Nokia sent me a shinny new N90 in hopes that I would blog about it. It worked because I really like it. While it looks like an electric razor at first, this Transformer is more than meets the eye. It does three things really well:
- It's a phone -- a form factor that actually feels like one and doesn't require tweezers and chopsticks to operate. You open it up and it rests comfortably on your sholder, which is helpful until they invent the third hand. Actually, they kinda did. Like speaking into a dictator, you cue the voice recognition for your contact list without opening it and it operates as a speaker phone.
- It's a camera -- cameraphones are used for snapshots, so I judge them with three criteria:
- Lag: what matters most is the time from deciding to capture the moment until when you can, like shutter lag in a conventional camera. With the N90, you swivel the lens barrel and it's ready to take a picture without opening the phone.
- Optics: until they invent flat liquid lenses, there is a serious tradeoff between phone depth and optical quality. The Carl Zeiss Tessar 2.95/5.5 Autofocus 2 Megapixel is given ample room.
- Send: fastest path to Flickr wins. It's a one thumb operation with 10 clicks, but relatively easy.
- It's a video camera -- With a single twist the phone transforms into a video camera. With 352 x 288 resolution you get half of your average video camera. Vlogging is going to come into it's own in 2006 thanks to these mobile devices, the video iPod and iTunes, IPTV like Akimbo and forthcoming Flickr for video plays. Unfortunately it's not 2006, Lifeblog and Typepad do not support Mac users, so I can't publish and remix with ease, yet.
The N90 does one thing really poorly, text, which means I'm not about to give up my Treo 650, the best phone for mobile messaging. As a frequent business traveler I need access to email, SMS and calendaring. No mobile device should seek to do everything, and the N90 does playful sharing really well. At $700, it better.