At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, I got to spend a good deal of time with Nokia’s top of the heap model, the N95 multimedia computer (it’s not called a smartphone by Nokia).
After reading several reports about the N95 on various overseas news outlets, to get a good amount of time to play with one and ask questions about its functions and development has made me a bigger believer in Nokia’s vision for mobile computing.
The N95 has a Carl Zeiss optics on its 5 megapixel camera, allowing users to capture print-quality photos and DVD-like quality video clips. These can either be played on its 2.6-inch QVGA display or on a compatible television thanks to the device’s TV-out feature and support for Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) technology.
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This smartphone’s two-way slider makes it easy to switch between different modes. A numeric keypad slides out from the bottom of the N95, while dedicated media keys slide out from the top, converting the display into full screen landscape mode.
This landscape mode uses a different launcher than the rest of the system and allows you to use the device in a landscape mode for viewing pages on Nokia’s impressive web browser (Web Browser 2.0), or playing music and video through the included multimedia applications.
The N95 is a quad-band GSM/GPRS phone with support for EDGE, WCDMA, and HSDPA networks (currently only supporting the European 2100 MHz frequency). It also has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0.
A GPS receiver, built-in stereo speakers, and a miniSD card slot round out this model.
As many of you know, I use a Treo 650. I am accustomed to the size and features of this device as a mobile communicator, and use it quite well as such. The N95 has totally changed my ideas as to what to expect and what I should be able to use.
The N95 is smaller than the Treo (when including the antenna) and is just as plump; despite the fact that Nokia’s model has a great deal more features. It is weighted great, and feels like a phone when held like one, but holding it horizontally makes it feel like a small computer.
The buttons are well shaped and offer plenty of tactile response.
Still, as I love the QWERTY keyboard of the Treo, it would take some relearning of T9 to get back to using a numeric keypad for text messages and short emails.
I was less impressed with Nokia’s S60 user interface running on the Symbian OS. While I do see the many applications that are included on the N95, there was not a sense of cohesion about them that made me confident about it.
For example, the Symbian Today screen was useful for seeing what is going on, but that same interface didn’t carry into the other applications.
The Media Center was very impressive and looked like it would be an excellent overall launcher, but it only appears when you slide out the media controls at the top, and is only usable in the horizontal view.
There’s no doubt, the N95’s camera is drool-worthy. The pictures were very sharp and the auto-focus worked great. For many of us who just like to carry their mobile and use the camera on it, we are used to pictures that are not so great. After the N95, I am less accepting of that.
In the model that I got to play with, the GPS feature was not working. But I still find it amazing that Nokia was able to fit a GPS antenna into a device of that size, along with everything else that is in there.
While Europe and Asia will see the Nokia N95 as early as the second quarter of this year, there are no current plans to bring this device to the United States..
Nokia’s representative at CES was pretty well spoken in stating that Nokia will only bring over the N95 when it can work with as few issues as possible on U.S. GSM/UMTS networks.