Nokia E71 – Version 501 Firmware

I’ve had this post in production hell for some time and thought I’d better get the snapshots added so the article can be posted. It relates to my Nokia E71 that I sold off to O2 Recycling back in March, but before I got rid of it, I upgraded the firmware.

I’d been aware that there was an upgrade available for some time, but because I’d got a stable set of software, I decided to leave it. It would have mean’t that I’d have to load everything back on, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Anyway, once I’d backed up my phone and checked that I’d copied over all the useful ‘stuff’ to my new C7-00, I set to work on the E71. In difference to the last upgrade I performed for version 400, I made sure I gave the phone a hard reset using the code on the phone dialler *#7370#. The problem I had last time is that the upgrade process appeared to lock up part way through, something I was keen to avoid.

However, the hard reset seemed to take a very long time and after some minutes, the phone had not come back on. It would not even respond to the pressing of the power button.

What I am not sure of, is if this is normal behaviour. A fail-safe for this type of problem is to remove the battery for about a minute, reinstall it and power the phone back on, which it dutifully did.

I also removed the MicroSD memory card before the E71 was powered on, as I’d got some applications installed to it and didn’t want them to load on power up. Once the E71 was back on, I connected it up to my laptop using the CA-101 USB cable and started PC Suite. The software updated checked online and the version of firmware available was reported back as 501.21.001 (10th of August 2010). I started the firmware upgrade and expcted a long wait). However, the firmware upgrade was completed in less than 5 minutes and the E71 when running, was reporting its new firmware version.

So what is new? Not a huge amount (I don’t have a change log handy) that is immediately noticeable to the end user, though Ovi Maps is now updated to v3.03 and is labelled as ‘Ovi Maps Lite’, which reflects the extra-content-less version of the application which was provided some time ago when it was announced that Ovi Maps was being made ‘free’ for a number of devices. Kudos should go to Nokia for supporting older devices with facilities such as Ovi Maps, years after they were released.

I have also noticed some new ‘IBM Lotus Notes Traveller’ icons appearing, though having never used the application I can’t say what the improvements or differences are.

Overall, the update is worth doing to keep your E71 update and performing at its best. Since I originally drafted this post, I believe there has been another minor update (v502?) to the E71’s firmware.

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Nokia C7-00 – Buying and First impressions

Nokia C7 Front and Back

 

 

Image: http://blog.rightmobilephone.co.uk/nokia-c7-review/

Over the past few weeks, my venerable E71 has been having a few problems – loss of connectivity and ‘SIM regsitration failed’ messages appearing, forcing a power off. I’d also been filling up the memory with quite a bit of stuff (music, documents etc) and after doing a bit of research on a replacement mobile phone, checked out the Nokia C7-00 on O2’s website. The specifications looked fine, sporting the new Symbian ^3 O/S, 8Gb internal memory in addition to a microSD slot (so I could move my 8Gb card from the E71 to the C7) and I could get it on a reasonable contract renewal (2yr, £25/month, no purchase cost).

I’d always extoled the virtues of havng a ‘real’ keyboard and adore the E71 form factor. I’ve tried fill touch-screen phones before, my wife’s Apple iPhone for example, but detest how sensitive the screen responds to touch and find the layout immensely irritating when used by my large fingers. I have a number of Symbian applications that I have bought over the past couple of years that I like and really can’t be bothered with making the switch to another ‘ecosystem’ having to learn what you can and can’t do with another mobile O/S. Symbian ^3 suits me – improvements made over a familiar O/S and I can transfer all my ‘stuff’ from the E71 easily. Besides, I don’t subscribe to all the Google services, so I’m not willing to make that commitment (life is too short).

Back to the E71 however, the screen size (2.4″ 320×240), I was getting tired with. ‘Try before you buy’ was the watchword so I trotted off to the local O2 shop in search of one to play with. I was pleased to see that one was on display and powered. Within 5-10 minutes of using the touchscreen, I could see that this was a phone I could use and proceeded to talk to the store ‘guru’.

To cut a long story short, I walked out with a new C7, having renewed my contract for a couple of years at £25 per month. However, I did get the impression that the guy was trying to steer me away from buying one. Comments about ‘they’d had a number of C7’s and N8’s back because of the O/S’ seemed odd, I countered this with explaining that I’d done my research and made sure I’d got upgraded versions of my favourite applications (Gravity, ProfiMail, Adobe Reader, WordPress editor, Opera mobile). I was puzzled by a few other comments and just came away from the store that he was trying to put me off. I’m sure the guy was doing his job and wanted to allow me to make the most informed decision possible, but I consider myself to be aware of the mobile O/S market and knew what I was letting myself in for. He also advised me incorrectly about the charger, when trying to sell me a car charger (I’ve got one from my N95 days) saying that I’d need one and I couldn’t use my old 2mm car charger.. The C7-00 supports USB charging via the micro-USB port and it does have a 2mm-style charger in the box.

First impressions are very good; Despite sending a email to @janole, author of my twitter client ‘Gravity’ at 10.15pm, I’d had a reply saying that my license had been transferred within 20 minutes. I’d updated my ProfiMail license online and downloaded updated versions of my applications. I left the E71 and C7 talking to each other via bluetooth and the PhoneSwitch application, copying all my old SMS’s (I really must have a clear out one day), contacts and calendar entries. Within about an hour, I was up and running again on the C7.

Battery life looks good, after heavy use (lots of browsing, tweeting, playing with the phone) the phone is down by three bars, so more than 50% remaining. The homescreens are very easy to personalise and the phone is fast and responsive. Something that has saved me a couple of quid – the C7-00 fits into my old E71 leather case (that was supplied with the phone) quite nicely (slight squeeze, but otherwise ok). The box contents are bare minimum – a quick guide on using the phone (a slight disappointment as it would have been nice to read a bit more on the differences between the S60 3rd edition FP1 and Symbian ^3), a brochure on Ovi services, BL-5K 1200mAH battery, a short length USB to microUSB cable, AC-15X 2mm mains charger and a set of hands-free headphones/microphone.

C7 unboxed

The obligatory unboxing image…heh!

Thankfully, my old CA-101 micro USB to USB cable appears to charge the phone at the same time as transfer data. In Nokia’s continuing commitment to the environment, the box contains the minimum of packaging (all recycleable), which is in their favour.

All these minor touches help make moving from one phone to another a pleasant ‘user experience’ and I’m looking forward to getting used to the phone over the coming weeks.

Skyfire for Symbian – Retirement

I’ve previously written about Skyfire for Symbian as a very good quality web browser for the Symbian platform, displaying some website content which other web browsers couldn’t, such as live webcam updates. However the proxy-based web browser remained at version 1.0 for some time and on the Skyfire blog, it was announced that the company was withdrawing support for platforms that used the proxy-based service, namely Symbian and Windows Mobile from the 31st of December 2010. This withdrawl applies to countries that have had access to the service since the service was reduced earlier in the year, namely which includes at least the UK and the USA.

This is a real shame as the Skyfire browser, though a little slower than say Opera Mobile or Symbian Web, did give that almost desktop like browsing experience. The company seems to be concentrating more on the Apple and Android markets and have released recent updates for the browser for those platforms.

Personally, it will not make a much of an impact as I tend to use Opera Mobile 10.1 as my main browser on my Nokia E71. The only time I would refer to Skyfire was if there was a site I couldn’t view properly and so loaded up Skyfire.

Therefore, in preparation for the closure of the service in a couple of days time I shall be uninstalling the application later today which will free up a little memory in my over-worked E71.

Bye, bye, Skyfire its been fun knowing you.

Posted by Wordmobi

Skyfire Consolidation

Its been a while since my last blog entry, unfortunately due to illness I haven’t felt like posting for the past few months and my efforts whilst well have been focussed on real-life stuff.

Anyway, now that I am starting to catch up with things, I thought I post a sort of update to the Skyfire browser entry I made some months ago, as there has been quite an important change in their availability policy, which is in effect now.

Since the 1st of July, the proxy-based SKyfire browser v1.0 and 1.5 for WIndows mobile and Symbian, has been closed down in most parts of the world, except for the Americas and Western Europe.

Upshot is that Skyfire is no longer available for these users due to a refocussing of the companys direction and support for mobile operating systems. Skyfire 2.0 is the platform they are moving to, with focus on Android and iPhone over the next year.

Though Symbian 1.5 is still available, I’m a little concerned about future support as Skyfire is the only mobile phone web browser that can access websites that others such as Opera, can’t. For example, flash-based content, sites that have real-time live updates such as webcams or sites that show the current position of the ISS (International Space Station).

Not the end of the world if the service was closed down, but I have used Skyfire to check the position of the ISS prior to a pass overhead, so in my eyes its a useful Astronomy tool.

The full statement is available on Skyfires blog:- http://www.skyfire.com/blog

Converting Video using SUPER for the E71

One of the good things about modern mobile phones is their powerful processors and ability to play video. Despite it being pitched as a business ‘phone, the Nokia E71 is capable of video playback, within certain limitations.

To ensure that video will play back without problems, I have been using the ‘Super©’ video conversion application. This has a fantastic range of formats that will convert video files to and is completely free! The application can be downloaded from:

http://www.erightsoft.com/SUPER.html

Because the E71 doesn’t have a massively fast CPU (369MHz), playback of video has to be converted into a lower frame rate that it can cope with. This needs to be 15 frames per second. I have produced a snapshot of the various settings that can provide an easy reference for converting video:-

I usually use this for converting ‘The Phones Show’ by Steve Litchfield (http://3lib.ukonline.co.uk/sshow) video podcast, to a suitable MP4 file for use on the E71, as the file is too demanding on the CPU. Thats the one thing I miss about my N95 classic, you could throw most MP4 video files at it and they would play without conversion.

Can’t have everything I suppose! ;o)

Nokia E71 – Free Ovi Maps Forever!

Three months after Nokia decided to offer free voice navigation, the company has provided free navigation forever for the hugely popular E71. Apparently this was due to ‘user demand’ and this will (along with the E66) be the last of the S60 3rd Edition devices that will get this service.

I picked up on this announcement at All About Symbian, an immensely popular and useful Symbian news source. Almost immediately, I hooked up my E71 and opened my browser at the Nokia Maps website. True enough, the download now includes the E71 – you have to download a .SIS file to install, which updates your Maps application on the phone.

Once the .SIS file has been installed, you will need to delete all existing map data – instructions are provided when you start the map loader on your PC, as the existing maps on your expansion card are not compatible.

A problem that I came across was that when transferring the full set of UK maps (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) along with the ‘English Female’ voice, the map loader would stop download at about 82.5% and start the transfer to the phone, but stop the download to the phone at either 10% or 13.1%. It would sit there and ‘hang’ for a while, until I forced an exit from the map loader. Other E71 users seem to have come across this problem as well, but there wasn’t a solution mentioned.

The only way I could get the maps to transfer successfully was to use a file manager on the phone and delete the ‘CITIES’ folder, where the maps are stored on E:. I then reconnected the phone, started the map loader and was prompted with the warning that I should start the map application on the phone, so that a new ‘CITIES’ folder can be created. Once done, the map loader then checked the maps available and I individually copied (using the map loader) the UK maps in the following order:- England, Wales, Scotland and then the English Female voice for navigation guideance. I’m unlikely to ever need the Northern Ireland maps, so I left these out to save space.

I now have free voice navigation on the phone which seems to work pretty well. Improvements include – it is a lot faster when moving around the map (including zooming in/out), the map navigation is very clear on screen, though I have yet to try it out in ‘anger’. A downside is that the E71 seems to lose GPS fix intermittantly, though I was inside the house when I was trying the application. A better test of this (the GPS fix was always very quick) will be to try it out outside.

Overall – a very useful and welcome update from Nokia – thanks go to them for continuing to support older phones such as my E71.

WordPress for Nokia 0.5.2

Hopefully, this post will be the first following the installation of Qt 4.06 and the ‘official’ WordPress for Nokia application on my E71. The install seems to have gone without incident and the environment looks very nice. I can see the similarities with this and the N900 Maemo version, being a ‘tabbed’ look and feel.

First bug I’ve spotted is inserting special characters – the cursor seems to jump to the start of the document along with the insertion of the character.

Images aren’t displayed at the moment, unfortunately.

Looks promising; though for the moment I’ll stick with the Python-based Wordmobi 0.9.3 which gives me full control over my posts as well as a preview screen via ‘Web’.