The Sony W705 ‘Zeemote Edition’ launch!

Last night, the Really Mobile team was invited along to The Sports Cafe on London’s Haymarket to celebrate the Sony’s launch of the Zeemote JS1 Bluetooth Gaming Device

Last night, the Really Mobile team was invited along to The Sports Cafe on London’s Haymarket to celebrate the Sony’s launch of the Zeemote JS1 Bluetooth Gaming Device (which means it’s a fancy joystick, in case you were wondering).
The accessory, we’re told, will come bundled with the Sony W705 and available exclusively on T-Mobile with 18mth contracts starting as little as £25pcm.
Each purchase comes with Fast & Furious out of the box, as well as an additional two free downloads available from the Zeemote area of the TMO’s Web n Walk portal.

Gaming is a sport, geddit?
Gaming is a Sport, geddit?

So far so press release.
Let’s get to the good stuff.
🙂

First of all – these guys mean business. A three way announcement (JS1, TMO & Sony), the representatives on hand were quite confident in their ability to deliver a truly enjoyable gaming experience.

Personally?
I had my doubts.

A short chat with the Sony chaps (most of whom were sporting the rather swish 8MP C905) revealed that their 2009 was about to get very interesting indeed (more on this later), and that this new partnership with JS1 was just the first of many announcements over the coming weeks.
JS1 themselves were equally pleased with their road ahead; with Sony’s backing of the UK launch and a promise of future SE handsets to come with TV-Out as standard (as per most high-end Nseries devices), things are certainly looking up indeed. It was noted that the emerging markets were key to JS1’s success moving forward, citing recent stats about workers in India saving months upon months of hard earned cash to buy the latest portable device, but never – ever owning a home gaming system, a’la Wii or Xbox 360.

Makes sense to me.

When pressed on the competition, namely – Nokia’s N-Gage, my new found friend was keen to tell me that the controller was compatible with Symbian S60 devices too. With a quick visit to their website you can download and install the Zeekey software which makes the Js1 controller magically work with your N95, or – in my this rep’s case – the N85, which he uses at home as a media player (bluetooth controller as standard – natch).

Then came the fun part.

Actually not a bad little phone...
Actually not a bad little phone...

Each device comes with the game ‘Fast & Furious‘ out of the box and, to tie in with the evening’s festivities, there was a competition for the attendees to take part in.
A racing competition in fact. Could you, with the slowest car available, finish the first track in the fastest time?

The prizes were as follows:

  • First Prize: A bottle of champagne and £250 towards a day out at top UK race track, Silverstone. (Err.. Wow!)
  • Second Prize: A bottle of champagne.
  • Third Prize: A teeny tiny bottle of champagne (that probably has shower gel in it).

As soon I walked into the venue, the above was explained to me at a breakneck pace and I knew instantly that I would have to take part.
The Really Mobile reputation was at stake!

First time go: 1:58.00.

A couple of the demo guys, one of which I immediately recognised from a former life, commented that – for a newbie – it wasn’t a bad score.
Nice. I was happy to hear that.
What with being a gaming geek long before I was a mobile geek; I can haz skillz.

Then I checked the leader board, the current 1st place was a guy with a staggering 1:44.58. Amazing. I immediately sought him out, only to discover that he’d been there since they’d started and was continually playing over again until he got it just right. The guy was a machine.
I would not be beaten. Again I tried, this time coming in at 1.56.32.
I showed the others, thinking I might just settle for third place.

No. I would not be beaten.

I swear I must’ve sat in the corner (on my own actually), playing and replaying and replaying until I got it right. See what with the game being Fast & Furious, the other racers are actually out to GET YOU. So you’d get mere seconds away from the finish line and POW, someone would ram you off the road.
I could’ve thrown the damn thing out the window at one point… but still I persevered. This time I hit 1.54.47. Getting better.
Now I had a crowd, “Have you beaten it yet?” – “You need to submit a time soon James”

LEAVE ME ALONE! I NEED TO DO THIS!

I even secretly tried attempting to play the game without the controller, thinking that actually – the buttons on the handset would be more responsive than that of the JS1, but no – I actually scored worse.
The controller, it seemed – works.

One more try…

Race, corner, turn, nitro… and…. Pow! 1.45.80.
A very, very well-respected 2nd place. High fives all round and yours truly walked away* with a bottle of champers.

Aces.

So, what has this got to do with the launch?

Well, as I said earlier – I am a gamer. I’ve been a console-fan ever since I first picked up Super Mario Bros on my mate’s Nintendo Entertainment System all those many moons ago but mobile gaming has never really done it for me. My friend Ricky Cadden, of Symbian Guru fame, has oft-argued with me about the awesomeness of N-Gage combined with his TV-Out, to which I laugh. A lot. And let’s not even start on the N-Gage woes I have at the moment, (I’ll save that for a future Really Mobile feature).
Needless to say, my phone will never take the place of my Nintendo. However, remarkably, with the addition of the JS1 Bluetooth controller, I was v-e-r-y slowly (and almost quite unwittingly) won over.

I’ll come out and say that I went in extremely sceptical. Thinking it’ll be another failed attempt to ‘maximise gaming possibilities’ in this ‘new mobile world’, but no. I was wrong. The smart chaps at TMO/JS1/Sony were happy enough to let me just sit and play, the experience itself wove its own magic.

We’ve got a review copy here at the Really Mobile offices, of both the Sony W7905 and the JS1 controller, which I’ll be sending out to the team for a 2nd opinion… as soon as I can beat that last time… 1.45.80

*I say ‘walked away’ – they’re sending it to me in the post. Boo.

Palm Pre: Landing June 6th ’09

News has reached the ReallyMobile office that the much-anticipated Palm Pre is to be launched in the U.S. on Saturday June 6th. That’s less than three weeks away!

News has reached the ReallyMobile office that the much-anticipated Palm Pre is to be launched in the US,  this coming Summer on Saturday  June 6th.

That’s less than three weeks away!

It’s been known for some time now that the device is a Sprint exclusive; a welcome antidote to the iPhone swagger of AT&T, but what hasn’t been known is the release date as well as the – arguably more important – pricing details.

Will you be Pre-Ordering?
Will you be Pre-ordering?

Well, according to the press release:

The Palm Pre phone will be available from Sprint on June 6 for $199.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate with a new two-year service agreement on an Everything Data plan or Business Essentials with Messaging and Data plan. An array of compelling accessories also will be available for Pre, including the Palm Touchstone charging dock. The Touchstone™ Charging Kit, which includes the Touchstone charging dock and Touchstone back cover for Pre, will be available June 6 for $69.99. The Touchstone charging dock and Touchstone back cover also are available separately from for $49.99 and $19.99, respectively.

Wow.

So it’s here then?!

AT LAST!

Well. I say ‘here’. What I actually mean is… there.

Over there to be PREcise.

That’s the U.S. sorted but what about us?

There has already been a fair amount of talk about who will and won’t launch the Pre this Summer (or maybe in the Autumn now) for UK/Europe, with both Vodafone and Orange being mooted as possibilities.

With no word from T-Mobile or O2 as yet. The former, rather famously of late, rarely stock the best devices at launch and the latter will no doubt sticking to their guns with the iPhone.

What about 3 mobile, that famous disruptor within the UK carrier space?

Well, their ad-campaign of late suggests they’re throwing all their weight behind maximising their Skype partnership and quite rightly so. However, last time I checked the Palm Pre wasn’t Skype compatible and when I confronted a 3 representative at a recent meet about the Pre’s iminent arrival the response was a rather pointed:

“No. It’s already gone.”

They didn”t seem too happy about it either.

I had hands-on with the Palm Pre back in February at Mobile World Congress and to say the device is ‘a bit whizzy’ I guess would consitute an understatement of gargantuan proportions. The Palm Pre is a lovely device, the proof – as ever – will of course be in the pudding.

In the meantime, what do you think?

A rest of world announcement can’t be too far behind, can it?

What about you?

Will you be putting in a Pre order anytime soon?

Nokia N86: Coming to Vodafone this Summer?

The N86 on Vodafone: Will they or won’t they?

Regular readers of my personal blog will know that – pre-Really Mobile launch – after discovering the N97 was due to be launched on Vodafone UK later this June, I happened upon a rather sumptuous nugget of information regarding another much anticipated device…

Chatting on the phone with Vodafone’s customer services, I thought I’d bring up the subject of the Nokia N86.

The conversation went something a little something like this:

Have you seen this phone?

“Do you have the N86?”

“Well it is here, but it has a question mark next to it.”

“Oh. Is that bad?”

“Oh no Mr Whatley, it just means we’re still testing it. I can’t confirm that we are going to get the N86 in stock but I can tell you that we have it here internally and we’re testing the software to make sure it works correctly “

Great stuff…

BUT as yet still unconfirmed.

Soon after the above post went live, I heard from a number of sources that I may very well be incorrect, the N86 would not be coming to Vodafone and, that just because Vodafone are doing the testing, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be doing the selling.
 
For example, Voda may very well be putting the phone through it’s paces on behalf of Phones4U, who coincidentally were first to market here in the UK with the Nokia N8
5.

So, who to believe?

Well this morning I get another tick in the ‘Yes they will’ box via a source inside a Vodafone store who said that they’d had a Nokia rep in-store this week who had informed them that yes indeed they would be getting the N86 at some point this Summer.

Another phone call to Vodafone this afternoon and the customer service rep I spoke to could find no longer find any trace of the device on their systems.

The plot thickens…

Why am I so excited about this phone? Well, this 8 megapixel beauty took me completely by surprise at Mobile World Congress three months back and, although originally pitched as the successor to the much-overlooked Nokia N85 (the N86 test model above was in fact labelled ‘N85 8MP’ on its debut in Barcelona), to my mind the N86 is the true replacement for my much-loved N95 8GB

What’s the deal Voda? Are you or aren’t you?
If you are, then sign me up! I’m in… and I bet I wouldn’t be the only one either.

*sigh*

In the meantime, according to our friends at World of Nokia you can now pre-order the N86 from Play.com SIM free, for a paltry £399.99!

Are you getting one?
I know I am.

I’d just like to know where from…

Nokia’s N97 & 5800XM: The trouble with 16:9

Two weeks ago, in my first video diary for Really Mobile, I was talking about my Nokia 5800 Xpress Music when I said:

Two weeks ago, in my first video diary for Really Mobile, I was talking about my Nokia 5800  Xpress Music when I said:

“I’ve kind of fallen for it a little bit… the firmware update has brought transitions… there are some really nice things in there… for instance: recording 16:9 video”

At which point – at around 1min 35secs into the clip to be precise – I flipped the 5800 around and began recording and, thanks to the wonder of Ben Smith’s editing skills, you can see the transition between the two segments below.

In the shot on the left you can just about see that I am holding the phone at arm’s length and yet, on the right, you can see the EXTREME CLOSE UP that the 5800 so unnaturally provides.
Problemo, no?

Ben and I noted this at the time and had a further play – resulting in this video that I put up on YouTube just before Really Mobile launched:

The sound quality is poor but – as you might have just about heard – this is because we had put the 5800 at such a distance away from ourselves, the mic could only barely pickup the audio. Check around 18secs in when both Ben and I reach towards the phone, again – our arms at full length.

Not. Good.

The focal point is too far away and as such, no matter how cool recording in 16:9 is, dealing with this bizarre nuance can feel frustrating . As it was, not soon after we published the above footage, YouTube user ‘augusc’ commented on the video with this telling nugget of information:

“Actually the phone just crops off the up and down side of the standard HQ video recording, that’s why the focal length must be bigger – and that’s why i find this 16:9 mode unnecessary…”

So in effect it’s not ‘true’ 16:9 recording then?
Interesting.

That’s the 5800 covered, what about Nokia’s upcoming uber-flagship device, the N97?
This device, oft-heralded the saviour of Nokia for 2009 (I’m still betting on the N86), runs the same S60 5th edition software as the 5800 and boasts almost the exact same display specifications too.

Well, over the weekend – via Mark Guim at The Nokia Blog – I spotted Nokia rep, Chanse Arrington, Qik-ing from his own N97 and I asked:

His response?

Right. Clear as mud then.

Unofficial Nokia blogger, Mark Guim, however was another story. He and I continued the conversation offline; I explained in further detail what I meant – using the video above as an example – and he replied that he had noticed the same thing on his 5800. He even went so far as to put together this rather good compare and contrast post between said Xpress Music device and his own N85.Nice work Mark.

This morning I asked Chanse again, this time linking to Mark’s post as a reference. This time he was a touch more forthcoming with his response:


So, there you have it. It would seem that the N97 does indeed record video in the same ‘extreme close-up’ mode as the 5800.

What do you think?

Do you own a 5800, have you spotted this problem?
Or are you considering purchasing an N97? Does this bother you?

As ever, your comments are welcome.

NB: The 5800/N97’s 16:9 recording functionality is oft-referred to as ‘nHD’.

This, for the initiated among you does not mean that the respective devices record in NEAR HD, as is sometimes reported, but in fact refers to the screen-size being proportionately equivalent to 1/9 of the original HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.

Fact-tastic.

Whatley Wednesday at AAS

mobileways.de » Gravity - The S60 Twitter ClientWhile the back-room monkeys get The Really Mobile Project fit to wheel out and unveil to the unsuspecting world, our man Whatley guested on friends-of-the-show ‘All About Symbian‘ covering the new S60 Twitter client Gravity.  He makes specific criticism of the price (but not the product, which is ‘by far and away the best native S60 application for Twitter currently available’) which caused some hot debate in the comments.

Take a look here.  What do you think?