Nokias - N 90, N70 and Digital Pen

The Nokia N 90 is the one that does serious camera... for a phone anyway. It has a 2 Meg camera and a Zeiss lens along with a rotatable top section. And, quite cooly, the flip front goes up and can then be rotated, and in that position it is a video camera that actually looks like a video camera. We used it to get some footage for little promo videos for our upcoming Bleepfest. If you go to the bottom of the Bleepfest page, you'll see a few videos that can be downloaded (they're small, 2 Meg-ish). The quality is actually better than you will see there as those clips have been compressed for the web. Still, this isn't the camera you'd use to make a feature film.

front and side view of N90 showing camera lens on twistable top

The phone is a Symbian Series 60 model, aka a smartphone, with email, contacts, todo lists, and any number of downloadable apps including an increasing number of games that go beyond Snake and the rest. As a phone it works pefectly well, with a nice action keypad, and enough speed in the processor that you don't have to wait long for the cursor to reappear when texting successive letters within the same key group.

It's nicely made with metal bits along the side that make it feel sturdy. The only thing we can think of to question is the lack of a lens cap. We wonder how long that would stay undamaged in normal use. Well, actually there's another thing. Syncing software is supplied for Windows only, which means you have to hunt down your own, and your hunt might or might not be successful. Mac users will find the N 90 isn't covered out of the box, but a short hunt will discover some lines and an icon to be added to a plist and you're away.

The battery recharges very quickly. It is overall a nice phone and not a bad camera at all.

The N70 is also a serious camera phone. It has the same Zeiss lens except this time mounted on the back of the ordinary, non-clamshell style phone. There's a secondary lens on the keypad side that could be used for video calls.

The front with the keypad lit and the back with the cover slid down to reveal the camera lens.

The construction is nice, with a metal insert on the front and nice action keys ... except thay are quite small - smaller than the N90 and some people will find them too small to be comfortable.

The idea of the Digital Pen is that you can scribble on special paper and then send the images to your phone by Bluetooth or to your Windows PC... there's that stupid Windows problem again for non-users. You could, for example, write longhand things and zip them across. As far as we know though, there is no handwriting recognition anywhere, so what you end up with are images that you could send along as MMS messages or as email attachments from your PC.

This might be useful for some people. It could certainly be fun but standard texting isn't going to be threatened by this gadget. Handwriting recognition could make it a whole new ballgame but still within a limited subset.

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