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The TV commercial asks us all a question – Can a computer be beautiful? I guess so. The N76 from Nokia seems like a perfect example. It's not like there’s a shortage of extremely good-looking phones out there for the fashion freaks to choose from. But for most of them, it's not just about the looks, it's also about the performance. There are quite a few manufacturers who can deliver both and Nokia is definitely one of them. But let's find out for ourselves if the N76 is merely a fashion statement or does it also manage to give us a whole lot more.
The N76 may at first appear a wee bit feminine for my taste with its sparkly, mirrored shell but it is a great looking phone. No doubt about it. The black version exudes sophistication and the red one looks like it could be carried down a runway by a model having a personal conversation and we’d think it part of the show.
The N76 has chrome-like rims running round the phone in the front and back. It gives it a very classy look. The external 256K color display, beneath the reflective surface, has a pixel resolution of 160x128. It allows for caller id for incoming calls, checking new messages, as well as using the camera so you don't have to flip open the phone. There are also 3 buttons underneath the screen that can be used to activate and use the music player, radio and other functions as well. The problem is the chrome-like plating tends to peel off a little too easily after a while.
On the right side of the player, firstly are the volume/zoom function keys. They also serve as scroll keys for options on the external display. At the bottom are 2 dedicated keys - one that'll take you directly to the phone's gallery and the other for the camera.
The other side seems pretty plain at first with a tiny hole on the top that looks more like a reset switch than a charger outlet. But as you probably already know, Nokia's chargers are getting lighter and smaller all the time. The top of the phone is where the 3.5mm (thank goodness) earphone socket along with the mini USB port and power switch is located. What I don't like about its design is that there are no grooves for your fingers to easily flip it open.
In case you're wondering where the microSD card goes, I did too at first. It's so neatly placed. You'll notice at the side of the charging port is a small flap that pops up and reveals the microSD card slot. Very very neat. At the back is the 2.0 megapixel camera with flash. The rear panel is at first a bit tough to slide out. Not that you'll need to do so very often. What I found quite quaint is the little tray that Nokia has designed to slide out and hold your Sim card. Slip your card in and slide it in the designated slot underneath the battery.
Inside, is a rich and vibrant 2.4 inch TFT 256K color display with a resolution of 240x320 pixels. Just above the screen next to the earpiece is the secondary CIF video call camera that’s barely even noticeable. The keypad has a light sensor that won’t activate the backlight on the keys unless it’s in the dark. That’s an awesome feature that also helps conserve the battery. The large keys are easy to use and the 5-way nav-pad makes maneuvering through the menus rather easy. Another interesting fact is that the keypad has a sensor which won't activate the backlight for the keys unless it's dark enough. Saves the battery to boot! Apart from the fact that the N76 may look quite a bit like the LG P7200, its still one classy looking phone.
Considering the fashion statement the N76 envisages, I thought we'd start off with it's entertainment features. Firstly let's talk about the kickass music player. Unfortunately the earphones that Nokia provides these days don’t seem even close to adequate when it comes to providing loud AND clear music. But thank the Lord for a 3.5mm socket. Just plug in a better, personal choice of earphones and you’ll see the difference. Plus, having presets and a customizable 5 band graphic EQ is a bonus. Great sound! The radio pick up is also quite good and reception is clear. So no worries.
Next up is the video. The N76 is equipped with RealPlayer and Flash Player. But again,
Nokia has not provided any video converter for adapting videos for the N76. In my opinion I think Nokia should include one in their newer version of PC suite rather than have us find our own to convert files to an acceptable format. It reads -MP3/M4A/AAC/eAAC+/WMA and 3GPP formats.
What I've always found irritating about the gallery in most of the N series is that fact that they club video and image files in a single directory. At least some of the newer phones like the E90 has a segregation of video and image files. Having videos in the midst of your images also makes scrolling through the files a bit slower. In the media department what lacks is the absence of a video or image editor which would have made the phone that much more interesting.
In the games department all you have are Snakes 3D, which I have to say, totally rocks. Other than that there are a few flash mini games that aren’t all that interesting but I guess they’d help pass the time. Of course there are plenty of games you can download yourself and the options are vast.
The N76 is equipped with a 2.0 megapixel camera and as I mentioned earlier it also has a secondary camera for video calling. But lets talk about the main camera shall we. I had the fortuitous luck to be in beautiful Singapore with the N76 as my secondary camera and I have to say it really saved my bacon. I managed to get some really good videos of various things and although the N76’s camera is not built for close-ups, it's fabulous when it comes to landscapes and normal shots. The close-ups seem blurry and the colors appear burnt out. So I wouldn't suggest taking close-ups with the camera too close to the object. As a suggestion use the zoom.
Normal shots taken of landscapes or any other objects can look pretty good with slight adjustments to the multiple settings Nokia has incorporated into the N76. From adjusting the ISO level to white balance and exposure. Though there’s no macro mode, there is an option for night shots of course and even taking portrait images in night mode. There are also options for the flash and color modes like sepia or negative.
All in all it's a pretty good camera and the best thing is you can even take pictures with the flap closed. The outside screen will act as the viewfinder and although you wont get all the options at least for those quick or candid shots this is handy. Simply activate the camera using its dedicated button on the side.
You may think that the N76 may be designed to look like somewhat of a fashion accessory but you'd be grossly mistaken. The Nokia N76 is also a great business phone and incorporates and can support most of the regular business features you'd need while on the go. For starters, it comes with a pre-installed version of Quickoffice so you can view your MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. It's not registered to edit those files but you can download the registry for the same. Of course you'll have to pay for that. There's also a PDF reader and a Zip manager for compressing files to save space.
When it comes to connectivity and the internet, the N76 is well equipped with EDGE and supports 3G and HSCSD so your net connectivity will go on without a hitch. Nokia's new S60 browser, although it still hasn't made allowances to surf 2 or more pages simultaneously, is still quite good. If you need to return to the previous page the browser will show you previews of the previous pages so it makes it a whole lot easier.
You can of course switch to landscape mode for better viewing on the large display. But you would have a problem when it comes to typing though considering the angle of the keypad. While scrolling through the page, the browser also opens up small preview section at the corner of the screen. But unfortunately, it doesn’t really serve any purpose as it stays there for a mere second or so and you can’t really use it.
The N76 also has GPS software preinstalled. Of course you'll have to download the maps but it’s there all the same. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative you can download Google maps which works looks quite good on the display actually. Another handy application is ‘Life Blog’ that allows you directly upload your multimedia onto the net for sharing. It stores all your latest media entry and gets them ready for upload. The phone also supports PTT (Push To Talk) although we still don’t use it too much in India.
Other work related applications are quite regular with other phones as well and include converters for various measures, calendar entry with schedules, and To-Do’s with reminders and alarms as well. There’s also a data transfer application prevalent in most of the new Nokias that allow you to transfer your data from one phone to another quite easily using Bluetooth. So obviously other connectivity options include, Bluetooth v2.0, USB v2.0 (mini USB).
The N76 uses a standard Li-Ion battery (700 mAh) and is able to dish out a total of approximately a little over 3 hours of talk time. Which may not seem too impressive but it’s ok. The internal storage capacity of the N76 is only 28MB but you can of course increase storage using microSD cards up to 2GB.
The Bottom Line
Priced at approximately Rs. 18,000 (street price), it fits well in that bracket and is definitely worth it. However the MRP is Rs. 23,869, which I think is a tad too high, although it looks good and functions very well. Feature packed with plenty of goodies, the N76 lacks perhaps nothing except for Wi-Fi connectivity. But that's not really applicable considering this phone is probably targeted at a fashion oriented market and not as a business class phone. So even though it's not absolutely perfect, it comes pretty darn close. It's comfy to use and works just fine. Just remember to keep it covered at all times lest it lose its shine.
|Network||UMTS/GSM 850/900/1800/1900, EDGE |
|Physical||106.5 x 52 x 13.7 mm, 115g|
|Display||Main - 16m colors, TFT, 240 x 320 pixels 2.4", External - 160 x 128 pixels 256k colors |
|Memory||28MB internal, MicroSD (external)|
|Media||MP3, AAC+, 3GP. WMA, Stereo FM (Visual) radio,|
|Camera||2 megapixels with falsh, video, secondary CIF camera|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth (A2DP), Mini USB|
|Battery||200hrs stand by, 3 hrs talk (Li-ion battery - 700 mAh)|
|Street Price ||Rs. 18,000/|