Monday, June 29, 2009

Nokia E75 GPS review

Like the Nokia E71 and E66, the E75 is one of Nokia's now many Series 60 smartphones to be supplied with a built-in GPS receiver with A-GPS and digital compass functionality. The GPS can also be assisted via the downloading of ephemeris data that helps with speed. Like the E66, it took me around a minute to get a fix from cold boot on a clear day, though it can take up to a couple of minutes in cloudy days. It also happens to work from about 3 feet in doors in a clear day. I am not sure which GPS receiver chipset the E75 uses, but it works just as well as my SiRFstarIII powered Navman B10.

I recently took the E75 to the Lake District in Cumbria as my GPS companion. I also have my trusty E51 and Navman B10 which I keep in a dry sack as a backup device. The obvious advantage of having it the E75 is it is integrated and you do not have to worry about carrying multiple devices. On the downside it appears to run out of battery faster than my E51+B10 combination, when it comes to navigation. Still it lasted more than seven hours (with the phone portion off) before the battery gave up, which is good enough for a day's walk. It works with Nokia Maps 2.0 and ViewRanger, the application which I use to the test the E75's GPS navigation capabilities.

I found the amount of the time to get fix from cold boot to be about on par with most devices with built-in GPS receiver, in that not so great but acceptable. Without resorting to A-GPS, the receiver took around three minutes to get a fix under a cloudy day (it was very cloudy in the Lakes when we were there). Once a fix is gained it retains to the fix pretty well. A dedicated application GPS Data allows you to check your position, accuracy level, altitude, speed of movement, trip distance, satellite status, calibrate the altitude, selecting the positioning method (GPS only, Assisted-based, Bluetooth-GPS and Network based) and other advance settings.

I am reusing the screenshot from my E66 review of the GPS Data application as it is essentially the same...

The battery life of the E75's on GPS is no match for my E51 and B10 combo, but it is still far better than I initially anticipated. With the phone but turn off, the E75 lasted more than seven hours. Obviously your mileage may wary: lowering the brightness level and decreasing the amount of time before the phone switches off the display will all help decrease the amount of power needed by the E75.

The accuracy of the E75 based on my experience is around 10-20 metre, which is pretty darn accurate for a none-dedicated GPS receiver. As the E75 isn't designed to be a rugged and waterproof device, the E75 stayed tucked away inside my jacket or trousers for most of the time, which does cause the accuracy to suffer a bit. A little bit of very light rain and mist won't damage it, but I rather not test it further seeing that I do not own this particular unit. I have included a number of screenshots of the track that the E75 recorded via ViewRanger where you can judge the accuracy yourself. I personally think it did fine.

Obviously the hardware is only good if paired with a software that takes full advantage of it, and in this case the E75 comes with Nokia Maps 2.0 (an excellent street based mapping software). It is also compatible with Google Maps, though with Nokia Maps I do not see why you would need it (unless online search is important to you). If you enjoy walking or hiking as I do, make sure you buy Augmentra's brilliant ViewRanger (detailed review here). For £25, the Ordnance Survey GB National Park Landranger 1:50k bundle offers a ridiculous amount of great value for money for those seeking to explore Britain's many beautiful National Parks.

As the E75's GPS navigation performance (with better battery life and slightly better accuracy) is similar to the E66, the conclusion is exactly the same. I do not drive so I won't comment about the E75's performance when it comes to providing turn by turn directions using programs like Nokia Maps - but I do think it will suffice. As far as hiking and trekking is concern, if you do not need super accurate performance then I see no problem with using the E75 as your navigational platform, as long as you can dismiss its margin of error. I find the E75 rather handy to have one with me at all times. It is a blessing having not to worry about packing (and charging) my B10 every other day.

The E75 is available unlocked for around £300 at Amazon UK and US$450 at

My extensive Nokia E75 coverage:
Nokia E75 pictures & first impressions
Nokia E75 camera review
Nokia E75 music and sound quality review

Friday, June 26, 2009

Nokia E75 music review

Nokia has been making amends on their E-series of late. No longer recognising that E-series users are only made up of boring business suits, Nokia has finally removed the 2.5mm headphone jack from the newer E-series phones. Here the E75, has a bog-standard 3.5mm headphone socket that allows you to use your favourite headphone with it without the need of adapters. Still it doesn't matter if it comes with a 3.5mm socket, if the sound quality sucks then nobody will use it as a music player.

Thankfully the E75 is a very capable music phone. The bundled 4GB microSDHC card is a good start, but with maps and third party applications, you are only looking at around 2-3GB of viable storage to store your tunes on. 16GB microSDHC cards are not too expensive these days, so that would be my suggestion if you are keen on expanding the storage capacity of the E75. The E75 should support new 32GB microSDHC cards when they become more widely available.

Transferring files is an easy process as the E75 is both UMS and MTP compatible. You can drag and drop or use Windows Media Player or Media Monkey (my personal favourite) to synchronise your music library. Once you have done that, just launch the music player and wait for the application to refresh the library and build its database. The music application is pretty much a standard Series 60 bundled music player, meaning it serves its purpose and lacks the eye candy of dedicated DAP. It supports MP3, WMA, AAC and HE-AAC audio codecs, so pretty much every mainstream codecs out there.

The music player here is pretty basic. The library is sorted by artist, album, genre and composer. It also recognises standard M3U playlist file. There are no dedicated hardware music keys on the E75, so the control is limited to the d-pad (which maps itself to the on-screen keys), and volume keys on the side. The volume control is ridiculous, only allowing ten steps! My ideal listening volume would be somewhere between 30% (too low) and 40% (too loud). A 30-step volume system similar to my Sony Walkman would be ideal (firmware update please, Nokia). The music player is very boring to look at, not something I would complain as it primarily resides inside my pocket.

Because the E75 is based on the music-centric XpressMusic 5730, the E75 has the necessary hardware chipset designed for better sound quality. The SQ here is pretty good actually, easily as good as the XpressMusic 5310 and far better than my trusty E51. They sound best unequalised. I am not too sure if it is a bug, but the E75's 8-band preset graphical equaliser is pretty awful. The bass boost for whatever reason doesn't boost the bass at all, but instead makes the sound all fuzzy and digital. Fortunately you can create your own equaliser preset. Also stereo widening option is available, but I suggest avoiding that. Still, with my Sennheiser IE 8, the E75 is a very good sounding music phone. If you want more bass, create your own custom equaliser and avoid the bass boost feature.

With support for Bluetooth A2DP, the E75 is an overall competent music phone. It is great that Nokia is finally realising that there are business users out there who are as keen on music playback as they are with getting actual work done. With the E75, you get a phone that allows both. The SQ isn't as brilliant as my Walkmans (they sound too digital for my liking - I always like some colour and warmth with my music), but they are miles ahead of other previous E-series phones, and probably not too far behind their N-series phones.

Nothing will ever replace dedicated DAPs, but get a larger capacity card, replace the bundled headphones with something a bit better (check my reviews here for something that may suit your preference), EQ it a bit to suit your personal sound taste and you may just ditch that DAP for those times when travelling light is crucial.

The E75 is available unlocked for around £300 at Amazon UK and US$450 at

My extensive Nokia E75 coverage:
Nokia E75 pictures & first impressions
Nokia E75 camera review
Nokia E75 GPS review

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Farrah Fawcett & Michael Jackson

One was a beauty queen, another a talented pop singer (albeit a bit of a wacko). Both will be hugely missed.

Thinking of renting some old Charlie Angels DVDs this weekend and digging out my Michael Jackson records. Love him or hate him, there is no denying he made great music that appealed to the masses. Jesus, still can't believe it.

Battlestar Galactica Season 4 OST cover art and track list

One thing you can almost from every Battlestar Galactica fans to agree upon is the brilliant score by Bear McCreary. My personal favourite is season three's soundtrack, but rest assured all three soundtracks are worth buying and listening to.

Bear McCreary has finally confirmed that the two-disc season four/finale soundtrack will be released next month on 21 July. According to Bear, the second disc will include virtually every second of the "Daybreak" score and almost all tracks will be "nice and long", with one in excess of 15 minutes!


1. Gaeta’s Lament “Guess What’s Coming to Dinner”
2. The Signal “Revelations”
3. Resurrection Hub “The Hub”
4. The Cult of Baltar “He That Believeth in Me” and “Escape Velocity”
5. Farewell Apollo “Six of One”
6. Roslin Escapes “Blood on the Scales”
7. Among the Ruins “Sometimes a Great Notion”
8. Laura Runs “A Disquiet Follows My Soul”
9. Cally Descends “The Ties That Bind”
10. Funeral Pyre “Sometimes a Great Notion”
11. Roslin and Adama Reunited “The Hub”
12. Gaeta’s Lament (Instrumental) “Guess What’s Coming to Dinner”
13. Elegy “Someone to Watch Over Me”
14. The Alliance “Revelations”
15. Blood on the Scales “The Oath” and “Blood on the Scales”
16. Grand Old Lady “Islanded in a Stream of Stars”
17. Kara Remembers “Someone to Watch Over Me”
18. Boomer Takes Hera “Someone to Watch Over Me”
19. Dreilide Thrace Sonata No. 1 “Someone to Watch Over Me”
20. Diaspora Oratorio “Revelations”


1. Caprica City, Before the Fall
2. Laura’s Baptism
3. Adama in the Memorial Hallway
4. The Line
5. Assault on the Colony
Featuring Raya Yarbrough, vocals
6. Baltar’s Sermon
7. Kara’s Coordinates
8. Earth
9. Goodbye Sam
10. The Heart of the Sun
Contains “Theme from Battlestar Galactica”
by Stu Phillips and Glen A. Larson
11. Starbuck Disappears
12. So Much Life
13. An Easterly View
14. The Passage of Time

You can pre-order the epic season four soundtrack now from or Amazon UK

Monday, June 22, 2009

Nokia E75 camera review

The Nokia E75 camera is pretty much what I expected from an E-series phone: reasonable performance that is good enough for e-mail and web stills, but hardly something capable of replacing dedicated cheap digital cameras or camera focused mobile phones like Sony Ericsson Cybershot phones or Nokia's Carl Zeiss equipped phones. Still, on paper at least, the E75 is one of the better camera equipped E-series phone out there.

The camera here is a standard 3.2 megapixel affair with auto focus, macro mode (software toggled), LED flash and cheap optics. I would say that the performance is a little bit better than the 3.2 megapixel camera on the E66 or E71, likely due to a new sensor and/or software optimisation. Like any mobile phone equipped camera, natural light availability is a huge requirement to getting the camera to perform well. Anything other than that and you may as well forget about it and save some precious KB.

The shutter button sits almost on the middle of the E75, hardly an ideal location in my opinion, particularly when the slider portion is open. The UI of the camera is still, in my opinion, one of the worst Nokia bundled application - I absolutely dislike it. It is pretty much unintuitive, though to be fair the UI is a fair bit faster than what I remember it was on the E66 or E71. If all you want to do is press the shutter down and capture an image, then it works well. But accessing try changing multiple options every time you boot up the software and you will cringe and wonder how on earth the same engineers who came up with Series 60 now matured and intuitive UI, developed this... On the upside you can tag your pictures with GPS co-ordinates using the Nokia E75's built-in GPS receiver.

The LED flash is there if you require them, though I really and honestly suggest ignoring it. It is no match for Xenon equipped phones, but let's be honest here - people should not, under any none-reasonable excuse, use the built-in flash of any mobile phone, whether equipped with LED or Xenon.

As for video, the E75 is capable of recording at VGA resolution at 30 frames per second. Not too shabby, on paper. In reality, it isn't too bad either. The quality of the video is ideal for the YouTube generation, though the lack of widescreen format may annoy some. Personally I am more of a picture guy than video, but this may come in handy to those who love making spur-on-the-moment videos for YouTube.

All in all, the E75 offers a reasonable camera performance, that is adequete as a backup to your digital compact. If you require something that is capable of capturing print quality images, then this phone is not for you, and you should turn your attention instead to camera focused phones like the new Nokia N86 or the Series 60 5th Edition powered Sony Ericsson Idou.

Some unedited (but resized) pictures from our recent Lake District trip:

The camera outperforms previous E-series when it comes to taking close ups. Notice how much detail is captured of the brilliant Leatherman Micra:

100% crops:

f/2.8, ISO 128, 1/20 sec

f/2.8, ISO 60, 1/53 sec

f/2.8, ISO 60, 1/167 sec

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Michael Schumacher is the Stig

As revealed by Top Gear. Not convinced at all that he is the real. Likely merely a guest Stig sourced by the Beeb purely to drive that expensive Ferrari, or actually sent by Ferrari themselves. Really, there is no longer a proper Stig, merely guest drivers.

Still, it was a fun episode. Was rooting for the train to win.

Lake District trip

We just got back from a camping trip to Glenridding in Lake District National Park, Cumbria. The weather was awful. 50-60mph gusts, high winds, heavy rains and other weather elements (sleet!) hammered us continuously during the whole trip.

The campsite we stayed in was Gillside farm, a wonderful campsite that unfortunately got busy from Friday evening. The campsite is on a working farm, so expect wondering ducks, sheep and rabbits wondering around the site. Facilities are good, with clean toilets, showers (20p for ten minutes of hot water) and a washing up area. The site itself is divided into two fields: the bottom of the hill near the walking path and stream, and on the top where it is quieter but a walk away from the campsite's facilities. On weekends, a stall (run by the farm themselves, I believe) sells hot food and drinks.

The lack of enforcements of the rules was actually quite off-putting and irksome. The last thing you want when you are trying to sleep is having kids running and tripping on your tent's guy ropes as well as people arriving after lights out and pitching up noisily, which were precisely what we suffered. It makes a great base camp for Helvellyn and other Eastern and Far Eastern fells, and we have no problem returning the campsite in the future, but will avoid it at weekends or busy periods (school holidays).

Anyway some pictures from our trip:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Nokia E75 glamour photo shoot

Have been spending some quality time with the E75, but it is still early to give a full impressions. The sound quality is a considerable improvement over the E51 and even the 5310 XpressMusic, though the music player still lacks the usability and features of dedicated DAP like my Walkman.

The QWERTY thumboard is made up of flat keys and feels similar to my old HTC Universal phone. Give a choice, I actually prefer the thumboard from the E71 (which in my honest opinion, is the perfect example of how to do a QWERTY phone), but this isn't too bad. Despite the size, the E75 is pretty hefty (in a good way) and solidly built. It is just slightly thicker than the E51 and has a similar overall footprint. Impressive considering that the E75 has GPS, a better camera and a sliding keyboard...

Some close up pictures to keep you occupied while I get myself more accustomed with the E75:

The E75 is available unlocked for around £300 at Amazon UK and US$450 at