Wednesday, June 11, 2008

iPhone vs N95 - Syncing And Connecting - Part 3

Whether you’re using Nokia PC Suite/Nokia Multimedia Transfer/iTunes, the actual hardware that speaks with those applications needs to have certain inherent technological capabilities to actually make the most out of those data transfer sessions. Since I’m primarily on a Mac I use Nokia Multimedia Transfer, which utilizes iTunes as a data-transferring buffer between your Nokia handset’s data and your computer’s. Unfortunately for the N95-4, syncing media is usually a torturous experience. This is primarily due to its inability to transfer data above USB 1.1 speeds. What that roughly translates into is a “slow as a slug” data transfer rate. USB 1.1 data syncing through the mini-USB cable is single handedly the most crippling aspect of the N95-4 and Nokia should’ve known better than to release a Flagship Nseries handset with such limited data syncing bandwidth.

In one instance, I had to transcode and sync a 41mb Video Podcast from my Mac to the N95-4. It’s no mystery that having to transcode (think optimize) the Video Podcast first into a format that the N95 is more comfortable playing (even though it shouldn’t have any issues playing an MPEG-4 Video file to begin with) adds extra processing time to the sync but 12+ minutes for a 41mb data sync is obnoxious at best.

Nokia also provides a handy Podcast App, which sets your handset up for OTA syncing and downloading of basically any Podcast you’d like. The problem is that this application currently fails is in its inability to play most of the Video Podcasts even though they are MPEG-4 video files most of the time. Audio Podcasts work effectively well but again I’ve had issues updating the Podcasts category in the Music App to reflect how many I actually have downloaded to my handset (even with a manual Library refresh). It’s also counterproductive how S60 requires Mac users to have to manually refresh after every time they sync new music files with Nokia Multimedia Transfer with the N95’s Music player App. I’m honestly listening to Podcasts about 20% as often (compared to when I had an iPhone) now since getting them onto my handset is such a chore.

It also goes for most video files (forget about syncing an episode of a TV show or a full length DVD) unless their running time is under 5 minutes. This severely limits my enjoyment of the N95-4 but at the same time my options are pretty limited unless I want to do a massive data sync every night while I’m asleep. Especially in my line of work having the flexibility of swapping and syncing media files of various kinds and sizes in a respectable amount of time is paramount. It’s the difference between getting to show a potential client that new project I just finished editing at a party or doing my best trying to explain what it consists of and letting them know that I’ll send them a link. Most of those options usually tend to come across as excuses in my industry and the potential client is less likely to watch or give me instant feedback on the work sample (I’ve actually gotten a few jobs because I was able to show some video samples back when I had an iPhone).

Anyone that owns an iPod or iPhone should know how seamless and fluid syncing to iTunes can be whether they are using a PC or Mac. Apple “gets” software more than most software companies and the execution and speed of syncing is basically second to none with iTunes + an iPhone vs. Nokia Multimedia Transfer + an N95-4 on a Mac (I can’t offer a Nokia PC Suite comparison since I don’t own a Wintel based computer). Safari Bookmarks sync with little to no effort (something which is still pretty handicapped with the N95 using Nokia Multimedia Transfer) too. No manual library refreshes required, MPEG-4 Video Podcasts sync and play with little to no effort and that 41mb Video Podcast would probably take closer to 12 seconds instead of 12 minutes like it did with the N95-4.

Bluetooth Address Book and Calendar syncing are really handy with the N95-4 though. The iPhone does an admirable job of syncing these necessary data files in record time through iTunes, but having the option of wireless Bluetooth syncing is handy nonetheless. It actually saves me time when I don’t feel like plugging my N95 in and waiting for it to go through every “category” of data files just to get to the Address Book or Calendar part of the sync. An added bonus over the iPhone (which can’t sync any data over Bluetooth period) is that the N95 actually makes use of the “To do” list and “Memo” note syncing capabilities of iSync and iCal within Mac OS X! Since Apple hasn’t added a “To do” list or Notes syncing option (even with a wired connection through iTunes) the N95 comes out on top when it comes to syncing PIM type data files.

Also, USB charging has always been a useful alternative to an AC adapter with my iPhone. Since I don’t tend to travel with my AC adapter, the N95’s inability to charge over mini-USB has tended to limit its versatility (unless you are a really light user). With US 3G sucking up most of the battery throughout the day, it would’ve been nice to have USB charging as a viable alternative when I don’t necessarily have an AC adapter handy.

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