The great N97 transition… I love it!

Well, at last, thanks to some serious Finnish quality, I’m happy again! That is after the boys at work had made me suffer with the appalling P990i for over 2 years – what a great disappointment that phone was. I don’t know how Sony Ericsson could ever hope to be taken seriously again after releasing such a shoddy product, the disaster that is the firmware was truly a lesson in how to go from great things in the P800/P900/P910 to shockingly awful all in the name of progress!

Anyway, Tuesday 21st July 2009 was the day I came back from the wilderness and joined the Nokia camp once again – I was handed a box at work containing Nokia’s so-called flaghsip model, the N97. Being a long-time UIQ user made the inital day or so hard, but now I’m used to S60 interface it all just seems like a distant bad memory!

One thing that’s impressed me so far is the depth & breadth of Apps & Widgets for the S60 platform – surely a massive plus point in the inevitable comparisons between Nokia/Apple and N97/iphone.

As an aside, the iphone’s a non-starter for me. I agree the UI is (alomost) flawless, the iPod tie-in/branding is genius and the mech-design is to-die-for, but the lock-in with O2 is just pure madness. OK, so I could buy a PAYG iphone from Italy and legally use it in the UK, but without a subscription it’s an expensive way to go. And I just don’t like the bully-boy tactics of Apple with the Lock-in and other business practices that just seem to leave a horrible taste in the mouth. Don’t get me wrong, I like Apple products, I use a mac mini at home, but I don’t like what they’ve done in the mobile market.

So, as we use Vodafone at work, my smartphone journey has had to take a non-Apple route thus far.

Back to the N97. Did I mention I really like it? Sure it’s frozen once and refused to power-off once in the three days I’ve had it so far, but hey – it’s my new best friend and it’s only been released a few weeks – remember the P990i browser and wifi wouldn’t work at all when I got it and that was a good few months AND firmware revisions after its launch. So yeah, there are some teething problems with the N97, but on the whole it’s really impressed me. So much so that I’m beginning to look at the Eee PC and think like I don’t need to carry it round with me any more…

I think part of the familiarity I’m feeling for the N97 has to be the Symbian heritage – I was a serial Psion MC-400/3/3a/5/revo user (and programmer) for many years – maybe some of the underpinnings of the OS are tickling memories of those Psion moments…. I really do think that the N97 is like a modernised slimmed down Series 5mx – same foldy-out idea, but with all hardware updated by about 12 years 🙂

One of the main headaches so far has been getting the contacts from p990i to N97 – why do Nokia phones not accept multiple contacts in a single VCF file? I didn’t have the luxury of being able to sync the p990i with something and then sync the N97 so I had to resort to a manual transfer. Anyway, seems like I’m not the first person to come across these limitations, and I found a couple of useful tools along the way: an online VCF to LDIF/CSV converter (mainly aimed at Thunderbird users) and a VCF splitter app. Now I’m all loaded with contacts things are good…

So far, I’ve installed some novelty apps (the spirit level!) but also some serious ones – Google Maps/Latitude, Nokia’s beta of push email. Also, a wealth of widgets – ExtGPS to get the inbuilt GPS data out over bluetooth – invaluable in my day-job…

Things I like:

  • Camera – good enough quality to leave my other digicam at home – easy integration to quickly upload snaps to wherever
  • Maps – good enough to leave my other SatNav at home
  • Ovi – still a bit new but I can see the benefits/power when the platform matures
  • S60 platform – both the maturity of the platform itself, and the support/community surrounding it & the wealth of apps/widgets

Things not quite there yet:

  • Music player – I won’t be leaving my ipod at home, just yet
  • Touch screen not as good as it could be (resistive vs. capacative?)
  • USB detection flakey – and yes, this is with latest firmware
  • Where’s skype???

Things that I don’t like:

  • Still not sure how/when/what data channel is being used – seems to like to switch back to 3G/GPRS when the wifi’s still available – maybe that’s just me not setting it up properly
  • Contacts – import multiple contacts in one file (either .vcf or .csv etc.)
  • Quality of bundled earphones/remote shockingly plasticky – yeuch!
  • No car charger/holder bundled (cf any SatNav)

So, at the moment I’m a happy bunny.


Published by zedstarr

Chilled out human being, doing techy stuff.

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