I came back from DEMO to find a Nokia N70 cameraphone waiting on my doorstep, courtesy of the folks at Comunicano, who run the North American Nokia Blogger Relations program. This is another phone in the Nokia N series, which includes series 60 symbian OS, and high quality optics, as well as a superb phone. I have previously written about the N90, and there’s also a substantial blog devoted to the N90, especially, and the Nokia N Series products, if you want more information.
Functionally, the N70 is similar to the N90. The N90’s cool transformer industrial design has been replaced with a more traditional phone design. The high quality Zeiss optics which the N90 sported have been augmented with a second low resolution camera for video conferencing applications. The high res lens is now covered by a very slick sliding lens cover on the back of the phone. This is an improvement over the N90 where the lens seems to be perpetually in need of cleaning. And the dual displays on the N90, have been replaced with a single large, bright display on the N70.
The N70 also has an unlikely feature, which I really enjoy, and that is an FM Radio. It uses the headphone cables as antennae, which means that they must be plugged in to listen.
Unlike the N90, the N70 also has a vibrate mode, which makes it a much better suited phone for business use. However, despite this improvement the synchronization software still lacks the intelligence of products from Microsoft, or RIM, to name two examples of other vendors whose products I use regularly. This, and my reliance on Blackberry, will prevent me from using this phone extensively in a business setting.
Unlike their competitors, Nokia still insists on proprietary cables instead of the much more common, inexpensive and functional mini USB connectors used by their competitors. To compare, with my Blackberry and Microsoft smartphones, I use a single USB cable to connect the phone to the PC (and charge it). With the Nokia smart phones I need a USB connector for data transfer, and a special charge cable (in two pieces) to charge. That’s three pieces of wire, versus one. Throw in another for the car charger, and that makes four. Note to Nokia: Your $25 proprietary cables aren’t the "value" in the package despite what your marketing department tells you.
I also received a Nokia GPS receiver in my package, which was a really nice addition. The GPS has a rechargeable battery in it, which you charge using that same regrettably custom piece of wire used to charge the telephone. You then throw it on your dashboard, and start to navigate. I bought a copy of Wayfinder ($99), and installed it on my phone. Wayfinder provides turn by turn directions, in a loud clear voice, with a large clear display on phone. It downloads maps, as required, from the web. All in all, pretty slick. Recommended!
The other piece of software I’ve been using, since DEMO, is Vizrea Snap. It’s still beta, and there are a few rough edges to sand off, but it promises to be exceptional. With Vizrea Snap, as you take pictures they are uploaded to your personal channels on the web, and shared with friends, family, or whomever you wish. Moreover, Vizrea Snap converts your smartphone into a picture viewer for your entire picture collection, including the thousands of photos stored on your PC. It simply dynamically loads the pictures across the internet. Very cool.
All in all, I love the N70, despite the proprietary cables, and problems with synch. It feels good in the hand, hosts two killer apps (navigation and picture sharing), and it’s a pretty darn good phone as well. What more can you really ask for in a phone?