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OhGizmo Review: The Nokia N70, Part 1

By David Ponce

It was with trembling hands that I opened the package two weeks ago: the N70 was here! If you had seen the sorry state my V300 was in, you’d understand my excitement. And, hopefully you’ll understand this even more once you realize just what an amazing piece of technology had just entered my life (if only for a while, as I have to return the phone when I’m done). While it may not cure world hunger, owning the N70 will definitely cure you from cell envy.

So here I will write the first of a couple of reviews. I feel that this particular product warrants a little closer inspection than other things that come through the OhGizmo headquarters. I’ve even included my very first, ahem, video review. You will marvel, dumbfounded, at our hefty production budget.

Out here, for those of you who make it a point not to read through reviews, know this. The N70 is a smartphone that wears Armani suits by day, and hits the clubs at night. It’s solid, powerful and jam-packed with features rarely found all combined in one package like this. Everything works as it should and works well.

Allright, for the meat, come in.

The N70 is the second N-Series phone to come out. First, there was the N90, and it will be followed by the much anticipated N91. Under the hood, the operating system is S60 (Symbian) and as such, it is a smartphone, though Nokia doesn’t overemphasize this point. The main feature here, is the nicely integrated 2MP camera, though as you’re about to see, the full feature list is about as long as my arm.

So, let’s get started with some pictures. Below, I am pasting a series of “unpacking” shots.

First off, if you’re not the reading type, you can just scroll down to see the video review. Like I mentioned, it’s really crappy. Bad lighting, bad sound, no jingle, even lower quality because of Youtube, etc. So, make fun all you want, but just know that I’m aware of how bad it is. Yeah, knock yourselves out in the comments, I don’t mind.

On with the writing. So what makes the N70 so special? Well, here’s a quick rundown. At the end of this article, you can find a slightly longer list with highlights of the tech specs, and also a link to a PDF containing a blow-by-blow of every single feature on the phone. But the things that count are the 2MP camera with flash, the FM tuner, the video recorder to MPEG4 format, the full-screen playback, the hotswappable RS-MMC slot, and the slew of features that come with the S60 operating system, including the ability to add third-party applications.

The device has 32MB of RAM, so there’s plenty of juice to run everything. And everything does run quite nicely.

So how IS the phone? Well, reception, for one, is very good, catching signals in places my V300 turned into a paperweight. The camera is protected by a sliding cover. The cover has a spring-type mechanism that completes the motion for you once you’ve pushed the cover halfway. Simply opening this cover activates the camera. The only problem is that the said cover feels slightly too plastic-y. I’m almost scared to play with it for fear of wrenching it off, though I know my fears are unfounded. I did try on a few occasions to tug a little harder, just to see, and it does hold up quite well. It’s just that it doesn’t feel as monolithic as the rest of the phone.

The screen’s brightness adjusts automatically, and I found that I was always able to read it, even in bright daylight. Images are clear and crisp, and the colors vivid.

The phone isn’t particularly small, though it’s not overly big either. It’s definitely shorter, narrower and lighter than a Treo 650, though it is about the same thickness. It easily fits in a pocket and is highly portable. The keypad is a little small, to make room for the 176×208 pixel screen. Unless you have ten meaty thumbs, it’s not too small, though some people are bound to gripe about this.

Battery life is highly dependant on just what you do with the phone. Simple call taking/making with lots of standby time will give you a couple of days between charges. But, start taking pictures with flash, listening to MP3s and using Bluetooth, and you’ll be drastically cutting into your use-time, though if you charge every night, you should be able to do everything you want with the phone without having to worry.

The FM tuner works only if you plug the lanyard type headphones, though it does work quite well. It picks up all the stations, and you can also tune it manually. Sound quality is great (well, as great as FM radio can be), though for some reason, I feel the earbuds could have had 2mm in diameter less. Maybe it’s my ears. A nice feature is that the headphones double as a headset when you receive a call while listening to music.

The MP3 player sounds great, whether though the headphones or through the integrated speaker. It can get quite loud, and you could technically use the N70 as a little ghettoblaster/boombox.

So, how are the pictures? How’s the 2MP? Well, I thought that taking pictures of fruits and veggies would give you an idea, because of the colors and such. So, here are three pictures that you can click to get the full 1600 x 1200px images.

As you can see, they’re really quite nice. Good enough to print. Now, don’t go throwing your digicam just yet. While the pictures it takes are gorgeous, there are limits to what it can do. There’s no autofocus, and under low light conditions, quite a bit of noise enters the picture. But hey, these are by far the best pics I’ve seen coming out of a phone.

There a quite a few other features to talk about, and I’ll probably cover these in the next installment. Also, I do want to give you a little incentive to watch my mug discuss the N70, so I won’t write about everything. So, right below this, is the video review. Right below that, you also have a short clip taken with the phone. Keep in mind that the quality is actually much better than that, but great as it is, YouTube can fuglicize your images in a heartbeat.

Conclusion

So, to conclude the first part of this review, know that the N70 is a great smartphone. There are tons of productivity applications for the serious business person (not really discussed here, stay tuned for Part 2), but also a lot of fun multimedia capabilities that enhance the overall user experience. While pretty rosy, the picture isn’t perfect, as there are a couple of tiny things that nag me. First is the plastic-y feel of the camera cover. While I have faith in the phone’s craftsmanship, I just don’t like the way that part feels. And, secondly, the keyboard is a little small. Not that it could possibly be any bigger without sacrificing something, but it has to be said.

And finally, below, you will find highlights from the tech specifications. One thing to look for? The list of formats it can play. It’s pretty impressive. For a complete list of every single feature on the phone, here’s a PDF.

I’d like to ask something from you all. For Part 2, I want to take questions. There’s tons of stuff I haven’t covered, and I want to know what you’re interested in. Ask me stuff about the phone, and I’ll do my best to answer you in Part 2.

TECH SPECS

Operating Frequency
-Dual mode WCDMA/GSM and triband GSM coverage on up to five continents (GSM 900/1800/1900 and WCDMA 2100 networks)

Display
-176×208 pixels
-Up to 262,144 colors
-Automatic brightness control

Imaging and Video
-2MP camera (1600 x 1299 pixels) with 20x digital zoom
-Second VGA camera with 2x digital zoom
-Dedicated shutter key
-Integrated flash (operating range up to 1.5m)
-Flash modes: on, off, automatic and anti red-eye

Nokia XpressPrint Printing Solution
-Print digital photos directly from the device

RealPlayer Media Player
-Full-screen video playback to view downloaded, streamed or recorded video clips in larger size
-Played formats (decoding): MP3, AAC, Real Audio, WAV, Nokia Ring Tones, AMR, AMR-WB, AMR-NB, AU, MIDI, H.263, JPEG, JPEG2000, EXIF 2.2, GIF 87/89, PNG, BMP (W-BMP), MBM, MPEG-4 and eAAC+

Memory Functions
-Up to 22MB of internal memory
-Hotswappable RS-MMC slot
-Comes with 64MB RS-MMC card

Visual Radio
-Listen to music and interact with your favorite radio stations
-Find out what song is playing, who sings it and other artist information

Connectivity
-Bluetooth v.2.0
USB 2.0

Data Transfer
-WCDMA 2100 with simultaneous voice and packet data (PS max speed UL/DL= 128/384kbps, CS max speed 64kbps)
-EGPRS (EDGE)
-GPRS

Links:
[The Press Release]
[Nokia N-Series Page]







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