I have already looked at media creation on the N8, and on the consumption front the N8 looks well equipped. Turning the phone on, it was already clear that the N8s speaker packs a punch. For a single unit it is pretty loud. The earphones which I looked at earlier, other than the housing design/port location, are well designed and I cannot stress the convenience of multimedia playback controls on the headset. Another thing I noticed is that with music playback on, the volume rocker can still be activated even when the phone is locked. Great idea on paper, and the volume rocker is pretty stiff, but there is an off chance that with the phone in the pocket this could be activated inadvertently, and I would find this pretty annoying. It has happened yet
“I always have a song inside my head”
Music is really a big part of my life. I have over 6000 songs between my desktop and laptop and there are some CDs that have yet to be digitized, and I won’t hazard a guess as to how many that is. I stress the need to reduce tech clutter in my life, and as such, a phone does need to function as a portable music box. My last two phones, the Sony Ericsson W660i and the 6710 Navigator served this purpose well, the only limit being the lack of memory. The Sony was let down in the sound quality department so the iPod still got plenty of use, but since I got the Navigator, the iPod gathered dust and was subsequently sold. Sound quality was a big factor, the aforementioned reduction of cluster, and critical was the direct link to my last.fm account through Mobbler. Having no internet at home, linking my iPod play count to last.fm was impossible.
The N8 has taken music consumption to another level. Like the photography, music appreciation is very subjective. For me though, the N8 improves on the sound quality of the 6710 Navigator. Simple test, same songs, same earphones, equalizer off. The N8 sounds richer, it’s louder so I actually set the volume lower to get to a comfortable level. Listening to a lot of very heavy metal, there is a lot of bass, distortion and rather unconventional approaches taken to vocals, and the N8 handles these aural extremes well. On the software front this is one interface where touch quite clearly trumps keys. Scrolling through albums using cover flow in landscape is quick, and when view the tracks in an album, cover flow is still available in portrait. I made use of the search facility on the older phones but the speed of the UI on the N8 music player makes this unnecessary. Being able to create playlists on the fly is great, just tap and hold any song or album.
Video killed the radio star
To be honest I have never really found the appeal of watching videos for any length of time on the device. Again it’s to do with the size of the screen. The screen is gorgeous yes but more than a couple of minutes is too much for me. I’ve watched a few embedded youtube videos through the Nokia browser and reviewed some of the videos that I recorded. The HD trailers that came with the device are great. I’ve uploaded some videos onto the phone, mostly WMVs, some avi’s and they all played, as did all of my flv videos. Of course with the N8s HDMI-out capabilities video consumption would not be so much on device, but I will try and look at this at some point before the end of the review period (I make that four days!)
One thing I enjoyed using was the N8 video editor. I created a tribute video, compiling some of the pictures and the video I shot on the day of my wife’s graduation and was pleasently surprised at the ease of use of the application. And of course it is free, always a bonus. I was able to put in the pictures, and could select transitions between them, a couple of text boxes and the 30 second video clip to create an 80 second clip. Choosing the ordering is a bit cumbersome. If I checked multiple items the app simply orders them in date order and I could find no way to change the order. So to get items in a certain order they must be added one at a time. I also could not find a way to use a non-multimedia item like a text box as the first slide. Choosing a backing track was also quite easy and I was able to trim out the portion of the track that I wanted with relative ease. There’s no going back once you save the video though so it has to be perfect otherwise you start all over again.
“It’s in the game…”
Gaming on the N8 has been quite a blast. I really am about as casual a gamer as you can get. I have probably put in more gaming time the last two weeks than I have in the last year, and I doubt it’s even all that much. The fact that I’ve only installed two games tells you as much. I tried playing Cricket T20 Fever Lite but it was too fiddly for me. Angry Birds is sort of the level I pitch myself at, and I’m still playing Need for Speed at rookie level! Here are some screenshots of Need for Speed in action (I couldn’t get any screenshots of Angry Birds). Taking these screenshots was quite a challenge: