Honest to God, I genuinely have found a piece of NFC kit that not only works really well, but also fixes a problem I didn’t know I had.
I was at Nokia’s fancy new London HQ recently and I spotted the above piece of tech hanging up on the wall in the lobby. ‘I want one of these!‘ I cried. And lo and behold, a couple of weeks later, one arrived in the post for me to review. Hurrah for the internets.
So what does it actually do?
The Nokia MD-310 is, in a nutshell, an NFC-enabled bluetooth receiver for your home stereo. How that translates into the real world is as follows:
That shiny circular thing in the photo plugs into my audio system and sits nicely in my front room. Whenever I get home from work, or from a run, and I want to carry on listening to the music on my handset, I just tap my device on the glowing circle and, two seconds later, my tunes switch from my headphones to my speakers.
How is this a problem I didn’t know I had? Well I only really use my main music system for music these days. It’s a gorgeous Marantz surround sound set which only gets to stretch its legs when I watch a film or want to get super-immersed in an Xbox game.
It misses music, much.
Having the MD-310 (gotta do something about that name) to hand means that not only can I play music from my phone from a simple tap, but I can also share my music from my Mac via bluetooth too. This is nothing short of brilliant. And it’s this multi-platform compatibility that makes this an essential piece of kit for me.
It’s quite amazing to know that these things were launched over 18mths ago now but, with the prevalence of NFC increasing month on month, this accessory deserves the timely resurgence it seems to be having.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.