new gadget – Nokia N9

Nokia N9
Nokia N9 (Photo credit: whatleydude)

a fairy tale machine; my wait since late 2011.

Yes !! finally even though a little more than my budget, this was what I’d wanted for a long time now. No specific reason, fell in love as soon after it was announced in Q3 2011. Its old hardware(dinosaur old!!) and has limited applications available. Last firmware update was on July 2012 – something named PR-1.3. After this Nokia completely abandoned the N9.
So why the love for this prehistoric relic?

user interface
One word – beautiful. The swipe interface is awesome, and as soon after I was using it, both Android and iOS seemed boring. BB10 has some reminiscent, and Windows Phone 8 has copied something from it. Overall, the interface is so less and yet, has so more to offer.

social networking
Facebook and Twitter is available and gorgeously integrated. The event home screen has many nifty add-ons that put more social networking in a glimpse. Very much like windows phone 7.5 (7.8 and/or 8). There is however a big lag of Linkedin and Google Plus – something I prefer these days.

This is on par with current middleware mobile handsets. Eight MP is okay, and even though the low light is not perfect as iPhone 5 or Nokia’s premier – Lumia 920; it gets the job done. There are two good LED flash behind, which in Nepal, I mostly use as torchlight during the electricity cuts (currently 12 hours/day). Camera options are good, with continuous shooting is a charm.

Nokia Maps (a.k.a Here) is good enough for Nepal. I downloaded offline map pack (56.6 mb) of Nepal and now use it often. The street maps are comparable to Google Maps, and sometimes better (my perspective). Far better than the open street maps (that I’d root for). However, there is a big confusion for me. Online maps from my desktop browser (firefox 19) shows streets filled unique areas (shops/cinema/hospitals etc) whereas my N9 has blank streets. May be Nokia forgot about N9. None the less, Nokia Maps has VDCs and remote roads that are not present in Google Maps (up until few months back – late 2012).

clean UI software
The Clock, Calendar, and Message apps have good simple UI. Not many options, but they get it done. Contacts are synchronized and Merged, but there is no speed dial :(. Mail App could have been better (compared to Android Gmail App). Firefox 15 is available, but I rarely use it. Feeds App is simple, but I needed a whole weekend to bring all my feeds from Google Reader. Gallery is self sustaining, with many plugins (except may be effects). Music App is not that from Apple, and I do miss the Genius feature. Overall, its not iOS smooth, not even Android 4.2 smooth. Its very rough UI, and lots of glitches – but its all worth it. I love it.

software i use
Google mail is present with integrated google voice. Skype is integrated, along with Wazapp, Picasa, YouTube and Flickr. Obviously, Twitter and Facebook are present. There is however no Active Sync support from Google, so google calendar and contacts are out of questions. Lucky for me, I use hotmail in mobile handsets. Most confusing, is the presence of CalDAV but absence of CardDAV. So there is google calendars available, but no google contacts. strange?

I have dropbox from DropN9; evernote from Notekeeper(paid app); WordPress from CutePress, Pocket client from Pockeego(paid app), my new favorite ProfileMatic (changes profiles according to time/place/person/anything). I have roughly 4-5 apps open at any time, with automatic Cache Cleaning (via DropCache) running now and then. At times, I had to use the terminal App too.

love for hardware
There is NFC, and I am still waiting to use it. I had to cut my SIM into the smaller version (took me NRs.50). The black polycarbonate body is superb, along with the Gorilla Glass curving is momentous design. Front Camera is – BAD !!. The small breathing light in front, has minimum work (worthless). The speakers are good, headphone jacks in better placed at corners, but the charging point hidden inside is a hassle. There is one volume (well two) button/s, and a power power button. The front screen is clean slate – no physical buttons. Love it.

looking forward to..
Well, I hope Nokia comes up with the next firmware update. Waiting for PR.1.4 or something, Fingers crossed.. The other big news being Jolla (and/or Sailfish OS), It should run on N9, and it should come out within next few months. Otherwise, except for the lack of Google Plus and LinkedIn, I am happy with this Road Rage.

P.S. Next Post – Tomorrow – something from Wikipedia
P.S.ii. Next (real) Post – Tuesday, March 12, 2013. something about mHealth.

new cellphone – for 12hrs electricity cuts in Nepal

As of today, the electricity cuts in Kathmandu is around twelve hours, which means I will not be able to charge my current cellphone everyday. I love technology, and mobile phones are something, very “worldly” to me. Changed quite a few from my first phone back in 2005, and constantly looking to get acquainted to the new capabilities of these remarkable machines of present world order.

It’s time to get a new handset

This time it’s different. Riding along with the Nepali infrastructure – electricity cuts, slow network, crapy 3G, i have decided to look for the cheapest handset that has all the bare necessary functions and a great battery life to get along. Some of the things I think is a must for me.

must have
1. Wifi – Internet is somewhat necessary (no, its not for Facebook)
2. Email – that comes with the internet, but a good email client that can sync with my Google and/or Microsoft account would be perfect. Preferably an inbuilt one, with IMAP.
3. Calendar – something very important. Sadly, Google recently pulled its plug for MS Exchange in GMAIL so looking forward for Microsoft Calendar sync.
4. Twitter – not an active user, but like reading and few are good source of useful information.
5. Contact – another important pillar for survival. Internet sync is always a welcome, but after changing few handsets over the years, i have become accustomed in making an offline archive, updated ever so now and then.

important but not absolute
6. Good App Store – i know Apple App Store is the best but any App store is okay until there are few that i think o need.
8. Wikipedia app – the holy grail for mystical knowledge – a world of facts.
9. FM – uhh.. Tis that there is a constant need for listening live. Listening to few of the audio programs for more than a decade now.
10. internet browser – preferably a webkit version, which can take in some basic offline html and javascript files.

battery requirement
Anything that gives me three days worth in one charge is worthy of my worship. There are few handsets that do get to these. Not talking about Motorola RAZX MAXX, but a phone from yesteryears – the Nokia handset – 1200, 1101 etc. There are few local phones from India and China with battery capacity as much as 2700 to 3500 mAh, with one week worth of use. But these have arcane user interface with unknown language interface – its a maze.

other hardware requirements
11. Touch screen is preferable but not a must.
12. QWERTY is added bonus, but this is a risky bet, as not all qwerty is as good as BB or Nokia-E series. Those were great, and loved them.
13. Camera – not a believer in 2mp camera (or 3.2 or 5mp camera at all) need something better. However at the price range i am looking, i can’t get 8MP.
14. Screen size – anything less than 4, and more than 2.5 is okay for me. Sunlight legibility is not an issue, and color screen is average requirement.
15. Body and built – one that can withstand a 3 feet fall, again and again. Am not clumsy, but handset sometimes do slip out :p
16. Blinker light – for all the miss calls and messages and alarms. This would be great to have. Loved all my previous handsets with this functionality.
17. Audio – not a big fan of audio quality, and use something else to listen to good music. But would want a 3.5 audio jack for accessibility option.
18. Vibration mode – preferred the vibration mode of iPhone 4s, not iPhone 5. Yes there is a generational difference in it. A stronger vibration is good for my Jeans pocket, especially during the cold winters of Kathmandu.
19. Maps – Nokia maps for Nepal. Seriously, its better than google map.
20. GPS – A-GPS is okay, but even cell tracking system would be okay. Don’t drive car, so no need for a satnav.
21. Normal USB port – not proprietary – that can charge the phone through my desktop also (or even laptop or tablet – that be awesome)

my shortlist (will update on it, as i look around)
1. Nokia Asha 311 – priced somewhere around 12,000 NRS – sweet spot
2. HP Palm Pre 3 – love the OS even though its between life/death situation
3. HP Palm Veer – most adorable phone ever
4. Nokia Lumia 620 – a bit expensive, but has NFC

my expensive wish-list (if anyone wants to gift me)
1. Motorola RAZR MAXX – GSM version – a rare thing
2. Apple iPhone 5 (with sim card the size fit for Nepali use – micro sim??)
3. Google Nexus 4 (would have been great if it came with replaceable battery)
4. Nokia Lumia 920/910 – would want smaller screen size. (hate the huge screen size)

P.S. – I am looking forward to work with NFC. It has great potential, and since it’s affordable, I would love to see it get implemented in health sector in Nepal. Last I heard, there was a project in Pakistan working with Children Hospital for identifying chest infection and severe pneumonia in children, through NFC identification of the patient.