Nokia N8 Review Week – Day 4 – Multimedia


Hello and welcome everyone to the Nokia N8 Review Week here on FoneArena! Each day of this week, one of our team members will cover one area of Nokia’s imaging flagship with all the do’s and dont’s. This should make for an exciting week and we’re all looking forward to that! Today is Thursday, my name is Sandeep Sarma, and I will be covering the N8’s multimedia features . Enjoy reading along and if you have any questions please feel free to comment.

Gallery

The gallery UI in the Nokia N8 is the same as we’ve seen in the previous generation of touch phones such as the N97/N97 Mini. There are no added special effects or eye candy. However, the speed has been improved a lot. Photos load faster and changing between them also takes much less time. Those who have used the N97/5800 XM know how slow the gallery on their phones are.

The gallery switches between portrait and landscape orientations automatically with the help of the accelerometer. It displays both pictures and videos that are loaded on your phone.

The Gorilla glass adds smoothness to the flicking between pictures and the 3.5” 16 Million Colour AMOLED screen creates brilliant and soothing pictures.

The screen resolution is 360*640 pixels but any larger pictures are automatically resized to fit the screen. Even big pictures that are over 7 MB in size load pretty fast, not instantly, but with a fraction of delay. Normal pictures load instantly.

Pinch zooming has been added, pinch your two fingers together to zoom out and pinch them away to zoom in. You can also use the volume up/down keys for zooming. A double tap also zooms in/out of the picture. Double tapping zooms in/out 1x out of the total 2x.

Zooming is also available only up to a 2x unlike older phones and if you connect the N8 via HDMI to a TV/Monitor, you cannot zoom in further. We had talked to a Nokia developer and he said that they will be considering this problem in a future update.

The slideshow is great and refreshing especially with good music. You can choose to display the pictures in chronological or reverse chronological order. You can select your own music from your collection. You can adjust the speed at which pictures change. During the slideshow you can pause it and also control the volume of the music.

The gallery allows you to send the picture over Bluetooth, as message or mail. You can also upload it to your social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. You can even take printouts with a compatible printer.

You can assign the pictures to a contact, use them as wallpaper or call image, add your tags and add them to albums. By default there are two albums-Captured and Favourites. Any picture that you take with your camera automatically goes into the Captured album.

Photo Editor


The photo editor is great on the N8. There are lots of new features and frames added from the previous versions. The UI is also slightly different.

You can make the following adjustments to your picture:

  • Rotate
  • Re-size
  • Crop
  • Add Clipart-There are over a hundred of them
  • Add Effects to People Faces- Alien, Professor, Wide Smile and Square Effect
  • Draw
  • Add Bubble Text
  • Frame
  • Red Eye Correction
  • Add Stamp
  • Add Different Colour Styles
  • Tune the Picture-Adjusting Brightness, Contrast, Colour Tone etc
  • Add Animated Clip Arts

You can send the photo through Bluetooth or via email/message here also. You can also take a printout directly with a compatible printer.

Video Player

Surprisingly the Nokia N8 official specs sheet says that the N8 can play only a limited number of formats including mp4, H.263, H.264 and 3GP. But that isn’t the case, the N8 supports one of the widest range of codes that you can find on a mobile phone.

We’ve tried everything from DivX, XviD, mkv (Matroska), mp4, WMV, 3GP, H.264 and they all work fine. The Nokia N8 being able to record 720p naturally means that it can also play 720p videos.

We have managed to get even 3GB 720p movies to play fine, and even skipping through the movie loads pretty fast. 720p movies in .mkv and .avi work fine but HD movies in mp4 format seem to have problem as their audio doesn’t work. The video plays fine but the audio doesn’t play.

For .avi format movies, you have to keep it under 2GB otherwise it wouldn’t play. But for .mkv as we said earlier, we managed to play a 3GB movie properly without any problem. We’ve even managed to get a 1080p Full HD video playing on the phone. It was a 10 minute video but it was able to process it.

The widescreen 3.5” 16 million colour AMOLED display only makes the experience better. It produces great colours and contrast. The built-in HDMI port allows you to connect your HDMI cable to the phone with the help of an adapter. The N8 outputs great quality videos and with Dolby Digital Plus Sound.

The videos can only be viewed in landscape mode but on such a handset there’s no use viewing it in portrait mode.

The video controls hide themselves so that it doesn’t distract our viewing. A tap on the screen brings the controls back and it hides again once you’re done.

The video player doesn’t support subtitles and we would be happy if it is included in a future update. The movies are automatically added to the list once you copy it to the phone, there is no need to refresh even.

Overall the movie player is a better experience than we had with previous Nokia phones. It’s on the right track and things can only get better.

Video Editor

The Video Editor is one of the best things about the N8. It perfectly complements the camera and the great multimedia features.

You are greeted with a screen that allows you to choose between

  • A video created from your photos and video clips
  • A slideshow of you pictures

First we’ll deal with the slideshow. The slideshow UI is amazing. It has a 3D timeline where you can choose from a set of effects and transitions for your slideshow. You can choose from blackboard, colour flow, flip, motion, old film, running, slippage, spin, splash and sunshine effects. Each of these effects are well done.

Then you can choose your audio track from your music collection on the N8. The only problem here is that the scrolling through the list is slow. It might be because of my huge music collection of over 1000 tracks on the phone but it is nevertheless slow. But then you can use the search feature which helps you find the track easily.

Then you choose the title of the video and after you press the tick button, you are given a preview of your movie. You can then save the slideshow or make changes to the film and save later on. Below is a movie and two slideshows that I created using video editor:

The other mode is basically similar but you get to mix your pictures and videos together and you can also trim the video length.

The video editor can keep you occupied for hours and can make you smile once you see the outcome.

Music Player

Lets start with the UI of the player first. The UI is pretty much the same as the previous generation of Nokia’s touch phones. The main added UI feature is the cover flow. The cover flow shows all the album art of the albums/songs that you have. Flipping through the covers is smooth and without delays. Kinetic scrolling is available and there is a unique 3D effect to the cover flow.

To view the songs, you simply click on an album art thumbnail and it will give you the list of songs available in the album. Click on the songs to start playing. You can also add album art by copying the picture into the same folder as the album and the Nokia N8 will recognize it.

You can group your collection according to Song, Album and Artist (not sure why there isn’t a separate one for both), Playlists, Genres and Podcasts. There is no search feature but there is alphabetical and kinetic scrolling. Just click on the right scrollbar and the letter will appear, just move it up/down to skip between letters. We find this was just as fast as typing to search. But it would have been better if they had included a search as well as it would be easier for those who have lots of music stored.

There is a shortcut to the Music Store and from the first time you sign into OVI and use Music Store, you can download unlimited music for free for a year.

You have the option of turning shuffle on/off and repeat off/song/all. The settings allow you to change the balance to the left or right, turn on/off loudness and stereo widening. There are 6 equalizer presets- default, bass booster, classical, jazz, pop and rock. But you don’t have the ability to create your own custom preset. That is bad news for all those audiophiles who need to tweak their setting to get the best effect. So we feel this is something a future firmware update should definitely address.

The FM transmitter allows you to transmit your songs onto any device with FM Radio at your desired frequency.  The player also supports a variety of formats including MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC, eAAC and eAAC+.

The music player runs in the background and you can control the player through the widget on the homescreen.

Audio Quality

Let’s take a look at the speakers first. The speaker is located next to the camera unit on the raised portion on the back. It’s been quite a long time since Nokia phones came equipped with such capable speakers. They produce very loud output quite surprising from the smallish speaker. There are no distortions even at high levels.

Even though the speaker is at the back, if you place it on a flat surface, it actually makes the listening experience better as the design allows the sound to channelize properly. But on an uneven surface, the volume goes down. The speaker is even louder when it rings during a call.

Now onto the headphones. I own a Nokia N91 and I am a huge fan as it is the best music mobile ever made by Nokia or any other company. The speakers are mono and aren’t any good but the music through the headphones was breathtaking. So I compare every new phone with it to see how it fares.

With the N8, I was actually quite surprised as it’s the only phone that offers an experience quite similar to the N91. The loudness on the N91 still blows the N8 out of the water. But then again listening to music at such high volumes can impair your hearing. The N8 offers more than sufficient volume even for noisy environments. The clarity is also flawless at maximum volume. The Bass is surprisingly better than the N91 once the Bass Booster mode is activated. The acoustics are also perfect. Both of them give you the feel that you are watching a concert live.

Conclusion

The Nokia N8 is the first proper multimedia phone from Nokia since the N95/8GB days and it performed way better than expected. The Music Player is definitely the best in the industry; the video player is good but has drawbacks and would be better if Nokia fixed these. The photo gallery performs fine but the UI is still the same and boring. But all the drawbacks are things that could be fixed with software updates. The photo editor and video editor are great bonuses. If you are looking for a multimedia handset, the N8 should be one of your choices.

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Author: Sandeep Sarma

Sandeep Sarma is a blogger and a freelance photographer. Apart from gadgets and phones, he also has a passion for movies and cars. He currently uses the S7 Edge as his main phone. Catch him on twitter at @sandeep9sarma