My First Two Weeks with the Nokia C7-00

I’ve been using my new C7-00 for just over two weeks now and I’d like to share my thoughts on the device. Overall, I’m very happy with it and feel I’ve made the right choice of phone upgrade. The device hasn’t crashed or locked up once, despite using some old S60 3rd edition applications (Resco News and Y-Browser). The feel of the phone is a testament to Nokia’s industrial design and feels like a quality product through and through. I’ve even started to get used to the touch screen, which despite my protestations that ‘I’ll never buy a touch screen phone’, I’ve taken to it far quicker than when trying out my wife’s Apple iPhone.

Nokia C7-00

I’ve been laid up for a couple of days due to illness and had a few other ‘real life’ things going on, however I’m now catching up with my usage and I want to note my findings below.

Battery:
Having been spoilt by my E71’s lithium-polymer battery that lasted forever, I have high expectations of Nokia’s performance in this area. Even though the phone has a lower capacity battery (1200mAH vs the E71’s 1500mAH), its performance is pretty good. I can get a full days use (with a phone call or two during the day and a good couple hours usage during the evening) web browsing, tweeting, reading and generally playing around with the device and have between two and four bars left on the battery gauge.

Charging:
I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the speed that when connected to the MicroUSB port, how quickly the battery charges. From one bar to fully charged in about two hours – similar performance to using the 2mm mains charger. I still need to confirm this, but for USB charging to occur, I think your USB port has to be of a certain type to charge the C7 and the laptop must be connected to the mains. I will confirm this theory however. The Nokia CA-101 cable (from the E71) also works in this regard, so there is no need to use the short cable from the C7 box.

Symbian ^3 Software:
Despite what has been written in the various (mainly American) tech-blogs who continue to berate Symbian for not being as ‘shiny’ as iOS or Android, I’m enjoying using S^3. Its robust, functional and feels more open and accessible than other mobile O/S’s. For example, try finding a file manager for iOS that gives you ‘proper’ access to files stored on the phone.
I do have one gripe though – Ovi Store. It has took a couple of goes to get the payment through my phone provider to purchase Angry Birds, however it downloaded ok and is just as good as the iOS version.

Buttons and controls:
The buttons and controls are located at generally decent locations around the phone. The camera button allows for easy activation of the camera application, with on screen controls and a wide range of camera functions, such as ISO and exposure. The lock key is very useful – I like the ability to lock the keypad before storing the phone in its case, a function that isn’t available on the iPhone. A very useful feature is the torch – if you hold the lock key down for a few seconds, the twin LED flash lights will illuminate, until you repeat the same action to switch it off.

Call Quality:
No ifs, no buts. This is one area where when you need a phone to be a phone and make that important call (yes, even in 2011, people do still talk to each other), for me the phone I use has to be a Nokia. Call quality is A1 and having a microphone/headphone combination set in the box is great. I like to use these when working to make calls, which allows me to use a keyboard to type with both hands. This was proved during this week when my wife’s iPhone was almost under constant use and she was point of contact for a number of important phone calls. Unfortunately the phone’s reliability was not good enough and I put the old E71 on standby, ready to swap the SIM card. A minor thing to watch, I had a problem with a 3.5mm jack adaptor – that I’d previously used to connect various devices to a set of speakers. For some reason the C7’s headphone socket wouldn’t allow the plug to be inserted and I had variable quality sound output. However, I discovered that the headphone/microphone set supplied with the C7, needed to be ‘used’ and inserting this for the first time, seemed to loosen the socket up a little and I was able to use my other plug without further issue. The difference is that the C7 set has a stereo/microphone connector, the other plug was just a stereo plug (see images). I’ll put this quirk down to ‘newness’.

C7 Landscape View

Specifications:
I think people in the tech blogs are getting too hung up on the specifications of phones (cpu, ram, gpu), in the same way as PCs have been compared. The C7-00 is quick, responsive, seems stable and has 8Gb of internal storage with a microSD card slot, supporting upto 32Gb card size (40Gb total). Enough for me – I’ve installed my old 8Gb card from my E71 which has given me instant access to all my music and files. I like the slim design which makes the phone easy to handle and not feel as though I’m lugging a ‘slab’ around like so many smartphones are becoming these days. As for the rest of the spec’s, who cares – it works!
(I must be getting old – a few years ago I would have obsessed over the spec’s – now I happy for something that does the job for me).

Multimedia Playback:
As I understand things, all S^3 handsets have essentially the same hardware under the bonnet, which makes writing games and applications easier for developers. My personal experience of the video playback is that the screen and quality is fantastic. However, after having to convert video to 320×240 @ 15 frames per second for the E71, its probably not a surprise I’m impressed with this. I’ve yet to try connecting the AV port upto my TV yet, but I’m expecting good things. nHD 640×360 resolution movies and clips are crisp and there is no jerkiness in the frame rate. Sound quality from the rear-mounted speakers is excellent, even if they are mounted on the back. I can’t decide if I should put the C7 on its front or back to ensure I get the full audio experience!

C7 Back View

Camera Quality:
The C7 sports an 8Mp EDof (extended depth of field) camera. EDoF means that when taking the majority of pictures, they will always be in focus. For the average user, this is fine and means that there is a greater chance of the snapshot being in focus and the user being pleased with the result. However, the limitation is that close-up shots are blurred and the
camera can’t be used for macro shots or images of business cards or documents. If this is something you do a lot of, then I would recommend you try before you buy. I haven’t really tried the video recording yet so I’ll save that for another review post.

Overall Impression so far:
I’m very impressed, I’m surprised how quickly I’ve taken to using the touchscreen when previous experiences with other brands have been so bad. I’ve got all my main applications available so I’m going to be quite happy for a while yet! It will be interesting to see what the Microsoft/Nokia partnership brings to the table in the coming months and years, in the meantime watch out for my long-term report on the C7, which I’ll look to post in a few months time.

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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.

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)

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’.

Nokia E71 Firmware Update

As much as I like my Nokia E71, when I bought it, it had a few minor annoyances. Because it had firmware revision 200.21.118, there were a couple of irritaing bugs. The screensaver time would not update, unless you pressed a key. The camera quality, wasn’t brilliant – some first shots came out with a purple ‘hue’ that would be corrected only by taking a second shot.

So a recent check of my phones firmware updates revealed version 400.21.013 was available to install. After backing up the contents of the phone memory and 8Gb memory card, I connected the phone and started the download via the phone software update service. Never having any bother before with firmware updates, especially on my N95, I was confident this would pass without incident.

However after 15 minutes the update software (1 minute away from completion and displaying various warnings about not disconnecting the USB cable) reported that it had lost connection with the phone and I had to disconnect/reconnect it and reattempt the update.

Doing as instructed, it appeared to go through ok until the last minute again and displayed a message that the update had failed. Fearing that my phone had been ‘bricked’, even though the phone had been correctly connected to the the update service, I started the phone up and thankfully booted ok. A check with *#0000# displayed the new firmware version of 400.21.013, so the update appeared to complete successfully. everything seemed to be ok on the phone, except when I tried ‘web’, the built-in browser. For some it wouldn’t connect and displayed various error messages to the effect that it couldn’t connect. So I installed ‘Gravity’, my Twitter client. This also displayed an error message and wouldn’t connect to the internet.

The only thing that gave me a clue how to get around the problem was to take the battery, MicroSD card and SIM card out. I usually install all my applications to the MicroSD card and thought there could be some sort of preferences file screwing up the internet connection.

I never found out the root cause, however despite several hard resets, installs of backups and re-install of the firmware (which did result in the same error as the first time), the only solution I found was to hard reset the phone, wait for a while and then try Web. It seems as though, after a firmware update the phone needed time to re-register itself back on the network before I could use extended services such as internet access.

Once I’d re-established a reliable internet connection I set about blanking my MicroSD card and restoring only data that would interfere with phone application settings, then the applications themselves.

Suffice to say, my phone is fully working again, the time on the screensaver is fixed and the camera is much, much improved!

if you go ahead with a firmware upgrade, tread carefully and prepare for one or two heart-stopping moments!

Disclaimer: if anyone screws up their phone after reading any part of this blog and blames me, tough luck. I accept no responsibility for your damaged phone in any shape or form.

Email on Symbian 60

I’ve written about Nokia Messaging before and I’d deleted it from my E71 because for some reason it does not support my hosted email providers email service. Therefore I’d had to rely on the built-in email client that though functional, did not cut it as it does not support HTML email and I was missing out on a number of emails being presented in the right format.

A short while ago, I’d heard rumour that in forcoming firmware update that the old email client would be removed, replaced by Nokia Messaging (aka ‘NM’ from now on). Nice as it is, I was facing the prospect of losing the capability of accessing two email inboxes, replaced by immature software.

So’ Ive been on the hunt for an alternative email client that will suit my needs.

Profimail by Lonely Cat Games http://www.lonelycatgames.com/ has apparently been around for a while and provides support for POP3 and IMAP4 mailboxes. The interface, though the default font (which can be changed) is small it has a clear layout.

There are a number of configuration options and set up of my hosted email addresses was easy and I downloaded the headers from my mailboxes.

ProfimailHTML.jpg

ProfiMail supports HTML within the client itself and renders images and layouts pretty well. Mailbox accounts are pretty customisable where you can set it up to download headers before the body of the message (saving data charges), a data counter shows how much you have downloaded, default signatures can be set per mailbox and importantly, the application be protected via a password.

Though I’ve only installed ProfiMail today, I’m pretty impressed with the product so far. Its available on a 30-day full-featured trial, cost to purchase an license key is €20.50.

Posted by Wordmobi

Bye-Bye N900, it was nice not ever knowing you

One of my first posts when I started this blog in August 2009 was tech-drooling over the Nokia N900. This was Nokias updated internet tablet based on the Maemo operating system.

There has been much written about the device elsewhere and I won’t try and compile it here. A lot of people like it, it looks to be Nokias future operating system in the shape of Maemo 5 and beyond, Maemo 6 in their high-end phones.

The tech-geek in me is always looking to the next device, above what I already have which is a Nokia E71. The N900 seemed to fit the bill, so I read up on the device and looked forward to getting my paws on one.

Last weekend, whilst out shopping, I noticed a sign advertising the N900 in stock at a Carphone Warehouse shop. Now I would never, ever purchase anything from Carphone Warehouse, I have had one bad experience with them which was enough and I got out of the contract I had with them as fast as I could, after the 12 months had expired. However, they have lots of shiny stuff on display to play with which I’m happy to oblige by leaving paw prints on.

So I sidled over and picked up the N900, first impressions are good, good slider action, lovely keyboard, though keys are slightly too small for my large fingers. It is quite a thick phone, but what was slightly disappointing was the screen size. I expected more, especially as you can have a large amount of information on the screen. I put the phone back before I got too hassled by the salesman that was lurking nearby.

Something else that has changed my opinion about the device is a review on the Phones Show Chat audio podcast, produced by Steve Litchfield and Tim Salmon. The podcast, episode 20, which can be found here said that the device was great for techies who want a cutting edge device that you dont mind getting stuck into the linux and programming side of things, but not something for the man on the street.

Having been involved with computers at quite a technical role for more than twenty years, I’ve never considered myself as a technophobe. However on hearing this in the podcast, I started to lose interest in the device. If I want to delve into the guts of something, I’ll build/obtain something for that purpose. However, a smartphone is something that I have reliability high on the priorities list. I dont want have to be delving into a file system or reflash the device every couple of days, in order to make a simple phone call.

As good as the N900 is, unfortunately I don’t think its a mainstream device yet. I’ll stick to the Symbian S60 series for the moment, or until the next wonder device comes along… ;o)

Posted by Wordmobi