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N73: A Jewel in the Hand

I’m rockin’ out right now, listening to one of my favorite alt-country bands, Sixteen Horse, on the Nokia N73, “multi-media computer”… ok, it’s not really a computer… that’s what the folks at Nokia want us all to call it. In actual fact, it’s justa really really awesome cell phone.

This is, hands-down, my favorite Nokia N-Series phone to-date.

Let’s start with the installation experience. Naturally, since this is a camera / music player / phone / gaming device, it has a whack of software that needs to be installed on a PC to get the full value from it. Unlike virtually every other experience I’ve had with Nokia software, this was (near) flawless. Pop the DVD in the drive, select the items you want to install, click start… and go get a glass of wine… er, cup of coffee.

Setup Screen

I installed everything except the Adobe Photoshop 3.0 SE. It went like clockwork. Kudos to the team who built the N73 software installer. It’s a hundred thousand times better than previous efforts.

In hand, the N73 is a marvel. From the first time you hold that brushed red shell, and gaze upon that marvelously bright screen set in the pearly front, you will fall in love. It’s small, comfortable, fits the hand, and gorgeous to look at… I did mention that already, didn’t I?

Phone

Flip it over, and the back is a wash of irridescent red and silver. Pull back on the artfully designed lens cover, and a 3.2 megapixel Zeiss optics camera is revealed. And, of course, like previous N-Series phones, when you uncover the lens, the camera software is automatically activated, making for an incredibly easy experience taking pictures.

Camera View

Did I mention how pretty this phone is? Sorry… can’t help myself.

The camera is a pure joy to work with. Nokia tells me that it’s optimized for still photography. Surely it must be so. Colors pop, clarity is fabulous, and the controls are easy and intuitive to work with. It even has shutter release and zoom controls mounted on the side of the phone, so you can hold it the way you would hold an ordinary camera, and take photos with it.

It’s the perfect thing for an afternoon walk with the dogs in late November.

It takes great pictures of the neighbors houses as you’re walking down the street.

Neighbours House

Or along the path to the park.

The Path

Or past a frozen puddle with maple leaves embedded in the ice…

Frozen Puddle

Or the rocks in the park, framed by trees, blue sky and clouds.

Park, Hill,Rocks and trees

Or the silly sign which the city has erected on top of the tobogganing hill warning of the dangers of tobogganing… what will there be next? Waivers before you can go sledding? Nutty bureaucrats…

Dumb Sign

After all, the hill is what? 30 feet high? It’s barely a pimple… heaven forbid that you construct a jump and have a little fun during your leisurely coast to the bottom…

The hill

The N73 is the perfect tool for having a little fun while waiting in line to see Casino Royale too (must see… don’t deprive yourself). With the N73 you can capture all the silly faces… hey, I’ve got five bucks… wanna share some popcorn?

Jonesing for Popcorn+

Who can stretch their face into the funniest shapes? Dad’s the hands down winner!

Silly faces

And imagine the suprised looks when you whip this little puppy out, and casually take a photograph of your honey during the previews! Don’t worry, the people in the seat behind were only blinded for a few moments from the very bright flash that the N73 sports.

Photo in the theater

As a camera, the N73 is a blast. It takes great pictures, it’s easy to use (autofocus and auto-exposure!), and it’s small enough that you can stuff it in your pocket and whip it out whenever the mood strikes. The shutter has a pronounced lag to it, so you won’t be using it for action shots, but other than that it’s a very capable and fun snapshot camera. You’ll be very pleased with the results.

For those of you not inclined to edit on the PC, the N73 also includes a pretty complete suite of picture editing and upload tools. You can crop, adjust for white balance, color saturation, and sharpness right from the N73, and then upload your photo to Flickr using the integrated upload tool. I uploaded a few photos, but even with Edge connectivity it was a slow process, and presumably costly given the rates that Rogers charges for data. If you have an unlimited data plan, as opposed to Rogers’ slimy unlimited*** data plan, you’ll probably use the integrated upload feature a lot. If you’ve got a capped plan, you better use the PC-cable to upload your photos.

The N73 does have video capabilities, but if you’re really interested in video, you’d be better off springing for the N93. Most people will find the video capabilities of the N73 inadequate. Constrained to 15 frames per second, and 352×288 resolution , it’s clearly no match for the 30 fps 640×480 video that it’s big brother, the N93, delivers. However, the N73 is a far superior still camera to the N93.

The N73 is also a very capable phone. A true quad-band phone, it operates in GSM 850, 900, 1800, and 1900 bands, as well as offering the 2100 WCDMA band for data. You can take this phone with you anywhere and get coverage. In the Canadian market, where Rogers deploys GSM 850, that’s a real blessing.

Running Symbian OS 9.1, the N73Â sports applications including Nokia Lifeblog, an updated music player, web browser, an FM radio, and viewers for most office application document formats. Messaging capabilities, and address book round out the package.

Regrettably, the phone came with skimpy 128M storage card. I ordered a 2G micro-SD card from EBay for about $50, including shipping (minor gripe, but I wish the industry could standardize on a memory format).

Once I had the card, I loaded it up with some music, and got rocking. The N73 comes with a set of Nokia HS-23 stereo ear-buds. Sound quality is good (surprisingly rich bass for ear-buds), the fit is comfortable, and the integrated volume controller is conveniently located mid-chest. Unlike the HS-28 headset supplied with the N91, however, the HS-23 doesn’t have integrated forward / back / play / pause controls. Those functions can only be accessed from the phone itself. The HS-28 would be a nice addition to this package.

Getting music to and from the phone was not too difficult. The PC-Synch integrated music transfer software didn’t work properly, crashing whenever I tried to transcode music from the 320kbps format I use on my music server to a lower bit-rate codec for use with the phone. However, the driver for Windows Media player was excellent. Simply plug the phone into the USB port on the PC, and select media player mode when prompted. It will automatically launch Windows Media player, with the drivers pre-installed (from the initial PC install), and bring up your music library. From there, choose synch, and either shuffle (to get a random selection), or drag and drop your favorites into the synch window. Push the synch button, and wait. Not hard, and I would imagine most people will prefer Windows Media Player to whatever Nokia delivers anyway.

Gripes? As always, I loath the Nokia pop connector, and proprietary power supplies. In addition, as a dedicated Blackberry user, I would really love to have the Blackberry Synch software that’s available on the E61/62 products available. Lack of Blackberry integration is the one factor that will keep me from using this phone as my everyday phone. And lastly, it would be nice to have the WiFi capabilities now shipping in the N91 / N93 products available here also. I’m looking forward to trialling Truphone, but it will mean running on the N91 or N93.

These are minor complaints.

The Nokia N73 is a jewel, and a lot of phone for the money. It would make a perfect Christmas gift for the cell phone user in your house.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Alec November 27, 2006, 8:25 am

    around US$500…

  • Mum November 27, 2006, 11:19 am

    And how much does this “puppy” cost?

  • Jim Courtney November 29, 2006, 7:57 am

    Don´t underestimate the value of having the 850 MHz band supported when used in North America. It fills in several "coverage holes" I had with previous triband phones (including the N93). To me connectivity access is a key "required" feature.

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