Jumat, 19 Desember 2008

N97: Nokia's second salvo to souch invasion

. Jumat, 19 Desember 2008

For a while, I thought Nokia might had lost its tight grip on global handset supremacy. All over the world, people became so excited about Apple's iPhone, and then craved RIM's BlackBerry Bold.

These two smartphones are really hard to beat. They combine advanced technologies, complete sets of features and stunning looks. It was difficult to imagine that any other handset maker would be able to come up with something that would detract our attention from these two gorgeous products.

However, during the recent Nokia World 2008 event in Barcelona two weeks ago, it was clear that Nokia, the world's top handset maker, does have what it takes to remain a winner.

Unveiled on the first day was the Nokia N97, a multimedia and social-networking smartphone that cleverly combined a QWERTY keyboard and a touch screen.

The N97 has a large, 3.5-inch wide TFT screen with the 16:9 aspect ratio and up to 16 million colors capability. This is the ratio that High Definition TV (HDTV) standard uses. In terms of pixels, the resolution of the screen is 640x360. It is a resistive rather than a capacitive touch screen.

If you slide out the keyboard at the bottom of the unit, the screen will tilt at a 35-degree angle. The double-hinge mechanism works very smoothly.

My only complaint is that the space bar on the keyboard is too small. If I were to redesign this handset, I would add a space bar along the bottom of the keyboard.

Another gripe is the placement of the navi key, which is on the left of the keypad. I think it should be on the right, like the one on the E90 and the earlier Communicators.

The home screen uses widgets, components of the graphical user interface (GUI) that allow interaction with live Web services and social networking sites. You can erase them from the screen, or add them to the screen as you like to personalize your N97.

The US$700 device has a very impressive hardware specification. The internal memory, for example, is 32 GB. Add a 16 GB microSD into the slot, and you have a total of 48 GB. Can you imagine how many songs, photos or video clips you can store on this smartphone?

The camera is five-megapixel with a dual LED flash. Its lens is a Carl-Zeiss Tessar, which is used in other handsets in the high-end Nokia N-series. The phone's battery is a large 1500 miliamps per hour (mAh). This, according to Nokia, will provide 320 minutes of talk time on a 3G network or 400 minutes on a GSM network.

It also has an Assisted GPS (aGPS) receiver, which means that you can identify your position even if only two GPS satellites are visible. This is accompanied by an electronic compass for more position accuracy. Then there are Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, of course. Using all these features at the same time will require you to recharge the battery overnight, of course.

The operating system is a Symbian 60 Release 5.0 with touch interface built on top of it. The Internet-centric smartphone has been designed to make browsing easy. Using a supplied stylus and the keyboard, you can easily update your blog, upload up to 30 frames-per-second (fps) videos to YouTube or post high-resolution still images on our social-networking pages. If you cannot live without games, the N97 is N-Gage ready.

The N97 is not Nokia's first foray into the touch smartphone space. Some two months earlier the company launched the Nokia XpressMusic 5800, which also sports a touch screen interface.

As there will be a long period of time between the launch of the N97 and its actual availability on the market, I suspect that we will see a lot of improvements in the shipping product. For example, as a lot of users are expecting, Nokia may finally replace the resistive touch screen with the more touch sensitive capacitive screen.

A resistive touch screen requires the user to press it so that two layers underneath the screen touch each other and conduct electricity, while the capacitive screen just senses the electricity that comes from the fingertips.

Or, we may end up having a completely different model that is even superior in many respects. That is what Nokia has often done in the past.

Throughout the event it was also clear that Nokia is intent on using the Internet to deliver more services. Nokia's Ovi now allows you to share media, calendars, maps, games and music files.

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