All in all, I’m pretty pleased with the way Nokia has thought about, and then serviced, the needs of music listeners. None of what’s been done is rocket science, but it all helps with ease of use.
The N91 is a tri-band 3G handset, and one of the features that may well irritate some people is the absence of a front facing camera for making video calls.
It is very unusual to see Wi-Fi in a handset, but it is here, and it is the faster 802.11g standard at that. Using it is easy. When you make a connection, such as to use the Web browser, you are asked to choose an access point. This could be via your SIM or a WLAN router. It is most likely you’ll use your LAN for Internet browsing. You can’t synchronise, file share, or stream over WLAN.
The Web browser is disappointing. It doesn’t force pages into the screen width, so there’s often a lot of horizontal scrolling to be done. I know that Web pages aren’t designed for 176 x 208 pixel screens, but on the other hand, horizontal scrolling on a small screen is, putting it mildly, a nuisance.
The browser redeems itself by offering a miniaturised view of an entire Web page and allowing you to choose an area to zoom into, which makes general navigation a bit easier, and by offering a mini cursor which makes pinpointing links easy, but scrolling madly left and right to read a TrustedReviews review, for example, is no fun at all.
The camera is a two Megapixel job, and, very unusually, it lacks a hardware based shortcut button. To get it rolling you need to choose it from the main menu area – which you get to from a dedicated side button. Thereafter the softmenus and mini joystick that sits under the screen provide all the necessary control. The mini joystick is well made and solid.
Other on board software goodies apart from those already mentioned include a voice recorder, the Flash player, Real Player, Nokia’s IM client, Push to Talk, alarm clock, text notes tool, and Nokia’s LifeBlog software. The Active Standby shows small icons for the last six applications you’ve opened as well as calendar entries. Bluetooth, it almost goes without saying, is also here.
For music fans, the N91 does appear to have been worth the wait. In the year between announcement and arrival nobody has come up with a music playing handset with more internal storage, and the ease of file transfer and user friendly hardware and software are to be praised.
But while the music specs are pretty good, corners have been cut elsewhere. Why is the camera not higher resolution? Why isn’t there a front facing camera for 3G video calls? Why does the N91 have only a 176 x 208 pixel screen, when Nokia’s new N80 offers 352 x 416 pixels? Why is there no support for external memory expansion? I know 4GB should be enough for everyone, but despite the various connectivity outlined above, there’s nothing like a flash memory card reader for quickly moving files. And it’s a shame the N91 is such a giant.