Thursday, December 21, 2006

Nokia N95... the Holy Grail is near.

Update 31 March 2007:The N95 has finally been priced in Singapore at S$1,288 (USD 850 or RM3,000). Much, much too expensive if you ask me. I definitely won't be an early adopter.


I am a person who loves convergence of my electronic gadgets. I hate having to pocket multiple items in my pants for eg. a phone as well as a digital camera. That's why I bought a Sony Ericsson K800i in the first place. I didn't want to choose between carrying 2 gadgets (a phone and a digicam) + 2 chargers (when I'm travelling) vs taking lousy photos when the spontaneous moment matters most.

I'm also into mobile computing. I've got a 1.6kg 12" Lenovo X60 which I use as my main personal computer and I travel with it. But it's way too big to take along everywhere I go. Therefore, every time I want to do the free wifi thing at Starbucks or Coffee Bean etc., I'd have to plan ahead to bring my laptop with me. And that's a huge drag. And if you are going for a movie or a walk in the park after coffee, you'll have to lug the laptop with you... every step of the way until you get home. Like I said... it's a f*cking drag.

And in Singapore, with Wireless@SG, broadband is now available for free at over 500 hotspots in Singapore. The hotspots are set to mushroom over the next year to cover ALL (1oo%) public areas and as such, the coverage will overlap many residential areas as well. Many other cities are also mooting free wifi covering large areas using WLAN.

Therefore, it makes sense if we have something light enough to carry on our person all the time, using which we could wifi for free at any time... while waiting for the train, queueing up for tickets, whatever.

Enter the Nokia N95. Nokia calls it an all-in-one multimedia computer.

Here's a 120gm phone that combines (1) a quadband phone,
media player for MP3, MP4s, FM radio with a regular 3.5mm video/stereo audio jack,
Wifi/WLAN 802.11 b/g ala PC/PDAs, as well as traditional smartphone networking ie. EDGE, 3G WCDMA and 3.5G HSDPA,
(4) Bluetooth 2.0 and InfraRed.
(5) Mini-USB 2.0 (with Universal PnP controller!) opening up the possibility of myriad bolt on applications currently enjoyed by PCs,
MSOffice, PDF file support,
160MBs of internal memory, MicroSD (8GB and 10GB MicroSD cards will apparently be available soon),
(8) 5 Megapixel camera (Carl Zeiss optics and Tessar lens), and
(9) DVD quality video recording ie. VGA (640 x 480) at 30 fps (frames per second).

Oh, don't forget the (10) full fledged GPS navigation with voice instructions. Damn useful for people with no sense of direction.

What have we got? A smartphone, PDA, ipod video MP4 player, digital camera, DVD video camcorder and GPS navigator, all in one 120gm package. And with a USB controller, the possibilities could open up.

A must-buy for 2007, if there ever was one. Indications on the net are that the price will be US$700 or S$1050 or RM2500. That's a pretty good early adopter price for a nifty piece of kit like this.

I should mention though that the early impressions of battery life isn't so good. Most sites predict a need for daily recharging on moderate-to-heavy use. Hopefully Nokia will provide a higher capacity battery when the N95 launches in 1Q2007.

And with a 2.6" screen and no proper keyboard, you won't be able to perform the full range of online tasks... like writing a blog like this for instance. I'm also still skeptical about how fulfilling or frustrating an experience, surfing will be, with a 2.6" screen. You'll be scrolling and fiddling like mad with the magnifier box to read a blog page like this.

And while USB 2.0 UPnP is promising, Symbian and even Windows Mobile is definitely not the same as Windows XP. I don't expect at all, to be able to control my DVD burners, external hard discs etc., using any mobile phone's USB, anytime in the foreseeable future. So, there might be a need yet for me to replace my Lenovo X60 with a full fledged Windows XP, 8" screen, Pentium chipped, 800gm UMPC (Ultra Mobile Personal Computer) like Sony's UX, Samsung's Q1 or Asus' R2H.

Good writeup of the N95 by All About Symbian.

Official specs by
Here's a couple of interesting video reviews of the N95. One's about the N95 in general, the other's about the GPS functionality.

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