Nokia e70 Business Phone review
(Strictly from a Blogger in Thailand's perspective)
I am not going to go over every function of this phone. It has so many that an entire manual STILL doesn't cover everything. It has more things going for it than I've ever imagined a phone could have. It really rocks, and yet, for the $400 dollar price tag in US dollars, it should do everything and MORE considering my notebook I have right now is only worth about $450 and it does a LOT of stuff. This phone can do EVERYTHING my notebook can do – except offer me a nice sized keyboard to type LONG blog posts on, and it doesn't offer me the software possibilities that the notebook does or memory storage options. Other than those things I can use this phone for everything I need to use a notebook for.
The first thing I noticed when I picked it up was that it was thicker than my Motorola e680i touchscreen phone. It was smaller in length and width, but thickness matters… as some will tell you. I've come to appreciate using my girlfriend's slim Motorola L7 in the back pocket sometimes as I don't feel it until I need to (when it's ringing and vibrating).
I looked at 16 other phones then – not even wanting to think about something with this phone's thickness.
I looked at the Dopods, the O2's, the Samsung 900 something with a micro button keyboard under a flip pad. I looked at the e65 – and actually BOUGHT it – but returned it for having no touchscreen or QWERTY which I decided I must have – one or the other. That phone was suave though… very sexy and did everything. It's UI (user interface) – or, what you see – the menus and everything were VERY clear, sharp, bright, and tweaked out to look faaaabuluous and I was very impressed. Until I tried to write some blog posts with it and my excitement wained, then died abruptly. I went back to the Telewiz store and told them I like it – but I need something else. They said I had 7 days to return for defect, but no problem to return for a trade-in. That was a good feeling – because if you try to return ANYTHING in Thailand – you'll find that the tiny BIG C phone schlepper just isn't taking that phone back regardless WHAT doesn't work with it.
I looked at the LG, the whole Sony line, the whole motorola line, the Nokia N series and E series. The e61i wasn't out yet, and didn't have one option I know I must have – EDGE or WIFI – can't remember which – so I couldn't test that one, but it was on the list as a top possibility.
When I brought back the e65 I was at my wits end. They would not give me a cash refund – which I understood. But, which phone to get? The DOPOD they had that I did like had a screen that had been deep-scratched and I wasn't going to accept it. Otherwise, I may have – finding out only later that it didn't have the high-speed EDGE capability either…
I picked up the e70 again and thought more about it. I tried to overlook how ugly and stupid the thickness of the display area looked to me. It is hideously large when compared with other phones on the market in this slim mobile phone era we are all living in.
I had read about 9 reviews on the phone before I came too – and EVERYONE was singing halleluja's over it. I put the battery in, fired it up and wow – the display was JUST like the e65, but it could also turn horizontal since the phone keypad flipped out, clamshell like and became a QWERTY keyboard that I've finally become pretty used to – and it's a lifesaver for responding to emails when I have to write a paragraph or even two. Writing a whole page would tax my patience and my hands, but for short notes – it's great. The keys are responsive and large enough that I don't mistype much, maybe once in every 100 keystrokes. Acceptable to me considering if I had bought the Sony Erricson 990i I'd be misstyping every 5 strokes or so. NOT acceptable!
I wanted a phone that would help me blog in Thailand. When you're blogging a lot – or thinking about blogging a lot… and things that you're doing during the day might just turn into the next blog post there are some things a phone can help with.
This phone helps me by freeing me up to carry just my phone instead of toting a digital camera, digital camcorder and computer around. It keeps me from having to edit the files I take on the digital camera because I can choose the correct size for the blog before I take the photo. The quality from the phone for smaller pictures seems same as digital camera. For larger photos – no contest, but the phone is so much more convenient than camera/computer setup.
The digital camcorder I've used for clips in the past has it's advantages, and yet, the weight of it was a HUGE drawback and one that I wanted to eliminate. I also wanted to eliminate the TIME it takes to edit the raw footage and upload it to the servers by FTP program (internet). I no longer get GREAT video – but, with the 2 megapixel phone video camera I get acceptable for web video that I'm going to call a good tradeoff.
To shoot video with the camcorder, upload it to the computer… open it in moviemaker or some other editing program, edit the clips, add titles and credits – which I'm not doing for the future, all take a LOT OF TIME. It's SO MUCH EASIER to shoot so-so video using the mobile phone cam and either upload it from there to Youtube or to my web hosting server so I can provide links to it in the blog posts.
Blogging in Thailand is all about being ready. Blogging anywhere when it's not your full-time gig is about saving time doing things and producing a half decent blog. With this e70 Nokia I've eliminated a lot of steps to being able to create a decent blog post. And some more bonuses came with the phone too…
The phone takes the movie file in mp4 format which is already formatted for itunes or youtube. If I wanted to do podcasts I could do them easily from the phone and upload them to the internet directly – assuming I was careful about filming the video and made it useable to start – without needing editing.
The phone has EDGE, GPRS, WIFI LAN, Voice over IP (free voice calls to other computers, like computer to computer voice chat you may have done on MSN or Yahoo! or Google or Skype).
Thailand's EDGE service is slowly catching on. EDGE is supposed to be faster internet than the regular GPRS connections that everyone enjoys on their mobile phone all over Thailand on DTAC, AIS, and TRUE (ORANGE) networks. I've had EDGE connections (10-12 kB per second internet speeds) in Bangkok, Suratthani, and Khon Kaen. I've heard that it worked in Pattaya and I couldn't imagine it not working in Chiang Mai. I was in Ubon Ratchathani and found that while I wasn't getting an EDGE connection, I was getting EDGE speeds just over regular GPRS! I was getting 10 and sometimes 12 kilo Bits per second speeds on web browsing.
So, the infrastructure for being able to shoot and post large videos to the web quickly and painlessly is getting there. I have posted a 20 mB video to youtube using the phone only – no broadband internet connection. I did have EDGE and at times I think I was getting 20 kB per second on the upload. In an hour and something I had completely uploaded the file which is AMAZING.
The time involved to send anything over a few megabytes makes the video option one that is used infrequently, but at least it's an option. 1 minute of .mp4 video creates a file about 4 megabytes in 352×288 resolution which is the maximum for this camera. One can also take smaller videos that take up much less space and then one could post more frequently – but, the size is very small and maybe for the web not any good for anything but a headshot (ala maxheadroom) video where you're just trying to say something, not show something. But then you could use audio – but then it's boring. So, maybe there's a place for these smaller videos. I've not tried the size out yet. I'll try today.
The other size options for the video are:
176×144 pixels which gives a file size of about 1 MB for a minute of video
128×96 which creates a file size of about 900 kB. Strange because one might as well shoot the 176×144 pixel and forget totally about the smaller size since it's a difference of only 100 kB per minute.
I'll post one of each below and you can decide at what point it's too small for your viewing pleasure. The two files below are original and are posted on my server. Compare these originals with the others that I posted to YouTube and see how Youtube destroys them! Unfortunately it's much easier just to shoot them to Youtube and live with the file they create.
I just found something out… the phone creates .3gp files for the videos for the smaller sizes, not the mp4 that comes with the larger video… hmmm. I've not noticed because usually I just upload to YouTube directly from the phone and Youtube, as it grabs the file, changes it to a readable format for it's viewers. Hmmmm….
Video files with the .3gp extension are what Nokia uses. I'm not sure that Windows Media Player reads them but WINAMP, and some other programs do. Try one of the links above to see if you can view the movie. I don't really want to convert them to .wmv or .mp4 because they will lose some quality in the conversion for sure.
Ok, I'll upload them at Youtube… and give you links here. Boy this is turning into a major effort blog post.
Smallest size e70 video uploaded to Youtube > This one took a long time for youtube to render. It came out basically USELESS since it's trying to make the video larger. That never works well. Throw out this size as an option unless you want to shoot, upload to your computer and use a program like SUPER to convert it to wmv or something else usable, and then upload it to your own server. Don't upload a converted file to Youtube because when they convert it again – it will be a total loss.
Medium size e70 video uploaded to Youtube > YIKES. The compression algorithm at Youtube totally farked this video up good. It tried to make it bigger size – and really wrecked it. I'm not sure this size video will be good for anything at all except bright sunshine, close up shots. With other scenes fuzziness is too prolific. Bummer.
Large size e70 video uploaded to Youtube > Now that I'm looking at it having seen the other smaller videos, this video is actually quite large – probably bigger than it needs to be for most blogging purposes. Unfortunately Youtube farks this one up the LEAST as it's originally an mp4 file and large enough that they don't have to change the viewing size.
So, if you're going to shoot the medium sized videos like the sample you'll do well to post them at Youtube since they convert them FOR you. (At YouTube edit your mobile posting settings and they'll give you an email address to send your video files to. They'll post them and then you can see in your account the URL for the video and put that URL into your blog pages.)
Thing is – once I shoot at a small size – I cannot make it bigger – EVER. If I shoot it big to start with – I can always edit it down later to one of the smaller sizes. Everything is a tradeoff.
Just from viewing the different sized videos compared I think I can get away with the medium sized video for most things in bright sunlight and where the camera isn't moving much at all… Still shots only. If something is far away I'd want the large video but otherwise I think the medium will serve it's purpose for blogging – AND be a much smaller and easier to upload file. AND I'll post more video since it's quicker… Don't get me wrong, in general, the medium size video on Youtube SUCKS since they change the whole resolution into a larger size. The video is horrible looking at medium setting, but as I said, it's a tradeoff… and one that I have to live with for a while.
Some other pluses for the phone… it has push email service – so I could get a chirp whenever I have a new email – no matter what account it came from. I can setup any pop3 email account (I use gmail since it's free) and be alerted if I have new mail. Knowing I have new mail is important because I like to publish comments visitors leave as soon as possible. The sooner they see their own comment, the happier they are and the more comments they leave. The more interactive the blog, the better. Yes, it's far short of chat or a forum, but interactive enough to mean something.
By the way, if you need a google mail (gmail) referral – I can shoot you one, just email me, I have 96 to "give away". I'm not sure if the only way you can get a gmail account is by referral still or not, but I think so since I still have these 96 in queue.
The phone has a voice recorder – but it's only good for a minute. It's good for when you just need a short clip of something. A howling monkey for instance.
The battery does VERY well when uploading files or when connected to the internet and acting as a modem for your notebook computer – as mine is doing now. You could be online for 3 hours like this or more. I've tested only 2 hours and I barely had a drop in battery levels. It's almost like it's not using battery to function as a modem. This contrasts STARKLY with my previous phone – Motorola's e680i which drained a full battery dry within an hour of using it as a modem to connect the notebook.
Oh, the best part… the QWERTY keyboard. The reason I'm even able to care about email on my phone is that I can actually RESPOND to it and type out a couple paragraphs of thoughts fairly quickly with the keyboard. The phone flips out clamshell like, but opens fully. It makes the phone appear like a little gameboy or something. The keyboard keys are responsive and nicely spaced and as I said previously I make few errors using it. That's SAYING something since most of the keyboards on these phones really suck.
Add to the QWERTY the little joystick for navigation which is complimented by two buttons that are close-by for the usual responses and it becomes a phone that is quite well put together.
The SYMBIAN operating system is very fast and does not have delays. It has not locked up in a few weeks of owning it. It comes with Nokia's Suite software which facilitates transferring files to either the phone's internal 50MB of memory or the swappable memory card – I only have 64 MB as I'm not an mp3 addict.
One gripe is the cable – which is proprietary and that they call a USB cable. The connectors SUCKSOHARD on this cable that if I spent 10 minutes writing about it I'd not cover how bad it really sucks. The good news is that as time goes on it sucks less because the plastic starts to fit better – at least the plug goes into the phone easier. But, that could lead to failure in connection later too. WHY do modern companies make these ridiculous cables just for a few extra dollars (baht)?
So that's about it. There's more, but if you really want one you'll go read a real review at asia.cnet.com or one of the other mobile phone review places. I'm using this phone until the Motorola Q q9 or gsm phones are released. I think they're going to be even more of what I think I need in a blogging phone.
If you need any help with anything about mobile blogging in Thailand just ask. I'm not an expert but if I help you do something then I'll probably learn something more myself which is a fair trade.