NOKIA -- Several students in Tipperary Institute are looking at the Nokia N91 as their pocket companion as they explore ways to carry academic podcasts with them while underway in Ireland. More realistically, they are printing out pictures of the phone for Santa's Christmas 2005 wishlist because the N91 will be a €700 decision. By deciding on the Nokia N91 music phone, they subordinate their decision to buy a laptop but they open the floodgates on Bluetooth song-sharing. I'm unsure whether the phone will return more value for money than the laptop but for a person looking for a radio or television career, you can probably afford to treat a personal laptop as a stage prop. Not so with a mobile phone. Presenters often start as researchers and researchers need smart phones to cover as much ground as they can every minute of the day. We haven't been able to give the Nokia N91 a shake-out yet but expect to use the summer months ahead for the requisite carpet bounce test, Guinness splash test, and flat battery test. You have to do all those things to a phone to ensure it survives in a student operating environment. Actually, the phone is a computer. It has a 4 GB hard drive, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g and 3G. Jørgen Sundgot calls it "Steve Jobs' wet dream."
Some interesting things about the Nokia N91:
- Integrated 3.5 mm stereo headset jack, which means my Etymotic ER6 earbuds will slot right in.
- User interface and dedicated menu keys sit in front of the sliding keypad cover.
- Supports MP3, AAC, WMA and M4A.
- USB drag and drop file management.
- Dedicated volume controls.
- Eight-band equalizer.
- Over-the-air download capability or direct line -in recording.
- Series 60 operating system.
- Comfortable stainless steel exterior that will be a bitch to keep shiny.
Among Russ Beattie's first thoughts: "Will there be any demand from the carriers? It's like the iTunes phone, but worse as it also has WiFi. Verizon is already crippling Bluetooth! A phone with WiFi? Come on!" The carriers can rest assured that the Nokia implementation of Wi-Fi is not a panacea for easy connectivity. The Nokia 9500 stumbles when encountering WEP or any other kind of browser-based Wi-Fi access. It's not as simple as finding a Wi-Fi node and downloading gigs of content over the air. I think people using the N91 will sync their playlists over the USB connection. That's the most dependable way of managing your content. You're less likely to encounter problems using the Nokia software.
Only a full evaluation will tell how the quality of this music phone compares to a dedicated MP3 system. The BBC suggests it's a "compromise of convergence" but they haven't given the Nokia N91 a proper test drive. At first glance, it looks like the Nokia N91 is the kind of phone a multimedia programming student should have--for the podcast value and for the opportunity to program on the Series 60 platform.
Dave -- "Nokia N91: 4 gig hard drive in a phone"
Jorgen Sundgot -- "Preview: Nokia N91"
BBC -- "Nokia offers new range of phones"
Russ Beattie -- "NSeries Quick Thoughts"
Charles Arthur -- "Some more thoughts on mobile phones for your music"