Nokia last week took the wraps off the latest round of Nseries handsets, and the flagship N93 is loaded with multimedia goodness. The Nokia N93 features a 3.2-megapixel (2,048 x 1,536 pixels) camera with a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 3x optical zoom lens, as well as up to 20x digital zoom, auto-focus and close-up mode. The N93 also offers DVD-like video capture — MPEG4 at 30 fps with stereo audio recording and digital stabilization. You can connect the N93 directly to your TV or upload your images and video to online albums or blogs. Nokia has made a deal with Yahoo so its new camera-phones can directly upload full-size photos to the Flickr photo-sharing site. Moreover, you can create high-quality home movies and burn them to DVD with the included Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0 software (for Windows XP only, alas).
The Nokia N93 has an active camera toolbar that displays all available capture features, from exposure value to color tones and white balance. There are dedicated keys for shutter, zoom and flash and also a camera mode key that enables you to switch quickly between image and video capture. On the typical camera-phone, nearly all camera adjustments and controls are buried deep in nested menus and therefore rarely used, so we applaud these much-needed features. The phone features internal memory of up to 50 MB, which can be further expanded with a hot swappable miniSD card of up to 2 GB (a 128 MB card is included), allowing users to capture up to 90 minutes of high-quality video or close to 2,500 full resolution photos. The Nokia N93 includes a stereo FM radio and a digital music player as well as Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g) and UPnP (Universal Plug and Play), Bluetooth 2.0, and USB 2.0 via Pop-Port interface and mass storage class support to support drag and drop functionality.
The handset echoes the Rubik’s cube design of the N92, but with a couple of refinements. The camera is still mounted in the hinge, which allows plenty of room for those lovely Zeiss optics, and the big 2.4-inch, QVGA, 262,144-color, 160°-viewing angle screen still rotates in multiple directions so you can use the phone like a regular clamshell, operate the camera pistol-style like a camcorder, or set it flat on a table with the screen in landscape orientation for browsing the web, watching video like a PMP or making hands-free video calls with the CIF (352 x 288) sub-camera, but the post around which it swivels is now at the other end of the hinge — near the zoom and shutter controls instead of the camera lens. There’s also a small 1.1-inch, 128 x 36-pixel, 65,536-color sub-display. All this functionality and versatility comes at a price, of course — an estimated, unsubsidized sales price of approximately €550 euros [almost $700 at today’s exchange rates] and, in this era of ever-slimmer phones, a rather bulky 118.2 x 55.5 x 28.2-mm, 180-gram package (twice as thick and twice as heavy as the Moto Razr V3c, for example). The N93 will be commercially available in July 2006.
With all the functionality being integrated into these devices, Nokia would like us to stop calling them camera-phones, or video-phones, or MP3-phones — or even phones — and instead refer to them as “multimedia computers.” While the point is well taken — these amazing electronic gizmos have gone way past being just phones or even hyphenated phones — the term “multimedia computer” doesn’t exactly resonate either. You already have a multimedia computer — it’s the Mac or Windows XP box on your desktop — and the term conveys neither the breadth of functionality nor the intensely personal nature of today’s mobile phones. Multimedia fails to communicate uses such as information management, barcode reading, or mobile wallet functions, to name just a few, and while the processing power in your hand is rapidly approaching that of yesterday’s desktop computer, that word is too cold and dry and businesslike to describe the indispensable consumer electronic device that you’ve tricked out with your favorite ringtones, ring-back tones, wallpapers, covers, holsters, skins, Swarovski crystals, and dangly bits of cuddliness and bling. Nominations are now open for a much needed, more marketable and catchier name. Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.