Wednesday, June 18, 2008

N82/N95/N81 PuTTY - Remote Control for Symbian Smartphones

1. A wireless router (Eg. Netgear dg834g)
2. An SSH server (which comes auto installed with Ubuntu, and can be downloaded for Windows if you really want to)
3. A phone with Symbian OS which supports wifi (Eg. Nokia N82)

If you meet the above Here is an amazing little file for those who have a WLAN at home and a PuTTY server:

Hell, I now have complete remote control on my system on my system over Wifi from my N82. It can even act as a remote control for media player - just start mplayer in screen, and connect from the PuTTY terminal in the phone.

Doesn't matter if ControlFreak - which is an excellent software and must download for anyone using Windows and having a S60 v2 phone, by the way - doesn't have a S60 v3 binary yet. I have got something much better now, that too for Linux ;-D

Monday, June 16, 2008

Nokia N82: Beats all expectations!

After having taken a long time in research, I have finally bought the Nokia N82. If I hadn't got that, I would have taken the Cowon A3 (which is the media player you should buy if you want one). Main reasons not to buy the Cowon A3 is that there's no camera in it, and the support would not be easy at all since it's made in Korea, and I'm gonna get it from US.

Anyway, here follows my initial opinions about N82. It's a marvel - everything packed into a small box! I had some expectations in mind about things that it should be able to do. It does definitely meet those expectations - and does a great deal more. However when your expectations are met they always have a tendency to rise... so there are points which I would have liked Nokia to provide, or upgrade in the future firmwares.

I got a black model - you can see how it looks the Nokia site itself. Without further ado, here's my opinion on the phone.

1. Camera

Probably the strongest camera in a mobile that you get today. This mobile comes with a 5mp camera, the camera lens being provided by Carl Zeiss. Carl Zeiss is a leading German manufacturer of optical systems, which has recently partnered with Nokia to provide lenses for several of its phones. There is a lens shutter that covers the lens when not in use. When you open the lens shutter, the phone automatically starts the camera application, when you close it, the camera automatically stops.

Also the mobile comes with a xenon flash, which means that it uses the noble gas xenon for producing the flash light. Which means, that the flash is comparable to flashes in digital cameras. Any other mobile available with a flash at this time (Mid 2008) has an LED flash. The camera has auto-focus ability, so that it can shoot anything which is 10cm away to objects at infinity.

The images are tagged in the .jpeg file with current time, and optionally the location information which the phone can automatically get from GPS. The GPS lock seems faster than N95, based on some reviews I read, and also based on my observations on a brand new N95 (without 8GB) that my friend has got.

Overall, you'll be hard pressed to find any difference in quality between Nokia N82 picture and the same picture taken with a digital camera of similar resolution!

2. Sound & Media
I am not an audiophile, so when I talk about sound quality it won't be accurate to the last decibel. However, with the provided earphones I could listen to my mp3 files and the radio with excellent sound clarity. The phone has a 3.5mm jack, i.e. any normal earphones/headphones will fit into it. Needless to say I have tried my headphone at home and it does work.

The Nokia PC Suite allows you to transport files from your comp, automatically converting and compressing on request to AAC+ (for sound) or MP4 (for videos). However, I do not use the PC Suite as I found it just wants to take over my computer - hence I use the MediaCoder software which is an opensource project that organizes many conversation formats and does a better job than Nokia's PC Suite.

The screen resolution is QVGA, or 320x240, which you can think of as the only drawback. Although the picture clarity is good enough, you will have to lower the resolution of your favorite movies to watch here.

3. WLAN & Internet Features
The mobile asked for my WEP key, and that's all it required to connect to my router. The inbuilt browser is solid, supports javascript and displays full pages (eg. with every bells and whistles with ease.

It has a Webfeeds section where you can subscribe to RSS feeds like Lifehacker and ReadWriteWeb for instance. However the only problem I encountered with the Webfeeds is that for some reason it does not allow you to scroll right.

In the music section it also has full support for downloaing and listening to Podcasts, which was a little surprise awating for me! In my opinion the Podcasts application is more polished than the webfeeds itself. That lets you to subscribe to Podcasts, which are like recorded radio shows, for listening to them later. It has a directory which allows you to choose from many popular podcasts, as well as allows you to enter your own podcast URL. Both webfeeds and podcasts can be updated and downloaded when you have a connection, and viewed or listened to later.

4. GPS
The GPS software provided downloads once from the WLAN to get the map of your city automatically, and then onwards doesn't require the Internet connection (unless you want to use Assisted GPS). It can even search for places like nearest fuel station from the stored database without the connection. In the interface you can choose to display how many satellites are visible. It requires four to establish a lock, three to maintain a lock, although it can connect to five simultaneously.

Despite my apprehension, I found out that this works quite well in India. I'm using it in Bangalore now, and all the major cities are supported.

5. Storage, speed and others
The phone comes with a 2GB memory card. It supports hot-swapping (i.e. you can change the card without having to switch off the phone) and can support upto 8GB of memory.

Despite common fear about the Symbian OS, the speed is quite high for booting well as operating. Also thanks to the Symbian OS you get goodies like Adobe Acrobat reader, and MS Office readers in the phone.

Also it has a Bluetooth chip, but the infrared is notably missing (though I don't miss it myself). The cable that comes with it can connect the phone to a computers USB port as an external storage without having to install the Nokia PC Suite.

Negative Points
Following are some glitches I found in the phone:
a. When I subscribe to a web-feed, there is no way to scroll horizontally even when the HTML is formatted in such a way that there's text or pictures to your right. However, this problem doesn't exist with the web browser. Hopefully they will fix this in the next firmware release.

b. The camera makes a sound and indicates with a red beam from the flash whenever a picture is taken. You cannot turn the camera sound off unless you bought it from Europe. However, you can change the sound to a mere beep if you want to. The sound volume is not affected by the profile you select, so reducing volume or selecting silence mode will not stop it. As a workaround an application called Panoman that comes with the phone can be used to take photograph without the sound. Also here's a page that describes a risky procedure (that voids warranty) for those who absolutely need to turn it off. As for me, I am happy with it the way it is.

c. The organizer/calendar does not support, for example, events repeating on the 1st Wednesday of every month. Any event that repeats monthly has to be repeating on a particular date on the month only. Hopefully, they will improve the software to support this feature later as it is an useful feature allowed by the iCalendar standard.

I definitely got more than I expected, and I feel you'll not regret if you buy this phone as well! For more information check out the features in GSM Arena, or read the review there.