humane computing

22 May 2008

N82 Media Keys with Voice Recording Functionality

Devin Balentina from The Nokia Guide posted a list of 10 reasons why the N82 isn't perfect. Some of his reasons like an optical zoom, a larger screen or a QWERTY keyboard would result in a bigger phone, which we all don't really want. The most interesting points he makes are of course changes that would make the N82 clearly better without increasing size and price.

I would especially like to see media keys on the N82. Not only to control the music player but also to start a voice recording. For this functionality, two extra keys would be enough: play/pause and next track. If you press the two buttons simultaneously a new recording starts, even if the keyboard is locked. Having a dedicated button to start a new recording is a must for some more business oriented people.

The Buttons could be positioned on the left side, somewhere in the middle. This is where your fingers are when you have the handset in your right hand and the keys wouldn't get in the way or be confusing if you take Pictures. A small pictograph could indicate that you can record something when you press both keys.

I made a quick mock up image of how the keys could look like. I moved the microSD slot and removed the usb and power connector because there seems to be consensus that these should be placed at the bottom :).

What do you think?

Labels: , , , ,

25 April 2008

Nokia N82 Software Impressions

In my last post I wrote about my impressions with the N82 device itself. Because I normally still use a Nokia 6230, the software impressions below are also that of a Series 60 newbie:

Being new to Series 60, I was eager to try out multitasking. And I am not disapointed. Location Tagger, Sports Tracker, Podcasting, Music Player, ConnectaFON and Internet Browser were running concurrently most of the time and it was no problem to start even more applications. That is very cool! Switching between applications on the other hand is a pain because you have to press the menu button for a second or so. I don't want to wait for such an important function to be activated. I'll write a blog post about a possible solution soon.

I find the menu structure not really nicely balanced, some functionality is buried unnecessarily deep. But you can rearrange the applications menu, so that is not too big of a problem.

The applications itself are very usable. The internet browser is very cool. Nokia Sports Tracker is very innovative, it even looks for pictures taken during your activity and uploads them along with the track itself. It also supports live tracking, which is very nice for doing live position art!

The podcasting application is very cool. It loads new audio or video episodes automatically in the background when a wireless network becomes available. The only catch is that the N82 can't play all H.264 profiles and thus not all video podcasts made for the iPod for example, which is a pity.

The calendar application lacks the quick and simple appointment types "reminder" (just text and alarm time) and "call" (just contact and alarm time) from Series 40, which I missed quite a bit. I also missed the timed profiles feature. I hope this functionality can be provided by some third party software.

The copy and paste feature of Series 60 is very useful, but you can only use it where there are respective menu items, which is sometimes frustrating. I'd love to have the edit key functionality of older Series 60 devices instead of the multimedia key, which I didn't find very useful.

Usability-wise, the N82 nearly always required more key presses to accomplish a task than the 6230. This is mostly due to the active standby screen. The 6230 standby screen allows you to reach six important features with just one key press. The N82 has only two plus the camera shutter and the gallery key, all other shortcuts are point and click which requires you to focus your attention on the standby screen. I haven't googled for alternatives to the standby screen so tell me if you've got an idea.

Labels: , , ,

Nokia N82 Hardware Impressions

For the last three weeks I have been kindly given a N82 from WOMWorld to take it for a test drive and to make some more position art. Sadly it got picked up again yesterday so it's now time to write about my impressions:

I'll start with the built-in 5 megapixels camera with location tagging and Wireless upload feature. I had high expectations and wasn't disappointed, it's just perfect for high quality snapshots. I would say its quality is comparable to a 3MP consumer camera of a few years back.
The camera software is very quick and the shutter can be operated while getting the handset out of your pocket. I am convinced that you can start taking pictures even faster than with most consumer cameras. Autofocus on the other hand is a bit slower but still fast enough in most cases.
The wide angle lens is nice for taking pictures in a small room. Zoom would be cool, but hey, it's still a compact mobile phone.

I was very surprised to see that the GSM reception was clearly better than that of my Nokia 6230. Normally there is little to no reception at my parents' home, but the N82 always showed one bar of reception quality more.

The keyboard is very usable but it's definitely not as comfortable as that of my 6230 or even an E51. So don't expect too much.

I was a bit disappointed to see that the headset that came with the N82 had a lot of keys (I guess it was four), but it was not possible to at least skip a track or pause/resume music playback.

Battery life of the N82 is a delicate subject. I had no problem draining the battery from 100% to 0% within 4-5 hours of position art incl. taking lots of pictures and videos. That is not much, but I don't think it is reasonable to expect a GPS unit, a (video) camera, a mobile phone and an internet tablet to consume as little energy together as any other handset alone. If you take some geotagged pictures now and then and if you browse the net from time to time your fine plugging in the N82 every other day. It would be really cool to have MORE POWER at your disposal, but it's not too big of a downer either.

Thats it for the hardware. I will write about my N82 software / Series 60 impressions in the next post.
Here is a list of my Top 5 N82 features. These are my personal N82 unique selling points:
  1. The high quality snapshot camera with geotagging support.

  2. The podcast application, which automatically downloads new episodes when wifi is available.

  3. The music player in combination with an 8GB or even 16GB microSD card.

  4. The full-featured HTML browser, which even got flash support with the latest firmware upgrade.

  5. The Sports Tracker application which is just cool to play with.

Labels: , ,

14 April 2008

More Position Art!

While on holiday near Annecy, France, my girlfried and I made some fresh position art for you all to enjoy. But this time with THE original tool: The Nokia N82. That handset was kindly sent to me for review by WOMWorld. I will write my thoughts about the device tomorrow or so.

While the Easter bunny was outlined beforehand on the street map and then drawn while walking the planned route, the works of position art below were made "freehand" by walking on nature's canvas and controlling the result through Nokia Sports Tracker. This might sound simpler, but in fact, it isn't. It is far more difficult to get the dimensions and the angles right and you always have to be concentrated and can't make the position art a social event like on the streets with a pre-planned route.

The first work of position art is a bottle of French wine being poured into a wine glass. I missed the proportions a bit so I had to crawl through the bushes to correct that:

View @GoogleMaps, @OviShare or @SportsTracker

The second work of position art is a Citroen 2CV driving on the road to the French Alps. This is the first time I made a video while using Sports Tracker. While photos made while tracking are automatically uploaded along with the route, videos are not:

View @GoogleMaps, @OviShare or @SportsTracker

Labels: , , , , , ,

24 March 2008

Easter Bunny Position Art

Fascinated by the beauty of position art by the mighty Stavros, Hirvi, Mr.Stahl and I decided to use this special Easter Sunday evening to create our own magnificent masterpiece. And since it's Easter, the motif was going to be an Easter rabbit.

By coincidence, Mark Guim posted a tutorial on how to make your own position art using Nokia Sports Tracker this morning. Unfortunately, I don't yet have a lovely Black N82 like Stavros has, so we used a trusty old Magellan GPS unit and a standard digital camera instead.

Because the recorded GPS path was quite inaccurate, I post the hand drawn version of my rabbit as well. I wonder how Stavros handles GPS variation - his artwork looks so flawless...

This is where our GPS device thought we were walking:

View Larger Map

This is the path we actually walked:

View Larger Map

The pictures of our walk in the cold Easter night. We had a lot of fun:

Labels: , , , , ,