I have been out of town for the last few days and have had very little access to decent speed internet, not to mention scarcity of free time. However now all of that has changed, well apart from the internet! What this period of travel allowed me to do was explore the possibilities of the N81 as a travelling companion.
Am I happy? Yes, but it would be a qualified yes and here is why:
The first thing that comes to mind when the word travel is used is battery life. With the N95 I was used to pretty mediocre battery life and in a long journey actually had to restrict my usage to get through the day. With the N81 all that changes. It has great battery life and no matter what you do it won’t run out of battery by the end of the day. Steve recently talked about how modern smartphones’s battery test is if it can get you through a day. N81 will top it!
– I played music continuously for 6 odd hours via the Bose Headphones at 75% volume.
– Browsed the internet for 15 minutes, checked my mail a few times via the Gmail client.
– Played Asphalt for 15-20 minutes.
– A few texts and 10 minutes of calls.
– Read an e-book for 2 hours.
– One 3 min call via truphone at a hotspot on the way.
To add to that may be a few other things I do not recall. In essence, this is one aspect of the phone that won’t trouble you at the back of your mind.
Well all know that the N81 packs a 2 megapixel camera only, N70 quality. This has been the single biggest criticism of the phone and I will second that. However lets not get stuck at that and actually see what it can and cannot do.
The one benefit it does have is considerably fast start up time. The N81 doesn’t have a camera cover and a single press of the camera key, activates the camera reasonably quick, better than the N95 v20 firmware. It also shares the same interface as the newer nseries devices which is pretty intutive.
Implications – It works well for the casual shots and makes for good memories. But if you are wanting to click landscapes and put them up as wallpapers on the desktop, then I’m sorry that’ll not happen.
What the N81 doesn’t do too badly is shoot video. For someone who’s not used to the 640×480 – 30 FPS capture on some of the high end devices, N81’s effort won’t sadden you. With the 8GB version you can literally take hours of video and pictures had taken a back seat at least for me.
An inbuilt GPS is something the N81 doesn’t have. Is it really such a big disadvantage? I don’t think so, courtesy Google Maps. The latest version of the application is able to reasonably pin point your current location in a matter of seconds with out a GPS and once you get a general idea of the region you are in, finding out the right path is easy.
But at the same time, although I didin’t miss the conventional use of the feature much, GeoTagging of pictures is something I will. Specially when the latest application from Nokia Beta Labs, ‘Location Tagger’ has made GeoTagging a breeze, with almost seamless intergration into the camera application itself.
The N81 is an entertainment device and it lives upto it. The music sounds great and the additional volume and depth is a big plus. I’ve found the N95 to be lacking in noisy environments, the N81 has no such troubles and performs very well. Here is a rundown of the two core components:
Music – Needless to say – beautiful. For more, look here.
Video – With 8GB storage onboard, storing almost anything on the phone is not an issue. I personally hate converting movies and videos and this is where the additional storage really helps. Coupled with the CorePlayer this makes for a deadly combo as the CorePlayer is able to play most .avi’s found on torrents!
Gaming – Gaming on the N81 is pleasurable. Let us get TV-Out, out of the way first. While traveling or on the move the last thing available is a TV to hook up your device. Even otherwise over a period on 8 months I can count the number of times I have used TV out for gaming. In my book, clearly that is not a disadvantage. The dedicated gaming keys and the right landscape display give the phone the feel of a gaming device and a comfortable grip drives the point further home. The D-pad although is a little hard to press.
The N81 is a great travel companion while it has its share of limitations with the camera taking the prime spot, the music and battery more than compensate for it.
“While the N95 may make better memories, the N81 will make for a better today!”