N-Gage Thoughts

They dropped the price of the N-Gage down to $199. After listening to Jock crow about his purchase of "the cheapest unlocked (no contract) Series 60 device available" I decided I couldn't resist. Besides, I justified to myself, I can "develop" on it. :-) (Yeah, right, after I get done with the next level of Super Monkey Ball).

There's a zillion reviews out there, so I won't bother with another one but here's a few random thoughts: The integrated radio is actually a lot more useful than it seems. Yes, I know you can get a portable radio free with your Cheerios, but still, it's neat. This is probably more because it's been *soo* long since I've heard American Radio that I'm jonesing for it in a big way. Even Clear Channel crap in English is better than crap in Spanish after so long without it. Then there's KQED and KFOG which are just purely enjoyable (Acoustic Sunrise anyone?). Regardless, I think I'll have to add more points in my mind for future phone designs I see with a radio like the SX1. It's more than just a gimmick.

The keys on the N-Gage are weirding me out and texting is *impossible*. Think texting on the 3650 was a shift? How about not being able to use your left hand at all? Actually, trying to adjust my head around the new layout gave me a new text-input idea (that has probably already been thought of already). Why not use the joy-pad as a text assist button? For example, left + 2 = A, up + 2 = B, right + 2 = C, and down would be used for the 7 and 9 keys which have 4 letters, and as commonly used symbols like .,?,@ and - on the rest of the keys. The layout on the N-Gage could make this really doable. I bet it wouldn't take too long to get *really* fast using this system.

I haven't made a Taco call yet with the phone yet, even though it came with a T-Mobile SIM card included. Remember that the other T-Mobile SIM that I got didn't work in my 3650 (which is why they threw in a phone) so I think it's pretty interesting this device came with one and that it works. Jock up in Oregon didn't get a card with his. Anyways, I'll have to work through how to activate it later (it's a longish-process it seems).

In general I think right now my opinion is that I would've been happier with an Nintendo GBA SP instead if I bought it just to play games on, but I honestly have been looking for another more powerful Series 60 device to experiment with for Bluetooth and general compatibility questions. I thought I was going to hold out until the 6600, but the sale is only this week so I couldn't resist. Nintendo's going to lose their shirt with this device, however, the guy at EB told me they they've sold "about 7" of the phones since it launched and a few more this week. Ooooooof.

Best app so far for the N-Gage? The GoBoy GBC emulator! Of course! It's *great* when used with the normal keypad. Wait... did I just pay 4 times the cost of a GameBoy Color Pocket for a device which emulates it badly? Hmmmmm... Well, doesn't matter, it gives you warm fuzzies to pull up a bunch of fun games from the GameBoy and play them on your new fancy-shmancy gaming device, believe me.

More random thoughts: The keys on the right get a little slick if you're sweaty or oily at all. Not that I'm a big sweaty, oily guy... but hey, let's be real. Also after using Series 60 for almost a year, *I'm* lost on this device. I think it's a form-factor thing. Since I'm holding it like a GBA, I'm expecting it to be as easy as a GBA to operate and they've thrown apps *all over the place*: The WAP2 browser is in the Media folder, the Java "Apps" icon is in Extras, Bluetooth is in Tools, etc. It's wacky. Also, playing on the device for about 10 minutes started to give me a little headache. I've noticed this on my 3650 as well. I think all that stuff happening on a thin screen makes your eyes almost cross to use it. Bad, bad, bad. Between that and the battery-change-to-remove-MMC design mistakes, this thing is a disaster in terms of usability. Who knows how long the battery life in real-terms is. I bet you it doesn't last for more than a couple of hours if you're actually using the thing. I know that if I screw around with my 3650 for long enough I can see the battery gage drop like rock. Maybe that's what the N stands for: "No".

Okay, that's it. Except for one final thought, while perusing the documentation for the N-Gage I learned how to lock the keypad quickly on my 3650!! Press the left screen key and the * button at the same time and *poof* it's locked. Press them again and it's unlocked. I had NO idea this worked and always used the menu on the off switch ... LOL. That right there may have been worth the price of the device alone.


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