Nokia N96 Test Drive Episode 4 – Satellites Watch Me Jog

Sport Tracker on Nokia N96

The Nokia N96 is without doubt more than just a phone and yesterday, I took it for a jog, with the satellites behind me.  I have stopped jogging for more than a year after I have hurt my knees at the Mount Kinabalu.  It is hard to describe the fear of not being able to jog again for those who love to jog.  Avid readers of my site may remember that I do love to jog, even with my injured knees I tried.

Sport Tracker Route

18 months have passed and I have decided to give it another try.  To see if I still can jog.  Of the many applications that Nokia users can download (many are free), I love the Sports Tracker by Nokia a lot.  There are in total 7 live views for any outdoor activity.  Once the phone has locked onto the GPS coordinates, the main view (as seen in picture above at starting position) has a mini map that outline your route live as you jog, walk, cycle, ski, and etc.  Besides the mini live map, this main view shows the pace in min/km, the distance covered, as well as the time lapsed.  I found it very useful to monitor the pace as I jog.  I can easily tell if I am slowing down or doing well in keeping pace.  The sweetest of all data is the distance covered.  I often wonder how far I have jogged and with the satellites watch over me, I no longer need to guess.

Switch to other views there are useful information such as average pace, altitude (!), speed in km/h, and exact GPS coordinates in latitude and longitude.  Also, there are live graphs on speed versus time, speed versus distance, as well as altitude versus distance.  Finally, for the curious minds, there is even a view on how many satellites are above you and how many the Nokia N96 manages to lock onto (note: one wise man told me that we need at least 3 satellites to tell us the exact position).

Sport Tracker Results

After each workout, the application stores a full report in the Nokia N96 and tags it to the internal Sports Tracker calendar.  There are different options to export the reports in various formats.  In this example (on the left), I exported a screenshot of my jogging result to Cynthia’s Nokia 95 via Bluetooth.  There is a function to export directly to Nokia’s OVI but I don’t seem to be able to get that to work for now.  Other formats such as Google Earth, GPX, XML, CSV … Gosh, I think I will stick with screenshots for now.

I guess there must be some sort of connection between my bio-data entered (such as gender, age, height, and weight) and the amount of kCal burned.  Is 254.4 kCal a lot?  I have no clue.  And it seems that I have covered 4.12km in 22.47 minutes.  I think with practice, I shall do much better than this.

I have tried turning the tracker on when I was driving on the highway today for testing purposes.  Shall I say … it is a good estimation!

Other Cool Applications I Frequently Use on my Nokia N96

Besides Sports Tracker, I use Facebook Mobile and Fring (messenger equivalent) a lot.  With these two applications, I can keep in touch with my friends via my favorite social networking application as well as to be able to chat with my friends online anytime, almost anywhere.  Most of the hotels I have visited lately provide free wi-fi connection.  Communication via SMS cost me up to S$0.61 per message sent and received when I am overseas.  Communication via my Nokia N96’s wi-fi capability is free when network is available.

For those who love to have their emails pushed into their phones, you may wish to try out the Nokia Email application.

In Closing

My knees seem to be able to take the impact.  At least for this first run.  With Nokia N96, new ideas and opportunities have opened up for my passion in jogging.  No longer do I need to stick to familar routes for the sake of tracking my progress (I have this 4.5 km route that I once measured using my car’s meter).  Now, I can jog to the reservoir and back and I can proudly note it somewhere that I have jogged X km today and burned Y kCal.


Related Tag: More Nokia N96 Test Drive Episodes

External Link: Sports Tracker by Nokia

Nokia N96 Test Drive Episode 3 – Coffee Break Spanish

Orhhh … Look at this dreamy picture of that one true beauty, don’t you want to … take one home?  I love listening to podcast on the Nokia Nseries.  It enables me to download video and audio episodes in the morning wirelessly through my home network way before Apple has figured out how to implement wi-fi connectivity into their over-hyped, overpriced products.

And as this lifestyle continuous, years later today, I am counting on my Nokia N96 to save me from failing an examination that I cannot fail.  If you notice, I have not been blogging about my Spanish class lately.  Onto level two, though it has not really gotten that much tougher than Beginner 1, my poor foundation seems to have cracked under the weight of these 10 new lessons.  There was no examination at the end of Beginner 1, but there will be an examination at the end of Beginner 2.

Having an examination, in principle, is a great idea.  Who would practice music without a gig?  Would would treasure a computer game without the long wait, long queue, and 8 flights of stairs up?  Who would study … without an examination?

I cannot fail my Spanish examination because:

  1. Everyone including Cynthia will move onto Elementary 1
  2. … while I have to repeat Beginner 2.
  3. And I will miss my old classmate a lot …
  4. … have to re-take the examination again.
  5. And pay an extra S$323.

¡Qué horror!  Time for more green bottle mental booster!

One evening, I was really stressed out.  Cynthia has started listening to a podcast channel called Coffee Break Spanish while I was still staring at the two Spanish books I have bought, but haven’t started reading.  OK, my strategy certainly was not working.  An idea struck me, how about subscribing to that channel that seems to have captivated Cynthia using my new Nokia N96?

The process was so simple that I banged my head onto the table for my procrastination.  I took out my phone, navigated to the podcast application, and entered the phrase Coffee Break Spanish onto the search bar.  And voilà!  80 odd episodes to be downloaded onto my phone with a click of a button from this award-winning beginners’ Spanish show.

Both Cynthia and I love this channel because the pace is good and the presentation of the materials is interesting.  We have gone through 10 episodes in details listening to the Spanish teacher Mark working with his student Kara.  The episodes are packed with exercises for the listeners to orally practice with Mark and Kara, interesting long dialogues to practice our listening, and they do seem to interject the Spanish culture into their materials whenever possible with interesting guests from Spain and Mexico origin.

Speaking as such, let me download the next 10 episodes now.  Wish me luck on the examination!  And you know me.  Pass or fail I will post out the results.  By the way, I notice that Nokia N96 has done a much better job in handling simultaneous download of multiple podcast episodes compares to its predecessor.  And it seems faster too.  I am glad that Nokia N96 comes with 16GB memory (+ another 16GB externally if you want).  I reckon it can fit all 80+ episodes nicely.

Related Tag: More Nokia N96 Test Drive Episodes

Nokia N96 Test Drive Episode 2 – GPS in the Highland

Ever since I got that lovely Nokia N96, I have not stopped playing with it.  I am a big fan of GPS.  And this post is dedicated to the computer gamers who often get to experience some forms of what the future will be like, today.  Or to experience some forms of what today is like decades ago.

As we were driving up from Singapore to Fraser Hill in Malaysia, I had my Nokia Map switched on throughout the trip.  One could argue that the screen is a bit tiny and question the necessity.  But not having to pay for an extra GPS device just to tell me where I am serves my need.  I now can see when the next highway intersection is coming up before I see the roadsigns.  That is neat as I do at times miss the opportunity to bypass the Kuala Lumpur traffic.  I can easily zoom all the way out to the country view (or to the planet view if to feel like living in the Moon makes you happy) and look at the overall progress of the trip – very much like what we see inside the plane.  Or I can zoom all the way into the street level and see where are the upcoming towns nearby.  All the landmarks are categorized into different icons.  Including … petrol stations.

Unfortunately, not for the one above.

Before I continue the story of finding a petrol station at Fraser Hill, let me go back to the topic of why I dedicate this post to the gamers.  For decades, we gamers explore the virtual world with a mini-map on the computer screen and to know exactly where we virtually are.  It adds a lot of fun to our exploration activity.  We humans love to travel because it is our innate nature to visit new places, explore new frontiers.  Next time when you travel to a new city, try what I do when you are inside a cab.  Take out your GPS phone and observe how your position moves across the map towards your destination.  I did that often with my old Nokia N95 when I was in Jakarta.  First, it gives me comfort that the cab drivers are taking me to where I want to go.  Second, I develop a strong sense of where the landmarks are relative to each other.  It adds a lot of meaning to my traveling too.  Besides, it is closer to the virtual reality I have experienced for decades – a little GPS map right next to my car’s dashboard (note: Nokia Map does work well when you are on foot).

Now, back to the mini-story of our Fraser Hill trip.  I had no idea why I did not top up my fuel tank before we climbed up the hill.  We were low in fuel and could not find a petrol station within the town.  I pulled out my Nokia N96 and did a search for the nearby petrol stations.  Horror sank in when the nearest petrol station was more than 20 km away.  20 km may not seem much but with the 8km stretch of one-way-odd-hours-up-even-hours-down road and the average speed of 20-40 kph of bends and ups and downs, it seems far.  Fortunately, we found a mini-store that sells … petrol.

I have taken 1,500 pictures with my Nikon D700 over our stay at Fraser Hill and Petaling Jaya and am eager to share some of better ones with you in the next few weeks’ time.  Stay tuned for more pictures and stories of our trip.  And stay tuned for more episodes on my Nokia N96 Test Drive journey too.

I wish to end this entry with one picture I took when we found a proper petrol station in one of the neighboring town of Fraser Hill – thanks to Nokia Map.

Related Tags: More Nokia N96 Test Drive Episodes, Our trip to Fraser Hill in the November of year 2008

Nokia N96 Test Drive Episode 1 – First Impression

Rarely do I play around with my wireless phone when I am having a meal with someone.  But when the three lovely ladies from the Nokia and Text100 teams handed me the Nokia N96 for a test drive, not even the thunderstorm outside The Rogues could keep me from having my hands all over this one true beauty.  I know you wish you were me.  And you could well be!

First Impression

This lovely Nokia N96 could well be your early Christmas present.  Or for your loved one.  Or you could email the link of this post to your loved one and hope that he or she would get the hint.  When I first laid my hands on the new Nokia N96, I was much impressed by the elegance of the overall design.  This new design now comes with the eye pleasing rounded corners, new stylish materials for the side and the back too.  

The new Nokia N96 feels lighter, and certainly slenderer than the Nokia N95 that I have.  There is a total redesign of the keypad as well.  I love the flat surface shiny black material with some of the button labels light up or fade away depending on situation.  The new keypad is scratch resistance too.  I have been sms’ing, msn’ing, facebook’ing, gmail’ing, and more for the entire weekend, not a single scratch.

From N95 to N96 in 60 Seconds

When I choose a wireless phone, I don’t just choose a model or a design, I choose a brand that truly care about its customers.  And I have stayed with Nokia since 2000.  Here is one good example of how Nokia delights me.

My wireless phones contain all my vital contact information, together with my notes, to-do list, and calendar items.  And just how easy it is to transfer all that from my old Nokia phone to the Nokia N96?

60 seconds, the wireless way.

First, I logged onto the Nokia’s OVI homepage and added a new phone into my online profile.  A sms was sent to my new N96 and I opened it with my temporary PIN displayed at the OVI website (for my eyes only).  I then used the Sync tool provided by the N96 to download all my latest contact, notes, to-do list, and calendar information I have previously synchronized with my old phone.  60 seconds, with no wire or complicated desktop applications.  I now have a copy of my vital information in my old N95, in the Nokia’s OVI website, in the new N96, and any future Nokia phones I will have.

A detail write-up on the Nokia OVI blogger event can be found in here.

Incremental Improvements that Shock Me Off My Chair

The new Nokia N96 is loaded with so many improvements over its predecessor that some put a smile on my face, some shock me off my socks.

The little stand that is hidden behind the camera near the lens is very good to have.  No longer do I need to hand hold my phone while watching CNN video podcast in the morning with my cup of coffee as I wait for my corporate computer to boot up.  There is also a physical keypad lock latch that makes a lot of sense.  I often find the N95 keypad locking mechanism a bit odd at times.

The music player now allows me to adjust the volume with double the precision than before, which is nice.  And the volume output through the headphone is much louder, which is very car stereo friendly.  I have long replaced the CD changer with my Nokia Nseries.  Did I mention that the new Nokia N96 comes with a car charger in the box as well?  Big deal you may say.  But having the flexibility to perpetually switch on the GPS positioning system (Nokia Map) without worrying that I may run out of the phone battery during my road trip in Malaysia, that is very, very nice.

While it still has the same good old 5 mega-pixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens that works well (see my favorite sunset photo), the newly expanded 16 GB built-in memory with option to extend to another 16 GB and more put Nokia N96 beyond most (if not all) of the MP3 phones in the market today.  The menu feature has been improved too for better productivity and user friendiness.

Above all that are too many to mention in one post, here are two observations that make me a very happy Nokia N96 user.

  1. “5 seconds” is all it takes for the phone to lock onto the GPS satellites.  It is very fast, lightning fast.  And it is free.  Unlike the N95 that takes up to 5 minutes for initial satellite connection, you don’t need to slide the phone open.  The precision is so great now that it can be used not only for driving, but also for walking.  Think of the possibilities.
  2. “4 megabytes per second” is the transfer speed from my computer to the Nokia N96 via the supplied cable.  Big deal?  Well, this is up to 8 times faster than my N95.  Transferring one music album in MP3 format will now only take 15 seconds.  That is fast for a phone.  I timed this myself, loving it.

In Summary and Coming Soon

Throughout the years, Nokia has created wireless phones with better functionality and better design generation after generation.  It is evident when you hold one and try one, like the Nokia N96.  A big thanks to Angela, Evenlyn, and Felicia from the Nokia and Text100 teams who so patiently answered my questions from communication, to product, and to marketing.

It is impossible to cover all that Nokia N96 has to offer in one entry, nor do I enjoy documenting specifications line by line.  Depending on how long I get to hold onto this new phone for my test drive, here are some of the potential working titles for the upcoming episodes.  Stay tuned!

  • Episode 2: So Cynthia Took Over My Old N95 and My Second Impression on N96 (check out the picture above to see how happy she is)
  • Episode 3: GPS in the Highlands
  • Episode 4: Learning Spanish with Nokia N96
  • Episode 5: It is Spore!
  • Episode 6: Satellite Watches Me Jog
  • Episode 7: Geo-tagging Photos of My Year End Trips
  • And more

Related Tag: More Nokia N96 Test Drive Episodes