Music and Video Playback
A word on the design. The phone looks great in dark or silver colours, but not so great in bluebottle blue or lime green, or garish copper. Nokia's colour palette is completely at odds with the phone here: the design and materials say "Mercedes" but the colours say "iPod Nano". The phone looks very out of place on a business professional in a suit. Nokia Design has been very good at choosing its palettes until fairly recently – now it seems to be incoherent. A wider choice of more muted hues would have been welcome.
A colourful range, but not exactly tailored for business suits
HDMI support is the big feature here. The port's on the top, the most sensible place to put it and, like the Sim and MicroSD slots, it's covered by a fiddly door. An HDMI adapter is included in the box. Once it's connected, you can stay on your sofa and control the device from a Bluetooth keyboard – a nice touch.
I found scrolling through the music library much improved – it's an area that really benefits from the optimizations in Symbian^3, and the better hardware. It was fast and dependable, and includes a rip-off of iTunes Cover Flow browsing mode. Another feature borrowed from the iPhone is "browse by letter", which worked very well. Browsing the local image and video collection is similarly dramatically enhanced, being the most noticeable area of improvement between the N8 its Nokia predecessors.
Syncing with a PC is still problematic, however. Once it's working, it's very speedy. Initially, I couldn't get a successful cable connection to my Mac, and had to hook up using Bluetooth. The second attempt was successful though. However, the first attempt had buggered up the media player on the phone and it displayed a permanent "Media transfer in progress" dialogue. The only way I could get rid of it was to reboot the phone.
Nokia includes 16GB of storage, enough for a decent portable library. A native BBC iPlayer client is included, which supports DRM, so you can take shows with you to watch offline. An FM transmitter is featured, as is an FM radio. Yet there are some curious omissions. There's no Podcasting or Internet Radio app – both by now should be integrated into the music player. (You can download a new beta Podcast app here).
The apps are a bit of mixed bag
Currently, Symbian^3 lacks DLNA support, which I rather missed. Nokia's Symbian implementation of this (called "Home Media") is excellent, as I discovered when testing Nokia's HD-1 Home Music centre – it acts like a remote control and DLNA-enabled handsets can perform similar tricks.
Next page: Photo Finnish
@Giles Jones: Not bad
Processor speeds are not important, it's what they do that is important. The CPU is underclocked, the OS is very resource functional (always has been) and has a separate GPU for the intensive graphics. Battery life for me is about 2-3 days on a charge - push email is on 7am till midnight on 2 accounts, browsing the web, telephone calls and music in the morning and evening. So I am very pleased. There some faults but hope they fix them soon.
I always wonder why some of the tech people reviewing this mobile phone constantly rubbish the processor for being clocked slower than the competition. Remember the days when the Apple OS was always said to be better and more resource efficient than Windows and hence the slower processors? Remember also that almost all video and photo editing used to be done on Macs for that very reason? Short memories....
Compareing CPU sizes is pointless...
Android apps are written in Java and run on a virtual machine on a stripped down Linux, an OS designed for servers. While Symbian apps are written in C++ running natively on an OS designed for low power devices. For graphics intensive apps the N8 also has a dedicated graphics co-processor to take on the load.
You need to compare how long the phones last between charges and if they run the apps you need as an accepable speed.
Give it a year
Looks nice on paper, but I'll wait a year to see if it's more reliable than my crappy N95 8GB before I'd even consider another Nokia.
If the incremental changes to S^3 include working out the UI...
... Then we might be on to a winner.
Unfortunately first impressions count, not incremental updates a year down the line.
"You can't place a shortcut to a person"
You can by adding the Favourite widget to the home screen. You can then add up to 10 people to this list and the widget multiple times - one for work, one for family etc. You can also open your contact list and long press on individuals and mark them favourite - this will bring them to the top of your list whenever you write a message or open contacts again. The only problem is that you can't organise your favourite in any order you might like - only in the order that you added them to your favourites.
"you can't drop applications wherever you like."
You can to a certain extent by adding the Shortcut widget, but then you HAVE to select 4 apps to use. But putting individual app shortcuts is not possible.
"You can't set a shortcut to activate a particular setting, either"
You can for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Sip, to different menu shortcuts. Which one do you want that is missing?
"it won't use the spacebar to accept suggestions unless you change another setting"
Really, how? I have been looking for this and can't find it anywhere. Using the right arrow to accept the work and then hitting spacebar is a poor design.
"E-mail now uses Nokia's server-side Intellisync software, but for obvious reasons of security (Nokia knows your passwords) I didn't test this extensively."
This can be bypassed. If you reject the terms and conditions right at the end of the email account set-up the emails won't go anywhere near Nokia's servers. This also helps because you can send attachments larger than 2MB in size the latter imposes.
There are other fiddly little problems to the ones you mention in this article. In many menus if scroll to the bottom item and select it when you go back the phone automatically takes you back to the top of the list. Notes and files of this type cannot be scroll without first selecting and marking all the text. I can customise my home screen by long pressing the screen, but I can't do the same when inside menus. Why? Instead I have to click on options and then organise. I then can list the items in alphabetical order - instead you have to move each individual icon to the location you prefer.
Mail for Exchange crashes on replying when using Gmail. IMAP email doesn't work as push email, so if your settings are set to retrieve soonest the app won't work until you open it. These things have been smoothed out over years by Nokia so why they should stop working properly is anyone's guess.