Being a fan of gadgets, it is always thrilling when a new piece of technology is introduced. The one exciting bit of technology in the N8 is the USB-on-the-go feature. On it’s own it’s a standout piece of innovation but when coupled with the rest of the N8s features it really is usable, not just a bit of bragging rights.
I’ve made use of the USB-On the Go feature over and above the obligatory show off period. I had an invitation done in PowerPoint that was on my flash drive and I was able to view it directly off the flash drive using QuickOffice on the N8 through USB-On the Go.. I’ve been using the Sony Digicam in some situations and that was plugged directly into the N8 to transfer some pictures over. It really is world usable, simply phenomenal. The only hassle is having to have the adapter on hand. Another neat thing I noticed using the feature was that if, and only if, the N8 battery was full, it could not only pick up the memory card on the 6710 Navigator, it started charging it, but I can’t imagine that would be good for the N8s battery, which is already carrying a load of responsibility already, keeping this monolith running. In fact all Nokia’s I’ve tried with cards have been picked up, an old Sony Ericsson Walkman phone was detected. The Blackberry Curve was not detected but I noticed the same thing on a PC until the Blackberry desktop suite was installed. There is an old external hard drive that is lying around the house that the laptop couldn’t detect and the N8 picked up, before deciding it was actually corrupted. I got silly and tried to plug in an external CD-ROM but alas no luck. Once the USB device is picked up, the N8s file manager opens automatically and the device appears in the list. You can manage the drive fully. You can delete files, copy files to other destinations and to the drive, view files directly from the drive, music, videos, create folders you name it. One caveat with this feature is that only FAT32 format drives are detected, as I discovered using a friends NTFS formatted flash drive.
What really excited me was plugging in a USB mouse. I know, I know, just like a friend of mine berated me of Facebook, it’s a touch screen, why bother with archaic technology like a mouse. Well, I plugged the phone into the TV just using the standard Nokia TV-out cable with a 3.5 jack at one end. My homescreens were beamed up to the TV, and since the TV is 640X480 and the N8 screen resolution 640X360 it didn’t look too bad. Screen rotation also works in this mode. I plugged the mouse in and set this on the coffee table, and proceeded to use my phone as you would any computer (the phone was on the floor by the TV, the cable is very short). Gestures usually carried out on the screen can be done with the mouse. Hold the left mouse button, drag it across the homescreen and it simulates swiping across the homescreen as you would with your finger. Swype remarkably works with the mouse. I was able to read email, browse the email, I replied to an SMS with the phone plugged in to the TV, all using the mouse. Multimedia looks decent on standard definition as well. About the only loss is that using the home button, well if your cable is a short as mine is, it is tricky. I simply left the menu as a running app, and accessed it using the visual switcher. It’s a pity I don’t have a USB keyboard as that would have been a great thing to test (edit: this has been confirmed as working). I managed to try out Needs for Speed, and even though it wasn’t on an HD TV it was still quite a blast. This is definitely the way to enjoy gaming of this quality.
I tried taking photos of this set up but photographing a television screen in broad daylight was well, a little silly, but hopefully you can get an idea of how it looked.
Bluetooth devices will be better for this sort of thing. Being able to pair the phone wirelesly to a mouse and a keyboard, connecting an external hard drive via USB-On-the-Go, and using the HDMI out feature (which I still haven’t been able to try!), could well be a complete computing solution, once the paid upgrade to get office document editing is activated. And if the speakers are set up properly, it’s a full on multimedia set up on top of that, all controlled by a tiny 135 g cell phone.