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Hands on with the N8: Live

by Ben Smith on 14th June 2010

This morning, Nokia’s been showing the N8 to an invited audience…

It’s the first time the device has been handed over to bloggers and journalists unsupervised (officially) and we got to hear some background on the device and take some pictures.

Esa Alonen, the product manager, filled us in a little on the device.  Here’s some of the key points live from the event:

  • It’s made of coloured aluminium, not painted. When scratched with keys the scuff marks just wiped away.
  • There are two processors in the chip – one handling data and one for work with images. When asked why they had based the chip-sets on an older platform we were told it helped keep the cost down and that the performance of the device didn’t suffer for it due to the optimisations in Symbian ^3 which is faster, fas a more refined UI and fewer dialogue check-points to make it faster in operation. It also adds single-click operation throughout the interface. Nokia stressed how established and robust Symbian is now as a platform.
  • Picture quality from the camera is as impressive as promised – the Carl Zeiss optics have paid off and the xenon flash recharges quickly (within half a second). The camera offers face tracking too which worked well with several faces simultaneously. Image file sizes are smaller due to the better quality and lower noise images the device creates. Damien Dinning, the team’s camera guru, stressed that there is no artificial enhancement of the images and that the camera’s wide-angle lens is ideal for the closer shots most people take with camera phones.
  • For video recording, stereo microphones are used to give better sound quality. This was demonstrated with a video of a child on a swing. Using only the internal microphones her speech was clear and the dual microphone reduced the wind noise. It looked and sound impressive on an HD television.
  • Visual multi-tasking shows open applications as cards in a similar style to the Palm Pre.
  • The mail client shows HTML email and extends the push and hold menu approach.
  • In the Maps application the device can now position itself by WiFi positioning in addition to the assisted-GPS as before.
  • The browser includes Flash and offers pinch-zoom, although the demo device was laggy and not smooth.
  • The media player supports Dolby Digital playback, which sounded great through a surround sound system. HD video playback is also impressive and indistinguishable from any other HD source.
  • Asked about WebTV features, we were told that Nokia had created a template that allowed existing broadcasters (and even bloggers) to create TV stations. These can then be placed in the Ovi store… there are a number of big broadcasters signed-up. In most cases rights issues mean media is available as streaming only, but for people who own the correct rights they can distribute a downloadable versions too.

We’ve got more news and views to follow, but for now here are a few pictures of the device.

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