a single undivided glass over the entire front. The join point of the glass and plastic occasionally "squeaks" when you press a button near the edges. Coupled with the resistive feature, this will definitely degrade the screen soon (but... Nokia - so you can probably just buy a replacement for the front cover for Rs. 100/- or so :)) The phone has a haptic feedback feature - it vibrates when a screen button is pressed. I suggest turn this off - it makes you press the screen even harder.

On the software side, Nokia's Ovi Suite is no iTunes - for some reason, it insisted on running 8 or so background services at install, and hung my sytem while using up 100s of MB of memory scanning my entire hard disk for media, after I explicitly said "No" to a dialog asking me if it should do that. So now that's off my PC, and I am using the device in storage mode for now. You dont actually need the Ovi Suite - you can just copy any file to the device and then work on it (install, play blah blah) using the File Manager app.

The OS seems a bit unpolished at start; although I think the key issue here is the competition. I own an iPod Touch 2G. Since I am used to the amazingly intuitive OS in that, Nokia's interface seem cludgy. I showed it to some people at my office and most people liked the OS (since they didnt have my perspective)

Once you get a bit used to the OS though, things start to fly along. My favorite feature so far - when you search for a contact, if you type D and you only have contacts with Dh di etc, the useless alphabets will disappear onscreen - amazing! Also nice - absolutely huge Answer/Reject/Loudspeaker etc buttons for calls (expected in a touchscreen I suppose) I would suggest putting in pictures for all your contacts - the device really handles them well, the way it scales and integrates them with other screen elements looks really good.

The OS also handles Wifi better. My iPod sucks itself dry in a short time if you leave WiFi on. Compared to that, I leave my 5800 to constantly scan for networks 24x7 and it seems to cause no battery degradation at all. In all fairness, when I turn on Wifi on the iPod, I actually use it - for browsing or web radio, so probably that has something to do with the battery life degradation too.

The much touted 4 input methods are good - but you will end up using only 2 - full screen QWERTY and handwriting recognition. Handwriting recognition is really good - it recognized my handwriting (ruind by years of only typing) without any training, at a comfortable pace. The only galring deficieny I have found in the OS till now is an inability to kill hung apps - you can return to the home screen, but the app will keep running. On the iPod Touch/iPhone, you can keep the Home key pressed on an app to kill it.

As noted, once the OS ramp up time is over (and there IS some), its very comfortable to use. My overall sense is that its a better OS (phone wise) than that in the iPhone, but Nokia need to get better at using a touchscreen for input. I was initially worried about future updates from Nokia for the phone's OS, but it seems they are launching more phones (including the N97) on S60 5th Ed, so that should not be a problem.

Well, thats it for now on the 5800. Its definitely a really good deal if you live in India - I bought a 5800 + a iPod Touch 2G for the cost of a 8GB iPhone. AND the phone is not locked to any carrier. Not sure how it will fare in the US with the price of the iPhone bought down to $200. I hope it does well though (better for me too!) As a phone at least, I think its better than the iPhone, but the jury is still out if you are in the market for an all-in-one multimedia device.

In other news, I got a missed call from here. Only one, on my land line, so mostly a wrong number but still the company itself is interesting :)
"Matrix Processing House "MATRIX" is the proprietory business unit of Ace Innovators Pvt. Ltd."
" Employee Credentials Check
==> Pre and Post Employment Validation Services"
Hmmm... definitely a wrong number!
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