The First of Many
By Seow Tein Hee
Right after the introduction of its various new services on its Nokia platform, ranging from the most recent Nokia Music Store to the finalization of its Nokia Maps 2.0 and N-Gage, the time is right for Nokia to present the first of its many devices that were showcased earlier on during its annual Showcase Nokia 2008, and we've got our hands on the Nokia N78. Chill out and join us as we take a brief peek at Nokia's very first N-series device for 2008.
On the Exploration Path
On our first impressions, the N78 bears a strong resemblance to the N81, minus the sliding form factor present on the latter. Predominantly black on its front with a matted metallic silver along its border, the N78's front panel does a good job in hiding its presence until one hits the buttons and thus lighting up the full backlit lights. On the left profile, you have the usual micro USB connection port, the microSD slot, power outlet and uniquely, one of the two stereo speakers at the bottom left, with the other speaker located on the top right side profile. Making our way down, we have the volume and camera button, which is flushed yet easy on the fingers.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the numeric keypad. Unlike the N82's slim buttons that were essentially separated for each numbers, the N78 utilizes a full thin strip for each row, and during our text messaging tests, we found ourselves frustrated as we fumbled and encountered numerous double tapping. Similar to the N81, the Call and End buttons are located on the extreme edges of the device, with the Menu and Clear button at the bottom edges, hence accessibility to these primary shortcuts will be compromised. The Navi Wheel, as introduced on the N81, makes it presence felt once more on the N78, and in all honesty, the timing is perfect as the Navi Wheel is a perfect companion for Nokia's latest S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2.
Exploring Multimedia Varieties
As mentioned, the N78 is integrated with the latest Symbian operating system under the S60 initiative, with a timely upgrade to its 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2. On the aesthetic level, things might seem to be on status quo with earlier N-series models, but the truth is far from that. With a sleeker interface that fades in and out as you switch between various applications, and a much faster transition, the N78 introduces what things might be as we welcome the next wave of Nokia products. Connection options such as HSDPA and Wi-Fi are as expected on the N-series device, which complements its A-GPS functionality. Notably, the recent graduation of the second iteration its mapping application, Nokia Maps 2.0, is absent on the N78, but will be available on Nokia's upcoming 6220 Classic. Beyond the standard GPS functionality one sees on such all-rounded devices, the inclusion of geotagging on the N78, aided by its 3.2-megapixel camera, will be a useful feature for the constant travelers.
More importantly, with the introduction of its various online services such as Share on Ovi and Nokia Music Store supported on the N78, multimedia options are aplenty for the internet savvy crowd. On its multimedia deliverance, the N78 does a decent job with its integrated stereo speakers, and its staggered position gives the device a pseudo-surround sound quality with a good level on its bass and treble. As always, the decision to utilize a 3.5mm audio jack (located at the top of the device) to accommodate various other audio peripherals is a wise one. Audio fidelity was present on its bundled earphone, and as we tweaked with its various equalizer settings, the proper lows, mids and highs on various tracks were given due care. Drivers will also be rejoicing with the inclusion of the FM transmitter that allows you to transmit your favorite tracks on the N78 straight to your car stereo system.
With repeated usage of its Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and multimedia functions, the N78 held strong for almost two days before we had to give it a new breath of life.
The Final Exploration
Based on what we've seen on the popularity of Nokia devices for the general consumer, and the slow but steady stream of services introduced over the past few months, the N78's arrival would be a good indicator of things to come on the Nokia bandwagon. Achieving a fine balance between its less than appealing numeric keypad and a strong connectivity suite, there's still much to look out for when the N78 hits the retail outlets at a recommended retail pricing of S$808.