Carseatblog.com, it’s not just for carseats any more!  I didn’t really need a new phone, but for a couple years I’ve been trying to find something that would work as a cell phone and also replace a camera, iPod and a GPS unit.  Three less things to carry in my pockets!  And it really does replace a camera- this photo was taken in a garage that was almost completely dark!

I was really psyched about the iPhone 3G, but it had a few big drawbacks for me.  First, the iPhone’s camera lacked even a simple LED flash.  Second, it didn’t allow you to use the iPhone as a tethered modem to give internet access for a notebook when wireless wasn’t available.  Finally, the $30 a month required plan on AT&T also seemed out of line for how little I use internet features. 

After almost buying a Sony Ericsson model, I ended up with a  Nokia n82 .  It really does everything I need.  GPS, maps, quality 5M camera (with a real flash, auto-focus, night focus assist lamp and sliding lens cover), videos up to 640×480 at 30fps, email (POP, IMAP and webmail), instant messaging, surfing, tethering for notebook computer modem use, plays music, the works!  Plus, the interface is a dream compared to my Motorola SLVR L7.  Everything is easy to find and to use, provided you don’t mind texting on a regular keypad since this isn’t a PDA with a full set of keys.  The sensor that rotates the screen automatically from portrait to landscape as you move the phone is great, too.   The voice recognition for calling and features works great and is universal for anyone, so you don’t even have to train it like on my Motorola.  Very nice.  Last, but not least, no special headphones or adapter needed like my last phone, it has a standard headphone plug!

I grabbed the Yahoo! GO client for sports, weather and news and the Google Mobile client for searching.  Very handy!  The Nokia Share Online client uploads easily to Flickr and can even upload automatically to the blog.  The Windows software is also nice.  It synchs with Outlook and imports iTunes libraries with ease.  Plus, since it’s not a PDA, I only pay $15 a month extra for unlimited internet.  It’s also relatively small, considering all the features.  It’s the same profile as my Motorola SLVR; a little shorter and narrower than the iPhone.  While it’s a couple tenths of an inch thicker than those models, it feels light.  Some other models with advanced cameras and GPS are rather bulky in comparison.

Drawbacks?   It’s only a 2G phone in the USA, though it supports faster 3G speeds elsewhere around the globe.  Not a big deal for me, but that might be a big drawback for some.  This drawback isn’t so bad since the n82 has full wireless capability.  If you are in range, you can easily scan and switch to a full speed network and improve things quite a bit over 2G.  The camera is absolutely awesome for a cellphone, but it has one drawback from a regular compact digital camera- there is no optical zoom.  The digital zoom is decent, but photos and videos will be grainy at full zoom.   The charging port is custom and it can’t be charged with the micro USB port, so that was a minor drawback.  Audible turn-by-turn directions are an optional fee (I didn’t try them), but at least the maps are free from Nokia.  Finally, price.  AT&T doesn’t offer it, so I had to buy it unlocked on Amazon.com for $380 shipped.  At least I didn’t have to sign a new contract, though.  Maybe we can find a sponsor for Carseatblog.com so I can recoup my investment!

I appreciated some of the excellent reviews I found on a Google search.  If you’re looking for a cell phone with a real camera, check these out:

http://www.gsmarena.com/nokia_n82-review-195.php

http://www.phonearena.com/htmls/Nokia-N82-Review-review-r_1887.html

http://www.allaboutsymbian.com/reviews/item/Nokia_N82_Review.php

http://www.mobileburn.com/review.jsp?Id=3899

http://reviews.cnet.com/smartphones/nokia-n82/4505-6452_7-32840143.html

 

The camera really is a gem.  It starts quick and takes photos a lot faster than other camera phones I’ve used.  The picture quality is very good, though probably not on par with the better compact digital cameras.  I won’t be trendy with an iPhone 3G, but at least I can take a quality snapshot for the blog;-)  Since I don’t have a new 2-year contract, I’m also set for when Apple finally decides to make an iPhone with a real camera!  So, starting last week, all my photos and videos are from the n82.  Enjoy!