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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Nokia N78 - The N73's Successor

Nokia N78 finally got into our grubby little hands, the N73’s successor carries the same multimedia functionality as before but it comes with a couple of significant upgrades this time around.

The N78’s design is in its full candybar glory, and as with most modern phones they are covered in either plate glass or fingerprint magnets like the rear plastic covers. The design isn’t overly innovative or attractive but we won’t call it ugly either.

The device is equipped with a 2.4 inch 16 million-colour display of QVGA resolution. The screen size and the picture quality are pretty decent. Sunlight legibility is impressive; the N78 performs well under direct sunlight. The speaker on the N78 has a somewhat esoteric design scheme; they are located at the top and bottom of each side of the phone, perhaps to enhance Nokia’s new 3D sounds.

The keypad is certainly one of Nokia’s stranger ones, we’re not sure if it’s even a keypad. More like narrow thin strips of plastic pressed to the phone’s surface. The lack of tactile feedback is the keypad’s killer flaw, it’s impossible to sense one key from the next, due to the strip design. For the multitasker, don’t even bother typing when you are driving or talking- text messages will usually end up as gibberish.

The D-pad is somewhat unintuitive as well, its easy to enter programs you didn’t intent to, due to the close proximity of the movement keys and the enter key.

Meanwhile, the new dedicated multimedia button on the N78 is an interesting addition, pressing it will bring up multimedia menus inside the phone. The right spine has the volume rocker, and the dedicated camera key. The left spine has the micro-USB port, microSD card slot and charger port. The top part of the phone has the power button and the 3.5mm jack.

The N78 runs on the Symbian 9.3 OS with Series 60 3rd Edition user interface. Feature Pack 2 also comes preinstalled. The multimedia menu is among the Nokia N78 highlights, as seems to be the case with all other recent Nseries models. It is launched by pressing the dedicated key and provides quick access to the multimedia features of the handset. We didn’t suffer from restarts or memory issues with the OS. Nokia N78's built-in memory is 76MB, which is decent but nothing impressive. The included 2GB microSD memory card comes in very handy for extending it but you can go for an even higher capacity card if you like. The music player hasn’t change much, its still support a good amount of audio formats. The playlist require a click of the refresh button and the songs are loaded. Tracks can be obtained via Bluetooth, USB or by downloading from the Internet. The FM radio on Nokia N78 has a nice simple interface and can automatically scan and save the available stations in your area. It has RDS support. If internet connection is available, the Visual radio application can download all the local stations and save them to the handset with their names.

Nokia also threw in a Google browser, for surfing purposes. The GPS here is another important addition for the N78, you can opt for Nokia Maps or other third-party applications. The standby time for the N78 is pretty impressive, our test showed that the batteries last at least four days on minimal usage.

The Nokia N78 comes equipped with a 3.2 megapixel camera with a maximum image resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels. We loved the dedicated camera button placement, click it on with your thumb and the N78 turns into a camera. It sports auto-focus and LED flash. It offers extensive settings-starting from manual white balance and ISO sensitivity and including exposure compensation, sharpness and contrast settings. The camera UI has quick processing as well, and is much faster. There is also a vanity camera here for video calls. The video recording function shoots in VGA resolution at 15 fps, with VGA resolution. Videos are captured in MPEG-4 format and have automatic or manual white balance. The N78 has geotagging capability that also works with videos.

The N78 is armed with quad-band connectivity (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) thrown in with a 3G HSDPA going up to 3.6Mbps. Other connectivity options include the EDGE, Bluetooth 2.0 and MicroUSB transfers. The best part- the phone is packed with Wi-Fi.

There are three games preloaded in the applications section- there is Mines, Arcanoid and Widgy Pet. Mines is reminiscent of minesweeper, Arcanoid is that good-old bouncing a ball off a pad. Finally Widgy Pet is Tamaguchi Nokia style, but the pet isn’t as remotely interesting as it’s supposed to be. Unfortunately, for the gaming junkie, paying for the NGage platform is your only outlet.

Nokia N78 in a box!

The N78 is a worthwhile addition the N series portfolio, despite a few design flaws. The N78 is powered with some good specs. The UI is better, quicker and topped off with some good multimedia function. Hardware wise, the phone is given a capable camera, GPS and geotagging. The real problem we have with the phone is just the keypad. The phone is retailed at RM 1,950 (Malaysia Ringgit) and is recommended if you want a multimedia-centric device with a sprinkle of everything.

Review from Mohd Fairuz's (Maney) mobile phone. Thanks a lot, dude!

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