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The Nokia N82 and BH-903

For the last few weeks I’ve been trialling a Nokia N82, courtesy of the Nokia Bloggers program.  The N82 is a candy-bar cousin to the runaway success N95, available only in Europe.  It runs basically the same Series 60 software as the N95, and performs very similarly.  The big difference is in the camera.  The N82 sports a xenon flash – a first for Nokia.  This allows it to perform much better in low light situations.  In addition to the xenon flash, Nokia has also resurrected the lens cover for the camera.  To save space on the N95-3 and N95-8G, the lens cover was sacrificed – a mistake which Nokia corrected with the N82.

Other differences:

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The N82 has a 1050 milliamp battery versus the 1300 milliamp monster on the N95-3.  With just 80% of the battery of the N95, I found that the N82 tended to run out of power before my day was over.  Not so with the N95.

The N82 is available with only 2100 Mhz European 3G.  Having become used to 3G on the N95-3, it was tough to go back to just EDGE which is all the phone supports here in North America.

The screen on the N95 is larger and brighter than the N82, making it a better choice for viewing photos or media.

While many people like the candy bar form factor, I prefer the slider.  The N82 keys are quite small, which I found difficult at times.  In addition, I found the unlock step painful at two key strokes compared to the smooth slide of the N95.

Pricewise, you might expect the N82 to be significantly cheaper than the N95.  It is cheaper, but not by much.  eBay sellers sell the N82 for about $460, and the N95-3 for about $560.

My recommendation: if you’re making a choice between the N95 and the N82, think long and hard about whether you really need that xenon flash.  The N82’s compromised battery life, smaller screen, and the usability issues introduced by the small key size are real and may not make up for the benefits of cost savings and the xenon flash when compared to the N95.  I certainly wouldn’t recommend buying the N82 for use on North American networks, at all.

imageIn addition to the N82, I’ve also been trying out the BH-903 stereo bluetooth headset. The big complaint most people have about bluetooth stereo is the weight of the headphones.  Bluetooth isn’t power efficient.  To get extended talk-time requires a larger and heavier battery, hence the weightiness of bluetooth stereo headsets.  The BH-903’s novel design takes care of that by suspending the battery and controls for the media player in a dongle that hangs from the wearer’s neck, supported by a comfortable neck strap.  It’s not elegant looking, but it is functional and delivers 15 hours of talk time. You may want to tuck it into a shirt pocket.

In use, the BH-903 delivers good quality audio for ear buds.  In addition, having sound in both ears when talking on the telephone makes for a much more natural and easily understood conversation. The BH-903 is also a very easy way to control the media player on the telephone.  The controls on the dongle are easily accessed, even when driving, which allows you to quickly skip a track, or pause.  The microphone, which hangs from the right earbud cord, also doubles as a switch allowing you to easily answer a call by simply squeezing the microphone.

The BH-903 uses the A2DP bluetooth profile, which meant that I was also able to use it with my Blackberry Curve.  It did not work with iPhone, however, as Apple does not support the A2DP profile.

Available online for about $200, the BH-903 is certainly pricier than other stereo bluetooth headsets.  Its novel multi-function design, however, makes it a better choice when used with Nokia handsets.

My recommendation: a solid, albeit somewhat pricey, choice when used with Nokia handsets.  Select a less expensive alternative, or a wired stereo headset, for other manufacturers handsets.

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{ 2 comments… add one }

  • jefferyb June 23, 2008, 8:14 am

    The bh-903 is a great headset. Slightly less better sounding than a mid-fi wired ear bud, but the convenience of it makes up for that.

  • Al June 23, 2008, 9:41 am

    Correction: N95-3 has a 1200 mah lithium ion battery.

    The N82 uses a 1050 mah lithium polymer battery, a newer technology compared to lithium ion.

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